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  • best colleges for audio

    My son wants to design speakers and/or audio equipment. Most colleges just list degrees in Electrical Engineering with no details on specialization. What are some of the best colleges or univiersities for audio design or recording-public performance. We happen to live in California. I have built a couple of speakers and a bunch of guitars so he has seen me do this. He says he can't just sit behind a computer but must be around people, so he needs the team approach.

  • #2
    Re: best colleges for audio

    You can tell him to take a look at Santa Clara University (private college). I had a friend who went there for an audio engineering program (recording and mixing I believe). It may take some research, I just looked on their site and it didn't pop up, as you have experienced.

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    • #3
      Re: best colleges for audio

      Hoho just spend those tens of thousands on testing equipment, drivers, and wood. Also maybe get him a forum username. Within 4 years, he'll be as socially inept and generally strange as everyone else here!
      I am trolling you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: best colleges for audio

        Seems colleges offering degrees in "audio engineering" are a dime a dozen nowadays, which is a bit of a joke. Those who do it professionally may have taken a class in it, once. But a lot of what you need to know is learned on the job. But that's audio engineering; I don't get the impression your son wants to be a record producer or a live sound tech.

        As far as designing audio gear, it's pretty much a black art. However, a degree in electrical engineering would be the best solid foundation. When I was a professional stagehand (video tech), when I wasn't out on show site, I was in the repair office. I learned a LOT about high-end A/V gear, and how it's engineered. I wanted to go deeper into understanding the equipment, but I didn't have the background EE knowledge that my boss did. A few years before that, I worked with a tech who'd spent his life in the repair shop at NBC Chicago; I helped him re-wire a few radio stations. Again, I wished I could understand the equipment at the level he did, but I lacked that EE knowledge.

        Anyway--long story short--I think most audio equipment designers (and electronics in general) learned about design by repairing old equipment, and doing as much outside research as they could. Aside from that, I think the vast majority of them had a degree in Electronics Engineering... and you can get that degree at lots of colleges.

        I understand that you and your son are trying to find a "tailored" program at a university, but my experience with college has always been that it is what you make of it. For example, when I was an undergrad, I was getting a degree in "music business," but what I really wanted to do was learn how to compose. So I used the information given to me in my music theory and orchestration classes, and just tried stuff out. If I had concerns about how I'd orchestrated something, I'd go ask one of the ensemble directors (how would the trumpets feel about playing this lick?, is this range too quiet for a clarinet, etc). The big advantage of my college was that it was small, so as soon as I'd written something, I could have a group play it (concert band, jazz band, percussion ensemble, jazz combo, etc).

        Not to be arrogant, but the music department at my college was full of kids who just "showed up and wanted to be rockstars." They mostly just hung around the music building and smoked. Those who were serious about it you'd never see, because they were always in the practice rooms; and those few people are the ones who have actually gone on to be professional musicians. The rest all have careers in unrelated fields.
        Isn't it about time we started answering rhetorical questions?

        Paul Carmody's DIY Audio Projects
        Twitter: @undefinition1

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        • #5
          Re: best colleges for audio

          I think there is a very natural and understandable tendency to take what seems like the most direct path to a particular goal. But when it comes to education and preparation for life, goals can change and you never know where you might end up.

          As an example, I majored in Philosophy in college and now manage technology for an Investment Bank.* I would counsel against a very directed program in favor of a more broad-based education, like EE as has been suggested. If your son holds fast to his goal, the more general EE training will still serve him well in general problem-solving, innovation and creativity.

          Just some friendly advise. Take it for what it is worth.

          -----------
          * After college I attended a highly-regarded b-school, but I still feel that had less educational value than my liberal arts education.

          Isn't there some here associated with Grinnel college? Hopefully he will chime in.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: best colleges for audio

            Originally posted by jclin4 View Post
            ... I majored in Philosophy in college ...
            +1 on the Philosophy degree :D

            I got a BA in philosophy from UC Berkeley way back when. I went back to school to get an EE degree, but I highly value the general education and probably end up using those skills more on a daily basis than the engineering degrees. You need to learn to write, think critically and be able to put things in perspective in many fields, including engineering.
            Free Passive Speaker Designer Lite (PSD-Lite) -- http://www.audiodevelopers.com/Softw...Lite/setup.exe

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            • #7
              Re: best colleges for audio

              Originally posted by drHoward View Post
              audio design or recording-public performance
              Those are two very different fields.

              At the school I went to recording was covered by the music department (though it could be taken as an elective iirc). Audio design would have fallen under EE, but there was no specific focus in it. You would have to know yourself and take courses that are useful towards that. Speaking to a professor in electrical engineering would help.

              One student I worked with on a project was an interdisciplinary project was an EE. He was obsessed with tube amplification. His degree helped him quickly learn everything else he needed specific about tubes and he started designing tube amplifiers before he graduated.

              For audio design I'd look for universities that do research in that field. That way your son could get into research as early as possible and gets hands on experience. You need the theory, but the hands on is where you'll do some real learning. Basically think of the theory as a tool. You need a good set of tools to work efficiently (can't paint with a hammer.. not well at least). You also want to start using your tools as early as possible so you know if they are sufficient (that way you can specialize further in your last year or two).

              I bet Stanford and Princeton have stuff geared towards audio design. I did some interdisciplinary stuff in uni (music/engineering/CSc - music interface design type stuff) and read papers from those universities and MIT. They definitely have the labs and equipment for audio related stuff and are doing research in those areas.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: best colleges for audio

                I teach at Ball State University, in the Music Technology department. I think we have a pretty good program that combines some technical classes, recording, computer music, composition, and general musicianship. Some of our students are more interested in the technical end of things, some go on to work in the recording industry, some are performers, some pursue composition, some go on to grad school. You mentioned "recording-public performance." A program like ours would be pretty good for that. On the other hand, if he really wants to design audio equipment or speakers, probably an engineering degree would be best. I guess your son needs to decide about an area of focus in order to pick the best school.

                I do think a lot of people in the music industry do not have degrees, but more and more young people are earning degrees before they enter the industry. The good thing about having a degree is that it opens up a lot of doors and options for the future. Often undergrad students take a while to figure out what they really want to do (I became a mechanical engineer before I decided to focus on music).

                Here is a link to our program: http://bsu.edu/musictech/

                If your son wants to get more technical, the University of Miami has an engineering program with an audio engineering option:
                http://www6.miami.edu/umbulletin/und/eng/elec.htm#audio
                They also have a pretty good Music Engineering Technology program in their school of music:
                http://www6.miami.edu/umbulletin/und/mu/media.htm

                There are a lot of others around. Check out the education page on the Audio Engineering Society website:
                http://www.aes.org/education/
                They have a good education directory (look for the link).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: best colleges for audio

                  I can't help you with audio equipment design but for recording:

                  Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. Why orlando I don't know but full sail is the real deal. I have friends whose kids recently graduated and had no problems getting good jobs even in this environment. One went to LA and the other NYC.

                  http://www.fullsail.edu/

                  Full Sail's Master's, Bachelor's, and Associate's Degrees for creative minds include Recording Arts, Computer Animation, Digital Arts & Design, Education Media Design & Technology, Entertainment Business Bachelor's, Entertainment Business Master's, Film, Internet Marketing Bachelor's, Internet Marketing Master's, Game Art, Game Design, Game Development, Graphic Design, Media Design, Music Business, Show Production & Touring, and Web Design & Development.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: best colleges for audio

                    I have an Aero Engineering degree but I develop embedded systems software for FAA certification, and the best advice I can offer is that within any institution, your son can make whatever he want to happen. Universities are simply frameworks within which a person can come out with whatever they desire.

                    When I was in school, I was focused on getting to the other side. I followed the structure provided and 4 years later, I was on the door step to a career but there were no doors, just walls. I was lost. I had friends who didn't know what they want when they entered nor when they left. They were as lost as I was. Then there were the few who understood that it was going to be whatever they wanted it to be. They molded the framework into what they needed it to be. They found people of similar interests. They found advisers and professors who shared their vision of what the experience was supposed to be and enlisted their help to bend the structure. Every curriculum has "independent learning" classes. They're there to manipulate the system. The one caveat to this is that it's highly dependent on the people. Not everyone wants to be different or will want to help someone else be different. It's very important to establish that during the search. But even then, if it doesn't work out, he can always transfer.

                    Lastly, he should consider taking 5 years and he shouldn't rush it. I regret not "smelling the roses" during that time. And no one said to me, "You're not living in the here and now. You need to look at where your stepping and not where you think you're going." I think I might have ended up in a far different place.
                    - John

                    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. M. L. King
                    www.BuildTheDream.org

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: best colleges for audio

                      Originally posted by MSaturn View Post
                      Hoho just spend those tens of thousands on testing equipment, drivers, and wood. Also maybe get him a forum username. Within 4 years, he'll be as socially inept and generally strange as everyone else here!
                      !!!!!FUNNY!!!!!! so true.

                      I know there is a university in one of the Scandinavian country's ( I think Denmark) that have a audio design specific course. I read about a few weeks ago but cant remember the name, sorry.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: best colleges for audio

                        Originally posted by drHoward View Post
                        My son wants to design speakers and/or audio equipment. Most colleges just list degrees in Electrical Engineering with no details on specialization. What are some of the best colleges or univiersities for audio design or recording-public performance. We happen to live in California. I have built a couple of speakers and a bunch of guitars so he has seen me do this. He says he can't just sit behind a computer but must be around people, so he needs the team approach.
                        You might look for professors that are active in the audio design field and talk to them, either for recommendations or possible mentors. -- Doug

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: best colleges for audio

                          Originally posted by drHoward View Post
                          My son wants to design speakers and/or audio equipment. Most colleges just list degrees in Electrical Engineering with no details on specialization. What are some of the best colleges or univiersities for audio design or recording-public performance. We happen to live in California. I have built a couple of speakers and a bunch of guitars so he has seen me do this. He says he can't just sit behind a computer but must be around people, so he needs the team approach.
                          I'll respond assuming your son is interested in becoming an engineer. Recording of public performance is something different, as I've never seen that type of coursework offered in the engineering college.

                          It's probably true that if you look at a website, you will see a listing for "EE" without much detail. However, the larger engineering schools in the country provide for a lot of opportunity to specialize, once your son hits his 3rd year. This happens by taking sequences of course electives.

                          Your son should be able to talk with a guidance counselor at high school and identify a list of promising engineering schools. You need to make some appointments with the engineering departments and get a sense of what's possible. If you live in the SF Bay Area, you might want to start with Berkeley. You and your son should pay attention to the electives offered, and the types of research work that are occuring, as this will identify the core areas of the university and provide an indicator of what the market is looking for (in an engineering student).

                          Unfortunately, you're unlikely to encounter an audio design specific specialization, since not many companies are hiring in this particular space. You will see specializations for IC design, RF, communications, digital, power, etc., as this is where the industry money is. However, your son can think of audio as simply an application of electro-mechanical engineering, and acquire a suitable background by way of choosing appropriate electives.

                          My suggestions for such electives would be control system theory, power electronics, electromagnetics, electrostatics, thermodynamics, acoustics, and digital control. Analog and digital electronics are typically part of the core curriculum. If your son is interested in manufacturing, it would be a good idea to include some industrial engineering coursework, too.

                          Last, I believe that true learning occurs with bench time, as text books and software teach analysis, but actually building something teaches design (which is very different than analysis) and troubleshooting skills. For example, I've never seen a course for printed circuit board layout and design, but an oversight here can thoroughly compromise a project. Therefore, the above coursework should be complemented with lots of lab coursework, perhaps independent study, and appropriate summer internships. It's extremely frustrating to encounter a new hire with GPA >4.5 that can recite Ebers-Moll equations, but cannot resolve a short circuit or figure out a feedback loop instability.

                          Regards,

                          Rob

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: best colleges for audio

                            Originally posted by HareBrained View Post
                            I have an Aero Engineering degree but I develop embedded systems software for FAA certification, and the best advice I can offer is that within any institution, your son can make whatever he want to happen. Universities are simply frameworks within which a person can come out with whatever they desire.

                            When I was in school, I was focused on getting to the other side. I followed the structure provided and 4 years later, I was on the door step to a career but there were no doors, just walls. I was lost. I had friends who didn't know what they want when they entered nor when they left. They were as lost as I was. Then there were the few who understood that it was going to be whatever they wanted it to be. They molded the framework into what they needed it to be. They found people of similar interests. They found advisers and professors who shared their vision of what the experience was supposed to be and enlisted their help to bend the structure. Every curriculum has "independent learning" classes. They're there to manipulate the system. The one caveat to this is that it's highly dependent on the people. Not everyone wants to be different or will want to help someone else be different. It's very important to establish that during the search. But even then, if it doesn't work out, he can always transfer.

                            Lastly, he should consider taking 5 years and he shouldn't rush it. I regret not "smelling the roses" during that time. And no one said to me, "You're not living in the here and now. You need to look at where your stepping and not where you think you're going." I think I might have ended up in a far different place.
                            Excellent post.

                            I have to agree with everything you said. It's all very true.

                            I found I got focus in school once I got a decent coop position. I was then able to apply what I was learning and at the same time think of application in my classes. It delayed my degree, but made it all that more valuable. It also made school much more enjoyable (even though my schedule was absolute hell.. ).

                            There's a lot more to school than getting good grades. Actually taking something from the courses is more important than a top notch grade. What's the point of acing and exam when it all falls out your ear after?

                            University isn't about being taught, it's about using the framework to learn what you need to be successful. It took me a few years to figure that out :(.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: best colleges for audio

                              University of Miami, USC, Georgia Tech, Penn State, numerous Michigan Schools, University of Ottawa?, UCLA, Illinois,

                              State of the art testing equipment is expensive and necessary to be part of a program that will help him be in an innovative environment, the device required to measure my Speaker processor's S/N ratio cost $86,000 and that was a cheap one.

                              The best audio designers for electronics are RF/microwave etc engineers, because an RF engineer learns to preserve every aspect of the signal or the system doesn't work.

                              Computer Science (DSP)/Acoustics/Audiology important disciplines for the designer to understand, and having access to this information via elective classes and associated programs. Univ of Miami is very well rounded in this regard.
                              Yeah I built a couple speakers....

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