Acoustics

Author: Eric Reuter
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Become a better recording and live sound engineer, and improve your editing and mixing environment by learning the ins and outs of acoustics. Proper acoustics plays a major role in the success of any musical performance, whether it’s in a recording studio, concert hall, or outdoors. This course is designed to introduce the fundamentals of acoustics, with a focus on spaces designed for recording music and live performance. Through both theoretical study and practical experimentation, you will learn the basics that contribute to good acoustics, including control of noise, manipulation of sound propagation, and isolation of sound. You will learn how to measure and quantify these key components in existing spaces, and how to predict acoustical behavior in new spaces.

The course begins with the basics of sound, sound sources, and human perception. It then explores the relationship between the source of sound and the listener in three different scenarios: source and listener outdoors, source and listener in a room, and source and listener in separate rooms. These scenarios provide comprehensive coverage of the principles relevant to music performance, recording, and mixing.

Each week, you will be assigned acoustical problems to solve. Note that the course explores a number of mathematical concepts. These concepts will be reviewed before you are required to use them for the first time. The goal of the course is to enable you to predict and analyze the acoustical qualities of both indoor and outdoor environments, so that you can make informed decisions about the use or design of spaces in which to play, record, and mix.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • relate your experience of sound to the physical attributes of the source and the propagation path between the source and your ears
  • predict and quantify the behavior of sound in rooms, including the effects of reflections and reverberation on the clarity of music and the intelligibility of speech
  • predict and quantify the effects of outdoor environments on sound propagation, including sound barrier walls and other obstacles
  • understand the challenges of small room acoustics and their effects on recording and mixing environments
  • calculate change in sound pressure level relative to distance
  • understand the principles of sound isolation and be able to predict and measure isolation between rooms
  • measure room acoustics parameters using both traditional and state-of-the-art techniques
  • use a handheld sound level meter
  • understand sound absorption
  • understand the basic principles and requirements of vibration isolation and HVAC noise control
  • use your knowledge of these principles to improve the quality of your recordings and the fidelity of your mixing environment
 

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