Advanced Audio Ear Training for Mix Engineers


Authored by Dan Thompson


Course Code: OMPRD-262

Next Semester Starts
June 26, 2023

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


In Critical Listening 1, you'll develop the ability to hear and identify the key features of a well-balanced, artful, and professional-sounding mix. Advanced Audio Ear Training for Mix Engineers continues this process of opening your ears to gain a heightened level of music listening and awareness, while expanding your production palette and vocabulary.

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In this course, you'll learn how to identify various instruments across different genres—such as classical, big band, world music, and electronica—as well as instruments from around the world, including Latin America, the Caribbean, Brazil, India, and the Middle East. The course will examine the ranges of these instruments and their key mix frequencies, in addition to panning, mix concepts, and sound stages.

Advanced Audio Ear Training for Mix Engineers also provides an in-depth exploration of natural and artificial reverb, delay, and compression settings, and their effect on mixes and what we hear. You will study advanced sonic stamp, with in-depth comparisons of microphones, mic pre-amps, and amplifiers, as well as stereo mic configurations. Throughout the course, you will analyze professional recordings and strengthen your listening skills through advanced audio ear training drills.

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

  • Identify a wide range of instruments from around the world and across genres
  • Identify instrument ranges and key mix frequencies
  • Recognize various instruments' use within both traditional and current popular music tracks, as well as how they might fit into your own productions and mixes
  • Understand specific effects settings for reverb, delay, and compression, including decay, delay, and pre-delay times, threshold, ratio, attack, release, and stereo compression
  • Hear the effect of sonic stamp: the impact that microphone and even mic-preamp choices have on the music and instruments you record
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Lesson 1: The Orchestra

  • The Orchestra: Position and Setup
  • Strings
  • Harmonic Range
  • Woodwinds
  • Brass

Lesson 2: The Big Band

  • The Big Band
  • Brass
  • Reed Winds
  • Rhythm Section
  • The Mix

Lesson 3: Orchestral Percussion

  • Percussion
  • Definite Pitched Percussion
  • Indefinite Pitched Percussion

Lesson 4: World Percussion

  • World Music
  • Latin America/Carribbean
  • Jamaica/Trinidad-Steel Drum (Steel Pan)
  • Brazil/Africa
  • India/Middle East

Lesson 5: World Music Instruments: Part 1

  • World Music Instruments
  • Latin America/Caribbean
  • Brazil/Africa

Lesson 6: World Music Instruments: Part 2

  • World Music Instruments
  • India/Middle East
  • Other Regions

Lesson 7: Electronic Music

  • Electronic Music
  • Analog vs. Digital
  • Digital Timbres
  • Listening into the Mix

Lesson 8: Delay Revisited

  • Delay
  • Delay as Panner: Inter-Aural Cues
  • Phase
  • Delay-Based Effects
  • Flanging
  • Chorusing

Lesson 9: Reverb Revisited

  • Room Acoustics
  • Pre-Delay
  • Other Parameters

Lesson 10: Compression Revisited

  • Compression
  • Attack
  • Release
  • Peak Limiting versus Dynamic Compression Copy
  • Dynamic Limiting
  • Mis-settings and Artifacts
  • Stereo Compression

Lesson 11: Microphones

  • Microphones
  • Transducer Types
  • Advanced Sonic Stamp Properties
  • More Microphone Properties
  • Harmonic Distortion-Tube vs. Solid State
  • Stereo Miking Techniques

Lesson 12: Final Listening Evaluation/Advanced Sonic Stamp

  • Listening Review
  • Listening Examples
  • Advanced Sonic Stamp
  • Where Do I Go from Here?
  • Additional Resources
  • Growing Your Current Setup


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Completion of Critical Listening 1 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Required Textbook(s)

Required Listening

  • The Nutcracker, Op. 71, Tchaikovsky (Full Ballet or excerpt must include: Act 1. No. 4 Scène dansante. (Dance scene) Act 2. No. 12 Divertissement (Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, and Russian dances, Reed-pipes [or Toy Trumpets, or Mirlitons], Mother Gigogne)
  • Diana Krall, From This Moment On
  • Juan Luis Guerra 440, Ni es lo mismo ni es igual
  • Radiohead, Kid A
  • Madonna, Music
  • Fountains of Wayne, Traffic and Weather
  • Coldplay, Viva La Vida

Software Requirements

  • Sampling library, such as Kontakt, any Vienna Symphonic Library, East West Gold, or Garritan collection
  • Sequencing program. Viable sequencing programs include Digital Performer, Logic Pro, Cubase, and Pro Tools

Hardware Requirements

  • Full-range loudspeakers
  • High quality headphones (Audio-Technica ATH-M50 or equivalent)
  • SPL metering with A, C, and Z (linear)-weighting scales, using one of the following options:
    • If you have an iOS device, we recommend the multi-function Studio Six Digital AudioTools app, which contains RTA and FFT along with SPL metering (linear Z-weighting can be found in the SPL Pro module); or the free NIOSH Sound Level Meter App. Note: Due to the variability and inconsistency in audio and microphone performance among various non-iOS hardware devices, non-iOS SPL metering apps are not recommended at this time.
    • If you have a non-iOS smartphone, tablet, or computer, you may use an external testing microphone (we can recommend the USB uTest Mic along with your choice of SPL/RTA software.)
    • You may also use a dedicated hardware SPL meter. You will need to use the correction table in the back of your textbook to convert dBA or dBC readings to Z-weighting, as most affordable hardware level meters do not include dBZ.
  • optional: RTA (real-time analyzer) such as Studio Six AudioTools, Room EQ Wizard or Blue Cat's FrequAnalyst
  • Recommended: Audio interface
  • Hardware or software EQ of your choice (preferred), or Audacity software
  • After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

    General Course Requirements

    Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

    Mac Users

    PC Users

    All Users

    • Latest version of Google Chrome
    • Zoom meeting software
    • Webcam
    • Speakers or headphones
    • External or internal microphone
    • Broadband Internet connection


    Dan Thompson


    Daniel M. Thompson is assistant chair of Music Production and Engineering (MP&E) at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught advanced production, recording, and mix techniques, as well as music technology for more than two decades.

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    An independent writer/producer and Latin Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, his credits include work on records, feature films, and numerous network and cable television series and movies, including ER, The Sopranos, Melrose Place, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Touched by an Angel, NCIS, and Monk, to name just a few.

    Dan has authored articles on music technology for EQ and Electronic Musician, and has been a presenter and clinician on music production topics in the US, Europe, and Central and South America, including at the Panama Jazz Festival.

    His book Understanding Audio: Getting the Most Out of Your Project or Professional Recording Studio (Berklee Press/Hal Leonard) is a required textbook for Berklee College of Music's MP&E classes, as well as for numerous other music production and engineering programs throughout the US and abroad. Read Less

    David Lefkowitz


    David Lefkowitz has been teaching in higher education since 2000. He has taught courses such as physics, acoustics, electronics, sound design for visual media, music theory, audio technology, digital audio, advanced recording, and advanced mixing. David served as the assistant department chair for the Audio Production department at the New England Institute of Art. He also moderated/coordinated for the Boston area Pro Tools User Group (PTUG) and has presented at the Parson’s Expo and at other events. He is a Pro Tools certified expert instructor.

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    Under his independent business name, Lefko Productions, David worked on records with international and regional artists including Johnny A, Stuart Kimball, the Beloved Few, Entrain, Kol B’Seder, Dany Silva, Bana, and the Mendes Brothers. Bana and the Mendes Brothers were featured in the Putumayo World Disk Series. Dave was a principal business partner of Renaissance Recording Company, a commercial recording facility in Boston’s Back Bay where he worked as the chief recording engineer.

    David's passions are composition and songwriting and he is currently producing his fifth full-length album. David is additionally skilled as a playwright, a show producer, a show director, and as a musical artist. Unyfi, David's audience-centered comical rock arts show featured his compositions. Unyfi performed at the Regent Theatre and at A.R.T. Oberon in 2015. Recently, David has been venturing into sound design and so far has worked on various films including Archie's Betty, Celling Your Soul, and Whaling City. David also produced and directed a film dedicated to the legendary Boston rock club "The Rat," featuring a variety of Boston rock artists including the Dropkick Murphys. He is a member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and Broadcast Music Inc. Read Less


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