Architectural, Acoustic, and Audio System Design for the Modern Music Production Studio

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Authored by Dan Thompson, John Storyk


Course Code: OMPRD-507

Next Term Starts January 14

3-Credit, Graduate Level Course

This course will prepare you to design and implement a professional-level critical listening, recording, and music production environment for yourself or for the clients with whom you work, using professional tools, standards, and practices. You will evaluate both theoretical and case study examples of acoustical and audio system design and construction, with a focus on programmatic thinking, application of scientific acoustical measurement, architectural and ergonomic planning and design, and both traditional and modern solutions in acoustics and audio. You will complete the necessary steps from conception of idea to the final project: a complete production studio design, including site study, internal and external acoustic design criteria, architectural design, 3D architectural and acoustic modeling, final acoustic design and implementation, and audio monitoring system design.

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

  • Design and confirm the design of the production space, using AutoCAD and AudioTools
  • Plan and execute the design of a professional-level critical listening, recording, and music production environment
  • Analyze theoretical and case study examples of acoustical and audio system design and construction
  • Solve traditional and modern acoustics and audio problems
  • Apply scientific acoustical measurement tools
  • Apply acoustical data in the design and implementation process
  • Apply professional practice standards as applied to the production environment
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info


Lesson 1: Introduction to Studio Design

  • Form Follows Function: Ergonomic Studio Design Principles and Components
  • The Traditional Studio
  • The Modern Production Studio
  • Bridging the Gap
  • Assignment 1: Research a Favorite Recorded Piece

Lesson 2: Basic Acoustic Principles

  • Isolation vs. Internal Room Acoustics
  • Acoustical Measurements Review
  • Small Room Acoustics
  • Using RTA, FFT, and RT60
  • Assignment 2: Initial Acoustical Room Measurements

Lesson 3: Architectural Studio Programming

  • Defining the Program
  • Choosing the Site
  • Sound Isolation Considerations
  • HVAC, AC, and Grounding Considerations
  • Assignment 3: Goals for Your Production Environment

Lesson 4: Architectural and Ergonomic Design Fundamentals, and CAD Drawing Principles and Techniques

  • Initial Programming/Bubble Drawing
  • Sketching out the Initial Layout
  • Basics of CAD (Computer Aided Drawing)
  • Translating a Sketch into a CAD Model
  • Assignment 4: Sketching out Your Current Production Room

Lesson 5: Low Frequency Analysis and Control

  • Understanding Modes
  • Applied Modal Analysis
  • Room Ratios
  • Approaches to Low Frequency Control
  • Assignment 5: Modal Analysis and Room Modes

Lesson 6: Sound Isolation Techniques

  • Mass vs. Decoupling, and Coincidence Dip
  • Specifics of Room-With-A-Room Construction
  • Flanking Paths
  • Successes and Misses: Case Studies
  • Assignment 6: Sound Isolation Needs for Your Studio

Lesson 7: Advanced Schematic Design and Plan Development

  • Translating Studio Programming into Schematic Design
  • Laying out the Elements
  • Rendering the Plan and Elements in CAD
  • Assignment 7: Detailed Layout of Your Production Space

Lesson 8: Internal Room Acoustic Treatment Technique

  • Low Frequency Revisited
  • High- and Mid-Frequency Absorption
  • High- and Mid-Frequency Reflection/Diffusion
  • Integrated Internal Acoustic Room Design
  • Safety, Code Compliance, and Fire Proofing
  • Assignment 8: Internal Room Acoustic Treatment for Your Production Studio

Lesson 9: Construction Detailing: The Specifics

  • Studio Boundaries
  • Windows, Including Studio Glass
  • Studio Doors and Other Boundary Penetrations
  • HVAC Systems
  • Assignment 9: Required Construction Details for Your Production Studio

Lesson 10: Studio Monitoring

  • Monitor Fundamentals
  • In-Wall Monitor Systems and Monitor Overview
  • Mid-Field and Close-Field Monitors
  • Amplification
  • Monitor EQ, Phase Alignment, and DSP Options
  • Final Measurements and Adjustments
  • Surround and Beyond
  • Assignment 10: Designing Your Studio’s Monitor System

Lesson 11: Audio Systems Fundamentals

  • Analog vs. Digital
  • Console vs. Controller
  • Analog and Digital Audio Transfer Protocols, I/O
  • Signal Flow Revisited: The Hybrid Recording Studio
  • Assignment 11: Audio Components and Final Studio Design Project

Lesson 12: Studio Case Studies and Individual Project Studio Refinement

  • Iconic Studios
  • Modern Large-Format Recording Studios
  • Modern Production and “Project” Studios
  • Setting Your Sights: Finishing Your Studio Project
  • Assignment 12: Revision of Final Studio Design Project


Required Textbooks

Master Handbook of Acoustics by F. Alton Everest and Ken Pohlmann, McGraw Hill, TAB Electronics

Understanding Audio, 2nd Edition by Daniel M. Thompson, Berklee Press

Recommended Textbooks

Architectural Acoustics: Principles and Practice by William J. Cavanaugh, Gregory C. Tocci, and Joseph A. Wilkes, Wiley

Recording Studio Design by Philip Newell, Focal Press

Architectural Acoustics Handbook edited by Ning Xiang

Software Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Software Recommendations

Hardware Requirements

1. iOS phone/tablet using StudioSixDigital AudioTools (preferred)

  • Option A (more economical):  StudioSixDigital iTest Mic 2, plus mic stand. (Mic connects directly to iOS device)
  • Option B: StudioSixDigital iAudioInterface2 + omnidirectional measurement pencil mic ($60–$300 e.g. Behringer ECM8000, dbx RTA-M, PreSonus PRM1, Beyerdynamic MM-1, Audix TM1), plus mic stand and cable. (Interface can connect to iOS device directly, and to laptop via USB)

2. PC (or Mac) using Room EQ Wizard (free) or other software (Smaart, FuzzMeasure)

  • Option A (more economical): MiniDSP UMIK-1, plus mic stand. (Mic connects to laptop via USB)
  • Option B: StudioSixDigital iAudioInterface2 + omnidirectional measurement pencil mic ($60–$300 e.g. Behringer ECM8000, dbx RTA-M, PreSonus PRM1, Beyerdynamic MM-1, Audix TM1), plus mic stand and cable. (Interface connects to laptop via USB)

Required for all:

  • A professional pair of full-range (6" minimum woofer) speakers
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Hardware Recommendations




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



John Storyk received his architectural studies from Princeton and Columbia Universities. As an independent designer, engineer, and principal designer of WSDG, he has been responsible for more than 3,500 world-class audio/video production facilities, including studios, radio stations, video suites, entertainment clubs, and theaters. 

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His work includes private studios for Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Ace Frehley, Oven Studios (Alicia Keys), Roc the Mic (JAY-Z), and others. Professional audio/video installations include Soundshop, Nashville; Crawford Post, Atlanta; Talking House (San Francisco); screening rooms for NYC’s Planet Hollywood and Technicolor; conference facilities for Mercury (Polygram), EMI, CEMEX, Sumitoma; large scale educational and performance facilities for Full Sail/Platinum Post (Orlando); Ex’Pression Center for New Media (San Francisco); and Jazz at Lincoln Center/SiriusXM Radio (New York City). 

He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Acoustical Society of America, Audio Engineering Society (AES), and a frequent contributor to AES convention papers and professional industry periodicals. John is a frequent lecturer at schools throughout the nation. He has established courses in acoustics at both Full Sail and Ex’pression Center for the Media Arts. He is an adjunct professor of Acoustics and Studio Design at Berklee College of Music, Boston. Read Less


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.


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