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

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Authored by Dan Thompson, John Storyk

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Course Code: OMPRD-507

Next Term Starts April 8

3-Credit Tuition

$2,760

Non-Credit Tuition

$2,560

Are you prepared to enroll in this graduate course?

Take the self-assessment quiz to check your readiness for this material.

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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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Introduction to Studio Design

  • Form Follows Function: Ergonomic Studio Design Principles and Components
  • Program
  • Sound Isolation
  • Sound of the Space
  • Technological Activity/Workflow
  • The Traditional Studio
  • Tom Hidley Control Room Design
  • The Modern Production Studio
  • Bridging the Gap
  • Assignment 1: Research of a Music Production

Lesson 2: Basic Acoustic Principles: Sound in Rooms

  • Sound Transmission Isolation vs. Internal Room Acoustics
  • Sound Transmission Isolation
  • Flanking Paths
  • Vibration Isolation
  • Other Noise Sources
  • Internal Room Acoustics
  • Absorbers
  • Sound Isolation Measures
  • Internal Acoustic Measures
  • Small Room Acoustics
  • Using RTA, FFT, and RT60
  • Assignment 2: Acoustical Room Measurements: RTA, FFT, RT60, and NR

Lesson 3: Architectural Studio Programming

  • Defining the Program
  • Additional Considerations
  • Choosing the Site
  • Sound Isolation Considerations
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems
  • Alternating Current (AC) Considerations
  • Power Conditioning
  • Grounding Considerations
  • Balanced Power
  • EMI/RFI Considerations
  • Assignment 3: Goals for Your Production Environment

Lesson 4: Architectural and Ergonomic Design Fundamentals

  • Initial Programming—Bubble Drawing
  • Sketching out the Initial Layout
  • Basics of Computer Aided Drawing (CAD)
  • Translating a Sketch into a CAD Model
  • From Sketch to CAD Rendering—Examples and Case Study
  • Assignment 4: Sketching out and Rendering a CAD Model of Your Studio

Lesson 5: Low Frequency Analysis and Control

  • Understanding Modes
  • Room Ratios
  • Add Closet/Machine Room
  • Large vs. Small Room Example
  • Schroeder Frequency
  • Non-Rectangular Rooms
  • Applied Modal Analysis
  • Approaches to Low Frequency Control
  • Traditional Brute Force
  • Narrow-Band Helmholtz—Type Resonator
  • Narrow-Band Membrane or Panel Absorber
  • Broadband Diaphragmatic or Plate Absorber
  • Low Frequency Analysis Examples
  • Assignment 5: Modal Analysis of Your Space, Room Modes, and Low Frequency Control

Lesson 6: Sound Isolation Techniques

  • Mass vs. Decoupling, and Coincidence Dip
  • Specifics of Room-Within-a-Room Construction
  • Flanking Paths
  • Assignment 6: Sound Isolation for Your Production Studio

Lesson 7: Audio Systems Fundamentals

  • Analog vs. Digital
  • Multitrack Recording
  • Signal Processing
  • Mixing
  • Large-Format Digital Consoles
  • Console vs. Controller
  • Recording Platform
  • I/O and DSP Comparison
  • Managing Audio Cabling: Signal Types and Cable Runs
  • Assignment 7: List of Components and Signal Flow

Lesson 8: Advanced Schematic Design and Plan Development

  • Translating Studio Programming into Schematic Design
  • In-Wall Monitor Systems and Monitor Overview
  • Main Monitors: Types
  • Mid-Field Monitors
  • Subwoofer
  • Close-Field (a.k.a "Near-field") Monitors
  • Amplification
  • Laying out the Elements
  • Rendering the Plan and Elements in CAD
  • Assignment 8: Detailed Schematic Layout and CAD Document Package

Lesson 9: Internal Room Acoustic Treatment Technique

  • Low Frequency Revisited
  • High- and Mid-Frequency Absorption
  • RT60 Guidelines (500 Hz - 1 kHz)
  • Calculating/Predicting RT60
  • High- and Mid-Frequency Reflection/Diffusion
  • Commercial Diffusors
  • Integrated Internal Acoustic Room Design
  • Safety, Code Compliance, and Fire Proofing
  • Assignment 9: Details for Internal Room Acoustic Treatment

Lesson 10: Studio Monitoring

  • Monitoring Fundamentals
  • Phase
  • Subwoofer
  • Monitor EQ, Phase Alignment, and DSP Options
  • Self-Correcting Monitors
  • System EQ
  • Final Measurements and Adjustments
  • Surround and Beyond
  • Assignment 10: Final Project (Part 1)

Lesson 11: 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 11: Final Project (Part 2)

Lesson 12: Advanced Audio Systems Design

  • Power Regulation/Power Conditioning
  • Grounding RFI/EMI
  • Clocking
  • Digital Audio Transfer Protocols, I/O Revisited
  • Audio Networking (AoIP, Dante)
  • Signal Flow Revisited—The Hybrid Recording Studio
  • Case Study: Berklee's Mastering Suite (160 Mass. Ave., Boston)

Requirements




Prerequisites

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 (http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)


Hardware Recommendations



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 (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

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Author

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


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Author

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

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Architectural, Acoustic, and Audio System Design for the Modern Music Production Studio can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Degree Major

Questions?

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

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

Comments