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

author.full_name author.full_name

Authored by Dan Thompson, John Storyk


Course Code: OMPRD-507

Next Semester Starts
June 26, 2023

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Are you prepared to enroll in this graduate course?

Take the Acoustic Fundamentals and Architectural, Acoustic, and Audio System Design 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.

Read More

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
Read Less
Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
Request Info


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)


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements

Completion of Acoustics and Audio Fundamentals for Recording or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. 

Required Textbooks

Master Handbook of Acoustics 7th Edition 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

Windows Users

Software/App Recommendations

Hardware Requirements

One of the following from the Mobile room measurement options AND one from the Desktop room measurement options:

  • Mobile Options:
    • iOS phone/tablet using StudioSixDigital AudioTools (preferred):
      • First Option (more economical): Studio Six Digital iTest Mic 2, plus mic stand. (Mic connects directly to iOS device.)
      • Second Option: Studio Six Digital 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.)
    • Android device using AudioTool:
  • PC (or Mac) using Room EQ Wizard (free) or other software (Smaart, FuzzMeasure)
    • First Option (more economical): MiniDSP UMIK-1, plus mic stand. (Mic connects to laptop via USB.)
    • Second Option: Studio Six Digital 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
  • 2x2 audio interface
  • Headphones
  • Webcam
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband internet connection

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.

Read More

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

Author & Instructor

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. 

Read More

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

Lou Clark


Lou received a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Sound Recording Technologies from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, at the master’s level, studied architecture at the Boston Architectural College, and studied sound system design at Synergetic Audio Concepts. He gained seventeen years of experience working as a drafter/designer for Alactronics Inc., a studio design and acoustic consulting firm, before founding Sonic-Space, LLC, in 2007, an acoustic consulting and design firm specializing in the design of critical acoustic spaces. Lou is passionate about music and the spaces it is created in.

Read More

Lou has been involved in the creation of around 500 studios throughout his thirty plus year career. Some highlights include studios for Jose Reyes (NY Mets), Pat Bautz (Three Dog Night Drummer), Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys), Q Division, Woolly
 Mammoth, Sound Mirror, Rapid Eye Media (Andy Edelstein), 37’ Productions (Sean Mclaughlin), Mixology (Jeff Largent), Whiskey Lane Productions (Jim Donahue), Hearstudios, Bongo Beach Productions, Red Vault Audio, Pat Keane Mastering, The Record Co., The Bridge Sound and Stage, Cambridge Community Television, Christian Science Publishing Services, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Wesleyan University, University of Miami, Hartt School of Music, Mount Wachusett Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Emerson College (WERS), Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Maine College of Art (MECA).  He is a member of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), Audio Engineering Society (AES), National Council of Acoustic Consultants (NCAC), and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Engineering (SMPTE). Lou loves sharing his knowledge and experience in acoustics and design by guest lecturing for many schools and corporations. 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 Majors


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

Get Info