Sound engineering is an exciting course for those who want to make a career in the music industry. Read this article to know the details about the various courses in sound engineering.

Sound Engineering Courses

Have you ever wondered while listening to your favourite music CD, who or what made the sound of that guitar so perfect? Or how on earth did the makers of a certain war film manage to make the sound so gut-wrenchingly real. Well, the technicians casting their magic to make it all sound so great are called sound engineers. Sound engineers are the people who record sounds and music in studios and locations and mix and modulate them to create what you hear from your speakers. Sound or audio engineering is a niche course for those who are really passionate about music and sound recording. Though now, the number of people learning this art has slowly but steadily increased and a number of colleges and institutes offer a variety of courses to satisfy this growing number. From short-term certification courses which last a few weeks to degree courses which last four years, the choice is huge. There are both graduate and undergraduate courses with degrees in arts, science or music to choose from. Given below are details regarding these courses to help anyone who is interested in sound engineering. 

Career In Sound Engineering

Course Details

For degree courses, the eligibility criterion varies in different universities. In the US, most do require you to take standardised tests like SAT I (Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (American College Testing) for undergraduate courses or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and a bachelor’s degree in a related field for graduate courses. Along with this, you have to face the all important audition and interview. The rest of the requirements are similar to any undergraduate/graduate course such as, good education record, satisfactory essays and statement of purpose. In other countries such as UK and Australia, the admission process for degree courses requires you to have a decent education record and a satisfactory performance in the interview and audition; they may or may not require you to take standardised tests. Some may even ask for a portfolio and/or work experience. For international students in English speaking countries, English language tests like TOEFL, IELTS, etc are mandatory along with the other requirements. Some institutes and universities around the world have their own selection exams followed by interviews. For short term certification courses or diplomas, requirements are much less stringent and anyone who can pay for these courses can study them. 

Details Of Course Curriculum

For short term diploma courses the curriculum generally covers:
  • Basic Sound Theory
  • Professional Recording Studios and Studio Equipment
  • Advanced Studio Softwares – Pro Tools, Logic Studio, etc.
  • Studio engineering - Record, Edit, Mix & Master
  • Audio Post-Production 
The curriculum for graduate degree courses is something like this:
  • Fundamentals of Audio Technology
  • Digital Audio Workstations
  • Sound Studio Techniques
  • Music Theory
  • Sound Synthesis
  • Production Mixing and Mastering
  • Studio Management
  • Business of the Audio Industry    

The elective subjects may be different for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science.

Post graduate programs are more specialized and have the following courses in the curriculum:
  • Sound Design for Film, Video and Animation
  • Sound Design Resources and Analysis
  • Postproduction Methodologies
  • Music Mix and Mastering
  • Sound Art
  • Audio Systems Engineering
  • Modular Synthesis
  • Electronic Music Production 

Sound and audio engineering is a highly diversified career and one can specialize in one or more fields which are of interest. But even so, it is important to have knowledge of all the facets of the industry as chances of getting good work increase. One can specialize in many different areas, some of these are:

  • Studio sound recording and mixing, in which one learns to record various musical instruments/vocals/sounds inside a studio by setting up microphones and adjusting levels from the console, and then mixing the tracks to create the best sound possible.
  • Live sound, where one sets up the sound mix at live concerts and works mainly at concerts and live events.
  • Acoustics, where one learns to acoustically analyze performance spaces and find solutions for the best sound setup possible there.
  • Post-production, where the sound engineer mainly works on the sound design for films and videos which includes music and sound effects, dubbing, foley (process of recording the ambient sounds, effects and soundscapes for films), etc. 

Skills Required
Sound engineers majorly deal with musicians who want to get their music recorded and produced by them. So, sound engineers need a trained ear for the subtleties of music and sound. It is not surprising to find that most of the sound engineers are musicians themselves. Secondly, they have to work with high end technology, so should have an interest in analog and digital electronics and all sorts of recording equipment, including musical instruments. They should be extremely confident and comfortable using computers as recording is a completely digital process these days. They should have strong work ethics and should be able to pay attention to the minutest detail. They should be extremely smooth and fluent in their work and should never be the cause of holding up recording. Lastly, they have to be excellent communicators as they should be able to give exactly what the artists need and should be able to extract the best from the artists. These skills are essential whether one works at live events or for films. 

Career Prospects
Sound engineering is often viewed as a glamorous profession because of the chance one gets to work with famous musicians and film makers. And truly, sound engineers have bright career prospects but only if they are willing to persevere. There are a large number of established sound engineers who are highly paid for their services. However, to get a break at the top level, one should be willing to intern and do small projects for some time. Sound engineers are employed by musicians for recording and production, film units for recording and post-production, event management firms and musicians for live events, radio and TV stations for broadcasting shows, gaming companies for sound design, etc. So, there are many options to choose from. Sound engineers may have to assist established engineers for some time before they can think of branching off on their own. There has been a steady growth in the number of employed sound engineers and it is expected that there will be an eight percent increase in employment in the next decade.

Some Of The Best Institutes Offering Courses In Sound Engineering
  • Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida.
  • Frost School of Music, University of Miami, Miami, Florida.
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York.
  • School of Music, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • College of Arts and Sciences, American University, Washington, D.C.
  • School of Liberal Arts, Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia.
  • School of Music, Ithaca University, Ithaca, New York.
  • SAE Institute, Sydney.
  • The Art Institute of Tennessee, Nashville.

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