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Old 05-01-2004, 02:59 PM
roark roark is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seattle
Posts: 55
Default audio engineering

I am an aspiring audio engineer giving serious thought to going to an audio trade school. If anyone could recommend a good school or a list of good schools for me to check out I would really appreciate it.


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Old 05-01-2004, 03:43 PM
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Chief Technician Chief Technician is offline
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 6,981
Default Re: audio engineering

Trade schools I know of - Institute of Audio Research (IAR), School of Audio Engineering, (SAE), Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, and of course, Full Sail.

I've never worked with anyone from IAR, SAE, or the Conservatory. I would only deem 50% of the people I've worked with from Full Sail as worthy.

I would not recommend a trade school. I would recommend getting a degree from a university that offers this field as a focus. At the end of the day, I (and many others) don't care if you know your way around an SSL Avant or a Neve 88R, because there are more studios that DON'T have that equipment than studios that DO have that equipment. A university education will give you other skills and experiences. Remember, we don't particularly care about what gear you've used (certainly there are some exceptions), but we care that you have the willingness to learn and have learned how to learn (i.e. being able to apply what you've learned at school where you used a DMX-R100 in a studio that has a DM2000, for example).

Having said that, here's a list of Universities:
University of Hartford - Hartt School (Music Production and Technology, requires audition) and Ward College (Audio Engineering), are 2 of the 9 that make up the University. I'm an alum of Hartt's program, I work with someone who is an alum of the Ward program, and we both work in a post studio in NYC.
New York University - Steinhardt School of Education (Music Technology). I'm in the Master's program (Bachelor's program requires audition). I have experiences I wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise and different ways of approaching engineering as a result.

Other schools I looked at but did not attend:
College of St. Rose (Albany, NY, requires audition) - worked with an alum (when I was an intern) and learned a good deal.
Ithaca College (requires audition) - program was in its infancy at the time, it's evolved to the point where I couldn't comment on its current state.
McGill University (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) - Perhaps the best Master's Program. Students get to work with recognized industry professionals such as Steven Epstein and George Massenburg. Highly selective.

Something else to reflect on (I hope you have) is why you aspire to be an audio engineer. All I'll say is expect to make less than $25k a year to start, and to pay dues (even as a paid assistant) for years before you get to be in the captain's chair. If you are getting into this for the payday, consider accounting. You get into this business for the love, and the success follows later.

That's my viewpoint. Take it as you want to take it.

Good luck!
Jonathan S. Abrams, CEA, CEV, CBNT
Apple Certified - Technical Coordinator (v10.5), Support Professional (v10.6 through v10.10)
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Old 05-01-2004, 05:55 PM
sdemott sdemott is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 242
Default Re: audio engineering

Don't forget one of the best (with something like 90% of grads working in their fields - according to their last alumni survey): Berklee College of Music in Boston. They have one of the the best Music Production & Engineering programs. You will have to be a good enough musician to get into Berklee first and then do well enough during your first year to get into the MP&E program. Check 'em out at www.berklee.edu

Always err on the side of perfection.
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Old 05-01-2004, 11:36 PM
DC11 DC11 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 52
Default Re: audio engineering

Musicians Institutes R.I.T. Program is pretty good as long know what you want before you get in there. What I mean by that is, if you just want to learn some stuff to better record and produce your music, then know that. If you're wanting to actually become an engineer, then know that. There is a never ending supply of knowledge flowing through that place, but you have to know who to ask and how to ask it. Figure out what you want before you go in and you'll come out 100x's better. I've heard some people complain about the program, but I happen to love it. I don't have to many bad things to say about it at all. I know I want to get out of the place, so I'm thrilled about it. Since you're posting on a Pro Tools forum, you must be interested in recording on that platform. R.I.T. is great for that, because there's 5 classes dealing with PT. I wouldn't know half of what I know about PT if it wasn't for this place, more then half actually. They've got 10Mbox station, 10 001 stations (soon to be 25) 2 Mix + stations, 3 HD stations. As for boards, 1 SSL, 1 Neve, 1 D8B. I could explain in better detail if you need it, but theres the jist.
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Old 05-02-2004, 12:57 AM
ZiggY!! ZiggY!! is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 43
Default Re: audio engineering

Im studying Sound Composition and Production at Wollongong University just south of sydney here in Australia. It doesnt have all the high tech gear that private colleges have like SAE, but it fills you with the knowledge.

Its a 3 year degree which focuses on Improvisation (not a judgement on performance, but rather as a means to simulate new and creative ideas), Composition where you are encouraged to collaborate with the performers, creative writers, visual artists and graphic designer that complete the creative arts department. In composition you have access to 2 seperate studios both running protools LE (one with a 002 and the other with Protools|24 & motormix). Both have an extensive range of synths and plugins. Not to forget the Live room and 3 studio recording rooms... and the grand piano... Composition is based a lot around combining more than 1 media. Right now im doing a Flash/Protools project with image and sound... Along with this class comes a guest lecturer once a week... which includes local and not so local composers that talk about how they come up with there music, etc, etc.

Acoustics is the 3rd class. It studys everything and anything that has to do with sound. How its made, what it does, why it does it, digital sound, analogue sound, how every instrument creates its sound, how recording gear works etc, etc, etc. It has some pretty serious maths to match but i think it helps me write and record music because i have more of a grasp on what is actually going on. Its good stuff, Its like a combination of Philosphy, Physics and History.

then the other classes that are done for a semester or so are: Notation + Using Computer based Notation software, Indigenous & world music, and also a 6week period of teaching music at a primary school (its a class thing so there are 18 of us present at the school who have to create and teach a music program to 5th graders (about 10years old). There is also a creative arts Business class that covers the basics of copyrighting and not getting screwed...

It leads to a few career options like Producing, Composing & Sound designer for TV, radio, Web, film... the list goes on.

If i really want to learn more about how a studio operates i could do a 6 month course at SAE that covers Studio Operation and fundamentals. Surely applied knowledge is better than theortic knowledge. Each recording, score and assignment i do in the 3 years at uni are all relevent Resume material. I'd much rather handover a folder filled with recordings, web-based work, and mixes as well as the piece of paper that is the degree than just a peice of paper. Its good to know that everything i do now, can only be beneficial to me when i seek a job in the future. Wherever you decide to study try an make it a place that will fill up you resume, not just your head.
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Old 05-02-2004, 05:05 AM
Akakgak Akakgak is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: L.A.
Posts: 23
Default Re: audio engineering

hey hey,

you should give serious thought as to whether you want to do this stuff or not. $$$ should not be the issue as a few have previously mentioned. i'll give you some of the details of my own experience in this bit just to give you some stuff to chew on.

on me: i had favorite producers and engineers before i was in high school. i purchased albums i knew nothing about strictly on who produced or engineered it and had lengthy critiques of records with lousy or wimpy sound (i was a thrash metal junkie in the 80's.) i was 13 or so and doing this. a true listening freak.

quick on my career: went to a 3 year program at a university. did 3 internships over the course of a year. washed dishes and did indie albums for a year after that. move to L.A. runner (food getter/cleaner) for 6 months and study my ass off 24/7. move up to assist (patch cables, do set ups, but nothing creative.)

since then, worked at some of the biggest studios in L.A. as an assistant. always studying to learn more and be better than the next guy. always working at least 75 hrs a week. always hurting for rent. my best yr was $35K. that was when i was doing 80 to 100 hrs a week regularly. divide that into a normal work week and i'm in poverty.

i should mention that i was considerably more successful than most cats that wind up out here. things went very well for me. i'm not bitter. i got a lot of very choice gigs and worked on many big projects. i knew guys that got food for 2 years and never set foot in the rooms to actually work on a record.

i've made up my mind that i'm out of this crap as soon as i'm sick of being a musician. i still record because it serves the band cause, but i'm out when i'm sick of the band idea. i'm giving it another couple of years, after that it's back to school for something that pays.

you should know up front though that everything else in your life will suffer from neglect. relationships will fail. girls will not believe you didn't call for 10 days because you were working 16 hours a day. your friends outside of the studio will have little in common with you 'cus they've been getting on with their lives after their 8 hr. day and on their weekends off. if you have the day off it's because your friends at the studio don't.

it should also be mentioned that i was on the music path. post never interested me. there's great money and a pretty good lifestyle in post if that's what you want. it was never for me. it was always about witnessing a great record for me.

things are not getting better either. labels are signing fewer acts. the budgets on those acts are getting smaller. less money all around. add to that more and more schools cranking out more and more students. students that really don't know very much but think they do. those folks are now forced to compete with true engineers that were doing records a few years ago and are having to step backwards just to get by. guys that were getting $500 - $1000 a day, now assist again for $10 / hr. it's ugly.

so if you're still here after all of this long-winded B.S. my OPINION is to get into what i call a "foot in the door" program. Conservatory of recording arts in Tempe, AZ, Los Angeles Recording workshop, Musicians institute in L.A. my basis for this opinion is that none of the schools crank out people that immediately start working on legitemate stuff. you will still most likely land a running gig. so don't go into major debt on the education for this stuff. you won't make the $$$ back anytime soon. the real learning is going to come from the work you put into that first toilet cleaning gig. you're going to learn from the time you put into studying when you're not cleaning.

all of the above programs will teach just enough to have a conversation in audio. you will not be ready to make a great record at the end of it so save everyone some grief and don't think you will be.

i, personally, am not a fan of full sail. they cost a [bleep] and they're no better than any of the other programs that i've mentioned. Berklee is badass, but it's tough to get in and, again, you'll still get food when you graduate. there are a bunch of schools, but let me repeat: don't go into massive debt for this stuff. you won't see the $$$ back for a long time. get into a studio, study manuals every chance you get and move up. don't watch TV when it's slow. get a manual even if it doesn't make sense. it shouldn't. not until the 3rd time you read it, but by that time you'll have real questions to ask someone and not just "how does this work?"

i'm tired of typing. good luck if you jump.

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Old 05-03-2004, 08:13 AM
Kelly M. Pieklo Kelly M. Pieklo is offline
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 134
Default Re: audio engineering

(1) Make sure that wherever you end up attending that you give yourself a good 3-5yrs to get established. When I started, I needed 2 other jobs in addition to being one of a few engineers at a larger studio - beginning engineering jobs don't pay all that well. (2) To quote what I was told of a rep from one school (off the record, of course), "Most of the kids here won't have what it takes to continue in engineering - their parents have the money and they want to see them do something after they drop out of the university." (3) In this day and age, make sure you're DIVERSE in the kinds of projects you're working on - work with animations, quicktimes for web content, flash animations, corporate work (not always glamorous, but will pay the bills!), logo work, etc... Good luck.
"I don't feel tardy." - DLR
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Old 05-03-2004, 08:48 AM
mixer mixer is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Parrish fl. usa
Posts: 720
Default Re: audio engineering

trade schools are good..but i would absolutely go the university route...university of miami,berkley, almost all major colleges have a recording program now .also make sure you get protools certified. with the depression in the music industry and studios going under..unless you want to do location work or sound for film or video you will need the best credentials you can get....

gary m.vandy audio productions
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Old 05-03-2004, 10:33 AM
RobMacki RobMacki is offline
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Jefferson State, USA
Posts: 2,968
Default Re: audio engineering

I agree with the last two posts.
50% of all entering freshman are undeclared.
50% of all declared students change their major by the time they graduate.
If you are enrolled in a school that offers Arts and Science you can change if it is the best thing for you.
Read everything you can on the subject to see if you are totally interested for the long term.
Bob Katz "Mastering Audio" comes to mind.
Try to get to trade shows if possible.
Try to get some experience (as much as you can) now or while you are in school.
Train your ears.
I majored in Music and now own my own small but HD project studio, I still need to diversify to make a living.
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Old 05-04-2004, 04:56 PM
roark roark is offline
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Seattle
Posts: 55
Default Re: audio engineering

Thank you all so much for you insight.

It seems to be the general consensus of this forum that the best way to learn this stuff is to just dive in and do it, and that the networking opportunities I will gain by doing so will in the end be much more valuable than a $35,000 piece of paper from Full Sail.

Right now I am putting in quite a bit of volunteer time at a local professional studio. Between that, my mbox and the books I'm reading. I am learning more information than I know what to do with.

I will still continue to research schools even though I don't see my self attending one in the to near future. for now I think I am right where I should be.

A word of advice for those of you who are researching schools. Don't give them your phone number. I made the mistake of giving Full Sail my number and now they call me a little more than I like them to.


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