Course Meeting Times
Mix of lectures, workshops, and recording sessions: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session
In this course, you will be introduced to music recording and audio production from a practical and theoretical perspective. You will learn about the physical nature and human perception of sound, how it is transformed to and from electrical signals by means of microphones and loudspeakers, and how it can be creatively modeled through mixing consoles, signal processors, and digital audio workstations. You will learn to make informed choices about microphone selection and positioning, and we will cover various editing, mixing, and mastering techniques.
Intended Learning Outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this course should have demonstrated:
- An understanding of basic principles of acoustics and auditory perception
- A practical and theoretical understanding of basic audio recording and production techniques
- The ability to use digital audio workstation (DAW) software for the purpose of manipulating audio data
- A critical awareness regarding the cultural, social, and historical context of music technology
There are no specific prerequisites for this course.
Course Entrance Questionnaire
Because the course has a cap on maximum enrollment, students are selected for admission into the course based on a survey (PDF).
Recording Equipment at MIT
Our main vehicle for getting hands-on recording experience will be Music and Theater Art's MObile Sound System (MOSS) designed by Chris Ariza, which later in the course we will use to record various bands and ensembles in Killian Hall. While the MOSS will be available only for in-class use, you can borrow one of five Zoom H4n portable audio recorders from the Lewis Music Library's front desk overnight for smaller recording jobs.
Required Hardware and Software
You must have reliable access to additional audio editing hardware and software to work on your assignments. See the Tools page for details. Please ensure you have this access by Session 4, including testing the installation of all software packages.
Purchase of these books is not mandatory, but if you intend to pursue your interest in music technology beyond this course, they should serve you as useful references for years to come.
Rayburn, Ray A. Eargle’s Microphone Book: From Mono to Stereo to Surround, A Guide to Microphone Design and Application. 3rd ed. Focal Press. 2011. ISBN: 9780240820750. [Preview with Google Books]
Senior, Mike. Recording Secrets for the Small Studio. Routledge. 2014. ISBN: 9780415716703.
Izhaki, Roey. Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices and Tools. 2nd ed. Focal Press. 2011. ISBN: 9780240522227. [Preview with Google Books]
- Accompanying sound examples
Senior, Mike. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio. Routledge. 2011. ISBN: 9780240815800. [Preview with Google Books]
Katz, Bob. Mastering Audio: The Art and the Science. 3rd ed. Focal Press. 2014. ISBN: 9780240818962.
Assignments, Quizzes, and Grading
The following coursework will count towards your final grade.
|3 in-class quizzes||5% + 5% + 10% = 20%|
|15 reading assignments (RD01–RD15)||(5 x 1%) + (10 x 0.5%) = 10%|
|2 production analyses (PA1, PA2)||2 x 5% = 10%|
|2 written assignments (WR1, WR2)||3% + 7% = 10%|
|4 sound editing exercises (ED1–ED4)||4 x 5% = 20%|
|2 recording session reports (SR1, SR2)||3% + 2% = 5%|
|3 mixing assignments (MX1–MX3)||5% + 5% + 15% = 25%|
Letter grades will be assigned according to their numeric score, as follows.
|LETTER GRADEs||NUMERIC SCOREs|
Coursework and grading policies
- Reading assignments (RD#) will include specific questions relating to the respective reading, to which you will need to respond in writing.
- Assignments will be submitted electronically through the MIT course management system. Email submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances, even if the MIT system is down.
- You can help me make the grading process much more efficient by sticking closely to the submission guidelines given in each assignment's instructions: for instance, a .zip containing files whose names strictly follow the guideline.
- You need to complete all assignments and quizzes in order to pass this course, and you are expected to submit all assignments on time. Late submissions will initially incur a penalty of one letter grade per 24 hours. Repeat offenders will eventually receive zero scores until the situation improves.
- Your responses to reading assignments will be checked for completeness, but they will not be graded. All other assignments will receive letter grades (without + and − modifiers) per the table above. This grading scheme also applies to your final grade for the course, except that your internal grade report might include a + or − modifier with an A, B, or C letter grade. Corrected quizzes will be returned with the numeric score in addition to the letter grade.
- Grading will be conducted in accordance with MIT Academic Procedures and Institute Regulations.
- There is no final exam for this course.
This is a 12-unit class, which means you should expect to invest about 9 hours of work per week beyond the 3 class hours.
You are expected to attend all class meetings in this course.
- Any absences have to be communicated to and approved by the instructor ahead of time, so please email me as soon as you know about any scheduling conflicts. If you will miss an in-class quiz, you need to simultaneously arrange an in-lieu oral exam with the instructor.
- Unexcused absences from any in-class presentations will not be tolerated and result in a failing grade for the course. Otherwise you are entitled to a single unexcused absence without penalty. Any further unexcused absences will negatively affect your final grade.
- In-class quizzes missed due to an unexcused absence cannot be repeated and will receive a zero score.
Use of Electronic Devices in Class
If you have a laptop, please bring it along to all class meetings that are marked accordingly in the calendar. The use of laptops is only permitted for actual coursework, and I will announce when this is the case. The use of cellphones in class is not permitted.