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Also, should i go to school to learn audio production or should I just try to learn on my own through internet tutorials and stuff? If I go to an audio production school it seems that they teach you how to use consoles and how to work in studios, will they also teach me how to make beats on a computer (digital audio workstation), or could I take what they have taught me in school and learn the d.a.w. on my own time? I was thinking instead of majoring in audio production I could major in computer science or electrical engineering and minor in audio production. Would I get enough knowledge in audio production with a minor? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated? Thank you.

  • can you expand on why you're asking this on a sound design forum? are you interested in a sound design career (you're welcome to ask for advice! )or audio technical (please look elsewhere, sorry) – Arnoud Traa Jul 27 '14 at 19:07
  • @ArnoudTraa, for someone at the beginning stages of an audio career, the end goal is IMO not terribly important. Whether you'll end up in sound design, studio production, live reinforcement, etc, having a proper foundation of understanding of sound and the tools we use is paramount. Getting an answer to that question is useful no matter what the end goal is. I wouldn't turn someone away from the knowledge they can get here just because they don't know that sound design is their career goal as they begin. – JoshP Aug 27 '14 at 12:23
  • I think you're right that someone shouldn't be 'turned away' because of a lack of direction. I was trying to make a point about 'sound design' (the name of this stack) and thought bringing it up would help him and this place. But in hindsight my comment wasn't clear about that. – Arnoud Traa May 11 '15 at 13:49
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No, unless you plan on programming DAW software, Computer Science is of almost no benefit at all. They are not even remotely similar fields. I say this as someone who studied Computer Science and Electronic Media, Arts and Communications as a dual major in college. One major was all my math and science courses, the other was all my humanities and social science courses. They had no overlap at all. I know both fields and have been doing professional level work in both fields for over a decade.

As for self study, you can learn a lot of technical information online through self study, but there is ABSOLUTELY NO SUBSTITUTE for hands on, and more importantly, ears on learning. To really develop, you need to learn the music and artistry of sound which you learn from doing it, hands on, and getting critiques to help figure out what works and what does not.

A minor is more than enough to get you a solid start in the field if you intend to do it on the side and not as your main career. Alternately, you could find local organizations that have people that could take you under their wing. Getting involved with local community theater for example will generally put you in touch with relatively experienced sound engineers who can help you learn the ropes.

I personally started working as a volunteer with community organizations, then moved up to conference, concert and music festival work and then finally studied as part of my college major (entirely for fun since the money is twice as good for half the time in software development and I like both equally.) While I was in college, I also got involved with the campus audio production group and the distance education program, both of which gave me further opportunities to learn and hone my skills in addition to my coursework (which was already largely unnecessary by the time I actually did it.)

Overall, if you are willing to put in the time and volunteer with knowledgeable professionals in your area, you can learn everything you need to know without spending a dime, other than gas money and maybe hotel to go to and stay at shows and conferences. Start out small with people who know a little bit more than you and work your way up if you don't want to spend the money on the degree.

The most important thing is to never forget art first, then technique. So many people that come from technical backgrounds want to focus on the technique and refine that, but they don't know how to properly use any of it, so their work always sounds cold and unfeeling. Learn the art of it, learn what it should sound like, then learn how to make it sound that way.

Now that you've mentioned electrical engineering as well, THAT would be useful. Art is still the most important part, but electrical engineering is super helpful for diagnostics work, particularly for live systems that need to travel and have a tendency to run in to unique problems with setup and configuration at each location. Having a knowledge of how the systems actually work is helpful for being able to get problems resolved quickly and efficiently. It lets you understand how the signals and systems work and keep them running smoothly, but it is still highly secondary to knowing what "good" sounds like and being able to tell what you need to adjust to get to that sound.

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What's your goal? Where do you want to eventually be working?

Computer science and engineering are very different than audio production, even if there are similar concepts shared between them.

To most people, I recommend internships over going to school. If you spend your time trying to learn as much as you can through audio engineering books and production books/tutorials, you can apply at a proper studio to be an intern, even if unpaid. You'll learn a ton and you'll meet real working people that might hire you when your internship is finished.

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What I learned at an audio production school was a lot of very useful theory.

We weren't taught how to use a console, we were taught how to learn how to use a console. For example, we learned how to read the console's schematic block diagram, so that no matter where we ended up, we could, in a matter of minutes (or hours) understand what all the buttons, switches, etc on this particular console did. Very useful!

We learned about how to listen critically, how to identify different frequencies. Of course, we also put this theory into practice as well with pink noise and EQing exercises, but to be sure, the foundations of the theories were paramount.

Audio production school would definitely be a useful foundation for diving into sound design, as long as the school focuses on the theory and mechanics of sound and the tools we use to record and mix it.

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Having studied music tech for over 8 years, i now write software, i would say that it is incredibly useful to know about computer science and electrical engineering. Not only will it give you more context as to what all those little electrons are doing. It will also give you some key skills.

For example knowing how to use a console is one thing. Knowing how to pop it open and fix it is another. This would most likely get you many Hit Points when trying to get a job.

In regards to your question of when will they teach you to make beats. They probably wont, Making beats is easy enough. But understanding said beats and EQ's is also really important and learning the basics will make using DAW's a lot easier. Open the mixer in logic and bam you get a console. Open it on Pro tools and bam the same console with the same In/Outs's.

In regards to your decision to major or minor in audio production thinking about what you want to do as a career is the next step.

Do you want to sit in a studio bouncing down tracks for bands, making beats for hiphop artists.

Or would you prefer to build and design hardware and software plugins.

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  • -1 only because you said it was incredibly useful to know about computer science but gave no support of that at all. I agree about the electrical engineering points, but computer science gives no value in audio production, only in writing DAW software, which isn't really audio production. Even most DSP development doesn't particularly benefit from Computer Science as I understand it. – AJ Henderson Aug 28 '14 at 21:12
  • Fair enough @AJ Henderson, supporting evidence is a bit hard to produce in a situation where experience and opinion are essentially the topics at play. However i do disagree with you, for example this link gold.ac.uk/ug/bmus-bsc-music-computing will take you to the goldsmiths degree course on music and computer science. "You will learn to create your own music software rather than using pre-made products, to further your artistic goals and to help pioneer the future of electronic music and digital audio production." Just like Dub artists use to make their own hardware for delay etc – xam Aug 30 '14 at 12:05

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