Winter 2023

MUSI 355 – Sound Recording

Course Description

An introduction to the practice and theory of sound recording

Learning Outcomes

By the completion of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • understand basic audio concepts and terminology
  • demonstrate practical skills and knowledge in the act of recording sound
  • gain working knowledge of audio technology including microphones, preamps, handheld recorders, and DAWs
  • gain various audio manipulation skills including editing and processing
  • create a technical plan for different recording situations
  • understand the signal path in a typical recording studio

Course Schedule

Week 1

  • Overview of the course, assignments, and facilities
  • Traditional stages of music production
  • Evolution of recording/music production paradigms and the boom of affordable audio devices

Week 2

  • Fundamental skills for sound recording
  • Demonstration of different types of microphones and polar patterns

Week 3

  • What is sound? How do we hear?
  • Psychoacoustics
  • Digital audio fundamentals

Week 4

  • Terminology related to recording and microphones
  • Detailed studio orientation
  • Choosing the right microphone for the job
  • Vocal recording

Week 5

  • Vocal and podcast recording techniques
  • Introduction to A/B, X/Y, ORTF stereo recording techniques
  • Common techniques for recording piano

Week 6

  • Introduction to Blumlein array and Decca Tree techniques
  • Experimental techniques for recording piano

Week 7

  • No classes – reading week

Week 8

  • An exhaustive survey on stereo recording techniques
  • Coincident pairs (level-encoded stereophony)
  • X/Y, M/S, Blumlein array
  • Spaced pairs (time-encoded stereophony)
  • A/B, Decca Tree
  • Near-coincident pairs (mixed stereophony)
  • Baffled pairs
  • Jecklin Disk, Schneider Disk, Binaural
  • Effects of polar pattern of microphones
  • Effects of width/spacing of microphones
  • Effects of angle between microphones
  • How we perceive direction
  • Interaural intensity differences
  • Interaural arrival-time differences
  • Outer ears (pinnae)
  • Acoustic shadowing

Week 9

  • Acoustic Guitar recording
  • Electric Guitar recording
  • Bass Guitar recording

Week 10

  • Drums recording
  • Gu Zheng recording

Week 11

  • Using a digital mixer to record live
  • Editing audio in Pro Tools

Week 12

  • Cleaning noise using Izotope RX
  • Signal processing techniques to make your recording sound better

Week 13

  • Field recording
  • Common problems and ways to overcome them during field recording

Week 14

  • Class concert


Studio Recording Project 1

  • Record a collection of at least ten everyday sounds and use the sounds you recorded to create a 60-second audio narrative

Studio Recording Project 2

  • Record a musical performance of an instrument/ensemble using at least three different stereo techniques
  • Write a short report on your thought process

Live Recording Project 1 & 2

  • Record a Noon Hour Recital in the Eckhardt-Grammatté Hall using the Presonus StudioLive AR12c mixer
  • Pick a piece from your recording session and submit a rough-mix of the selected piece
  • Submit photos of your setup and write a short report on your thought process

Final Project

  • Record any sound source in the studio and demonstrate its use in a project
  • Sound for visuals or games, music production, podcast, making a sampler… everything is allowed so long as you utilize the recorded sound in an effective manner