Audio Engineering 1

How to get an "A" in Audio Engineering 1
and other FAQ:

How to get an "A" in Brad's Audio Engineering Class.

Where can I buy stuff at a fair price.

Why is this class important?

Taking this class was a mistake.

This class makes me feel stupid.

The short version:

Pretty simple, really. Ask questions that pertain to the class, in class and in the labs. The labs get you into Pro Tools quickly, on day one. The labs supplement what is covered in class. Do the labs often, until you don't have to think, you react. You can do as many labs in a row as your skill level can stand. All the labs are on this site and the hard drives as .pdf files. If you don't do the labs, you don't stand a chance on the Final Skills Test.

Read the text book. Get the .PDF version so you can do word searches. The syllabus lists the chapters we cover in order. Read the chapter BEFORE class so you can ask questions and get clarification. Class time should be clarification of the reading, not "here is some new information." How else can you devleop good logical questions? If you don't like reading then get the book as a .PDF and have Acrobat read it to you.

Show up to class, take notes and ask questions. I try to be different than every other teacher you will ever have. We have fun, laugh and learn. I don't want to be that guy who just drones text from a book HE wrote 30 years ago.

I lecture from the test, plus a few thousand experiential tangents. The tests are derived from the text book, mostly the blue texts. In class I read you the test question, we discuss the test question, I give to you on a silver platter the test answer. Should be pretty easy. You will have the test in your hands no less than two days before the actual test is given, provided you take accurate notes.

You need to keep the tests and Scantrons, which are marked with the correct answer for the ones you may have gotten wrong, so that you may study for the mid-term and final. The midterm consists of questions from the previous tests. The final consists of questions from the mid-term and subsequent tests. This means that you will have the final exam in your hands with the correct answers no less than one week before the actual final is given.

Do all the labs, repeatedly, until you don't have to think, you react. On day one you are handed the final Pro Tools skills test. It has all the questions and all the how to instructions to get those steps done. You have had 16 weeks to ask for clarification and other help. Yet, there are those who still manage to fail. Keep reviewing the skills test ever week to see how far you can get. Each week, you will be able to get further and further. If you practice throughout the semester, the skills test will take less than a half an hour.


So where can you buy gear and not be afraid?

Since I cannot accept any sponsorship, I have no vested interest in promoting anyone. Let me tell you where I buy all my gear, when possible. But first, lets just deal with the facts:

How may times have you gone to local big music retailer (I can't mention names) and been able to deal with the same sales person? For me, that has been a big fat zero. Employee turnover rates at retail music stores is very high. I know guy who worked there just to get the discounts.

Online retail stores have great prices. You have to pay shipping and sometimes tax. If you need help, who are you going to talk to? Is that person an industry person or someone behind a desk doing a gig, answering questions typed into a database? If you have to return it, you pay shipping again.

Auction sites - You don't know where the gear has been or what has happened to it. There is an element of risk involved. As long as you are willing to accept that risk, go for it. I have gotten some really good deals online, just be aware of the risk involved.

Whenever possible - I go locally to Mike "Spunky" Brunone at I always give him the first shot. I have known Spunky personally since we were students at UNT way back in the early 80s. He is the sole owner of the Audio DAWg, way smart, great musician and will be there when you have questions. If you want, he can even ship stuff to you. If you go to him, let him know you are in my class. When he gets done laughing, he will treat you as fairly as anyone can. At least let him try to match the mega stores. I like to support the local Mom & Pop shops whenever possible.


Why do I need to know about Audio Engineering, anyway?

If you are going to do anything in the Audio/Music industry it is always best to sound like you know what you are talking about. I have seen so many people 'put on airs', trying to seem more intelligent than they really are and end up using terms incorrectly, coming across as blithering idiots. All respect for them is out the window.

If you want to earn a living in this industry you have to not only look the part, you have to sound like the part. If you want to bill expensively, you have to look and sound expensive.

I will teach you the proper and common usages of various terms, what they mean, how they work and how to explain them to a client without offending them.

I am probably the cheapest (we Scots call it thrifty), laziest (I like to get it right the first time as you don't get paid for redos) guy you will meet. I like to work as little as possible for the maximum results as possible. This means you really have to know your stuff and other people's stuff, too. It takes some smarts to be able to work quickly. It takes a whole lot of work to become "lazy". I work at the speed of creativity. There is no "thinking" only "reacting". You hear a problem, you immediately know what the fix needs to be and what tool to use to evoke that fix. This means you have to know frequencies and gain structures.

I'll show you how to make logical, systematic decisions quickly and accurately so that you can get to the creative part of the job as early as possible. The difference between a good mix and a great mix is just a small move. But it involves every knob in the system.


Help, I want to get out of here.

Some people take this class as an elective. Some as a blow off class. If so, you have signed up for the wrong class. I take this stuff pretty seriously. The college offers the opportunity to withdraw from a class within the first several weeks. Talk to me, talk to your advisor, talk to someone to see if withdrawing is the best option available to you. If so, leave - no hard feelings. I get it. I was a student once, too. Lets get a plan working to get you through the class or to get you out as painlessly as possible.

Someone smarter than me said "If it were easy, everyone would be doing it" The class is not easy, you will have to work some, but it sure is fun.


This class makes me feel stupid.

Very often I get that comment for a variety of reasons. I HOPE is it not because you feel I am talking down to you. That is SO not my goal and I work hard to avoid that. I have no need or desire to demean anyone, my goal is to enlighten you to the audio industry. I try to go by the "How do you know, until you know?" philosophy. Someone had to tell me at some point. I do hold you accountable for doing labs and the reading and may get on your case for not doing what is expected to keep up with the class.

If you don't get something or I am not so clear in my explaination YOU must stop me. I don't know you didn't understand something unless you tell me. Have the guts to ask questions. I can and will explain things in a variety of ways until you get it. Chances are that if you didn't get it, there is someone else who who didn't get it either, but is too scared to raise their hand. Be a hand raiser, be a question asker.

Many students in this class come in pre-self educated and have made certain assumptions that are out-and-out wrong and they have been using the wrong techniques for years. You have to be willing to accept that there are other ways to do things. Overcoming someone's pride is difficult and they usually become defensive. I will never say "This is the only right way" to do something. I will say that if you want "these" results then you must do "that", whatever that happens to be, which may contradict what you have been doing for years.

Some students come in having paid for studio time to get a project done, didn't like the results, and when I show them what and how things should have happened, they are embarrassed to have been taken advantage of or for hiring such incompetent audio engineers.