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Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering: Part 1 Musical Sound & Electronics

University of Rochester via Coursera


In this course students learn the basic concepts of acoustics and electronics and how they can applied to understand musical sound and make music with electronic instruments. Topics include: sound waves, musical sound, basic electronics, and applications of these basic principles in amplifiers and speaker design.


  • Week 1 - Introduction RC & Introduction to Electrical Circuits MB
    • Introduction to oscillations and sound waves, simple oscillating systems, sound pressure, sound waves, the speed of sound, wavelength, frequency and pitch, sound pressure level, loudness, making sound, properties of musical sound versus “noise”. Electronics fundamentals - charge, current, voltage, power, resistance, Ohm’s law, DC circuits, finding currents and voltages in simple circuits.
  • Week 2 - Acoustic Resonance RC & Electrical Circuits MB
    • Reflection and absorption of sound, resonances in air columns, resonances in enclosures and rooms, diffraction and diffusion of sound, reverberation, principles of designing a good music studio. AC signals, phase and complex numbers, capacitors, inductors, transformers, impedance, AC circuits and AC circuit analysis, simple filters (high-pass, low-pass, band-pass)
  • Week 3 - Some Necessary Mathematics MB & AC Circuit Analysis
    • Transistors, vacuum tubes, opamps, amplification, power gain, single-stage amplifiers.
      Converting sound to electrical signals –microphones and guitar pickups, converting electrical signals to sound – loudspeakers
  • Week 4 - AC Signals & Loudspeakers and Radiation RC
    • Electric guitar electronics, pickup design, pickup placement and tone, volume control circuits, tone control circuits. Overview of a simple guitar amplifier, power supply, volume control, preamp, tone control, power amp section.
  • Week 5 - Closed Box Loudspeaker Design RC & Ported Loudspeaker Design
    • Designing speaker enclosures, basic principles, interaction of speaker driver with the cabinet, why a cabinet at all? Speaker designs for home stereo, crossover networks, guitar amplifier (open) speaker enclosures, bass amplifier (closed and vented) speaker enclosures.
  • Week 6 - Guitar Pickup and Effects Analysis MB & Design and Construction of a Guitar Amplifier MB
    • Building the guitar amplifier, how to solder, getting the amp to work - systematic testing and troubleshooting. Visualizing sound waves, frequency content and tone, signal modification in electro-acoustic systems, tube amplifiers and distortion, wah pedal, talk box.

Taught by

Robert Clark and Mark Bocko


3.6 rating, based on 5 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 555 ratings

Start your review of Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering: Part 1 Musical Sound & Electronics

  • Anonymous
    The level of maths is higher than they suggest, you do need to be familiar with complex numbers and calculus.

    Most of the course was taken up with deriving various equations from first principles. At the end of each lesson you were left thinking "so what" - I don't really care where the equations come from, but I would like to have been told more about what they relate to in practical terms, and how to use them to design circuits.

    There were also problems with the 'build your own guitar amp' section - a couple of design errors in the circuit left students with an amp that didn't work and no help from the staff - the issues were only resolved by fellow students in the forum.
  • Emmebi
    I had to drop the course, not having enough math knowledge (knowing complex numbers is required), nonetheless it seems an interesting course (you are encouraged to build your own guitar amplifier). I hope to be able to take it once again
  • Ma Junyi

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