Ideas for a basic Studio Technician curiculum?

intellijel

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Hi Guys,

I am putting together a course to teach students very basic studio technician skills. These students will have a very rudimentary understanding of anlaog electronics already:
-ohm's law
- kirchoffs voltage/current law
- series, parallel, series-parallel circuits
- diodes
- capacitors
- transformers
- linear power DC power supplies.
They will know nothing about transistors, op amps or AC power.

It is an 11 week course and here are some of the topics I am considering so far:

-good soldering technique
-making audio cables
-soldering/wiring patchbays
-cable management
-using oscilloscopes and signal generators
-Other measurment tools
-measuring V,I and R in circuits
-Basic fault finding techniques
-How to read schematics
-Ordering parts and creating BOMs (also sourcing hard to find parts like specific tubes or old ICs)

Computer stuff:
-Modern PC architecture
-MAC vs. PC
-Upgrading or changing RAM, HD, CD drive, cards etc.
-Assembling motherboards and sourcing parts for a new pc build
-Installing and tweaking an OS (XP andOSX)
-What are Drivers
-Creating basic LANs
-RAID systems
-Making computers silent

A couple of group project ideas for them:
-Design a cable tester, source the parts (with a proper BOM formed) and then build it

-Build a simple DC power supply from a premade PCB and order the components for it (this would just be a simple project to practice soldering). Prove that the power supply works by using measurement tools (e.g. use the DMM and scope to show the different stages of the power supply signals)


Any other ideas for topics? Projects?

I have very limited resources (hardware wise) and the students are not super technical (they are primarily music focused).

It would be kind of nice for the practical projects (building stuff) to contribute towards putting together a basic toolkit for them. The cable tester is a greta example. Anybody know of a good kit or pcb for making a basic audio signal generator?
Any other essential tools?

Any help is greatly appreciated!
 

intellijel

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They already know Ohms's law and how capicitors work.

Inductors might be good for them to know though.

They have also already learned about audio signal levels (DBM, DBVU, DBV DBFS) but only in theory classes. Maybe this is a good place for them to see what these really mean.

Tape theory is possible, e.g. how to allign a Studer 24 track

AC vs. DC power systems for sure

Balanced and Unbalanced they have already learned but I could show them how to make balanced to unbalanced circuits using transformers and op amps (to contrast).
 

wmtunate

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Some other possible topics:
Ground loops - why they happen
what is impedance and what does it have to do with audio?
how/why to avoid static discharges when working
how phantom power works and how to check it
resistor color codes
capacitor voltage ratings - what to use
how audio and/or power transformers work

Projects:

headphone amp
DI
 

zebra50

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We had a guy in the studio recently who had done some king of Mus Tech course.

He's an extremely talented guitarist, but had a loud hum on his amp. He was using a speaker cable (unscreened) instead of a screened cable. The shocking thing is that he hadn't been taught the difference.

That kind of thing should be on the curriculum!
 

intellijel

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a speaker cable? ouch!

Yeah I will definitely talk about the need for cable shields and staretgies for noise reduction / ground loop elimination (like cutting the shield on the far end of a balanced cable)
 

Emperor-TK

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Input/output impedance and loading. I have an engineering degree (chemical), and I still didn't fully grasp the real world effects of impedance until recently.

Examples:

Why a loud headphone output can be used to drive a line input without blowing out the input.

Why some headphones are louder than others.

Why you lower the output impedance of your 100watt amp when you pull two tubes.

Why 250K pots and 1M pots will sound different as tone controls in a guitar.

Why you shouldn't get potato chip grease on your microphone's PC board.

etc.
 

pucho812

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[quote author="intellijel"]

Tape theory is possible, e.g. how to allign a Studer 24 track

[/quote]

There is more to tape theory then just how to align a tape machine but I dunno how much time you can afford to spend on the subject :?
 

guavatone

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The curriculum sound more for techs than mixing and recording, but I would go with pucho on dB's and log equations and tie that into psychoacoustics.

as well as

impedance
impedance
impedance
impedance
-Whitlock's articles

and

Rane's stuff on grounding

BTW there seems to be more book and theory than practical stuff in your curriculum.
 

MartyMart

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Don't forget to warn them about "assholes and elbows" and to smile and be
polite around clients !!
I find "people skills" as important as "tech" skills in any studio environment.

Marty.
 

sonicmook56

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I wish I found a course like this when I was coming up. I was just thrown in the fire and learned the hard way.

Might want to touch a bit on surface mount soldering techniques.

When you complete the curriculum, would I be able to read it? I'm still always learning.
 

intellijel

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[quote author="Rob Flinn"]Is this a full time course or a part time course? How many hours tuition per week ??[/quote]


It's an 11 week course with one 4 hour class each week.

This is course is part of a pretty comprehensive curriculum covering all aspects of recording arts. As aforementioned they will have covered intro to analog eletronics theory in another class. In addition they have already learned about acoustics, psychoacoustics, audio signals and levels, and extensive time spent covering all aspects of recording in modern studios.


So this particular course is just supposed to focus on practical application of knowledge that will lead to better employability. It is not expected to create professional studio techs, the intention is to give them some useful skills and contribute to a well rounded audio education.

This particular set of students are usually not so keen on theory/academics. They are way more comfortable with hands on learning so the more kinetic tasks I can give them the better.

thanks for all the help so far!
 

Gold

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There was a great class at the Institute for Audio Research. I didn't take it as I didn't go there. I'm friendly with the founder, who is no longer involved. He got out when no one wanted to take a tech class. He gave me a copy of the syllabus.

The object was to record an acoustic event and predict dB spl at the speaker output. You had to string together a mic, preamp, line amp and power amp. You also put an EQ and compressor in the chain eventually.

This is practical and also teaches level, impedence and interface cabling. In the origonal course it was done with API modules. Sounds like fun to me.
 

Junction

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I can't see it being very useful for music guys to know how to build a power supply etc. It would be better focusing on real world useful issues that they may encounter, like;

What do you hear when the earth wire breaks off the headphone plug?

How to wire balanced gear to unbalanced gear (and vice versa), typically xlr to rca or 1/4 connectors, without having transformers or bal/unbal converters handy. Also how to do it properly if you have the time and money.

I would not bother with tape alignment, probably best leave that to the experts, can't imagine letting a non-tech guy lining up my Studer.

As much time as possible developing good fault finding techniques and skills, because it the daily problems we face that are generally resolved with simple basic logic that most non-tech guys have difficulty with. Do real world tests ..... is it the speaker or is it the cable that is faulty.

Sounds like fun and a great course, good luck
Michael
 

Rob Flinn

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[quote author="intellijel"][quote author="Rob Flinn"]Is this a full time course or a part time course? How many hours tuition per week ??

[/quote]It's an 11 week course with one 4 hour class each week.![/quote]

In my experiences teaching a similar course, I suspect that you may have too much content to get through it to any depth in 44 hours. Quite often you can find yourself dwelling on points that you think are easy to grasp.
 

keefaz

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I think the same, there is not enough time to learn all this stuff
I would reduce the computer lessons for my part...
-Assembling motherboards and sourcing parts for a new pc build
You mean DIY a computer motherboard ? :grin:
 

sodderboy

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I would also bag the computer parts. Eddie Ciletti has a syllabus for the tech course he teaches on his website. It is a good framework.
Paul mentioned IAR. They had many technical courses- we built a kit project each of the three trimesters.
I think less on the theory and more hands-on. That is how most studio techs learn. If there is a console, go beyond the block diagram and show the layers of documentation. Pull a channel and show the signal flow as it relates to the docs. Open an EQ and show the building blocks physically, on a block diagram, and on a schematic. To get a grasp of documentation is an important part of troubleshooting.
If you teach how to foller the Studer A800 wiring/groups/elements stuff, SIGN ME UP!! :green:
Mike
 

amorris

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maybe show how to recognize different noises, 120cycle ripple, ground hum vs ground buzz, micrphonic cables, out of polarity, etc....
 
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