What major would be best for speaker design?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris_W, Nov 16, 2001.

  1. Chris_W

    Chris_W Extra

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    Hey guys,
    I was wondering if anyone knows anything about getting into the business of speaker design. I'm a first year student at UC Berkeley and plan on double majoring in mechanical engineering and material science and engineering. I'm not quite sure what I want to do with this, but the thought crossed my mind that a career in speaker design could be pretty interesting. I was wondering if anyone had any recomendations on what major would be the best to prepare for this or what is even necessary. Would my intended path put me on the right track? Also, I know that a lot of making quality speakers is in the crossovers, but I don't particularly want to go the EECS (Electrical engineering and Computer Science) route. Thanks for any imput.
    Chris
     
  2. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    Look at Audio Engineering. I know some schools offer this major.
     
  3. Peter Johnson

    Peter Johnson Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry, but I would have to say EE would be your best bet.
    Its no so much the crossover electronics etc (you can get this out of a textbook, or model using a computer program) but the general background...fourier analysis, waves, and general electronic properties.
    I do EE, many of my friends do mechanical (I am 20yo). Most of my friends dont have a clue what I am talking about when I start talking about any audio science.
    Also, xover design is as much an art, as a science.
     
  4. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Look into going with Mechanical Engineering. That's what I did. Mechanical Engineering covers a broad range of engineering that you can't get from the other engineering disciplines. It will cover some of electrical engineering, civil engineering, material science, manufacturing engineering, robotics, mechatronics, aerospace, automotive, etc. Once you have taken all the required courses for your major you can take electives and narrow down your interests. Some of the electives that I took (advanced kinematics and robotics, digital instrumentation, advanced control systems) walked the fine line of electrical engineering. In fact, I did a few projects with electrical engineers. Particularly the instrumentation and control systems classes. Everything you learn can be applied in speaker design. You can even go from there to acoustics easily.
    There's more to speaker design then just crossovers. If you're talking about designing the driver itself then knowledge about materials, compliant systems, etc. will be needed. All these things are found in courses offered through a Mechanical Engineering program.
    Good luck!
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    Bill [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mark Hayenga

    Mark Hayenga Supporting Actor

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    Definitely EE. I'm an EE senior at UT and have been building speakers for a few years now, and there is significant overlap between my course material and my hobby. Some of the more enjoyable courses for me have been:
    Circuit Theory
    Linear Systems and Signals
    Electromagnetic Engineering
    Electronic Circuits I (an amplifier design course)
    Electronic Circuits II (essentially an active electronics class, heavy on filter theory and design).
    And I'm looking forward to taking some digital signal processing classes next semester. The major absolutely rocks for somebody interested in audio.
    EE/CE is extremely difficult though. The EE graduation rate is something like 35% at UT, and from what I understand that's a pretty typical figure at most schools. Nary a semester went by that I didn't think of dropping out, and it's taken its toll on my social life for sure [​IMG] but IT PAYS OFF IN THE END. I'm in my senior year right now, soon to be doing a double specialization in computer engineering and digital signal processing. This semester I've taken off school to work as a product engineer at a large microprocessor manufacturer (if you guys think K7s and P4s are fast - you just wait [​IMG]). Looking towards the future, I don't see any limits on anything that I might want to do, audio or otherwise.
    So, in short: More applicable to audio, extremely difficult, and badass opportunities.
    Mark
    [Edited last by Mark Hayenga on November 17, 2001 at 12:08 PM]
     
  6. Chris_W

    Chris_W Extra

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    Thanks guys,
    I think that I'm going to stick with mechanical because I really like the program here and like Bill said, it sort of encompasses a wide range of topics like material science and EE. In fact it has so much material similar to material scince that I could double major with only taking like 4 to 6 additional classes. I'd be willing to drop the material science thing and try to maybe minor in EE or just take a couple of classes that related to the audio aspects of EE, but I'm not really sure what would be the better approach. On the one hand, actually having a second BS would give actual proof that I've studied more material, but on the other hand the EE stuff might be more usable. I'm also considering that I haven't really decided on Audio Engineering yet, so the double major might give me the most options. Anyway, I'm still looking for advice from someone who is actually in the industry to see what an employer's imput would be. Thanks for the advice so far.
     
  7. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    If I were an employer I wouldn't be so concerned over what major you took. There isn't a whole lot of difference in hiring a ME or an EE straight out of college. They're both still very wet behind the ears. There's still a whole lot of learning to do in the real world. I'd be more interested in the projects they worked on and their personal engineering interests. Trainability is the key. College is about learning to learn. A college degree proves that you can learn. The major you choose just sets you off into a particular area. Mechanical is the most broad and can branch off into many, many areas.
    Peter - The reason your ME friends can't keep up with you on audio science discussions is because they haven't been gearing their studies into that direction. But they can. I had ME friends (in many of the same classes as me) that couldn't keep up with my control system discussions. But I could talk with EEs about it all day. And they were quite surprised that an ME knows about such things.
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    Bill [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Dan_D

    Dan_D Stunt Coordinator

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    hey all,
    Bill has a great point. Im also an EE/CPE double major at NCSU and i really like it. Im a junior and have just started gettin in deep. I find a ton of what we cover and learn are applicable if not directly related to audio. its really interesting. i plan to persue an audio related career and im happy w/ my choice in major.
     
  9. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    I can't believe nobody's mentioned a business degree yet...

    Greg
     
  10. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Seems to me that speaker making is a rather mature endeavor with plenty of nifty tools for measuring/modelling speakers. You just have to know how far you want to jump into this hobby.

    So much so that it doesn't really take a concentration in EE/ME/Materials to wring some good performance out of designing/building a nice sounding speaker. It's help, but not everly critical. It just takes some research and experimentation.

    But if you are interested in a career in manufacturing drivers, and designing the processes in which to make the best drivers economically, then I'd go into ME, with an emphasis on both audio/acoustics engineering, a little bit of EE, and materials.

    If you want a nice background on the theory of audio, take some audio engineering related courses (that what I did, though I can't say I remember most of what was covered in that class a decade ago).

    First and foremost, just go through whatver engineering discipline, wring from it not only the knowledge base, but the skills needed to arrive at new ways of making/desiging stuff up.

    That's the real value of an engineering degree: not what you know, but how you learn and apply concepts old and new.

    Note: I do own an EE degree.
     
  11. Robert A

    Robert A Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm an EE student myself. So, I'm biased that way. I agree with everything all of the EE's have said because I'm doing it myself. One of my professors is hardcore into speaker design. He earned BS and MS degrees in physics/acoustics then a PhD in EE. That's a lot of school but he REALLY knows his stuff. You may consider taking some acoustic classes from the physics department. Maybe even a minor in physics/acoustics. Do what you gotta do, just don't give up.

    -Rob
     
  12. AndrewJ

    AndrewJ Auditioning

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    As someone who has been in the industry for over 25 years, I thought I would add my comments. I think Patrick and Bill are very close in their assessment. In the real world, speaker design is a mix of mechanical design, acoustics, electronics and material science. No one course will cover all that you need. I studied physics with acoustics, and taught myself electronics (with help from my brother who was an EE major).
    If you want to specialise as part of a team, then physics/acoustics or EE would be best, but if you want to be an allrounder then ME is a definite plus. A surprisingly large part of designing a speaker for production (as opposed to building a one-off as a hobby)is mechanical design, especially when it involves plastic moldings.
    In the end, you will not learn nearly enough at school about the specifics of speaker design. The key is to learn on the job at a good company, one that is more than just a box stuffer. The degree you get shows ability, interest and commitment and will give your prospective employer an indication of your potential. Don't imagine however that you will be let loose designing straight away.
    Finally, if you want to get rich, forget all of this and study finance or the law (this really is talking from experience!!!) [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Chris_W

    Chris_W Extra

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    Andrew,

    Thank you for your advice. That makes perfect sense and is kind of what I was expecting. I was pretty much just interested in knowing what program would get me the most prepared for the most options. I haven't made some firm decision that I want to go into audi, but it sounds fun and is definately an option I'd like to keep open. One more question... This is a ways in the future, but for audio would it be better to go to some sort of graduate program or just to begin work for a company and learn that way? Thanks for all of the responses.
     

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