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  • Queen's University Belfast

Critical Listening for Studio Production

This free online course is a technical ear training programme designed to improve critical listening in a music studio context.

17,709 enrolled on this course

Critical Listening for Studio Production
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

There are many qualities required to be a skilled sound engineer: the theoretical knowledge of sound and audio, the technical mastery of studio hardware and software, and diplomatic people skills, for example. But perhaps the most obvious (and often overlooked) quality required of all sound engineers is the ability to listen.

Sound engineers must constantly evaluate the sound quality of individual sound sources in a mix and evaluate how these sound sources interrelate with one another. The ability to listen critically and make these judgements is a skill that must be learnt through trial and error and repeated practice. This free online course aims to provide you with tools for developing and refining the critical listening skills relevant to contemporary sound engineering and will be of interest to musicians, sound enthusiasts and experienced sound engineers alike.

The course begins by examining the nature of sound and how properties of sound (frequency, amplitude and sound intensity, for example) are expressed. The relationship between these physical properties and the more subjective characteristics of music such as pitch, loudness, dynamic range and timbre is then examined. The remainder of the course focuses on the signal processing techniques commonly used by sound engineers when mixing multitrack recordings - for example, equalisation, compression and reverberation.

On completion of the course you will have a thorough understanding of the workflow involved when mixing a multitrack recording and will have developed the critical listening skills necessary to make informed judgements regarding individual and overall sound quality.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Properties of sound
  • Expressions of sound using the decibel
  • Signal processing techniques
  • Practice listening skills

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explore the nature of sound and how properties of sound (frequency, amplitude and sound intensity, for example) are expressed
  • Investigate the relationship between the physical properties and the more subjective characteristics of music, such as pitch, loudness, dynamic range and timbre
  • Compare how the signal processing techniques are commonly used by sound engineers when mixing multitrack recordings
  • Develop an understanding of the workflow involved when mixing a multitrack recording

Who is the course for?

No prior knowledge is assumed, but an interest in music and/or audio would be beneficial. Participants should have access to a stereo pair of loudspeakers for replay of audio examples.

Who will you learn with?

Chris is a lecturer in audio engineering at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.

Who developed the course?

Queen's University Belfast

Queen’s University Belfast is a member of the Russell Group of 24 leading UK research-intensive universities.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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