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Audio engineering school vs. learning on your own

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by lydog, Jan 25, 2006.

Audio engineering school or invest a studio and learn yourself?

  1. Learn from the pros in a state of the art facility.

  2. Learn as you go, and buy a ton of your own gear.

  3. Depends, the two are mutually exclusive.

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. lydog

    lydog Member

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    Jan 7, 2004
    Location:
    LA
    I looked into recording schools in the LA area, and for a state of the art, full time for 6 months course, it seems they're in the $10-17k range. I'm wondering if it is worth it, or if a better decision would be to invest that money into a private studio and learn on my own.

    Some additional info:
    I'm a musician first, and would be learning to produce my own music. I'm not looking to run a studio, but would probably try to pay some bills by doing some work for amateur musicians.
    I'm hoping to make my career as a performer/artist rather than a studio owner or engineer/producer for another studio.

    note: I'm trying to create a poll... hope that works out!
     
  2. g-nem

    g-nem Member

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    Montreal, Canada
    If you aren't interested in being a professional engineer/ producer, I wouldn't waste your money going to an audio engineering school. You might be able to find a local studio owner looking for an unpaid intern, though- that'll give you an idea of what's going on really quick.

    Learning about recording is a lot like learning to play- spending time with people who know more than you do and spending time learning how to do it on your own. Going to an engineering school would be as much worth it for job placement and hireability as for the knowledge you would gain (especially in only 6 months.) Buy your own studio for 10K and spend the next 5 years learning.
     
  3. duffyguitarman

    duffyguitarman Member

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    Metro Detroit, MI USA
    Buy tons of gear learn on your own, and when you have a problem, call your buddy that paid to go to one of the schools for advice.:D :D :Spank.
     
  4. neve1073

    neve1073 Member

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    intern at a good studio for free and buy some gear.
     
  5. covert

    covert Member

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    Unless you have realistic expectations of working full time in state of the art studios, teh school is probably not for you. Most of the people that graduate from these places find themselves starting at the bottom of the studio world, sweeping, cleaning the toilets, and running for coffee.

    On the flip side, investing in lots of gear that you may only have a vague idea of how to use to it's fullest is likely to be frustrating or worse.

    Starting small, and only buying gear when you have exhausted teh capabilities of what you have is probably a better route. I you lear to get the most out of a cassette 4 track unit, that knowledge will still be useful when you hit 24+ tracks.
     
  6. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Fort Mudge
    You omitted the choice "both." The two are absolutely not mutually exclusive. No knowledge is wasted.

    There are succesful engineers who have learned only by being knee-deep in the work all their adult lives, and others who have also studied in a formal environment. But I don't know any succesful (i.e. working and well-paid) engineer who has NOT had to spend hours doing grunt work in a working studio for little or no money, and all will probably tell you that's where they learned the most practical skill.

    I only engineer for my own projects and have neither of the above backgrounds, but I sometimes wish I knew more audio science.
     
  7. ari

    ari Member

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    Location:
    St. Paul, MN
    I'd also vote for DIY. That way you can start with basics and work you way up, both your gear and your skills. If you don't plan to make a living with it, that's more practical.

    That said, the best learning opportunities are with apprenticing, interning and just watching pros do it. Don't miss any opportunities to sit in on a session and be a "fly on the wall".

    Have fun!

    ari
     
  8. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Sedona, AZ
    Go to a Community College and take a "Recording 101" course. Signal flow, mic choice and placement haven't changed much in 30 years, and once you learn that, you can record anywhere, on any media.

    Then, get some basic recording gear and start making records. If you run up against the wall, ask someone for help, or research it and experiment until you solve it. Learning all this stuff takes time, and there's not really any shortcuts. You'll find out quickly if you've got "ears" or not - not everyone does, and THAT can't be learned, unfortunately. It's like any other art.

    Don't fall prey to G.A.S. - it's much worse in recording gear than in guitar, if you can believe it. <g> Most of today's pro-sumer stuff will not affect the results you get until you've really got your chops together. A good engineer can make a kickass record w/a Mackie and some Chinese mics.

    Good luck,

    Loudboy
     
  9. guitarmook

    guitarmook Member

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    Austin, TX y'all
    Quick answer is they're not exclusisve... get the theory, and the physics from classes. Wave forms, how and why mics work, how they're different, signal flow, etc - you probably won't get this stuff from an internship.

    OTOH, the most underrated, and important skill to be developed is how to quickly read people and serve their needs. If you're engineering, and somebody says "The drumset should sound more orange." You need to know how to respond quickly to that, and satisfy those people, regardless of how ridiculous you think an orange drumset might be. You're never gonna learn this kind of skill in a classroom.

    Third, all the things you read, and see won't stick if you don't USE it - most interns don't get much time behind the desk for a while, so it's important that you have some gear somewhere so you can actually PLAY with compressors and EQs and mics and start to train your ears.

    The answer is a little bit of everything...
     
  10. DJGoody

    DJGoody Guest

     
  11. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    I've never done that and I'm gettin' by...

    Interning in a big studio is just one way in to the recording field. Many big places use the intern system as free labor, w/no intention of ever letting them do more than that. We would never make our interns clean toilets - that doesn't do anyone any good. We'll ask them to fetch dinner occasionally, but then they're always included, so it's a small price to pay for free chow...

    A very valid way to learn that stuff is by starting small - recording friends, etc. and then working up to bigger and better projects, when you can handle them.

    Loudboy
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Y'know, upon re-reading this:

    >> I'm a musician first, and would be learning to produce my own music. I'm not looking to run a studio, but would probably try to pay some bills by doing some work for amateur musicians. I'm hoping to make my career as a performer/artist rather than a studio owner or engineer/producer for another studio. <<

    I think that money would be better spent ANYPLACE other than those schools.

    Get small home recording system - any system - and just dig in.
     
  13. elambo

    elambo Member

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    I'd only recommend a school dedicated to audio engineering if your career would be equally dedicated to audio engineering. As an artist/musician, your primary interest and income will NOT be engineering, so you should save the money.
     
  14. headstack

    headstack Member

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    New York
    Absolutely!!
    The schools are more interested in making money than releasing a seasoned pro (although many think they are ready to record Van Halen's next alum).
    The programs are too short to give you a real knowledge in this complex yet fun field of music.
    I was a tech at one of the schools I went to so I had the benefit of many teachers to pick the brains of. I also worked there for a year and built my teachers studio after I "graduated" so I was amazingly lucky to bypass the coffee courrier stage. This is not the norm though.
    By interning, you will be in contact with talent and you will eventually see and hear very important things that will help you in your career as a recording musician.
    One secret, is don't comment on anything unless asked (or the place is on fire) and if asked your reply should be "that's one of the best guitar solos I have heard"!!:) Your job is to make the engineer look good even if he's not and to make the talent feel comfortable. Massaging ego's can make for some magical moments in the studio.
    Rise above the crap and enjoy the good stuff...
    Good luck and have fun!!
     
  15. granite

    granite Member

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    NH
    I'm a grad of The Recording Workshop in OH. I did a 6 week intensive course back in the early 90's. It was great because it didn't cost too much like Full Sail in FL and it gave me great hands on experience. I learned my way around a mixing board, how to use and place every mic currently used, and the school's reputation and networking got me a job at Soundtrack Studios in NYC upon graduation. Once there, I was able to "play" and use state of the art SSL and Neve boards with confidence and record my own stuff for free. Granted I started off on the ground floor as a "3rd Engineer", but I knew my stuff and could step in and run the show if the opportunity presented itself. It was an invalueable experience that I still draw on today.

    http://www.recordingworkshop.com/

    I highly recommend TRW, but beware it's in the middle of nowhere. There was like one strange store within walking distance that sold the most unusual assortment of things; ham, shotguns, sweat pants, beer, etc.... You're totally isolated there which is good and bad. They know recording.
     
  16. route14

    route14 Silver Supporting Member

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    Location:
    Philadelphia
    In a time when recording studios are dropping like flies I couldn't see paying 15k to learn to be an engineer. Especially if this isn't what you want as a career. Everyone is recording their own music on their own laptops these days. You don't even have to be good because they probably have a plug-in that will fix what ever you did wrong or get you the sounds that you couldn't figure out how to get. It's going to be listened to as a 128 mp3 file anyway.

    Buy some gear, buy a book, get your free subscription to Tape Op, and ask a lot of questions.
     
  17. zadiqof

    zadiqof Member

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    Heres my take on Full Sail in Florida:
    A friend of mine went there and graduated with his bachelors degree. He is currently working fulltime at Home Depot.

    I went there to record my bands demo, the engineer we had said that all the kids going there arent learning anything. Theyre just paying for degrees. He told me he took an electronic engineering class at the community college and he went to some cheaper recording school to learn how to record, then he landed a job at Full Sail.

    In other words, don't go to Full Sail for theyre recording program.
     
  18. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Assuming anyone listens at all.

    Not to be overly pessimistic, but I can't tell you how many "professional" sounding CDs are sitting around on shelves here that if I never hear them again, no big deal.

    The best advice I can offer (FWIW, considering my checkered career) is to forget about how to record yourself and focus on what you want to record. Buy a cassette recorder and spend the rest of the money on music school.
     
  19. conundrum

    conundrum Member

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    Yeah man, I don't know why people even record these days. Let's all just not try and quite at life. yeah, that's the ticket.:rolleyes:
     
  20. KungFuLio

    KungFuLio Senior Member

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    Jul 26, 2004
    Location:
    In front of a pair of speakers... sometimes 5.1
    I fall into the category of the first two. So I couldn't, in good conscience, vote : (
     

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