In Detail

Sounds Active Essential Sound Engineering is an extended interactive masterclass in five lessons.

Each lesson is split into short, easily-managed sections that can be followed sequentially or accessed individually.  The comprehensive content is presented using friendly narrative, clear illustrations, hands-on experiments and practical exercises.

Uniquely, Sounds Active experiments and exercises incorporate fully functional virtual equipment, so students get real sound engineering experience at first hand.

Lesson 1 – The Basics

Lesson 1 starts right at the beginning, assuming no prior knowledge.  It deals with sound and how it works, before taking the student on a comprehensive tour of recording studio spaces and equipment.  There’s even a brief introduction to acoustics as the tour passes through the studio’s control room.

Lesson Topics:  Sound • Frequency • Frequency Response • Harmonics • Phase • Spaces • Control Room • Live Room • Vocal Booth • Equipment • Multitrack Recorder • Microphones • Dynamic Microphones • Condenser Microphones • Compare Microphones • Polar Patterns • Speakers & Headphones • DI Box • Leads • Screening • Jack-to-Jack • XLR-XLR • RCA or Phono Plug • Cable Care

Example screens (click to enlarge):

Lesson 2 – Signal Path

Signal Path is one of the more challenging topics to teach in sound engineering, but it’s fundamental to an understanding of studio and recording technique.  Lesson 2 explores the logical flow of the audio signal as it is routed through the key elements of a studio.

Lesson Topics:  Signal Path Overview • Digital Audio Workstation • Pre-Amplifier • Receiving The Signal • Signal Matching • Phantom Power • Insert Point • Auxiliary Sends • Pan Control • Channel Fader • Mute & Solo • Subgrouping & Submixing

Example screens (click to enlarge):

Lesson 3 – Recording

The heart of Sounds Active ESE is a 16-track recording project.  The student takes over as sound engineer and works through the entire recording process.  There is step-by-step guidance all the way, from best practice in pre-production onwards.  As the song builds up, the student investigates and uses standard recording techniques in a variety of instrumental and vocal scenarios.

Lesson Topics:  Preparing To Record • Planning • Rehearsal • Equipment • Foldback & Talkback • Headphones • Mains Leads • Guitar Amplifiers • Pop Shields • Session Log • Recording Drums • Live Room Acoustics • Drum Kit • Drum Recording Techniques • 2 Microphones • 4 Microphones • Click Track • Recording Bass • Recording Rhythm Section • Recording Guitars • Microphones • Multi-Effects Pedals • Amp Simulation Software • Acoustic Guitar • Recording Guitar Tracks • Recording Keyboards • Electronic Keyboards • Grand Piano • Upright Piano • Recording Piano Track • Recording Vocals • Useful Rules • Equipment Setup • Recording Lead Vocal • Recording Backing Vocals

Example screens (click to enlarge):

Lesson 4 – Processing

Lesson 4 is all about the processes and effects that can be applied to the recording.  There are lots of hands-on experiments and exercises that explain equalisation, dynamics processing (sound envelope, compression, noise gating), reverb and other popular effects.  More importantly, the student learns how to use these processes, and why.

Lesson Topics:  Equalisation • Basic Filters • Parametric EQ • Shelving EQ • Bracketing • Creative EQ • Dynamics Processing • The Shape of Sound • Noise Gates • Compressors • Reverb • What is Reverb • Mechanical Reverb • Plate Reverb • Spring Reverb • Echo Chamber • Digital Reverb • Convolution Reverb • Using Reverb • Other Popular Effects • Delay • Chorus & Flanger • Phaser • Pitch Shifter & Harmoniser • Tremolo • Leslie or Rotary Effect • Overdrive

Example screens (click to enlarge):

Lesson 5 – Mixing & Mastering

The 16-track recording project is completed in lesson 5.  Once again, the student gets to be the sound engineer, this time taking a systematic approach to final mixdown and mastering the finished song.

Lesson Topics:  FAQ • Preparing to Mix • Performing the Mix – Mixdown • Basics of Mix • Adding Rhythm Guitars • Adding Keyboards • Adding Backing Vocals • Adding Lead Guitar • Final Touches • Committing the Mix

Example screens (click to enlarge):

Equipment Store

The Equipment Store gives you immediate access to the various pieces of virtual equipment used throughout the course.  There is a library of pre-recorded audio clips, or you can add your own audio to appear in the media bar.

Lesson Topics:  Signal Generator & Scope • Harmonics Box • Loudspeaker Phase Inversion • Simple EQ • Simple Compressor • Studio Compressor • Noise Gate • Digital Reverb • Delay • Chorus • Flanger • Phaser • Tremolo • Rotary (Leslie) Processor

Example screens (click to enlarge):