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Author Topic: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?  (Read 11145 times)

Jason Lucas

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Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« on: November 13, 2012, 08:05:07 pm »

I apologize if this is in the wrong spot but I assumed this was the best place to ask.

For any of you who are professional acoustics consultants, how did you learn what you know about acoustics? Did you go to school? Do your own research? Apprentice under others?

I ask because I have a desire to learn more about sound and my knowledge of acoustics, especially in regard to large spaces, is rather limited.
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 07:12:15 am »

I apologize if this is in the wrong spot but I assumed this was the best place to ask.

For any of you who are professional acoustics consultants, how did you learn what you know about acoustics? Did you go to school? Do your own research? Apprentice under others?

I ask because I have a desire to learn more about sound and my knowledge of acoustics, especially in regard to large spaces, is rather limited.


   Hello Jason,

   To call oneself an Acoustics Consultant, the candidate must attend a College and/or University and receive the appropriate Degrees. (Master's Degree to PHD.) Then, in most States, a Licensing exam (P.E.) is taken to prove one's extended knowledge in this field.  If the candidate passes the exam, they are awarded a License/or Certification that they have attained the proper experience and knowledge. These certifications can be called a license or a P.E. (Professional Engineer)

   There are some States that do not enforce this critiera, which can cause confusion, but this situation is changing year to year, and most are enforcing the professional criteria.

   There are many people, knowingly or unknowingly, calling themselves Acoustic Consultants, that have not earned the title, many States actively prosecute these individuals as committing fraud. 

   If you are serious in a quest to persue a career goal to become an Acoustic Consultant, contact a larger University and speak to a counselor or a Professor in the Engineering Department. THey can point you in the right direction.  Expect to spend about 6-8 years in Higher education.

   Good Luck,
   Hammer
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Brad Weber

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 08:19:12 am »

Perhaps some confusion.  One should be properly licensed to call one's self an "Acoustical Engineer" or to offer Engineering services in acoustics, but as far as I know, in the US only one state has ever offered PE licensing as an Acoustical Engineer and no licensing or certification of any type is required to present yourself an acoustical consultant or to provide consulting services in acoustics.
 
Qualifying for a Professional Engineering exam requires a combination of directly relevant education, experience and other testing such as the Fundamentals of Engineering exam (what used to be the EIT or Engineer in Training exam).   A typical path would be a BS or BSE in Engineering, passing the 8 hour FE/EIT exam, 4 years of documented practical experience and multiple formal references including licensed PEs in order to qualify for an 8 hour PE exam.  In many states it is possible to qualify for a PE exam without a related degree or other exam result, however it may take years of experience under the direct guidance of licensed professionals.  It's also worth noting that according to NSPE only about 20% of those with a BS in Engineering go on to become registered Professional Engineers as many go into positions or roles that do not require professional licensure.
 
There are a few universities and colleges that offer undergraduate acoustics degree programs, although many others offer some form of emphasis in acoustics in their physics, architecture, engineering or other degree programs.  A factor to keep in mind here is that "acoustics" covers a wide range of areas, the Acoustical Society of America has 13 committees representing such diverse areas of acoustics as architectural acoustics, biomedical acoustics, underwater acoustics, musical acoustics, engineering acoustics, speech communications and animal bioacoustics.  Over the years I've been part of interviewing numerous candidates for acoustical consulting positions and seen many people with very strong acoustics backgrounds and experience but that have no idea what Reverberation Time is, have never heard of a "NC" value, don't know any of the common architectural acoustics products and so on, a result of their education and experience having been in other areas of acoustics.
 
For any of you who are professional acoustics consultants, how did you learn what you know about acoustics? Did you go to school? Do your own research? Apprentice under others?
For me it was all three and that is probably pretty typical in varying degrees.  I happen to have a BSE degree in Acoustical Engineering, but most acoustical consultants I know received degrees in Physics, Mechnical Engineering, Architecture, Music, Theatre, etc. and many of those with an acoustics concentration.  Mentoring and apprenticeship can be critical, particulary in terms of learning the practical application aspects.  And ongoing study is just about required, not only to broaden your knowledge and understanding but also to keep up with the latest research, products, tools and so on.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 08:45:09 am by Brad Weber »
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duane massey

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2012, 05:17:45 pm »

If you can spell "consultant" you are one. Doesn't mean you are competent, but if someone is willing to pay you for your services, you are a professional consultant. A good audio consultant will have a strong background in acoustics (both classroom and experience), equipment (lots of reading and experience), installation procedures (experience and training), strong knowledge of electronics and electrical (training, education, and experience), decent concept of aesthetics, business practices, local laws and regulations, and a strong desire to keep up with the changes in the industry.
It also might be argued that a good haircut and the ability to shift blame could be considered assets, but I have neither.
Get a decent education in acoustical physics and electronics, maybe mix in a bit of music classes, and then find an established sound company to work for from the ground up.
Good luck.
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Duane Massey
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2012, 06:50:16 pm »

If you can spell "consultant" you are one. Doesn't mean you are competent, but if someone is willing to pay you for your services, you are a professional consultant. A good audio consultant will have a strong background in acoustics (both classroom and experience), equipment (lots of reading and experience), installation procedures (experience and training), strong knowledge of electronics and electrical (training, education, and experience), decent concept of aesthetics, business practices, local laws and regulations, and a strong desire to keep up with the changes in the industry.
It also might be argued that a good haircut and the ability to shift blame could be considered assets, but I have neither.
Get a decent education in acoustical physics and electronics, maybe mix in a bit of music classes, and then find an established sound company to work for from the ground up.
Good luck.
You are totally correct.  It is truly sad how little "regulation" there is in our industry-both on the design.install side and the manufacturing spec side.

I see systems all the time in which I say "What were they thinking????"  or "Not a clue" or "DO WHAT?"

Now the system may be really pretty-with all the correct documentation-but it fails to meet even the basic levels of performance-or is full of "errors", which if corrected (often for less money than what was spent) would improve system performance.  I don't want to get started.

But that doesn't stop anybody. :(
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George Friedman-Jimenez

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2012, 07:38:48 pm »

I apologize if this is in the wrong spot but I assumed this was the best place to ask.

For any of you who are professional acoustics consultants, how did you learn what you know about acoustics? Did you go to school? Do your own research? Apprentice under others?

I ask because I have a desire to learn more about sound and my knowledge of acoustics, especially in regard to large spaces, is rather limited.
My reading of the OP is that he is not looking to become an "Acoustics Consultant" or provide acoustics services to design large concert halls or other performance venues, but rather to learn more about sound. There are many levels at which to understand sound, or to apply that understanding. I think before we recommend a whole sequence of courses in ordinary and partial differential equations and physics of harmonic systems, degrees in engineering and physics, haircuts, knowledge of business ethics or other such unpleasantries, or even which fun acoustics and sound books to read, it would be good for the OP to give us a little more detail about at what level he wants to understand sound, what his math and physics background is, and what he wants to do with his increased knowledge of sound. In the 9 days since the OP, we have not heard back from him.
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Ivan Beaver

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2012, 08:39:13 pm »

M. In the 9 days since the OP, we have not heard back from him.
Now that shows dedication and real interest------------
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David Sturzenbecher

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2012, 11:37:09 pm »

Now that shows dedication and real interest------------

These forums are intimidating...  I am guilty of throwing the question out there and seeing what happens. 
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Brad Weber

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2012, 08:37:38 am »

My reading of the OP is that he is not looking to become an "Acoustics Consultant" or provide acoustics services to design large concert halls or other performance venues, but rather to learn more about sound.
That may be but...
For any of you who are professional acoustics consultants, how did you learn what you know about acoustics? Did you go to school? Do your own research? Apprentice under others?

I ask because I have a desire to learn more about sound and my knowledge of acoustics, especially in regard to large spaces, is rather limited.
...seems to be someone specifically asking professional acoustical consultants about how they learned about large room acoustics.  I agree that may be an important distinction as there can be a difference between learning about something in a manner that may be beneficial and wanting to be sufficiently qualified to provide related professional services.
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Jason Lucas

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Re: Acoustics Consultants, how did you learn what you know?
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 03:03:58 pm »

My reading of the OP is that he is not looking to become an "Acoustics Consultant" or provide acoustics services to design large concert halls or other performance venues, but rather to learn more about sound.

Correct.

In the 9 days since the OP, we have not heard back from him.

Actually, the only reason I hadn't responded was because I didn't realize there had been any more than the first two replies, which were a lot to chew on and I didn't have a good response for. Plus I don't check this site daily because it's not terribly active.

There are many levels at which to understand sound, or to apply that understanding. I think before we recommend a whole sequence of courses in ordinary and partial differential equations and physics of harmonic systems, degrees in engineering and physics, haircuts, knowledge of business ethics or other such unpleasantries, or even which fun acoustics and sound books to read, it would be good for the OP to give us a little more detail about at what level he wants to understand sound, what his math and physics background is, and what he wants to do with his increased knowledge of sound.

I have no problem giving more detail.

I am a volunteer sound tech at my church. I've attended the church for about 12 years and have been doing sound there for the last 3 (almost 4) years. Before I started doing sound there I didn't know anything about EQ, compression, gating, speakers, crossovers, acoustics, or really anything else related to sound. Through some training by our former lead sound tech and a lot of my own research, I've learned quite a lot and feel I have a solid understanding of most of the afformentioned areas.

I am currently studying to be a computer science major. I'm not too far along that path but I'm just about certain that it's what I want to do. At first I wanted to be a video game designer, now I've grown an interest in computers and technology as well as sound equipment like digital mixers. As a software developer I feel I could get involved in a number of different fields I'm interested in.

The reason I want to know more about acoustics is because I want to at least have a vague idea of how to address any acoustics issues we are having at my church and be able to give some advice in how to setup the system and room in future buildings (this is our second building and we plan on moving again soon). That coupled with my own general curiosity of the subject.
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