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EE courses for designing audio amplifiers and speakers?

  1. Sep 25, 2013 #1
    Hi everyone. I've got my BS in physics, but I don't know much about electrical engineering. I've had a passing interest in do-it-yourself audio equipment for quite some time (designing and building your own speakers and amplifiers), and I've finally decided to get serious about it.

    So, it seems that learning some electrical engineering would greatly benefit me. I know what the various passive components are (inductors, resistors, capacitors, etc.), and I'm vaguely familiar with transistors and diodes, but I'd love to know more. I still don't fully understand why the various LRC filters function the way they do, and designing a discrete audio amplifier at the transistor level is like black magic to me, as are power supplies (I do remember discussing bridge rectifiers back in college, but I've forgotten the details). I'm not sure which courses in electrical engineering would benefit me. (Also, I'm not opposed to branching out a bit in EE, if an area sparks my interest.) I assume you typically cover the behavior and characteristics of LRC filters in a Circuits class? What about designing a power amplifier? (I know there are entire textbooks just on this topic.) Learning a bit about DSP would also be cool.

    (As a side note, I've even debated returning to college and getting a full bachelor's degree in EE, since the employment prospects look more promising. So it's definitely a field that interests me.)

    I'd greatly appreciate any input you can provide. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2013 #2


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    Yep you'll learn RLC filters in the beginning circuits class, but it can take a few classes before you get to really interesting and useful stuff.

    When I was an undergrad, Intro to Circuits was purely passive networks, starting with R working our way up to RLC. The second class will get into op amps and more detail about amplifiers and filters. You'll find these classes more difficult than they should be because you don't use the frequency domain (Laplace analysis) right away.

    Your third class with be an intro to transistors which will be highly relevant for audio circuits. Your fourth class will start getting fun with more complex filters and amplifiers. My fifth through maybe tenth classes were great because we got into integrated circuits.

    Have fun!

    PS If you go back to school get an MS, don't bother with the BS in EE. It will only take you less than a year to get the requirements for an MS, so you can get one in 2.5 years or so.
  4. Sep 26, 2013 #3


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    998, i think that if you survived Physics with a B.S. and you can do tensor math or Hamiltonians or whatever, you have more mathematical sophistication than most EEs (students or practitioners).

    while i might agree with not bothering with a BSEE, you do need to take some undergrad courses in Linear System Theory (nowadays they might call it Signals and Systems) and maybe Electronic Circuits and maybe Communication Systems and maybe DSP.

    also, if you have the money and the time, if you want a career in audio, you should attend the AES convention in NYC next month. getting lodging won't be cheap.

    the audio industry could use a few more competent physicists with electronic and DSP chops, IMO.


    r b-j
  5. Sep 27, 2013 #4
    Sounds like Circuits and Signals & Systems would be a good start, along with the introductory course on transistors. No surprise there I suppose.

    Any other comments on skipping the BS and going for an MS? I was under the impression that the bridge courses I'd need for an MS would take like 4-5 semesters to complete due to all the prereq's (it's only like 24 credit hours, but the prerequisites mean you can't condense them down neatly - at least that's the way it works at my last college).

    analogdesign: What sort of upper-level undergrad courses did you take that went into integrated circuits? I'm just asking because my college doesn't seem to offer a lot of that stuff.

    rbj: I'm curious, why do you suggest Communication Systems? Also out of curiosity, what is your background (physics, EE, etc.)?
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
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