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Jobs in audio amplifier circuit design?

  1. Sep 2, 2016 #1
    Hey guys (and ladies), I am a junior year EEE student at CSU Sacramento and am hoping to get a job in audio amplifier design as a career after graduating. I have always loved music and electronics and working in this field would honestly be like a dream come true.

    As far as my experience in this area, I have built some very basic amplifier circuits based on the LM386 and a couple other IC's, and obviously that is nowhere as complicated as designing a true amplifier from the ground up. I am also interested in vacuum tube amplifier design and am planning to design and build one after graduating... a friend of mine has an AX84 diy tube amp kit and when he starts assembling it we are gonna do it together so I can get some exposure to it. I am currently taking semiconductors class and am excited to take this class to get some exposure to the concepts before specifically learning about tube physics and engineering, haha but anyways

    So my question is really, do any members here have jobs in this field or related ones? If so, what specific skills would help me land a job in this industry and help me professionally in this area?

    I know that networking is crucial to getting into certain niches in the industry and so I am trying to make as many contacts as possible (and tips here would be appreciated too.) Over the summer I emailed about 50 companies asking about internships and positions and recieved about two or three emails back, so I am looking for an edge to make me more attractive to these companies.

    Any serious replies are much appreciated. Please no sarcastic replies though... I know that many of the people on this forum will want to reply with something like "Amplifier design is an incredibly broad field, your question doesn't make sense" etc., and I am looking for real guidance which will help me achieve my goals, not negativity and frustration, thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    You see, here's the thing: you don't get to pick the question and the answer.

    My experience is that EE's who only want to work on one kind of circuit have a hard time finding jobs. Now you're further restricting yourself to a single industry. That makes it even worse.
  4. Sep 2, 2016 #3
    Vanadium 50, feel free to reply freely as long as the advice is intended to be honest and helpful.

    I am willing to do work that is not amplifier design, of course, but I want to work TOWARD that goal by networking and acquiring the proper skills and things like that along the way.

    There are many engineers who design different types of audio amplifiers for many different companies. So my goal is that I want to be one of those engineers eventually. Do you guys have any helpful advice that might help me move toward this goal? I refuse to simply believe that these jobs are unattainable and I should just aim for something else. I work too hard for the things I believe in to give up that easily :)

    Thanks again for all replies
  5. Sep 2, 2016 #4


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    That's a good start, tube amps are still big business in audiophile and instrument amplification, though it seems nearly all instrument amp designers are musicians themselves. Although most guitar amps (and guitars for that matter) haven't changed much from the 50's so I don't think they'd employ many design engineers. Maybe call your local music & audio shops and find some amp technicians and see if you could intern/work part time.

    I was in a similar position to yours when I graduated, I really wanted to work in r&d/product development (in a country that doesn't do much of it), I think there were only 2 or 3 graduate prod. dev. roles when I was applying for jobs. You're competing with other graduates with exactly the same education - to set yourself apart from the hundreds of other grads applying you need high marks, relevant experience, and a portfolio of personal projects to show that initiative and the ability to apply your theoretical knowledge to solve practical problems.
  6. Sep 2, 2016 #5
    Thank you guys for both your replies. Yeah that makes sense, so maybe I should focus on building some cool amp projects and getting experience in that area, or maybe dissecting existing amp circuits, drawing schematics from them and analyzing them on a YouTube channel or something to show that I know what I'm talking about, haha.

    I have my heart set on this area but of course we all have to be flexible and we can't always get what we want. Maybe I should meet with people in the industry at trade shows or something to really find out how many of these kinds of jobs are out there.

    Thanks again and any other replies are welcome
  7. Sep 2, 2016 #6


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    Signing up to the mailing lists for graduate & internship positions at your target companies is also a good idea.
  8. Sep 2, 2016 #7
    I think it would help if you expressed an interest in other areas of audio electronics as well as amplifiers.
    There are some really good existing designs out there for amplifiers already, so not a lot of room for R&D specialists.
    Innovations in audio technology would be more sought after in areas like very high fidelity microphones, novel 'effects boxes', mixing desks etc.
    I think 'surround sound' audio amplifier systems are still an area of development for public performance events though.
  9. Sep 6, 2016 #8
    Thank you guus for your replies. I will look into all these things in the hopes that I can find my dream job.

    Best of luck to you guys
  10. Sep 8, 2016 #9


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    Most of the exciting work on audio circuits is happening in the IC space. Can you stay on at CSUS and get an MS in IC Design? (Professors Heedly especially but also Matthews are well known in industry) Then try to get a job at a place specializing in audio front end such as Cirrus Logic. I know several people who design audio amplifiers, codecs, and headphone drivers and they are all IC Design Engineers.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  11. Sep 12, 2016 #10


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    I agree with the above.
    If you are interested in designing audio circuits professionally you will need to focus on a more "modern" field such as analog IC design,.DSP or something similar.
    Analog audio design using only discrete components is a tiny field (very few consumer products are built that way, with the exception of some high-end products and many of the people who design those are self-taught; mostly they are just tweaking existing designs slightly) and the people who design the actual circuit boards around the ICs are very likely just analog designers that are able to design a wide variety of circuits, not just audio circuitry.
    Tube based amplification is an even smaller field and just about every amplifier currently on the market uses a circuit design that has been known for a very long time (maybe with the exception of e.g. some guitar amps that combine modern DSP with tubes). Of course they still need engineers to actually design the circuits, but again I doubt there is a straightforward career path, getting a job like that will probably be a case of luck and contacts rather than credentials.
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