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electronic engineering advice
Old 22nd January 2013
Gear Head
🎧 10 years
electronic engineering advice

Hi all,
Ive been doing live sound at countless gigs for the last 4-5 years and when im not "out" doing sound, Im usually in our small studio recording underground local bands, mixing, experimenting, cleaning, reading, building, etc. you know the drill.. Over these years I found that trouble shooting is about 50% of sound engineering (maybe even more), and I'm sure most of you know that most problems revolve around electronics. Due to continuesly encountering problems as such my interest in electronics is increasing. Ive tried going down the DIY path reading as much as i could online, opening up a few electronics books but nothing seems to really sink in my brain. Since a young age I've always been the kid who opened up literally everything i owned, fixing everything, breaking a few (it happens), soldering countless cables, and circuit boards, etc.. I need to DO it, to learn it.. not just read about it. No, I was never good in math at school.. But hey, maybe I had the wrong teachers? Where I'm getting at with this is that I want to change this lack of knowledge. I don't intend on becoming an electronics "geek" (although i do wish i could) cause my interest in studio/live sound is far bigger. But clearly in order to progress as a sound engineer I must master a few basic concepts of electronics.

I've been looking in to electronic engineering courses but cant find something that seems to really suit my requirements. I'm looking for something relatively cheap, and not over a 1 year course (full time). Do you "geeks" have anything to recommend? short courses? specific university's or private institutes (preferably in europe/uk)? online courses? specific books? Without a mentor i feel like this is close to impossible..

I dont really know what would be the best approach to take especially considering that money IS an issue here. Any advice from you guys which i highly respect would be much appreciated.
Old 22nd January 2013
Lives for gear
Lotus 7's Avatar
On a budget, I'd start by strongly recommending that you pick up a copy of "Horowitz and Hill: THE ART OF ELECTRONICS". Reading it carefully and understanding each chapter will give you a good "grounding" (no pun intended) in basic electronics. IMHO, it's an excellent place to start and is a bargain. "H & H" is different than most electronics texts. It's presented at an intuitive level and includes many basic "rules of thumb" so doesn't require intimate knowledge of theory.

Reading "H & H" should give you a "feel" for how circuits actually work. It does include a bit of math, but being able to follow the equations is not essential to getting a basic understanding of how the various circuits work and interact.

It should be available in many libraries. I've used it to teach everyone from physics majors to art-history graduate students about electronics.
Old 22nd January 2013
Lives for gear
JohnRoberts's Avatar
🎧 10 years
I don't know of any short cuts. I worked as a technician for years, read every schematic I could get may hands on (in the early years), and learned from other engineers willing to share.

I took pleasure in fixing things, often without schematics, as a learning tool. (still do kind of).

There are probably several internet courses, but there is no substitute for melting solder.

Old 22nd January 2013
Lives for gear
🎧 15 years
Basically the same as previous replies. I doubt there will be any course really dedicated to audio electronics and new courses are probably too 'microprocessor' orientated, handy if you want to do that but in reality many 'faults' are relatively simple and a thorough knowledge of stuff like Faraday's laws and relatively basic electronics and more importantly the ability to think it through to the problems you have in front of you are probably more valuable.
I like John have been doing such as this for many years.
Matt S
Old 22nd January 2013
Gear Guru
tINY's Avatar
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Electronic Snap Circuits Experiment Kit
Electronic 130 in 1 Learning Lab
Electronics Learning Lab - RadioShack.com
You may try some kits like this. They allow you to build and modify simple circuts to understand how they work.

I had something like this as a kid. So, it may be the cause of my mania...


Old 23rd January 2013
Lives for gear
🎧 5 years
About a million years ago, we would get new broadcast engineers, that had learned electronics from one of many correspondence courses from:

Cleveland Institute of Electronics (CIE)
Distance Education Learning and Computer Technology Degrees

I'll bet that some of the course books have not changed in the last 30 or 40 years.

It was interesting, the new guys could enplane how a radio frequency circuit worked, but coulnd not identify a capacitor or a resistor laid in front of them.
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
Lives for gear
Richard Crowley's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Originally Posted by Speedskater ➑️
About a million years ago, we would get new broadcast engineers, that had learned electronics from one of many correspondence courses ...
It was interesting, the new guys could enplane how a radio frequency circuit worked, but coulnd not identify a capacitor or a resistor laid in front of them.
We used to say (still do, actually) that they didn't know which end of a soldering iron to grab. Some of them literally!
Old 23rd January 2013
Lives for gear
dualflip's Avatar
🎧 10 years
In my opinion the best way to lear electronics is like John said, experimentally, and college of course. However you can read some books and youll learn A LOT, you just need to know which books to read, Im studying EE and let me tell you a teacher is not enough, you need to learn on your own to truly understand and create your own knowledge. It is true that sometimes its easier to have someone around to ask when in doubt, but learning on your own and forcing yourself to find the answer is by far more rewarding and helpful in the long term.

Its not like you are alone either, nowadays with the internet you have at your disposal several ways to learn and ask questions to others.

So my advice:

If you are not going to college, then get yourself some books (send me a PM if you want some specific recommendations) and if you have any questions then go to Electrical Engineering create and account and ask any electronic related question you may have. Stack exchange is the best resource to get concrete fully detailed answers on anything, you can ask the simplest or most difficult question and if you ask it well and behave properly, no one will judge you, its not a forum and there are several very experienced engineers willing to help, and its completely free, yes groupdiy is great too but its not as professional nor as serious as stackexchange, plus, in order to understand audio electronics you need to understand the basics first.

- Watch Youtube videos
- Subscribe to Dave Jones EEVBlog and Mike's electric stuff video blog
- Get some free online courses from MIT
- READ EVERY DAY, read schematics, and anything electronics
- Open equipment to see whats in there, when you feel you have some understanding of electronics (a basic grasp of troubleshooting techniques) give it a go and try to repair something thats not working (hopefully something cheap), youll probably wont fix it or youll make it worse but youll learn a lot on the way.
- Build your own circuits, break stuff
- Get some sort of simulation software like PSpice or Multisim
- Buy a multimeter and a used analog scope (they go for scraps on e-bay) and learn how to use them

All these guys John Roberts, Matt Syson, Lotus7, Brian Roth, Tiny, rcrowley, etc... are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to audio electronics, ask them about stuff (but dont pester them) so far Ive seen that they always offer a helping hand.

College is great but let me tell you, college today is not what you expect, yes you have to study AC circuits, electronics, etc... but the world today is digital, so youll learn more digital stuff and less "Vacuum tube" stuff if thats what you are looking for, so even if you go to college, its most likely that youll have to study a lot of things on your own if you want to get deep into old tube equipment and such, so either way you are on your own!
Old 23rd January 2013
Lives for gear
2N1305's Avatar
🎧 10 years
Hi sounds&words,

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the best book for starting to learn electronics in a non-classroom environment, is Getting started in electronics, written by Forrest M Mims, printed by Radio Shack. It might still be in print, albeit not in the form I read it in. Mayeb it hasn't changed that much, I just don't know. But I do know that it presents electronics in such a way that skips the everyday common analogies and math and instead shows practical everyday english explanations of how the main electronic devices work. You wanna know what Ohm's law is? It's there. Resistors, capacitors, transistors, how do they work, in a nutshell, in circuits? It's all there.
You wanna know the colour code? (and believe you need to know it), it's definitely there.

another book you can check out when you feel like you've grasped the essentials (Ohm's law is essential, by the way) is electronic principles by Albert Malvino. again, the older the version the better. The basics of electronics have not changed in the past 80 years.

Cheers and good luck

Last edited by 2N1305; 23rd January 2013 at 05:19 PM.. Reason: corrected mispelled member name
Old 23rd January 2013
Lives for gear
🎧 10 years
Be wary of internet study resources. I've seen some stuff out there that is just plain wrong.
Old 23rd January 2013
Gear Guru
"Too many mixers, not enough fixers" is what they told me at Cal State 40 years ago.

Still true.

If you want to be a mixer, find a good fixer.

If you want steady high income work, become a fixer.
Old 25th January 2013
Gear Head
🎧 10 years
Thank you for all the input guys. Im going to go down the path of buying a few books that were recommended. Those kits that tINY recommended seem very interesting and great way to get some hands on practice. I know im jumping way to fast, but I was reading a lot about diy guitar amps, compressors, pre amps.. I wont lie, Im being sucked in to the idea of taking on one of those challenges as a learning experience. Anyone know of a pre amp or compressor kit made for someone with no experience in real electronics? As I've mentioned earlier, I am quite good with at soldering, as long as i have good instructions on what goes where..
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