Prof. Robert C. Maher


529 Cobleigh Hall (southwest corner of 5th floor)


Office:  994-7759
Home:  587-5925 (but please do not call me at home)


[email protected]

Class Page:


Office hours:

Monday 10-11AM
Thursday 9-10AM
Drop-in questions at other times are always OK if my office door is open.


PHYS 212  GENERAL AND MODERN PHYSICS II Textbooks and Materials

  1. Ballou, Glen, Handbook for Sound Engineers, 3rd ed., Focal Press/Elsevier, 2002.
  2. Kinsler, Lawrence E., Frey, Austin R., Coppens, Alan B., and Sanders, James V., Fundamentals of Acoustics, 4th ed., Wiley & Sons, 1999.

Class Objective

The students obtain sufficient background and technical knowledge to understand contemporary issues in audio engineering.

Course Outcomes

At the conclusion of EE 417, students will be able to:

  • Understand the linear acoustic wave equation and explain the relationship between pressure and particle velocity for plane waves and spherical waves.
  • Calculate and interpret the near-field and far-field response of a circular piston radiator mounted in an infinite baffle.
  • Explain the basic physiology of the human hearing system and elementary psychoacoustical principles (e.g., sensitivity as a function of frequency, simultaneous masking, and difference limens).
  • Use geometrical measurements and material properties to calculate Sabine reverberation time for a room.
  • Explain the basic operation of dynamic (moving-coil) loudspeakers and condenser (capacitive) microphones.
  • Understand the principles of recording studio signal flow.
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of modern perceptual audio coders such as MP3.
  • Describe the attributes of CD, DVD, and DAT storage media.

Class Outline (subject to change)

Week 1:

Intro, audio and acoustics subdisciplines, survey

Fundamental quantities, Fourier review, mass and vibration

Damping, complex exponential solutions, forced oscillation

Week 2:

Resonance, electrical circuit analogies

Acoustic wave equation

Week 3:

Harmonic plane waves, intensity, impedance

Spherical waves, sound level, dB examples

Radiation from small sources

Week 4:

Baffled simple source, piston radiation

Near field, far field

Radiation impedance

Week 5:

Recap and review

Demos, speed of sound measurement


Return exam, continue ear/hearing

Week 6:

The ear, hearing, etc.

Demos, hearing and detection

Week 7:

Environmental acoustics and noise criteria

OSHA, architectural isolation

Guest Lecture TBD

Week 8:

Example calculations

Architectural acoustics, reverb

Absorbing materials, direct-reverberant ratio

Week 9:

Relationships among music, audio, acoustics, and electronics

Audio engineering introduction

Audio engineering, units, concepts

Week 10:


Studio electronics

Week 11:

Studio electronics

Analog storage history (tape, LP disc history)


Week 12:



Week 13:

Digital audio

Week 14:

Digital audio


Week 15:

CD and DVD principles

Audio DSP

Multimedia audio, MP3, etc.

Week 16:

SMPTE and synchronization


Final review

Course Grading:

Homework, Concerts, and Written Report: 25%

→ Homework will be required periodically.  Homework is due on the due date at the BEGINNING of class.  No late homework will be accepted.
→ Students must attend FIVE music concerts, with verification, during the semester.
→ A WRITTEN REPORT will also be assigned during the semester.

Exam 1: 25%

→ Written in-class exam given late in September.

Exam 2: 25%

→ Written in-class exam given in mid November.

Final Exam:      25%

→ The final exam is:
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2006 (6:00-7:50PM).


Grade guarantee:  course letter grades may be higher (but will not be lower) than indicated by the following scale:A- = 90%
B- = 80%
C- = 70%
D = 60%
F = 59%A grade of F will also be given automatically if a midterm and/or final exam is not taken, regardless of the student's aggregate score total.


  • All students must have an electronic mail address listed with the MSU My Info system.  Announcements and reminders for EE417 will be sent occasionally via email.
  • You are responsible for all material covered in class and in the textbook reading assignments.
  • Homework problems will sometimes require Matlab or an equivalent computer tool.  Matlab is available in the ECE computer labs.
  • There will probably be several field trips scheduled during the semester.  Although it is not reasonable for me to make the field trips mandatory, I do expect the students to take advantage of all learning opportunities provided in the course.
  • Homework and exams must be prepared individually. Submitting the work of others without clear attribution is dishonest and grounds for dismissal from the course.
  • Late submissions of assignments (homework and reports) will not be accepted. Plan ahead and notify the instructor prior to justifiable absences, or if a bona fide emergency prevented you from attending class.