Prof. Robert C. Maher


637 Cobleigh Hall (northwest corner of 6th floor)


Office:  994-7759
Mobile:  599-5830 (but please use email, or call the office number)


[email protected]

Class Page:


Office hours:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11 - 11:50AM
Drop-in questions at other times are always OK if I'm not busy with some other appointment.


PHSX 222 PHYSICS II (2nd semester calculus-based physics ) 

Textbooks and Materials

  1. Kinsler, Lawrence E., Frey, Austin R., Coppens, Alan B., and Sanders, James V., Fundamentals of Acoustics, 4th ed., Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  2. Handouts and reprints (in class)

Class Objective

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

Course Outcomes

At the conclusion of EELE 417/517, 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 Blu-ray, and the coding formats of downloadable media.

In addition to the outcomes of EELE 417, at the conclusion of EELE 517 students will be able to:

  • Describe one or more active areas of research in the acoustics and audio engineering field, and knowledgeably explain the applications and expectations of that work.

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, phonograph, LP)


Week 12:


Week 13:


Week 14:

Digital audio

Digital coding principles

Audio DSP


Multimedia audio, MP3, etc.

Week 15:

Additional topics

Final review

Course Grading for EELE 417:

D2L quizzes, Concerts, and Written Report: 25%

→ Homework and D2L quizzes will be required periodically.  Assignments are due on the due date at the BEGINNING of class.  No late submissions will be accepted.
→ Students must attend at least FOUR formal music concerts during the semester, with verification by turning in the concert program.
→ A WRITTEN REPORT will also be assigned during the semester.

Exam 1: 25%

→ Written in-class exam given Friday, September 28.

Exam 2: 25%

→ Written in-class exam given Friday, November 9.

Final Exam: 25%

→ The final exam is:
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2018 (8-9:50 AM).


Course Grading for EELE 517:

D2L quizzes, Concerts, and Written Report: 35%

→ Homework and D2L quizzes will be required periodically. Assignments are due on the due date at the BEGINNING of class. No late submissions will be accepted.
→ Students must attend at least FOUR formal music concerts during the semester, with verification by turning in the concert program.
→ A WRITTEN REPORT based on a scholarly research review will also be assigned during the semester.

Exam 1: 20%

→ Written in-class exam givenFriday, September 28.

Exam 2: 20%

→ Written in-class exam given Friday, November 9.

Final Exam: 25%

→ The final exam is:
MONDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2018 (8-9:50 AM).


Grade guarantee: 

course letter grade cutoffs will not be higher than indicated by the following scale:

A- = 90%

B- = 80%

C- = 70%

D = 60%

F = 59%

NOTE:  Regardless of the student's aggregate score total, a grade of F will be given automatically if a midterm exam or the final exam is not taken, or if an acceptable written report is not turned in.


  • All students must have D2L (Desire To Learn) web access and an electronic mail address listed with the MyInfo system. Announcements and reminders for EELE 417/517 will be sent occasionally via email.
  • Among other details, Section 310.00 in the MSU Conduct Guidelines states that students must be prompt and regular in attending classes, be well prepared for classes, take exams when scheduled, and act in a respectful manner toward other students and the instructor.
  • Attendance at all lectures is mandatory. If you are ill, traveling, or otherwise unable to attend a lecture, you must notify the instructor IN ADVANCE via email. Treat your participation in this course just like it was a job: you wouldn’t miss work without notifying your manager, right?
  • Late submissions of assignments (D2L, 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 finishing an assignment or attending class.
  • 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 and elsewhere on campus.
  • There will probably be several guest lectures, field trips, and out-of-class presentations scheduled during the semester.  Although it is not reasonable for me to make out-of-class events mandatory, I do expect the students to take advantage of all learning opportunities provided in the course.
  • Academic Misconduct:  Unless group work is explicitly assigned, homework and exams must be prepared individually. Submitting the work of others is dishonest, constitutes academic misconduct, and is grounds for dismissal from the course.
    • Collaboration

      University policy states that, unless otherwise specified, students may not collaborate on graded material. Any exceptions to this policy will be stated explicitly for individual assignments. If you have any questions about the limits of collaboration, you are expected to ask for clarification.

    • Plagiarism
      Paraphrasing or quoting another’s work without citing the source is a form of academic misconduct. Submitting work for this course that you previously prepared for a different course is also misconduct. Even inadvertent or unintentional misuse or appropriation of your prior work or another's work (such as relying heavily on source material that is not expressly acknowledged) is considered plagiarism. Student work can and will be submitted to the TurnItIn online verification service. If you have any questions about using and citing sources, you are expected to ask for clarification.

    • Consequences
      Section 420 of the Student Conduct Code describes academic misconduct as including but not limited to plagiarism, cheating, multiple submissions, or facilitating others’ misconduct. Possible sanctions for academic misconduct range from an oral reprimand to expulsion from the university.

      Section 430 of the Student Code allows the instructor to impose the following sanctions for academic misconduct: oral reprimand; written reprimand; an assignment to repeat the work or an alternate assignment; a lower or failing grade on the particular assignment or test; or a lower grade or failing grade in the course.

  • If you have a documented disability for which you are or may be requesting accommodations, please know that you are welcome and encouraged to participate fully in this class!!  Simply contact the instructor and Disabled Student Services (994-2824) as soon as possible.

  • All records related to this course are confidential and will not be shared with anyone, including parents, without a signed, written release from the MSU Dean of Students.  For more information contact the Dean of Students office at 994-2826.