Module code: TON1028

Module Overview

This module is central to your development as an audio engineer. It covers the fundamental concepts that underpin all professional audio systems, and introduces essential concepts that you will use across a wide range of the other audio modules, as well as throughout any career related to professional audio. It also will provide you with the theoretical understanding to support your practical sound recording activities, both within the programme and for a successful career in any area of the audio industry.

You will learn the basic principles of measurement of audio signals, and the principles behind the capture, manipulation, and transmission of audio in analogue and digital formats, as used in all professional audio practice. The module balances understanding of the underlying theory with application in professional contexts, and the coursework is intended to allow you to put the theory into practice. The module will also develop the academic skills necessary for the rest of the programme, introducing you to independent academic research methods, writing essays on technical topics, and appropriate citation of academic sources.

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

MASON Russell (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 12

Independent Learning Hours: 73

Lecture Hours: 62

Practical/Performance Hours: 1

Guided Learning: 1

Captured Content: 1

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

TON1029 Audio Electronics 1 TON1024 Computer Systems

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Measurement and calculation of gains and electrical levels using the decibel

  • Electrical characteristics and artefacts caused by transmitting an analogue audio signal over an electrical cable

  • Limiting induced noise in an electrical cable through the use of a screen or a balanced circuits

  • Principles underlying modulation systems and their application

  • Principles underlying the conversion of analogue signals to digital representations and back again

  • The design, signal flow, and operation of audio mixing desks

  • The design and operation of microphones

  • The design and usage of stereophonic microphone techniques

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Coursework 1 10
Coursework Coursework 2 20
Coursework Coursework 3 20
Examination Examination (2 hours) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate and develop your knowledge and understanding of audio engineering and recording techniques principles. It also is intended to assist you to improve your research and academic writing skills, understanding of mixing desk design and signal flow, and speech recording and editing skills.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of: 

  • Essay (addresses learning outcomes 2, 3, 17);

  • Systems diagram (addresses learning outcomes 9, 10);

  • Podcast (addresses learning outcomes 12, 13, 14); and

  • 2-hour examination - a written paper given under exam conditions (addresses learning outcomes 1-8, 11-13, 15-16).

Formative assessment

Early in the module there will be a formative assessment, partly you help you learn a technical topic, and partly to clarify the standards, styles, and marking scheme used in University teaching.

In addition, formative feedback will be given to you in tutorials and throughout lecture and practical workshops, and in the form of regular revision questions in lectures.


Written feedback will be given on the Coursework assignments. You will receive verbal feedback on your practical work throughout the module, particularly in lecture and practical workshops, and in the form of regular revision questions in lectures.

Module aims

  • To develop your understanding of the theory of fundamental aspects of professional audio systems engineering that underpin all recorded sound.
  • To advance your understanding of professional recording operational practice, and the theory and operation of a wide range of professional audio equipment.
  • To provide the knowledge and understanding needed for audio recording in later years of the programme and a professional career.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Define and make use of the dB, as preparation for measurements and calculations made in most of the audio engineering modules KCP
002 Explain the artefacts caused by passing an analogue audio signal over electrical cables, and the steps that can be taken to minimise these artefacts in a professional recording environment KC
003 Explain the theory and practice of balanced circuits as used to limit the noise induced in analogue audio transmission over electrical cables KC
004 Describe the jackfield wiring schemes used in professional and broadcast installations, to better understand the design and usage of these in a professional studio KCP
005 Explain the theoretical basis of modulation systems, including the resulting spectra and applications in audio transmission and signal processing KC
006 Explain the principles of PCM digital audio, including sampling, PCM spectrum, aliasing, quantisation, and dither KC
007 Explain the principles behind successful synchronisation and clocking of large studio installations KCP
008 Sketch the signal chain of typical high quality, in-line and stereo mixing desks, explaining the action and use of each operational control KC
009 Draw the systems diagram of a technical installation (e.g. a studio control room or sound mixing desk) using BS EN 60617 (or BS 3939) symbols KCPT
010 Systematically work out the signal flow of an audio installation, including logical fault-finding and problem solving KC
011 Describe the technical specifications needed for frequency response, noise, and distortion in a professional mixing desk KCP
012 Describe the principles of operation of moving-coil, electrostatic, and ribbon microphones, in order to better understand their relative advantages and guide selection of appropriate microphones for recordings KCP
013 Describe the principles of operation and operational characteristics of omnidirectional, bi- directional, cardioid, variable directivity pattern, and "gun" microphones, in order to better understand their relative advantages and guide selection of appropriate microphones for recordings KPT
014 Record and edit speech to a professional standard KC
015 Explain how the spatial perception of human hearing can be exploited using stereophonic reproduction, to create a convincing spatial image between a pair of loudspeakers KCP
016 Discuss the relative merits of a range of stereophonic microphone techniques, to aid selection of appropriate methods in professional recordings PT
017 Develop the skills required for University-level academic work, including the ability to independently research a technical topic, the ability to explain technical terms with an appropriate academic style, and cite references accurately using a standardised format KCPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • develop your knowledge and understanding of fundamental audio engineering and recording techniques, which you will make use of and build on in subsequent modules and throughout a professional career in audio;

  • develop your ability to investigate signal flow in an audio installation, identity faults in equipment, and solve problems in a logical manner; and

  • develop your skills in independent research, academic writing, and academic citation, as preparation for academic work in subsequent modules.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • regular lectures in which cover the theoretical background to each of the topics covered – the small cohort allows plenty of opportunity for you to ask questions to help you to develop your understanding;

  • regular workshops that allow you to apply the theoretical understanding to professional audio practice; and

  • coursework assignments that encourage you to further investigate the theoretical topics, as well as allow you to develop: your academic research and writing skills; your logical signal tracing and fault-finding skills; and your skills in recording and editing speech.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: TON1028

Other information

Digital capabilities: the module introduces the theoretical and practical fundamentals of digital audio, giving you an accurate understanding of what the term "digital" truly means, as well as a theoretical understanding of how audio is converted to and from the digital domain. As part of the coursework assignments, you will also develop skills in: independent research of a topic, using online resources including books and academic publications; audio recording and editing of speech; and tools for creating reports and diagrams. All of these skills will be essential to your success through the remainder of the programme. 

Employability: the knowledge and skills developed within this module are the fundamentals of a succesful career in the audio industry. The audio engineering aspects cover: the decibel (used widely for measurement in most audio disciplines); transmission of audio signals using analogue and digital representations (encompassing the most common methods used in industry); and the theory of converting audio between analogue and digital formats (again encompassing the most common methods used in industry). A thorough understanding of these topics, their related limitations and problems, and methods used to ameliorate these, are central to the development of high quality audio equipment and productions. The recording techniques aspects cover: the design and operation of mixing desks (essential understanding for work in a recording or broadcast studio); the principles behind and operation of microphones (central to any audio recording); and audio processing equipment such as compressors and EQs (used on a wide range of audio productions). These will give you a thorough understanding of the theoretical basis of each, as well as introducing professional concepts of their usage.

Sustainability: as part of the theoretical understanding of audio, the topics will also discuss aspects of sustainability in professional audio, such as the importance of backwards compatibility (for example in broadcast and modulation systems), and power efficiency (for example in broadcast and modulation systems, and in transmission of audio signals over a cable).

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BSc (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BMus (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core Each unit of assessment must be passed at 40% to pass the module
Film Production and Broadcast Engineering BEng (Hons)(CORE) Year-long Core A pass as determined by the relevant criteria is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.