Digital Audio Basics

Course: ESE250

Units: 0.5 CU
Required Prerequisite: one intro programming course (e.g.,CIS110, ESE112, ESE116, CIS120)
Terms: Spring Term only
Offered: Current information for Spring 2014
When: Tuesdays 12 — 1:30pm, Thursdays 12 — 1:30pm
Where:Lecture: Towne 311,   Lab: Detkin and Ketterer Labs
Instructor: Thomas Farmer
TAs: Edin Kadric
Sarah Dean
Ashwin Dewan
Catalog Level Description: Primer on digital audio. Overview of signal processing, sampling, compression, human psychoacoustics, MP3, intellectual property, hardware and software platform components, and networking (i.e., the basic technical underpinnings of modern MP3 players and cell phones).


Projected topics by week:

  1. Overview
  2. Sampling / PCM / Digital Audio
  3. Lossless compression
  4. Time-Frequency Conversion
  5. Nyquist-Shannon sampling theorem
  6. Human Perception
  7. Psychoacoustical Compression
  8. Hardware Organization
  9. Operating System (sharing hardware)
  10. File System
  11. Networking
  12. User Interface
  13. Intellectual Property

Course Components

Lectures: One 1.5 hour lecture per week.

Labs: Students perform weekly labs for demonstration and grounding. Most demand experiments on a computer. Intent is most labs can be completed in the 1.5 hour lab slot.

Texts: The Theory behind MP3 provides the basic document for 4 of the lectures. An assortment of tutorial materials will be provided on the web for other lectures.


This course is part of the new computer engineering major. It provides an overview of many topics and issues in the major and prepares students to implement a substantial digital audio platform in the revised ESE350 (which would typically be taken in the term following ESE250).