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What kind of college majors are hired by headphone companies?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was just curious. I'm pretty sure they are set up like all other companies (accounting majors for accounting, finance majors for finance, etc...)

 

But for R&D side (you know people who design and make actual headphones), what kind of college majors are hired there? I would imagine it would be some kind of music engineering major?

post #2 of 11
This questions pops-up on the forums occasionally. I believe you will see all types on the R&D and Operations side - just as you will with any electronic product. Most people think only of the "sound engineers", but the reality is that is just a small part of the puzzle. Here's just a few I can think of...

Industrial Designers
- Overall product design
- Detailed design of individual parts like cups, headband, pads, etc, etc
- Packaging

Materials Engineers
- Specs & sourcing of each component material (someone has decide exactly how thick the pleather in the headband will be)

Manufacturing Engineers
- Fabrication & assembly processes
- Assembly & test jigs

Product Managers
- Establish the overall vision for the product
- Own the target market the product will address
- Establish the design goals and cost targets

Also, Quality, Compliance, Testing, etc, etc

Even if we talk only about those folks that do specific R&D tasks like selecting the drivers and tuning the sound by tweaking cup size, materials, porting, damping, etc - I think looking at the backgrounds of the folks in the industry will show you that they are pretty diverse. At most manufacturing companies, the "designers" weren't trained to do that job - they earned it after many years in a particular product segment. I'll bet you will find some folks with audio engineering degrees, but I will also bet you find many with degrees in electrical/electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, or even non-technical degrees that sort of just fell into the job. Then, there is also all the technicians & factory workers that might have received general technical training, and the rest was learned by OJT.
post #3 of 11
In my limited experience, companies primarily hire computer/electrical engineers and acoustic engineers, as well as a few mechanical engineers, but not much else.

There won't be much manufacturing, industrial, or materials work as that seems to be overseas along with the production plants these days.
Edited by alexm23 - 12/29/13 at 2:09am
post #4 of 11

Also, software guys for related stuff like support softwares, websites, internal development tools etc.

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexm23 View Post

In my limited experience, companies primarily hire computer/electrical engineers and acoustic engineers, as well as a few mechanical engineers, but not much else.

There won't be much manufacturing, industrial, or materials work as that seems to be overseas along with the production plants these days.

True - but for all we know those "overseas" plants are local to the OP. wink.gif
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


True - but for all we know those "overseas" plants are local to the OP. wink.gif

 

In which case, a program like Industrial Management (in some schools here it's called Management-Engineering) can be as useful as straight out Engineering and even more so than Acoustic Engineering, given what the outsourced manufacturing plant does is just receive the designs and implement them on the assembly line, and research/design is done in the home country of the brand. Take Sennheiser for example - the "research" arm in SEAsia isn't doing Engineering, it's mostly doing Market research. The most Engineering they do is evaluating and gathering feedback to improve subsequent products. There won't be a lot of playing with exotic cone diaphragms and measuring the flattest response for the HD800 replacement - what they'd be doing is figuring out how next year's in-line Android/iOS-compatible headset can sound clearer (ie, take in more of the user's voice and isolating more background noise) or what the heck was wrong with the wireless IEM receiver that it was cutting out when this popular band used it somewhere. Or whether the oxidization on it was due to their crew's negligence in wiping their body fluids off, or the humidity in this part of the world is a big enough factor.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

In which case, a program like Industrial Management (in some schools here it's called Management-Engineering) can be as useful as straight out Engineering and even more so than Acoustic Engineering, given what the outsourced manufacturing plant does is just receive the designs and implement them on the assembly line, and research/design is done in the home country of the brand. Take Sennheiser for example - the "research" arm in SEAsia isn't doing Engineering, it's mostly doing Market research. The most Engineering they do is evaluating and gathering feedback to improve subsequent products. There won't be a lot of playing with exotic cone diaphragms and measuring the flattest response for the HD800 replacement - what they'd be doing is figuring out how next year's in-line Android/iOS-compatible headset can sound clearer (ie, take in more of the user's voice and isolating more background noise) or what the heck was wrong with the wireless IEM receiver that it was cutting out when this popular band used it somewhere. Or whether the oxidization on it was due to their crew's negligence in wiping their body fluids off, or the humidity in this part of the world is a big enough factor.

 

Research is always done in the product's home country, no exception, been there done that.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by wuwhere View Post

Research is always done in the product's home country, no exception, been there done that.

You are forgetting about the many OEM manufacturers. The brand name you see in the stores might just be doing the branding, packaging and marketing.
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post


You are forgetting about the many OEM manufacturers. The brand name you see in the stores might just be doing the branding, packaging and marketing.

 

OEM are just that, manufacturing. They don't necessarily did the original application, idea, research, design, prototyping, and proving the manufacturability. Let's take an example of new materials for headphone diaphragm. Mylar plastic for electrostats and planar magnetics. But now newer materials like polyimide polymers can be used for diaphragm. Headphones or speakers would be a new application here. The company who originally came up with the application, idea, etc... may not necessarily manufacture the end product. They may not have the resources or don't want to get into mass manufacturing.  They would contract a mass manufacturer somewhere else who would be the OEM.

post #10 of 11
That is only one type of OEM arrangement. There are also companies that produce and market a complete product, and will brand it for other companies. As an example, look at some of the low-cost headphone manufacturers that are producing the same basic product for multiple customers. Those customers didn't provide the design to the manufacturer, they selected an available design from the OEMs catalog and a little branding is added. In some cases, the brand buys from an OEM's catalog, the product is shipped to a 2nd vendor to do packaging, and then shipped from there to the distributors. The brand is nothing but a name with a sales & marketing organization. A lot of the time, the low cost 'phone mfrs are just buying off-the-shelf components and putting them together in different ways. Not a lot of audio engineering involved there. The guys making the components (drivers, etc) might also just be using old reference designs or small tweaks to those designs. There are plenty of products made with little or no new engineering.
Edited by billybob_jcv - 12/31/13 at 5:52pm
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

That is only one type of OEM arrangement. There are also companies that produce and market a complete product, and will brand it for other companies. As an example, look at some of the low-cost headphone manufacturers that are producing the same basic product for multiple customers. Those customers didn't provide the design to the manufacturer, they selected an available design from the OEMs catalog and a little branding is added. In some cases, the brand buys from an OEM's catalog, the product is shipped to a 2nd vendor to do packaging, and then shipped from there to the distributors. The brand is nothing but a name with a sales & marketing organization. A lot of the time, the low cost 'phone mfrs are just buying off-the-shelf components and putting them together in different ways. Not a lot of audio engineering involved there. The guys making the components (drivers, etc) might also just be using old reference designs or small tweaks to those designs. There are plenty of products made with little or no new engineering.

 

Yup, no research involved. OEMs don't do research.

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