Advanced Sound Design – Short Course

Expand your sonic palette


This 4-week short course has been created for the artist/producer who has already started their journey. We start from the assumption that you're comfortable using a DAW and have a grasp of the fundamentals of electronic music production. Now you're ready to stretch your capabilities, hone your skills in a specialist field, create a unique sonic identity or explore new frontiers that take your work to the next stage in its evolution. 

As a progressive education institute one of our core beliefs is that you need to spend lots of time with your own hands firmly on the gear. We call it learning by doing....and doing...and doing again

Combine that in-depth practice with expert tuition from industry professionals to expand your sonic palette and sharpen your listening and production skills. Connect technology, tools, approaches and philosophies to enhance your work and help you create engaging, diverse and rich productions.

From nerding out on the principles of sound to levelling up your synthesizer and percussion skills. From understanding sample-based sound design to tailoring an electronic setup. You will come out of the course with the momentum to develop a stronger sonic direction.

Course structure

Subjects areas

Your course will cover the following subject areas:-

  • Advanced DAW operations
  • Synthesis (additive, subtractive, FM, AM, granular, modelling, wavetable, modular)
  • Audio manipulation tools and techniques (samplers, tape loops, vinyl and CDs)
  • Sound design philosophy
  • Reamping and physical sound processing
  • Expressive input and control surfaces
  • Experimental recording (contact microphones, springs, hydrophones and circuit sniffers)
  • Custom analogue and digital effects chains
  • Generative and autonomous systems, feedback systems and complex sequencing tools
  • Reaktor patch creation
  • Max4Live customisation
  • Extended technique
Weekly breakdown

Week 01 - Synthesis Concepts

  • Project: What do you need? 
  • Introduction Round 
  • What is sound? Sound walk with a mobile recorder, sample editing
  • Subtractive synthesis
  • Exploring the EMP Lab - hardware synthesizer
  • Feedback round

Week 02 - Synthesizing Drums

  • Project:  Build a drum playback with your own drum sound creations! 
  • Rhythm
  • Recording with microphones (drums, percussion), mangling samples
  • Additive synthesis and FM - Drumming with synthesizers
  • Electronic percussion, drum machines
  • Feedback round

Week 03 - Sampling and Modular Synthesis

  • Project: Create your own sound world!
  • Sampling culture
  • Sample recording, processing with Ableton’s Sampler
  • Modular synthesis - software 
  • Modular synthesis - hardware
  • Feedback round

Week 04 - External Sound Processing

  • Project: Create your own workflow! 
  • Thinking out of the box
  • Experimental recording techniques, re-amping
  • Granular Synthesis
  • External sound processing, stomp boxes
  • Feedback round
Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • understand the principles of sound
  • undertake a number of recording procedures
  • understand a number of synthesis techniques
  • work with hardware synthesizers at an advanced level
  • work with modular synthesizers at an advanced level
  • understand sample-based sound design techniques
  • synthesize electronic drums and percussion sounds with hardware and software
  • process sounds with various hardware equipment
  • combine various electronic devices in a useful setup
  • understand the principles of sampling
  • critically evaluate their work

This course is designed for two audiences.

The first audience are those looking for a productive way to spend 4 weeks developing their electronic music production skills to help support their own projects and meet like minded people to work with. For this audience the likely progression routes are:-

  1. Returning to their own project with a new set of skills
  2. Returning to Catalyst to take one of our other short courses.

The second audience are those students wishing to progress onto one of our longer courses whom require some practical experience to help prepare them for the longer course. The most likely courses they would progress onto are:-

  1. HE Certificate Electronic Music Production (1 Year)
  2. BA Hons Bachelor Degree Electronic Music Production (3 Year)

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A safe space to dream big


Our team

Our courses are taught by a team of permanent tutors & visiting international music industry professionals with a genuine passion for passing on their specialist knowledge to others.

Philippa McIntyre

Want to get your listeners’ heads bobbing and feet tapping? Philippa McIntyre will take you deep into the joy of electronic music production, deep-house deep. Having been a staple of New Zealand’s scene for over 20 years, Philippa’s music has uplifted Berlin’s grooviest dance floors since 2013 – the same year she became a tutor at Catalyst. Combining her love of the house genre and its community with her knowledge of the industry, she launched her record label AT PEACE in 2020.

Stefan Knauthe

A true veteran of the scene: Stefan Knauthe has witnessed and contributed to Berlin's rise to the capital of electronic music, working with many of the city’s leading artists since arriving in 1988. The Ableton Certified Trainer is one of Catalyst’s original and most experienced educational professionals. He’s been using Ableton since the days of the flip phone! Stefan is also a modular synthesis fanatic: a regular workshop leader at the likes of Superbooth and Loop, and a composer and producer of ambient and experimental electronic soundscapes.

Charlie Baldwin

Charlie Baldwin’s artist name, Cocktail Party Effect, aptly represents the uncanny ear-tuning ability he applies to his chaos-moulding sound, which sees him regularly performing at venues such as Berghain and Hör Berlin and releasing on Pinch’s label Tectonic Recordings. His fluency in obscure analog equipment and dynamism in digital make him the perfect mentor for those aspiring to master production technology and go beyond into original artistry.

Laurence Osborne

Allow yourself to be infused by Laurence (Laurie) Osborne, aka Appleblim’s special attributes: innovation and collaboration. The UK dubstep legend behind the Skull Disco label has, for decades, been raising eyebrows with his bass-heavy club music – blending elements of techno, ambient, garage, jungle and more – and performances at the prestigious likes of Berghain, Fabric, and the Bunker. Laurie regularly collaborates with some of the biggest producers in the genre and his music has been remixed by the likes of Ricardo Villalobos and Torsten Pröfrock. 

Christopher Jarman

20 years of genre-straddling mastery: if anyone’s excellently equipped to get you into the nuts and bolts of electronic music, it’s Christopher Jarman – also known as Raiden, Dot Product and Kamikaze Space Programme. Over the course of his career, the musical shapeshifter has released over 150 vinyls and run two labels and a mixing and mastering company. He also regularly performs in many of the world’s most infamous venues, including Berghain. Trust Chris’ pro skills and infectious enthusiasm to unveil the potential of sonic expression.

Meet up

Catalyst is a thriving creative learning community of tutors and students from more than 71 countries. It's a golden opportunity to meet up and collaborate with like minded peers from around the world. A key part of our approach to learning involves working with others whether as peers, mentors, collaborators, audience or fellow travellers. Passion is always better shared!

Listen up

In the end it doesn’t matter how great we think our courses are. What matters is what our students actually do during their time with us. Have a listen, leave some comments and decide for yourselves.

Essential information

Entry requirements

The most important prerequisite for attending any course at Catalyst is that you must be passionate about building and developing your skills as an electronic music artist, producer or performer.

Our courses are designed to be accessible to anyone so we do not require any level of academic certification to apply. To qualify you should usually be aged 18 or over. If you're coming from outside the EU a holiday/travel visa will usually suffice.

We accept applications up to 14 days before the course start date but places are assigned on a first come, first served basis so we recommend you make an application as soon as possible.

This course requires some prior knowledge, so please check the content and make sure you’re ready for the ride.

For more information please contact a member of the team. We love to chat! Please reach out to us at or call us at +49 30 2900 9052.

Info hub
Course dates and application deadline

Date: 19 June to 14 July, 2023

Course length: 4 weeks

Application deadlines: International / EU students - apply by 31 March, 2023* to secure your spot.
* Our final deadline is 15 May 2023, however course spots are granted on a first come, first served basis. If you're course of choice is already full you will be added to a waiting list.

Tuition fees

Enrolment fee*: €495

Course fee**: €1,500

Total: €1,995

If you decide to enrol in both a short and long course with us, you will receive a discount of 500€ on the total tuition.

* Note- Enrolment fee is non-refundable.
** Tuition fee deadline: June 8th

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Open days and taster workshops

Get a feel for our school from the comfort of your home with our Virtual Open Days and skill-focussed Taster Workshops.

Hosted by our team and students, these online events will give you a sense of what it's like to come and study with us in Berlin.

We look forward to meeting you online soon!

Learn more
Primer workshop - access to Higher Education

Designed for those wishing to join our main programmes, but lacking the formal education requirements to apply through standard entry.

These free workshops run at the same time as your short course programme and cover writing skills, reading, structuring arguments, debate and understanding context.

They utilise task and project based learning methodology to ensure that you’re prepared and ready for our longer HE certificate or degree level programmes.

Learn more

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