When you have grown up listening to and playing music, especially percussion instruments, your sensitivities to sound and its nuances are well developed !

Deepanshu Gupta, our next pathbreaker, Acoustics Engineer, solves problems related to loud noise exposure from external sources, higher background noise levels inside buildings and bad room acoustics (high echo and reflections).

Deepanshu talks to  Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about his career that gives him the opportunity to design different spaces in collaboration with architects, interior designers and engineers for a great auditory and sensory experience and how this helps share his passion for sound and acoustics with others.

For students interested in music, take up the challenge to provide a great sound experience that can complement creativity with technology !

Deepanshu, tell us about your background?

I grew up in Faridabad, largest city in Haryana state, part of NCR (Northern capital region) now. I was always an average student with interest in science and technology. I studied non-Medical subjects in 10th and 12th standards. Since my childhood I was passionate about percussion instruments and music as a hobby. During my school days, I went on to learn percussion instruments and soon started performing at different cultural functions. My teachers were happy with my progress in music and did refer my parents to train me formally outside the school curriculum. With time my interest in music grew and became an integral part of my life. Apart from music, I enjoyed sports (football, cricket and swimming) and actively participated in sporting events. 

My father is a self-practicing chartered accountant, and my mother (MSc Zoology) a homemaker. I was fortunate that my parents always encouraged my interest in music and gave me every opportunity possible within means.  My love for music proved to be a stepping stone in shaping my career in the field of Acoustics. 

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

After graduating from school, I wanted to pursue a career in music, but it was a difficult path with very limited options to study then, So I decided to study bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Based on my research and understanding, the electronics field was closely related and would further help to make a career in music and audio field and would also prove to be a steady career choice even if music/ audio wouldn’t work, given limited job opportunities. 

After completing my B.Tech degree from Manav Rachna University, India I went to Full Sail University, USA where I studied BSc in Recording Arts/ audio engineering.  Then I graduated with an MSc degree in Audio Acoustics from University of Salford, UK. 

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?

The reason for me choosing acoustics as a career path happened by accident. It was the result of my desire for a steady job and stable career yet catering to my passion for music and sound. After completing my education in sound engineering from Full Sail University, I went on to do a lot of jobs/ internships in the US and India where I learned tricks of the trade. But the entertainment industry is very volatile and is getting harder to sustain a career because of the rise of the digital era and shrinking budgets for technical jobs in the entertainment industry.  

During this time, I started to look for parallel job/ career options which would infuse my knowledge of engineering and sound, thus came an option of acoustics which I had briefly studied at undergraduate level and acoustics always was an important aspect in music studios and performance spaces. So to be a successful sound engineer it was important to have a basic understanding of the subject.     

Also, during my research in the field of acoustics as a career path I came across a lot of acoustic professionals with very similar backgrounds and interests as mine. Thus, strengthening my belief that I can do it and it will be a healthy option for me.  

How did you plan the steps to get into the career you wanted? Or how did you make a transition to a new career? Tell us about your career path

Industrial training is part of engineering education, for which I did a 6 months training with C&S at their medium voltage power distribution panel factory in Noida, UP. I was working on the factory floor to get hands-on experience in power distribution panels, switchgear devices. Towards the end of my training I started to realize that I didn’t want a career as an electrical engineer and had to find something which I would love to do. During my final year of college, I did visit many institutes across India which used to offer courses in audio engineering and related fields. But none offered a degree program. Hence I was reluctant to take them up because I wanted a formal education if I wanted to make a career in it. 

Since there weren’t many options at the time in India for an undergraduate degree program, I started to look abroad, and Full Sail University came across as the best option available to me and got admission without much difficulty. After completing my degree from Full Sail University I underwent many internships, first of which was with Dubway Studio in NYC. As a music studio intern, I was responsible for basic upkeep of studio hygiene, managing front desk operations, preparing for music sessions for senior engineers and being available for any work and opportunities to learn my craft. Soon I started to put in extra hours for late night voice over sessions and basically any work that could help the studio gain more confidence in me and convert my internship into a job. The studio owner always used to say that only when he could trust me with the studio could he trust me with his clients. Similarly, I started to work for a studio close to my home “Sabella Music” to gain more experience and utilize my time better with a similar job profile. 

After being in NY for 6 months I moved to Los Angeles where I went on to intern for Bang Zoom Entertainment and Igloo Music in Burbank, California. The reason I moved to LA was to gain more experience in audio post production (movie sound) and get a job in that specialization of sound. At Bang Zoom Entertainment I was responsible for editing and recording dialogues and Foley (SFX, and other audio elements) for cartoons, anime and movies in multiple languages. This helped me gain experience in sound mixing and editing for cartoons and TV series and how larger studio operations are conducted. During this period, I was exposed to how studio rooms are calibrated and certified by Dolby and the significance of room acoustics for mixing sound. 

I was fortunate to have worked at some of the best studios under the guidance of talented engineers, which collectively helped me gain valuable experiences in shaping my career. 

After moving back to India, I worked as a freelance engineer with Flying Carpet productions in Mumbai as audio editor. I was working on movie projects in editing dialogues, sound effects and music etc. Then after completion of my previous project in Mumbai, I joined T-Series Studios, Noida office. There I worked as an assistant sound engineer, working on multiple projects, I used to record, edit and mix sound for T-Series kids cartoon stories for YouTube. I did song recordings and mixing for different regional artists and every other work the studio had. It gave me good experience working for a large music record label but not enough financial security, that’s when I decided to plan for a master’s degree in acoustics, which would be a perfect combination of sound and engineering giving my career a jump start. For studying acoustics at master’s level there weren’t many options, due to the specialized nature of study. I finally decided to join University of Salford, Manchester which had one of the best acoustic research departments and is highly reputed in its field. The faculties and professors at University were very encouraging and helpful. 

After graduating with MSc in Audio Acoustics I was able to appear for multiple job interviews and had a job offer with an acoustic consultancy based in Manchester. During this time, I also got a job offer with an American acoustic consultant based in Gurgaon, India from whom I accepted the offer and started to work. As an acoustic consultant I was responsible for carrying field measurements for different parameters based on the project requirements, then analyzing the data and presenting mitigation/ design options to my clients. I worked on a wide range of projects which included mitigation of noise from a loud factory floor, designing hospitals close to an airport, treating spaces for convention centers, theaters, TV studios, Industrial noise from mechanical rooms and many more. Working with Veneklasen Associates was a great learning experience for me, I got to interact with engineers, architects and designers in coming up with best possible solutions in shaping design for best acoustical properties. Further, acoustics isn’t a very popular field of science, so as an industry professional I used to help people understand its scope of work and why it is necessary to have an acoustically balanced space. 

I feel my experiences in sound and as an engineering student helped me understand how different spaces should feel and sound like and gave my clients more trust in my abilities in solving their problems. 

How did you get your first break?

My first job in acoustics came with Veneklasen Associates. I was looking for job opportunities and had applied online on the company website. After my interview with the managing principal and country head I was offered a job. I felt my final year MSc project and good understanding of the fundamentals helped in getting that job. Also, my relevant background, experience and qualifications helped my case. 

What were the challenges? How did you address them?

It is always a challenge to get your first break and make the employer realize that you are a best candidate for the position. The same happened to me as well, I made sure my subject fundamentals were strong, I could participate in a dialogue related to new technologies and work as a team. Also, I never stopped working on my communication skills which is extremely important for any employer. 

Where do you work now? 

I work with Veneklasen Associates in Gurgaon, Haryana. I solve problems related to loud noise exposure from external sources, higher background noise levels inside buildings due to AC and ventilation systems, bad room acoustics (high echo and reflections), vibration induced noise or vice versa and help correct bad acoustic designs existing on site. 

The most important skill is to be able to communicate well, to be open to learning new things on the job and work as a team. Secondly, having knowledge on physics and maths in application of sound/ audio is important for data measurement and analysis, also being able to work with equipment and software is key. 

Lastly, being able to look for details and asking the right questions is critical, as acoustics is a specialized job where people trust your judgment and hope your suggestions will help solve problems and provide the experience people want.   

Giving importance to communication skills and working with people of different origins made me put in extra efforts, resulting in bettering my skills. My passion, experience and love for sound all collectively helped me develop the necessary skills for an acoustic engineer. Also, my pursuit to learn as much as possible from my seniors on job eventually helped me. 

A typical day can involve some site measurements (measuring noise levels, reverberation time or sound isolation between adjacent spaces). Sometimes, with the help of simulation software and previously gathered data we can avoid this step, once I have gathered the information, we analyze it and based on the client’s requirements or our recommendation we suggest plausible suggestions. There are many standards and good practices which we follow as guidelines. After all the analysis, the final report is issued to the client. Hence report writing, and presentations are equally important as the technical analysis. Also, coming up with a cost effective and feasible solution is a big part of my daily work. 

I love my job as it gives me the opportunity to design different spaces in collaboration with architects, interior designers and engineers for a great auditory and sensory experience. It helps me share my passion for sound and acoustics with others and at the same time allowing me to narrate a story about any physical space by just being there.  

How does your work benefit society? 

My work allows people to work in less intrusive spaces with respect to noise from external or internal sources. It provides an environment which is comfortable for its use, especially for people who expect a better sound experience, be it, a hotel lobby, hospital ward, concert hall or office rooms adjacent to a loud factory floor. 

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

I had the opportunity to visit Parliament of India to conduct reverberation time measurements to analyze speech intelligibility of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha chambers. This helped in betterment of the design, as speech is of utmost priority in such sensitive areas.  

Your advice to students based on your experience?

I would advise students to find something which they love and try to find a career related to it if not directly, this will help you make a niche for yourself in that particular career field. 

Hobbies and passion can be developed into careers, one should be open to explore new options as no education/ experience ever goes waste, life doesn’t always go as we plan. Invest in finding what you enjoy. 

The ideal path for a career in acoustics would be to do study BSc in Acoustics, rather than any other engineering field. Institute of Acoustics [IOA] is an international body for industry professionals and will be a great starting point to gather more information. 

Future Plans?

I plan to continue with my endeavors as an acoustic consultant, help grow the market and make people understand why acoustics is important. Maybe I will have my own consultancy one day.