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Theatre - Sound for the Performing Arts


Steve Hnath is able to combine his interests in robotics and theatre in projects like IZZY (Intelligent Scenery Simulation) – a 4x4 motorized platform whose movements around the stage can be controlled wirelessly.

Majoring in Theatre - Sound for the Performing Arts

Sound for the Performing Arts expands the student’s range of knowledge and expression in all aspects of sound. Working as part of team, the student learns to collaborate artistically and technically in auditory projects.

The audio production opportunities in Pao Hall complement the larger campus venues so students can gain additional experience in sound for the performing arts. The Nancy T. Hansen Theatre is based around a 24-channel surround sound system, while the Gordon Mallett Studio Theatre is based around a 16-channel surround sound system. JaffeHolden designed the acoustics and Auerbach•Polach•Friedlander designed the electronics for all of the sound facilities which feature a high degree of integration and cross-venue compatibility.


Upon completion of the program, Theatre – Sound for the Performing Arts majors may choose graduate school or employment in an industry, which may or may not be related to their interest in sound production. Student experiences have included:

  • Film Sound Designer
  • Production Audio Technician
  • Broadcast Audio Engineer
  • Stage Sound Designer
  • Touring Road Crew
  • Video Director
  • Audio/Visual Technician
  • Motion Capture Engineer
  • Graduate or Professional School

Average Starting Salary: $42,041

All Purdue University College of Liberal Arts majors prepare students with the skills identified as contributing to professional success: communicating and listening well, an understanding and appreciation of diverse points of view, creative thinking and problem solving, a collaborative mindset, the ability to synthesize complex ideas and communicate them clearly, and a Boilermaker work ethic.

Within the field of Theatre – Sound for the Performing Arts, students develop skills that are applicable to many different careers. These skills may include, but are not limited to:

  • Confer with producers, performers, and others to determine and achieve the desired sound for a production, such as a musical recording or a film.
  • Prepare for recording sessions by performing activities such as selecting and setting up microphones.
  • Record speech, music, and other sounds on recording media, using recording equipment.
  • Regulate volume level and sound quality during recording sessions, using control consoles.
  • Separate instruments, vocals, and other sounds, and combine sounds later during the mixing or post-production stage.
  • Time management/deadline-oriented with a “the show must go on” mentality.
  • Understanding of multiple computer-aided software and technology.

Theatre – Sound for the Performing Arts may choose to enter into the workforce using the skills they have acquired at Purdue or to attend graduate school upon completion of their degree. Past graduates have gone on to:


  • DreamWorks Animation
  • National Public Radio (NPR)
  • Disney Cruise Lines
  • Broadway Theatres
  • Public Broadcasting System (PBS)

Graduate School

  • Stanford University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Missouri - KC
  • University of California, Irvine

CLA Career Center