What does a sound engineer do? Professional sound engineers maintain and operate sound recording or broadcast sound equipment. They work with a variety of professionals like music artists, movie & television directors, news stations and radio stations. This is a highly technical job and to become an audio engineer requires a lot of training and to develop the skills and proficiency needed to with computers and electronic audio equipment. A sound engineer also is required to work along with various other professionals like video technicians, editors, performers and directors to furnish the best technical skills and the highest audio fidelity possible. Many sound engineers like in the case of a front of the house engineers who are in charge of the mixing of a live touring act are required to travel all over the world. Flexibility and adaptability are pre-requisites in this line of work. Sound engineers are required to deal with all sorts of audio applications like recording in a recording studio, monitoring in a broadcast control room, mixing in a mixing studio, mastering in a mastering studio and the list goes on.
In the professional audio world there are many types of sound engineer and it can get rather confusing deciphering through the differences between them. We will explain and sort out the various types here to help you understand who does what. A sound engineer Is a professional who works within the science of audio and deals with the recording and reproduction of audio. In this digital age a this field requires many different specialties like electrical engineering, acoustics, psychoacoustics and music. Within music a sound engineer deals with sound in a musical sense and not in a sound control sense, sometimes referred to as audio engineers they are required have a pretty extensive understanding of computer hardware and software. There are many other sound engineering professions outside of the recording industry which include but not limited to front of house engineers who focus on mixing the audio for the audience at a live performance of an artist, but In this article we will be dealing with sound engineering as it pertains to the recording industry. We’ll make this easy and list all of the most common sound engineering professions.
The assistant engineer is the first job that a graduate or intern will most likely land after a few months of on the job training or internship. When a student graduates from a technical audio college, their first goal is to land an internship at a reputable studio. After a short period of internship many individuals are hired as assistant engineers. Assisting isn’t the most exciting job, but it is an individuals foot in the door, which in this business means a lot. As an assistant to a recording engineer, their job consist of control room set ups as well as mic set ups for recording. In this period of a sound engineers career is where an assistant get to really learn hands on. When assisting a mix engineer, they get the opportunity to spend countless hours learning and absorbing knowledge from many different mix engineers. This time is truly price less for the future of these young assistant engineers.
A recording engineer is the natural next step for an assistant engineer. Many major studios hire in house recording engineers and they usually hire from within their roster of assistant engineers. After working under recording engineers as well as mix engineers, many assistants gain vast amounts of knowledge. For example a lot of mix engineers prefer not to record, so in cases where an artist may need to do some touch up work while mixing a song, a lot of mix engineers will give an assistant engineer the opportunity to record this touch ups. Obviously these opportunities arise after a mix engineer has developed a certain level of trust with their assistants and in turn those opportunities groom an assistant for his or her first job as a recording engineer.
A mix engineer, sometimes referred to as “mixer”, is one of the most coveted sound engineering profession. is the sound engineer who, once all the music and vocals are recorded, performs what’s called the “final mix” or “mix down” of a song. Hence the term “mix engineer”. He or she takes all the sounds like drums, bass, piano, guitar, vocals and so on, and blends or mixes them together, with the purpose of balancing the instruments and vocal volumes. A mix engineer knows what it is suppose to sound like for commercial release. Remember that this is a very specialized industry and anyone can get a degree in audio engineering, but there are very few who can perform a final mix the right way. This is the reason why a great mix engineer is in such high demand. Sometimes called the mixer, he or she answers directly to the producer and or record company. Because of the nature of the music industryIt it is common to spend a small fortune recording and producing a hit song and the mixing engineers job is to take all of that work into his or her hands and producing the best possible sounding final product. It is a lot of responsibility and pressure. Therefore, it is very important to a producer and a record label to work with best sound engineer professionals possible.
Mastering engineers are the last stop of a music production. They are called upon to make a mix from the mixing engineers consistent on as many playback systems as possible. For example, a mix that sounds great on one set of speakers, may sound drastically different on a automobile system. Besides the task of making the mixes sound consistent , they also are called on to make the mixes sound bigger, brighter but yet in control in where nothing sound displeasing to the human ear. To sum it up their goal is to achieve a pleasant harmonic balance. All this while keeping the integrity of the mixing engineers mix. Finally they are also required to handle all of the meta data input, that radio stations, electronic audio systems use to display song titles, time duration and album art.
Although the majority of sound engineers work in the using technologies to produce sound for film, radio, television, music, electronic products and computer games. Some sound engineers can also be referred to as scientists or professional engineers who holds a bachelors or masters in acoustical engineering. They work in designing, developing and building new audio technologies. As you can see sound engineering has a vast spectrum of applications, which allow for a variety of career choices.