October 30, 2018

Sound Engineering: Everything You Should Know

Sound engineering is an exciting field to be in with a ton of great career opportunities. Being a sound engineer is a perfect career choice for people interested in both technology and the arts. There’s a lot of technical expertise required to be a professional sound engineer, but it also requires a creative spark and natural talent that helps musicians and performers realize their artistic intent as an artist.

If you have a sensitive, well-trained ear and enjoy messing around with music and electronics, becoming a sound engineer can be the rewarding career you’ve been looking for.

So, what does a sound engineer do anyway? As you’re going to learn, there’s a lot to it. If you want to learn how to become a sound engineer, choose the right audio engineering school.

What A Sound Engineer Does

What does a sound engineer do? The typical visual of a sound engineer is someone that’s in front of a huge soundboard with all dials, bells and whistles. Now, while there’s some truth to that, the person sitting in front of that soundboard could be a sound engineer or they could be an audio engineer. These two roles are similar, but a sound engineer technician has more responsibility for the success of a project than an audio engineer. If you want to stay in business, you need to have the skills to complete projects successfully. The good news, working as an audio engineer is a great stepping stone for becoming a sound engineer. Even better, sound engineering jobs are in demand.

A sound engineer is responsible for the technical side of recording or live performances. The sound engineer designs and manages sound levels and outputs. They’re also responsible for maintaining the physical sound equipment, like amps and microphones. They’re responsible for the development of sound cards. In total, there’s a lot of different roles sound engineers play a part in.

When a sound engineer is working on a recording, the responsibility doesn’t end with recording that performance. The sound engineer can be responsible for mixing, editing and mastering tracks so they present the best possible performance for an artist, delivering on what that artist wants to see. Most people understand the recording process is associated with audio and sound, but what about the other things?

  • Editing A Track – Editing is a vital skill in all of recording. Recorded performances are rarely played once, full through. Instead, different movements and passages will be repeatedly performed. Editing is the process of selecting the best pieces and putting them together into one single, complete performance. Some artist can be recorded at one date and other artist at another, this is the typical process for most industry artist.
  • Mixing A Track – Mixing a track is the technical work of adjusting sound levels throughout the whole recording. So if the piano track overtakes the cello track in a recording of Schubert’s Serenade, the sound engineer can fix that during the mixing stage.
  • Mastering A Track – Mastering the track is the final step in audio post-production. In short, post production includes all the technical work that needs to be done to get a recording ready for distribution. Most recording tracks often have multiple songs and performances, and mastering the recording brings consistency of sonic levels and quality to the recording. Mastering a recording eliminates this. Mastering a recording is also the stage where the sound engineer technically prepares the recording to be reproduced, manufactured and downloaded. Now, when it comes to distribution, it varies per publisher.

For most recording projects, these roles won’t be on just one person. Despite that, someone has to be responsible for the sound quality of the recording. That goes to the sound engineer, even as more rookie sound engineers may be taking on specific roles or phases within a recording project.

Now, this isn’t to say that sound engineering is only needed for recordings. Sound engineers are also used in live performances, whether a public speech or orchestral performance. In these cases, the initial duties of a sound engineer remain the same – managing output levels, equipment maintenance and setup, and ensuring the highest quality of sound reaching the audience.

How To Become A Sound Engineer

The tools used in sound engineering are advancing all the time. Like every other industry technology, they’re also constantly evolving and improving. Sound engineers have to be aware of this, the right tools make great work possible.

There’s a lot to learn as it pertains to moving and setting up equipment. You wouldn’t think sound engineering would be physically demanding, but it is certainly that. The skills and natural talent you need to possess will play a big role in your success.

While you can spent years learning, sound engineering is a field where hands-on experience matters a lot. Audio production schools like F.I.R.S.T. offer affordable programs so you can become a certified sound engineer.  Earning an audio recording degree and your experience in our audio internship program is a great way to be in position to get your foot inside the industry.

With your experience in-hand and all the networking opportunities our students have, there’s no other program in the country that can get you prepared for the industry like F.I.R.S.T. The last thing you want is a degree with no entry level job.

For those of you just starting out, free recording software like GarageBand and WaveGenix give you the chance to start learning and getting sound engineering experience right now. The more you can learn now, the better. Jumping in immediately is also a great way to figure out if sound engineering is really something you want to pursue.

If you know sound engineering is the career you want, be sure to check out our audio recording degree. An audio career is just around the corner for those of you that are willing to take action. Be sure to check out our audio recording program today.