December 14, 2018

What Is Audio Engineering?

If you’re looking to get started in the audio engineering industry, you’ve come to the right place. Here at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we have a recording arts program that will give you the needed skills to start a career in audio engineering. First things first, what is audio engineering? What does an audio engineer do? Do I need to go to an audio engineering school to become an audio engineer? What is “recording arts?” We know you have a lot of questions about audio engineering, and we’re here to help answer them all.

What Does An Audio Engineer Do?

Well, it depends on who you ask. The very foundation of audio engineering is getting sound from one place to another. Let’s use a good example. I want you to think about a concert. Audio engineers play a big role in ensuring all the sounds of a concert go on without a hitch. There’s a lot to it; think about the vocalist, think about the instruments, the speakers for the crowd. Ensuring all the sounds do what they are supposed to do and go where they’re supposed to go is the job of an audio engineer. Without audio engineering, you wouldn’t be able to hear songs from your favorite artist. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy them on the radio or Sirius XM. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy an artist performing at a concert. You wouldn’t be able to enjoy your favorite television series either. Audio engineers play a vital role in ensuring you enjoy your entertainment, at least from sound.

Audio Engineering

There’s a wide range of jobs that would be labeled under “audio engineering.” Let’s use the recording studio, for example. An audio engineer in a recording studio is going to be responsible for a lot of different things, such as preparing the absolute best studio environment. Audio engineers don’t stop there; they’re also responsible for meeting clients and making sure they can deliver exactly what the client wants. For most artist that go to a studio, this is likely going to be recordings. It’s your job to deliver on sound quality so they have a great product to work with.


Recording is the first step in making a record. The audio engineer is going to be responsible for;
  • Setting up musical instruments
  • Tuning up musical instruments
  • Choosing the right microphones
  • Placing all microphones
  • Running all the appropriate cables
  • Routing the signals
  • Setting up audio mixing consoles
  • Setting up outboard audio equipment
  • Recording the audio
Now, most microphones will be used to record its own track. This allows the audio engineer the opportunity to adjust and edit sound as needed. Nearly all professionally recording sound uses this method. This could also be called music production. Recording is a vital role in music production.


The next step is called mixing. This is the second step in making a record. Mixing audio is a very important step. Here, we talk all the individual tracks we recorded and mix them into one final version. This is where we can experiment with panning different stereo channels, which refers to moving the audio left or right. We can set EQs to make the instrument sounds crisp and clean too. From automation, effects and signal processors, we can find the exact sounds we’re looking for. In short, mixing is taking all of your recordings and creating a masterpiece out of them.


The last step in recording is called Mastering. Here, we take the final mixing recordings and finish them with processing. This may include;
  • EQ Edits
  • Limiting
  • Compression
This process cleans up everything so we can deliver an awesome final recording to our client. Perhaps most important, this is where we make sure the sounds sound the same on every recording that’s produced. There’s a lot of skills that go into mastering, science as well. You have to learn how to use EQ, how to take out noises, remove unwanted frequencies and much more. Here’s a few more jobs for a recording engineer.
  • Radio And Television Broadcasting
  • Audio Book Recording/Editing
  • Commercial Production
  • Post Production Engineering
  • Game Audio Designer

Working Outside Of The Studio

Sure, an audio engineer may spend a lot of time working in a recording studio, but not all the time. Think about it, what about live performances? If you took your normal day and paid close attention to all the sounds you hear, I bet it would surprise you how much you hear. Next time you get a chance, give it a try. When you hear those sounds, just know, someone likely was paid to make that sound! What About Live Sound? A live sound engineer is one of the hottest markets in the audio engineering career field. It’s one thing to create sounds in a recording studio, it’s another to create sounds outside the studio walls “Live.” Nearly all venues have a sound engineer. Heck, nearly all artist and bands have a sound engineer too. Who knows, maybe you can work at your favorite venue or with your favorite artist/band.

Corporate, Business And Technology

It’s not uncommon for big companies to have an audio engineer, perhaps even an audio team. With all the up and coming entrepreneurs out there doing live events, there’s always a need for good sound guys and girls. Think about some of the biggest events companies like Google, Apple and others host, you may just be able to land a job with them! While setting up microphones and speakers is the basics of audio, there’s a ton of jobs out there for you to get your first break.

Brand New Technology

Technology is always advancing and it gives you the opportunity to help them demonstrate how it’s used. New companies launch all the time and many of them have big needs for audio and video. As long as you know the fundamentals of sound and audio, you’ll have the skills to do just that. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for you to showcase your skills and meet new people, you know, “networking.”

Environment Sound Design

Although it may have been some time since you last went to the mall, do you recall hearing music or sounds as you walked the halls? You guessed it, somebody made that for them. With shopping malls and shopping centers all over the country, the opportunities in this category are limitless. It’s not only music, think about all the speakers and wiring that need to be set up to make environmental sound happen.

Where Should I Go To School At?

We’re proud to have here at our blog. If you’ve made it this far, you likely have a real passion to learn audio engineering. A music degree may be the choice for you. While there’s a lot of different schools to learn audio engineering, few can offer you what we can here at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. We’re one of the top audio engineering schools in the country. We can also help you land your first audio engineering internship. Here’s a list of all the job possibilities out there in the industry, provided you have experience in audio production and engineering:
  • Acoustics/Design
  • ADR (Dialogue recording for film)
  • Car Audio
  • Cellphone Ringtones and Apps
  • Church Audio
  • Commercials TV Radio
  • Concert + Tour Promotion
  • Corporate Presentations
  • Courtroom Documentation
  • Distribution
  • Educational Video Production
  • Engineer: FOH
  • Engineer: Monitors
  • Events
  • Field Recording: Sound Libraries, Bio Acoustic Research; Nature Sounds
  • Film
  • Foley Engineer/Editor
  • Forensic Audio
  • Gaming (Console, PC)
  • Home Theater
  • Internet Radio
  • Installation: Equipment, Sound Systems, Home Theaters, Maintenance, Repair
  • Live Performances
  • Live Web Casting
  • Mixing Audio
  • Movie Audio
  • Music Composition
  • Music Performances
  • Music Production
  • Music Restoration
  • Music Therapy
  • Music Videos
  • Podcasting
  • Post-Production Engineer
  • Publishing
  • Radio
  • Recording Engineer
  • Royalties
  • School Events
  • Sound Design
  • Sound Effects
  • Sound Library Technician
  • Speech Recognition Education and Development
  • Sporting Events
  • Sports Broadcast
  • Studio EngineerStudio Maintenance
  • Studio Management
  • Television/Radio Broadcast
  • Theater Performances
  • Vocals
  • Voice Overdubs

What Past Students Have To Say About Our Recording Arts Program

Since 2004, we’ve worked with a lot of different students in our recording arts program. Here’s what they had to say about their experience. UCG RASP Banner