What is Audio Engineering?
Audio Engineering is not a one size fits all type of career. Audio professionals can fit into a wide array of careers due to their specialized skills necessary for music and audio. There are several categories as to what careers an audio engineer can pursue. For example, careers can fall under, mixing engineer, mastering engineer, live sound engineer, and sound designer. In this ultimate guide, each career will be broken down to show career possibilities. In this article, we will be focusing on music engineers.
Live Sound Engineer
How to Become an Audio Engineer
No.1 Mixing Engineer
First, we will be starting with a mixing engineer as this position carries fundamentals found in other fields as well. A mixing engineer is an audio engineer hired to shape and sculpt a song by boosting and removing frequencies. This process starts to give a song its shape.
Since mixing is not an easy task, it is best to hire a professional who can properly mix your music. Applying techniques like low and high pass filters, and sidechaining compression is what will allow your mix to sound its best. While any individual can apply this to a DAW, it takes a true professional to truly understand what they are doing. Mixing engineers have trained ears refined to hear frequencies that a regular person is not going to hear. As an audio engineer, there are plenty of people who think they are mixing their songs, but instead are harming instead of any good. If you do not have confidence in your mixing, invest at Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami for mixing. Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami has a team of highly experienced engineers who promise to deliver the best version of your song.
- Usually work in studios
- Requires special skills to be great
- Can ruin your song if not done correctly
- Highly recommended to seek a professional
No.2 Mastering Engineer
Mastering engineering is the next form of audio engineering in this guide. This is one of the most advanced forms of audio engineering as it requires extremely refined ears, knowledge, and understanding of the science behind audio engineering. As noted, mixing engineers do require a specific set of skills to become one, mastering takes it a step further. In order to be a mastering engineer it is almost crucial you go to school or gain at least 10 years of prior experience to successfully master songs.
Since mastering is a delicate process, it is crucial that you go to a professional to get it done. Mastering is the final finish to your song, that will make the best or the worst of your song. Since mastering is so delicate, it is important you take your song to a professional. As noted, you need an individual with a lot of experience. At Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami, the only engineers allowed to master at Bay Eight Recording Studios are the most experienced Engineers with a minimum of 10 years of experience.
Process of Mastering Audio Engineering
Since Mastering is such an intricate process, it does take true professionals to understand what goes into it. As an audio engineer, I am not at the mastering level, however after speaking to various mastering engineers, I can give basic details as to what goes into the process. One of the first steps in mastering is checking the EQ balance of the entire track. Being able to hear the frequencies across a song after mixing takes extreme attention to detail taking years to develop. Next, is being able to effectively control the LUFs.
While many of you are going to be asking what LUFs are, the simple definition is a measurement of loudness. LUFs are a measurement of how loud a song is overall but, songs must be optimized to hit certain LUFs for them to be played on Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services. Mastering Engineers specialize in this process to ensure your song will have little to no change in sound when uploading to Spotify or Apple Music.
Since mastering is such a complex process, you need to go to professionals who know how to do it. Mastering is delicate and will change your song if not done right. At Bay Eight Recording Studios Miami, there are professionals who can do this for you. Their mastering engineers carry over 8 years of experience and are professionals at what they do.
- Requires extreme attention to detail
- Knowledge of Science in Audio
- Requires understanding of LUFs
No.3 Live Sound Engineer
The next type of audio engineering we are going to look at is a live sound engineer. This is one of the most overlooked forms of audio engineering. Unlike recording studios, normally you don’t actively see them do their job. Live sound engineers are usually in the shadows doing their craft of making the artist sound as best as they can. Monitoring backing tracks, the vocals of the artist, and the band, live sound engineers who really make the artist shine during their concert. Additionally, Sound Engineers are one of the more versatile types of audio engineers. Live Sound Engineers are able to do audio for not just concerts but theater performances, festivals, large conferences, and anything in live sound. Without sound engineers, concerts would not have the effect of impressing audiences every time they see a show.
- Work in live performances like concerts and theater
- Underrated but extremely important
- Can have the opportunity to travel if contracted privately for an artist
No.4 Sound Designer
Sound designers are audio engineers who specialize mainly in film or TV. Not to get confused with Foley artists, sound designers work on producing sounds to supplement a scene instead of recreating human sounds. Sound Designers commonly use computers to create sounds in order to amplify movie scenes. However, Sound Designers are not just limited to film. Sound Designers are also able to create sounds for VST or plugin presets. One of the most reputable sound designers now, used to be a former musician. Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has created soundtracks and also done sound design for films. Here is behind-the-scenes footage of Reznor doing sound design for the 2014 film, Gone Girl.
- Creating sounds for movies and TV
- Can design sounds for plugins
- Very detailed-oriented work
No.5 How to Become an Audio Engineer
Now that we have defined what an audio engineer is, there are several ways to go about becoming an audio engineer. You can go to a college to study audio engineering where you will learn the basics and fundamentals of audio engineering. While this is a great way to learn basic principles, you can also learn audio engineering through real-life experience.
Audio Engineering in Recording Studios
Most audio engineers start their careers in tracking at recording studios. While this may seem easy, it is never as simple as the session may seem. Usually in tracking sessions clients are demanding, wanting the most out of their engineer. This usually involves mixing as the recording is happening, leveling out vocals, takes, and adding fades. While college will give you tools on how to do these, it will not compare with the demand of real-life experience.
As an audio engineer, the one thing needed more than any of these skills above is speed. While you might want to take your time in the session, the client who booked is looking to maximize their time and with an almost finished product before it is mastered. Half of the clients you are tracking are not even going to care if it is mastered, just audible to release it.
Audio engineering is not an easy career path and takes highly developed skills in audio engineering and interpersonal skills. Audio engineering is a vast topic to look at but the above show different types/specialties of engineers and what they do. There are a variety of definitions of what is an audio engineer. The easiest way to describe one is an individual who specializes in understanding how sound behaves.