How to become a sound engineer

Music for many could be described as the food for the soul. Surely, for music is empowering and for those lucky few who have made a living out of their passion for music there is no greater deal to have in life. Moreover, nowadays music has definitely evolved to incorporate a diverse range of aspects. There are various aspects of music production that make it what it is today. From the tedious studio days of early century to the suave professionalism that marks the music industry today, a lot has changed. For instance, now technology has a lot to do with music. Technology and music have been combined to give various nuances to musical pieces. For instances, earlier it was not possible to give a song beat of different genres of music without using the musical instruments of that particular genre, which in itself was a cumbersome process. In contrast, nowadays, it is possible to add Arabic tunes to a jazz song. This all comes under the umbrella of sound engineering. Sound engineering or audio engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the use of various equipment and machinery for the mixing, recording and production of new sounds. Sound engineers are also called audio technologists, sound operators, audio technicians or a recording engineer. The field is an amalgamation of an eclectic mix of disciplines such as acoustics, electronics and psychoacoustics along with music.


A sound engineer is familiar with various types of recording mediums such as digital multi track recording systems and workstations, analog types, as well as computer knowledge. An important prerequisite for foraying into this field is one’s familiarity with music. A person aiming to become a sound engineer should be abreast with the various technicalities of music such as notes and pitches. Further, one also needs to be familiar or at least adaptable to the latest technology and their centrality to altering musical sounds. For instance, as the digital age has conquered the music industry, it is expected from people to be comfortable with this new trend.  Further, with the advent of technology, it becomes important that prospective sound engineers are familiar with the functioning of integration of software and hardware, which is a part of the synchronization of transfers to digital system from an analog system.


Audio engineering covers the more practical and creative sides of music and sounds, which is in stark contrast to a more formal approach as in acoustical engineering. An audio engineer is a professional with ample experience in the production and its subsequent optimization through digital or analog systems. Sound engineers or audio engineers are mostly employed in the commercial music industry with their name appearing in the credit of mostly TV shows and films or videos as a sound engineer. These professionals are well versed with the make-how, installation, sound recording, broadcasting and reinforcement equipment. They usually work in recording studios while recording, editing, manipulating, mixing or mastering sounds via technological equipments to attain the desired affect by the artist or the producer. Though they are mostly associated with music production, sound engineers are also involved in a wide array of applications of sounds that includes post production for films and videos, sound reinforcement for live shows, multimedia, advertising and broadcasting. Although these sound engineers also double up as computer programmers for video games. In major productions, audio engineers are responsible for more technical aspects of recordings and other audio production and works in direct collaboration with record producers and directors, although there are times when audio engineers double up as producers as well.


For becoming a sound engineer, candidates needn’t belong to a specific educational stream. Audio engineers come from different backgrounds such as electronics, arts, science, electronics or even broadcasting. Many accredited institutions and colleges offer degrees in sound engineering such as a Bachelors of Science in audio engineering. Although, some colleges and universities offer Bachelors in Music, which is an equivalent to a degree in sound engineering. Though there are diplomas and certificate programs also being offered in this field. After they complete their education, they get hired by production houses and even event management companies for producing different sound pieces. As far as the remuneration is concerned, ,most professionals start out pretty good and start earning more as they gain more experience. A few sound engineers, after a stint with a studio, go for independent studios and double up as sound producers or record producers and directors as well. While people are in their learning or studying stages, they should try to get some industrial experience by doing internships from recording studios by working as assistants. In case they are not able to do so, they should hang out with a sound crew to get an idea about the field. Another great way to learn is to visit live concerts and notice the trends in vogue in sound engineering. Knowing and subsequently mastering these trends adds to the skill sets of a prospective audio engineer. This brings out the importance of using good quality equipment. In case people are unable to get expensive equipment they can easily go for second hand equipment which is sold at a multitude of auction sites.

Author: Johan Bosman

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