Audio Engineering – Everything You Need To Know

Audio engineering, also known as music engineering, sound engineering, or recording engineering, works with recording, mixing, and sound reproduction. The role of an audio engineer is not similar to a sound producer, writer, or performer. This is because audio engineers specifically deal with music and sound’s technical and mechanical aspects. Suppose you are interested in audio engineering. In that case, here is some information on the different types of tasks music engineers do and the diverse fields in which they work. Music engineers are commonly referred to as audio engineers in the industry. As a result, these technical gurus are experts in the audio production technologies of capture, recording, editing, and mixing.

Basics of Audio Engineering

What is Audio Engineering?

First and foremost, what is audio engineering exactly? Audio engineering is the process of creating a sound recording of any kind. Of course, that is a little ambiguous, but it is essential to note that it applies to various fields. 

Who is an Audio Engineer?

An audio engineer, also known as a sound engineer or recording engineer, aids in creating a live performance or recording by balancing and modifying sound sources with the help of dynamics processing, equalization, and audio effects, as well as reproduction, mixing, and sound reinforcement. Audio engineers tend to focus on the technical aspects of recording, such as the placement of microphones, pre-amp knobs, and level adjustments. However, they are responsible for the physical recording of any project, as well as the nuts and bolts.

Audio engineering is becoming more widely recognized as a creative field in which musical instruments and technology are combined to create sound for film, radio, television, music, and video games. Audio engineers also set up, soundcheck, and execute live sound mixing using a sound reinforcement system and a mixing console for theater, music concerts, sports games, and corporate events.

A scientist or professional engineer with an engineering degree who plans to develop and construct audio or musical technology using terms like acoustical engineering, electronic/electrical engineering, or (musical) signal processing can also be referred to as an audio engineer.

Ear Test for Audio Engineers

What is the Role of an Audio Engineer?

Audio engineers are in charge of sound recording and/or broadcasting equipment maintenance and operation. They may work in tandem with film directors, musical artists, radio stations, television news stations, or video game firms on any given day, all with the purpose of delivering high-quality, crystal-clear sounds. Audio engineers:

  • Set up, operate, and repair audio recording/broadcast equipment.
  • Stay up to date on new developments in sound engineering technologies.
  • Collaborate with editors, directors, video operators, and other sound engineers as needed.
  • Select appropriate audio equipment for use in various situations and plan and schedule work in a timely and effective manner.

Audio engineers usually operate in a studio or office where they have access to computers and computer-assisted sound effects software to execute their tasks. They may meet with other department heads or management, musicians, producers, and others outside of the studio to ensure the project’s overall vision is accomplished. Alternatively, they may travel to different locations to do on-site work.

They may design and regulate sound at concerts, conferences, theaters, or other locations where sound is projected. Audio engineers work in many settings, including corporate and sporting events, live music concerts, and movie sets. Audio engineers may even join a musical group on tour, traveling abroad or across the United States, recording, mixing, editing, and perfecting the sound heard by the audience.

An audio engineer will control and direct the various sounds produced by actors, musical groups, radio personalities, voice-over professionals, or any other person(s) who needs the audio of a performance enhanced or modified. These functions are done in an office, studio, or the chosen location, using amplifiers, audio lines, microphones, monitors, and mixing boards. When it comes to organizing a live event, it requires a team, and an audio engineer is part of that team; therefore, they must communicate to do their work well.

Educational Requirements to Become an Audio Engineer

Audio engineers have diverse educational backgrounds that necessitate both technological and creative abilities. It is not necessary to boast a formal education to work as an audio engineer. However, many audio engineers receive their education at community colleges, vocational schools, or four-year colleges or universities. Audio technology, music creation, and broadcast technology are all undergraduate majors. Most universities and four-year schools provide audio engineering curricula in one of two categories: engineering or scientific training, which allows students to use these concepts as they pursue a career developing new audio technology. Or, as an audio engineer, training in the creative use of sounds.

Generally, an audio engineering degree program merges hands-on training with classroom lectures on analog technology, audio equipment, microphone placement, mixing consoles, surround sound, music theory, studio maintenance, and other essential topics. In addition, students invest a lot of time in the lab, learning how to use audio gear such as mixing boards and oscilloscopes. Audio applications such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Sonoris Professional Mastering Software are also taught and practiced.

Pro Tools

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Ableton live

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Topics Covered in Audio Engineering Degree

  • Audiology Fundamentals
  • An overview of audio engineering
  • Post-Production audio
  • Producing and recording music
  • Audio engineering for film and video
  • Music theory fundamentals

Audio engineers who work in research and development possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, physics, acoustics, or other technical subjects, such as electronics and electrical engineering. Audio engineers may work in acoustic consulting or architectural acoustics. For example, they could create headphones for a headphone maker or automotive audio systems for an automobile manufacturer. If they pursue a master’s degree, they may conduct research or teach in a university atmosphere.

Although certification is not needed, it is accessible through organizations such as the Society of Broadcast Engineers or the Certified Audio Engineer for those who want to improve their career possibilities and compensation by documenting their educational levels and competency to employers.

Students may wish to pursue a variety of sub-disciplines in the field of audio engineering after graduation or while still in school. For example, the following disciplines  are covered:

  • Architectural acoustics
  • Electroacoustics
  • Audio signal processing
  • Speech
  • Musical acoustics
  • Psychoacoustics

In the audio engineering sector, each sub-discipline plays a significant role.

What is the Average Salary of an Audio Engineer?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep track of audio engineers’ salaries or job prospects. They do, however, include material for broadcast and sound engineering technicians, which provides for audio engineers in a broad sense. The median yearly compensation for a sound engineering technician, according to the BLS, is $55,810, or a little over $26.00 per hour. In addition, jobs are expected to expand 8% between 2014 and 2024, which is somewhat faster than the average for all occupations. This is partly because of the demand for trained audio engineers in the broadcast and film industries and the gaming industry’s need to increase the sound quality of games, programs, and movies.

Many factors, including educational level, industry, geographic area, and employer, influence how much an audio engineer can earn. The top ten percent of audio engineers, those with experience and a degree, made over $125,000 per year, while the worst ten percent, those fresh out of college, made around $25,000 per year. New York, California, Texas, Florida, and New Jersey are the states with the highest employment of audio engineers.

Audio engineers usually work full-time during regular business hours, although overtime, weekends, holidays, and evenings are not unusual. This is especially true for engineers in the television or radio industries, where programs are transmitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People in the film industry are generally on a tight schedule and may have to work extra hours to fulfill studio deadlines.

Salary of an Audio Engineer

What are the Different Types of Audio Engineers?

There are many subfields in audio engineering in which one can work:

Studio Engineer

A studio engineer collaborates closely with the producers in a studio. Studio engineers sometimes double as producers and operate independently.

Assistant Engineer

In most cases, an assistant engineer works in a studio setting. They become apprentices to studio engineers who own or work in extensive facilities.

Recording Engineer

A recording engineer is a person who specializes solely in the recording of sound.

Game and Audio Design Engineer

A game and audio design engineer assist with sound engineering in video games and correctly incorporating sound into the game.

Mix Engineer

A mix engineer is responsible for combining several tracks to create a new track.

Mastering Engineer

A mastering engineer smoothes out the mix engineer’s work, bringing the finished product together.

Live Sound Engineer

A live sound engineer ensures that the sound is of acceptable value and good quality at live events.

Monitor Engineer

A monitor engineer collaborates with live sound engineers to assist artists in hearing themselves during a live event.

Systems Engineer

At live concerts, a systems engineer is in charge of the overall sound experience. At many live events, systems engineers supervise both live sound engineers and monitor engineers and set up the entire live sound system.

Audio Post Engineer

Mixing and editing audio for television and movies is the job of an audio post engineer.

Skills Required to Become an Audio Engineer

The skills required to become an audio engineer are:

  • The capacity to arrive on time consistently.
  • The ability to work under pressure and fulfill deadlines. You should live by the principle of “under-promise and over-deliver.” If you do this on every job, project, or gig, you’ll be able to outperform many of your peers.
  • The ability to pick up the phone, return texts, and respond to emails. It could be your next gig or employment offer, so don’t delay in responding.
  • You must have the ability to form relationships with the people you meet, interact with them, and fix appointments. People are more likely to want to work with you if they enjoy being around you.
  • You should have the ability to learn forever. Staying current with music trends and genres is critical for working audio engineers.

Equipment used in Audio Engineering

An audio engineer is skilled in various recording mediums, including analog tape, digital multi-track recorders and workstations, plug-ins, and computer skills. With the rise of the digital age, the audio engineer’s understanding of software and hardware integration, from synchronization to analog to digital transfers, is becoming increasingly vital. Audio engineers employ a variety of tools in their daily job, including:

Tape Dispensers

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Analog-to-digital converters

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Digital-to-analog converters

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Digital audio workstations (DAWs)

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Audio plug-ins (DAWs)

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audio compressor

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Audio data compressors

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Music sequencers

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Signal processors

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Mixing consoles

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The unassuming “audio engineer” job title covers a wide range of opportunities. For example, let’s consider a recording studio. The audio engineer is in charge of creating an ideal studio environment, meeting clients, and successfully delivering what the client wants – which in most cases will be a piece of recorded musical work. It’s your obligation as an engineer to accurately record the musician’s performance and provide them with high-quality sound reproduction.