In fact, the profession of a sound engineer is very old, because the people who worked in ancient theaters behind the scenes, imitating the necessary sounds, are the first sound engineers. Now, on the one hand, such work has become easier, but on the other hand, it`s much more interesting and varied. Let’s take a look at the role of a modern sound engineer in mixing and mastering sound, the essential duties and arrangement of the workplace.
Types of Sound Engineering
Having an excellent ear and having studied a certain range of skills, specialists can freely try themself in one of the most important areas of sound debugging. Actually, now the most common types of sound engineering include:
- Monitor Sound Engineers — they are reducing audience noises, as well as equalizing the total sounding of certain instruments. Also, they can communicate with performers through dedicated stage monitoring systems to control the situation.
- Front of the House Sound Engineers — in general, they perform the same functions as their colleagues mentioned above, but they work not only at concerts, but at thematic events, parties, live shows, TV or radio broadcasting.
- System Sound Engineers — these specialists ideally understand public address systems and control the sound quality for the audience (for example, in Orioles Park in Baltimore on Camden Yard, where announcers communicate with the audience through loudspeakers).
- Studio Sound Engineers — these specialists are engaged in all the stages of sound producing&processing in the studio. They can do it for different purposes: from simple producing musical performances to recording materials for advertising, films, TV series, computer or virtual reality games.
Additionally, despite the main work field, all SE specialists must be acquainted with the national legislation on consumer sound protection and operate in accordance with local requirements.
Duties of a Sound Engineer
Thinking about how to become a sound engineer, note that duties & responsibilities will differ in the various specific areas of work. In general, the professional may need to perform the following tasks:
- communication with a music performer to identify the crucial goals of tracks` production (you need to understand the clients` needs and offer the most suitable options for sound processing);
- total adjustment & testing of various equipment;
- conducting an individual recording of instruments and vocals;
- conducting a soundcheck before public performances;
- adding specific musical effects during the performance (vivid examples: echo or equalization);
- recording, processing, and archiving recorded material.
In addition, the SE expert should be able to get rid of audio problems during real-time performances and keep in touch with the musicians on a regular basis. Sometimes sound technicians have to labor hand-in-hand with the lighting department so that musical and light accents appear on stage in sync.
What does a Sound Engineer do?
As we said, SE professionals can work in a wide variety of industries, but the basic requirement is to take responsibility for managing acoustics. With this skill, the specialist usually does:
- music processing for advertisements, films, TV series, games, and media products;
- music design for corporate events, holidays, weddings;
- controls the sound at concerts, including pre-setting the music controlling equipment and its subsequent dismantling;
- planning a session with an artist, setting up the necessary audio equipment for recording;
- recording each musical instrument and vocals separately;
- editing the recorded material.
And although the tasks differ from the specific field, it`s ideal if a specialist can perform any of them — this greatly increases the competitiveness.
Workplace of a Sound Engineer
Of course, the area of employment will influence the sound engineering workplace. However, there are certain devices that most specialists simply cannot do without:
- audio mixing console or integrated console;
- microphones, amplifiers, and speakers;
- sound signal processor;
- music sequencers;
- digital audio workstations (briefly — DAW).
So, we figured out that a sound engineer is a specialist who is responsible for sound quality at various stages (from recording to mixing and mixing). The specialist should be able to adjust the equipment and control the sound during the performance. Usually, a sound engineer can find a job on television, in a recording studio, a film studio, in an advertising agency, a concert hall, etc. They can also work independently, offering services at weddings, corporate parties, and other events, but in this case, SEs will have to carry their own equipment.
Finally, this profession is very interesting and dynamic — specialists need not only dry knowledge but also creative impulses to produce high-quality services.