This is a prevalent question that we get asked, as tech gurus and article writers. Well, if you have ever been to a play, concert or festival and have been positively blown away by the sheer awesomeness and clarity of a song, then you can thank your local backstage sound engineer.
Audio engineers are behind all of the, well, just about anything that you’ve ever actually heard that wasn’t real, natural voices right next to you. They work on the technical aspect of music and audio, by producing, cutting, looping, duplicating, and manipulating the equalization, output and the electronic effects of the sound.
However, not all sound engineers need to work solely in the music industry. A lot of sound engineers design certain products to be used with the assistance of a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and are sold on the market. You can thank them for every pair of headphones, every song, and every audio file you’ve ever heard.
A typical job for them is to control the sound at meetings, conferences, plays, theatrical performances and any other kind of event that requires sound to be heard and projected to the audience or viewers.
By controlling different knobs that send mixed signals to the computers they work on, they can edit (real time) the microphone, sound, input and output levels. They also put their acoustically-trained ears to work to mix, create and produce the best audio files with the highest level of clarity. Some venues that hire sound producers would be small or large businesses working in the film industry, the sports or theater industry and the musical creation and recording industry, such as those at concerts and other types of similar events.
A common misconception that a lot of people have about sound engineers is that they stand behind a big, fancy looking desk in front of a crowd at a festival and concert and edit (again, real time) the sounds that they hear. Of course, this does happen sometimes, but that’s not always the case.
There are many varying and completely separate paths in the audio mixing industry that include but are not limited to recording, mixing, mastering, and editing.
As a result of these varied paths in the audio mixing workforce, certain types of sound engineers excel at an individual task, as an opposed to a ‘jack of all trades’ type of audio engineer, which are somewhat more widespread nowadays that the music making industry has exploded so much.
Check out “A Day in the Life” of a Sound Engineer!
Some other roles and titles that sound engineers take on include, but are not limited to:
Monitor sound engineers
This type of audio guru takes care of and controls (hence the name) the different kinds of sounds and sound levels that the band playing the music hears while performing. If you’ve ever been to a concert and heard the drummer ask someone to decrease the input near the snare or to turn down the guitar amp a little bit, those are the guys that are behind it.
These guys usually set up sound control boards and amps prior to a show.
Studio audio engineers
These are the guys responsible for editing and mixing the familiar tracks (or indeed any track) that you hear on the radio nowadays. And much more.
This was just a brief overview of what kind of work these guys do. Again, there are many different jobs open to audio engineers, as the number of people that create music but don’t know how to work with it is at an all-time high, thanks to the widespread availability of DAWs and music making tutorials.