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Audio engineer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An audio engineer at an audio console.
An audio engineer at an audio console.

An audio engineer (also sometimes recording engineer) helps to produce a recording or a live performance, balancing and adjusting sound sources using equalization and audio effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound. Audio engineers work on the "...technical aspect of recording—the placing of microphones, pre-amp knobs, the setting of levels. The physical recording of any project is done by an engineer ... the nuts and bolts."[1] It's a creative hobby and profession where musical instruments and technology are used to produce sound for film, radio, television, music, and video games.[2] Audio engineers also set up, sound check and do live sound mixing using a mixing console and a sound reinforcement system for music concerts, theatre, sports games and corporate events.

Alternatively, audio engineer can refer to a scientist or professional engineer who holds an engineering degree and who designs, develops and builds audio or musical technology working under terms such as acoustical engineering, electronic/electrical engineering or (musical) signal processing.[3]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Audio Engineer | How I got my job & where I'm going | Part 2 | Khan Academy
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  • Julius Smith - Sound synthesis based on physical models
  • How do I know if I have good data? Check your physical IO [GSwSST13]

Transcription

So I went to school for Business and I was a vocal minor I had to take an elective for my vocal classes and it was called music technology. And it was all about microphones and speakers and music and I was like what, this is something I can do. I don't know why my whole life in music I had no idea that audio engineering was a thing. Once I took that music technology class I changed my major to multi disciplinary studies which is when three minors make up your major, we didn't have a music tech major program so that's how I kind of finagled it. And then I studied theater advertising so the theater side of things I did theater sound design which audio engineering in theater is huge, so that's a whole other avenue that you can study. And then advertising because I knew I was probably gonna have to be a freelance person so I wanted to be able to market myself. I graduated from West Virginia with my Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies three years ago. And then I immediately moved out to Denver, I didn't have a job lined up I knew there were studios in Denver, I contacted a bunch of them and no one wanted anything to do with me. Which I think now is because it's such a tight knit community, if you know someone that's how you get a job here. So for about two years out here, for the first year I did nothing but bartend so I was a bartender all through college and I was bartending out here as well. And then I found the Masters program and I was like you know what if no one wants to hire me right, maybe I need to hone in some more skills and so I decided to apply for graduate school, you don't need to go to school but it definitely gives you a leg up on the competition depending on their experience obviously. I'm introduced in college to post production, production for film, I'm introduced to live sound, studio, room acoustics all of these different things that it would take a very long time for someone to be able to learn all of those things. And to practice those things on their own, just because the equipment is like really expensive to get into, so once I started interning, I was interning at this studio in this past summer. And the way that I got that was just networking those engineer meet up groups where I go to every studio always talk to the owners, we had a meet up at this studio and I came to it and I was talking to my boss and I was just asking him do you guys take interns, do you guys look for anybody in particular when you're hiring. Just had a really great time talking shop and he said to call him and so I called him and sent him my resume and he hired me as an intern. So I interned here for awhile and over the summer and then at the end of the summer he hired me on as a freelance audio engineer. So I guess contracted basically and so the summer I was still working as a bartender and I was just focusing on it too much, when I'm in a job I focus on it a lot 'cause I wanna do the best that I can. And I was managing, bartending, cooking, I was doing a lot of different things at this restaurant and I just needed to focus on audio. So I quit my bartending job. In one week I quit my bartending job and I started my own company to be a freelance engineer. So I made a website, I made business cards so I could start handing them out to people and I paid my $50 became a company and then I just started looking for other jobs. I saw a production company needed a stage hand and I was like okay that's paid, that's exciting, that's new so I took that stage hand position for just one night. And I talked to the engineer that day and I said some other people that I knew in the community and he told his boss that I seemed really cool. And they hired me as a monitor engineer that week so that was really exciting and normally in live sound you don't get to touch things for awhile you're a stage hand and then eventually they'll let you play with things. But I got thrown right into it, I'd never been a monitor engineer and they put me on a festival with 15 minute changeovers, my first time working on a live board and I killed it, I did great. And so that helped me in that position they own a venue in the area and so I have my festival gigs and then I have work in the venue's as well. And then through the meetup group again I had a connection with another live sound engineer in Denver who hires me to work at a church. On that meetup group there was a posting for a recording assistant for classical orchestra recordings. I contacted the guy and went up to Longmont and met with him and he hired me as his recording assistant. And again it's just like taking opportunities that you see immediately. The production side with film I worked on a pro bono film with some friends this past summer and the director of that film actually just started handing my name out like candy to people. Randomly I got a call from a producer in L.A., I got a call from a producer in New York all asking me if I could do production audio for their gigs. And I was like yeah, that's awesome and I'm wondering how they got my name and I find out it's just from one connection where I did a good job. And so they give my name out to people. One other way I guess is that I've been getting jobs is production houses in Denver don't have audio people on staff and I noticed that when I was researching different production houses on their websites they didn't have audio people. So I just started sending them emails with my rates, if you ever need an audio person let me know and I've gotten a couple of calls from people that way as well. So just being super proactive and saying yes to everything is how I've gotten where I am right now. Typical growth opportunities in audio engineering obviously, you'll start as like a stage hand in live production or an intern at a studio and then once you kinda pay your dues and work for a while maybe you get hired on as an engineer. In my case since I bring in studio clients my boss will supplement that also with the leads that he gets. The better that I do at my job the more leads that he'll give me so that's obviously more money in that situation. Growth opportunities in live, in basically everything in studio again is like if you catch an artist that's on their way to being famous. If you can ride that with them and continue to grow with them then you can make a lot of money in that sense. Denver is not a huge place but there's a good music industry here and film, it's small but it's mighty. So you know if you do a good job people are gonna hear your name, if you know a lot of people, even if you don't do a good job and no one knows your work at all. If they know your name that's so huge 'cause people are talking about you, I had before I even worked anywhere and I was just in school hanging out at studios. People knew my name and they thought I was great and they never heard any of my work and just from being a nice person and talking to people and going out there. So that's a huge part of it as well, I'm still figuring out exactly what I wanna do in audio which is why I do so many things. I've really liked doing everything, I love working in live and then bringing someone back to the studio that's super cool and to make it even more full circle it would be awesome to then maybe they wanna make a music video and I can help on that side since I know all these film people. I think it would be awesome to work on like a feature film one day that would be like probably the crazy goal that I have. I'd like to get a Grammy maybe an Oscar one day, you know those are the typical things that people in this industry work towards but a platinum record being an engineer on a platinum record would be awesome. I really wanna go on tour at some point while I'm young just because it's so physical and mentally it's really rough. People on large tours they work for like 23 hours a day drive for a day on a bus and then work for another 23 hours and they do that every other day for like three months. So it's rough but you make a lot of money, you meet all of these people, you form a family with your touring crew and I just think that would be really cool. If you're interested in becoming an audio engineer just starting out, just do everything that you can, say yes to every opportunity, get involved in the audio engineering society. There's conferences every year on each coast, they switch every other year and that was like, it lights a fire in me every time I go to those conferences you're around like minded people. It's kind of tough if you're in a small town and you don't have someone to talk shop with you know. That's kind of what's keeps you going and getting excited about it all the time but there's tons of online forums and again just never say no unless you have a reason to because you're doing something better. That was the advice that I got like two years ago when I was starting out getting into this for real. I was just like what else are you doing, really what else are you doing, is it furthering your career, if not then take the other opportunity because you're gonna learn something. At least you're gonna make a connection and that's what this industry is about.

Contents

Research and development

Research and development audio engineers invent new technologies, equipment and techniques, to enhance the process and art of audio engineering.[4] They might design acoustical simulations of rooms, shape algorithms for audio signal processing, specify the requirements for public address systems, carry out research on audible sound for video game console manufacturers, and other advanced fields of audio engineering. They might also be referred to as acoustic engineers.[5][6]

Education

Audio engineers working in research and development may come from backgrounds such as acoustics, computer science, broadcast engineering, physics, acoustical engineering, electrical engineering and electronics. Audio engineering courses at university or college fall into two rough categories: (i) training in the creative use of audio as a sound engineer, and (ii) training in science or engineering topics, which then allows students to apply these concepts while pursuing a career developing audio technologies. Audio training courses give you a good knowledge of technologies and their application to recording studio and sound reinforcement systems, but do not have sufficient mathematical and scientific content to allow you to get a job in research and development in the audio and acoustic industry.[7]

Noted audio engineer Roger Nichols at a vintage Neve recording console.
Noted audio engineer Roger Nichols at a vintage Neve recording console.

Audio engineers in research and development usually possess a bachelor's degree, master's degree or higher qualification in acoustics, physics, computer science or another engineering discipline. They might work in acoustic consultancy, specializing in architectural acoustics.[8] Alternatively they might work in audio companies (e.g. headphone manufacturer), or other industries that need audio expertise (e.g., automobile manufacturer), or carry out research in a university. Some positions, such as faculty (academic staff) require a Doctor of Philosophy. In Germany a Toningenieur is an audio engineer who designs, builds and repairs audio systems.

Sub-disciplines

The listed subdisciplines are based on PACS (Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme) coding used by the Acoustical Society of America with some revision.[9]

Audio signal processing

Audio engineers develop audio signal processing algorithms to allow the electronic manipulation of audio signals. These can be processed at the heart of much audio production such as reverberation, Auto-Tune or perceptual coding (e.g. mp3 or Opus). Alternatively, the algorithms might carry out echo cancellation on Skype, or identify and categorize audio tracks through Music Information Retrieval (e.g., Shazam).[10]

Architectural acoustics

Acoustic diffusing mushrooms hanging from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall.
Acoustic diffusing mushrooms hanging from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall.

Architectural acoustics is the science and engineering of achieving a good sound within a room.[11] For audio engineers, architectural acoustics can be about achieving good speech intelligibility in a stadium or enhancing the quality of music in a theatre.[12] Architectural Acoustic design is usually done by acoustic consultants.[8]

Electroacoustics

The Pyramid Stage
The Pyramid Stage

Electroacoustics is concerned with the design of headphones, microphones, loudspeakers, sound reproduction systems and recording technologies.[6] Examples of electroacoustic design include portable electronic devices (e.g. mobile phones, portable media players, and tablet computers), sound systems in architectural acoustics, surround sound and wave field synthesis in movie theater and vehicle audio.

Musical acoustics

Musical acoustics is concerned with researching and describing the science of music. In audio engineering, this includes the design of electronic instruments such as synthesizers; the human voice (the physics and neurophysiology of singing); physical modeling of musical instruments; room acoustics of concert venues; music information retrieval; music therapy, and the perception and cognition of music.[13][14]

Psychoacoustics

Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of how humans respond to what they hear. At the heart of audio engineering are listeners who are the final arbitrator as to whether an audio design is successful, such as whether a binaural recording sounds immersive.[10]

Speech

The production, computer processing and perception of speech is an important part of audio engineering. Ensuring speech is transmitted intelligibly, efficiently and with high quality; in rooms, through public address systems and through mobile telephone systems are important areas of study.[15]

Practitioner

A variety of terms are used to describe audio engineers who install or operate sound recording, sound reinforcement, or sound broadcasting equipment, including large and small format consoles. Terms such as "audio technician," "sound technician," "audio engineer," "audio technologist," "recording engineer," "sound mixer" and "sound engineer" can be ambiguous; depending on the context they may be synonymous, or they may refer to different roles in audio production. Such terms can refer to a person working in sound and music production; for instance, a "sound engineer" or "recording engineer" is commonly listed in the credits of commercial music recordings (as well as in other productions that include sound, such as movies). These titles can also refer to technicians who maintain professional audio equipment. Certain jurisdictions specifically prohibit the use of the title engineer to any individual not a registered member of a professional engineering licensing body.

In German, the "Tontechniker" (audio technician) is the one who operates the audio equipment and the "Tonmeister" (sound master) is a person who creates recordings or broadcasts of music, who is both deeply musically trained (in classical and non-classical genres), and who also has a detailed theoretical and practical knowledge of virtually all aspects of sound.[citation needed]

Education and training

Audio engineers come from backgrounds or postsecondary training in fields such as audio, fine arts, broadcasting, music, or electrical engineering. Training in audio engineering and sound recording is offered by colleges and universities. Some audio engineers are autodidacts with no formal training, but who have attained professional skills in audio through extensive on-the-job experience.

Training and background

Audio engineers must have extensive knowledge of audio engineering principles and techniques. For instance, they must understand how audio signals travel, which equipment to use and when, how to mic different instruments and amplifiers, which microphones to use and how to position them to get the best quality recordings. In addition to technical knowledge, an audio engineer must have the ability to problem solve quickly. The best audio engineers also have a high degree of creativity that allow them to stand out amongst their peers. In the music realm, an audio engineer must also understand the types of sounds and tones that are expected in musical ensembles across different genres - rock and pop music for example. This knowledge of musical style is typically learned from years of experience listening to and mixing music in recording or live sound contexts. For education and training, there are audio engineering schools all over the world. In North America, the most notable being Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, United States, and OIART (The Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology) in London, Canada.

Practitioners

At the front of house position, mixing sound for a band
At the front of house position, mixing sound for a band

In the recording studio environment, a sound engineer records, edits, manipulates, mixes, or masters sound by technical means to realize the creative vision of the artist and record producer. While usually associated with music production, an audio engineer deals with sound for a wide range of applications, including post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia, and broadcasting. In larger productions, an audio engineer is responsible for the technical aspects of a sound recording or other audio production, and works together with a record producer or director, although the engineer's role may also be integrated with that of the producer. In smaller productions and studios the sound engineer and producer are often the same person.

In typical sound reinforcement applications, audio engineers often assume the role of producer, making artistic and technical decisions, and sometimes even scheduling and budget decisions.[16]

Role of women

According to Women's Audio Mission (WAM), a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts, less than 5% of the people creating sound and media are women.[17] "Only three women have ever been nominated for best producer at the Brits or the Grammys" and none won either award.[18] "Women who want to enter the [producing] field face a boys' club, or a guild mentality".[18] The UK "Music Producers' Guild says less than 4% of its members are women" and at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, "...only 6% of the students enrolled on its sound technology course are female."[18]

Women's Audio Mission was started in 2003 to address the lack of women in professional audio by training over 6,000 women and girls in the recording arts and is the only professional recording studio built and run by women.[19] Notable recording projects include the Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet, Angelique Kidjo (2014 Grammy winner), author Salman Rushdie, the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack to “Dirty Wars”,[20] Van-Ahn Vo (NPR’s top 50 albums of 2013), Grammy-nominated St. Lawrence Quartet, and world music artists Tanya Tagaq and Wu Man.[citation needed]

One of the first women to produce, engineer, arrange and promote music on her own rock and roll music label was Cordell Jackson (1923-2004). Trina Shoemaker is a mixer, record producer and sound engineer who became the first woman to win the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album in 1998 for her work on The Globe Sessions.[21]

Gail Davies was the '...first female producer in country music, delivering a string of Top 10 hits in the '70s and '80s including "Someone Is Looking for Someone Like You," "Blue Heartache" and "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)." [22] When she moved to Nashville in 1976, men "...didn't want to work for a woman" and she was told women in the city were "...still barefoot, pregnant and [singing] in the vocal booth." [22]

Wendy Waldman, who became a producer after Davies, saw that Davies had a difficult time. When Jonell Polansky arrived in Nashville in 1994, with a degree in electrical engineering and recording experience in the Bay Area, she was told "...[y]ou're a woman, and we already had one"–a reference to Waldman.[22] KK Proffitt, who is a studio "owner and chief engineer" states that men in Nashville do not want to have women in the recording booth. At a meeting of the Audio Engineering Society, Proffitt was told to "shut up" by a male producer when she raised the issue of updating studio recording technologies.[22] Proffitt said she finds "...finds sexism rampant in the industry".[22]

Other notable women include:

Sub-disciplines

There are four distinct steps to commercial production of a recording: recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. Typically, each is performed by a sound engineer who specializes only in that part of production.

  • Studio engineer – an engineer working within a studio facility, either with a producer or independently.
  • Recording engineer – engineer who records sound.
  • Assistant engineer – often employed in larger studios, allowing them to train to become full-time engineers. They often assist full-time engineers with microphone setups, session breakdowns and in some cases, rough mixes.[16]
  • Mixing engineer – a person who creates mixes of multi-track recordings. It is common to record a commercial record at one studio and have it mixed by different engineers in other studios.
  • Mastering engineer – the person who masters the final mixed stereo tracks (or sometimes a series of audio stems, which consists in a mix of the main sections) that the mix engineer produces. The mastering engineer makes any final adjustments to the overall sound of the record in the final step before commercial duplication. Mastering engineers use principles of equalization, compression and limiting to fine-tune the sound timbre and dynamics and to achieve a louder recording.
  • Audio/sound designer – broadly an artist who produces sound tracks or sound effects content for media.
  • Live sound engineer
    • Front of House (FOH) engineer, or A1.[23] – a person dealing with live sound reinforcement. This usually includes planning and installation of loudspeakers, cabling and equipment and mixing sound during the show. This may or may not include running the foldback sound. A live/sound reinforcement engineer hears source material and tries to correlate that sonic experience with system performance.[24]
    • Wireless microphone engineer, or A2. This position is responsible for wireless microphones during a theatre production, a sports event or a corporate event.
    • Foldback or Monitor engineer – a person running foldback sound during a live event. The term "foldback" comes from the old practice of "folding back" audio signals from the front of house (FOH) mixing console to the stage so musicians can hear themselves while performing. Monitor engineers usually have a separate audio system from the FOH engineer and manipulate audio signals independently from what the audience hears so they can satisfy the requirements of each performer on stage. In-ear systems, digital and analog mixing consoles, and a variety of speaker enclosures are typically used by monitor engineers. In addition most monitor engineers must be familiar with wireless or RF (radio-frequency) equipment and must communicate personally with the artist(s) during each performance.
    • Systems engineer – responsible for the design setup of modern PA systems, which are often very complex. A systems engineer is usually also referred to as a "crew chief" on tour and is responsible for the performance and day-to-day job requirements of the audio crew as a whole along with the FOH audio system. This is a sound-only position concerned with implementation, not to be confused with the interdisciplinary field of system engineering, which typically requires a college degree.
  • Re-recording mixer – a person in post-production who mixes audio tracks for feature films or television programs.

Equipment

Correcting a room's frequency response.
Correcting a room's frequency response.

An audio engineer is proficient with different types of recording media, such as analog tape, digital multi-track recorders and workstations, and computer knowledge. With the advent of the digital age, it is increasingly important for the audio engineer to understand software and hardware integration, from synchronization to analog to digital transfers. In their daily work, audio engineers use many tools, including:

Recording engineers of note

List

Mastering engineers of note

Live sound engineers of note

See also

References

  1. ^ "Interview with Phil Ek". HitQuarters. 25 May 2009. Retrieved Sep 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Dawn Rosenberg McKay. "Audio Engineer". About.com Careers.
  3. ^ wiseGeek. "What Is Audio Engineering?". Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  4. ^ Daley, Dan, "The Engineers Who Changed Recording: Fathers Of Invention", Sound on Sound magazine, October 2004
  5. ^ University of Salford. "Graduate Jobs in Acoustics". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b Acoustical Society of America. "Acoustics and You". Archived from the original on 2017-03-08. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  7. ^ University of Salford, Acoustics. "Physics and music technology degrees". Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  8. ^ a b National Careers Service. "Job profiles: Acoustics consultant". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  9. ^ Acoustical Society of America. "PACS 2010 Regular Edition—Acoustics Appendix". Archived from the original on 2013-05-14. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  10. ^ a b Pohlmann, Ken (2010). Principles of Digital Audio, Sixth Edition. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-07-166347-2.
  11. ^ Morfey, Christopher (2001). Dictionary of Acoustics. Academic Press. p. 32.
  12. ^ Templeton, Duncan (1993). Acoustics in the Built Environment: Advice for the Design Team. Architectural Press. ISBN 978-0-7506-0538-0.
  13. ^ Technical Committee on Musical Acoustics (TCMU) of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "ASA TCMU Home Page". Archived from the original on 2001-06-13. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  14. ^ Bader, Rolf (2018). "Musical Acoustics and Signal Processing". In Bader, Rolf. Springer Handbook of Systematic Musicology. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 25–28. ISBN 978-3-662-55004-5. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  15. ^ Speech Communication Technical Committee. "Speech Communication". Acoustical Society of America. Archived from the original on 4 June 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b Huber, D.M. (1995). Modern Recording Techniques. (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Focal Press
  17. ^ Ncube, Rosina (September 2013). "Sounding Off: Why So Few Women In Audio?". Sound on Sound.
  18. ^ a b c "Why are female record producers so rare?". BBC News.
  19. ^ "Gale - User Identification Form". Go.galegroup.com. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Womens Audio Mission - GuideStar Profile". Guidestar.org. Retrieved 2017-03-02.
  21. ^ Dunbar, Julie C. (2010). Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction. Taylor & Francis. p. 304. ISBN 0415875625.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Women account for less than 5 percent of producers and engineers — but maybe not for long - Cover Story - Nashville Scene". Nashville Scene.
  23. ^ "Front of House (FOH) Engineer", Get in Media Entertainment Careers
  24. ^ Davis, G., Jones R. (1990). Yamaha Sound Reinforcement Handbook. (2nd ed.) Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corp.
  25. ^ "Justin Niebank Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Andrew Scheps". McDonough Management. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  27. ^ "Jonathan Wilson: Fanfare Reviving The West Coast Sound". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 27 October 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 23 November 2018, at 10:15
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