So you have a passion for music and a real desire to work in the entertainment industry but you just know deep down you’ll never ‘make it’ centre stage. Or you don’t see yourself being the star but you really want to work in an industry that’s varied, involves travel but yet requires precision, technical know how combined with imagination, flair and a bit of style thrown in.
Then have you thought about building a career in sound engineering? It isn’t just about having a passion for music or performing but is about making things sound the best they can be by having creativity combined with knowledge and understanding of the latest sound technology. A sense of rhythm, a love of music and skills in physics and electronics are all essential components of career in sound.
Types of sound engineer
Broadly speaking there are two kinds of sound engineer, which are those who work on live performances such as with bands or musicians and those who work in a studio with artists looking to record a music album or other recorded commercial release. Generally, every performer needs someone with skills in sound to make them sound great and leave their fans begging for more or in the case of recorded.
Like many jobs starting out as a sound engineer is often a case of starting at the bottom and working your way up as you gain experience in whichever field you wish to pursue. As such putting yourself out there and being willing to take on any work experience possible is a key factor in getting where you want to be.
A lot of the time also work is available on a contract or self employed basis; though there are a flurry of large sound engineering companies like EMI, Sony and BMG as well as smaller independents that are always on the lookout to recruit skilled workers and talented individuals who have taken the time to learn their craft. These companies many not always advertise for jobs so it is always worth sending a speculative resume off in order to promote your abilities.
Word of mouth can play an important part in getting work as a sound engineer and as such building up and maintaining a network of contacts is vital. Social networking, as well as face to face, are inevitably going to play a key part in building your reputation. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can put you in direct contact with potential employers and are both platforms for you to showcase your portfolio.
In terms of qualifications then there are courses out there in music technology which can be studied at school or college. Qualifications aren’t a given to entry into the industry though so gaining experience is as important if not more important than studies. Getting qualifications isn’t essential but can set you apart from other potential candidates when it comes to employers choosing between those that are evenly matched when it comes to demonstrating experience. At the same time showing that you have the creativity that complements your technical skill and being able to get that across is half the battle.
It will be important to keep up to date with technology as the rate of change in the industry can be rapid. The onus will be on you to understand the latest techniques and equipment.
Being a sound engineer is nothing like having a regular office job. For many this is exactly why they choose the career as they much prefer the variation rather than the rigidity of an office environment and all that goes with it. As an employee that is often out in the field on jobs then you will be covered by your employers insurance regardless of your location. If you are self employed as a sound engineer then investing in an insurance policy that will cover you for all kinds of work will be necessary. It is also advisable to take out insurance for the tools of your trade whether that is office cover for your files and paperwork at home or a policy for your home studio and equipment you take with you on site.
Flexibility and variety
If as a student you were used to keeping unsociable hours then long may it continue in your career as a sound engineer. Flexibility is key to your survival and this includes your ability to travel to different locations as well as working long and often unusual hours to ensure everything is ready.
In return you will be rewarded with a career that is full of variety. Whilst it won’t all be about mingling with celebrities there may be opportunities to be involved with or experience working with some well known people.
Some useful resources
If you are just starting out then making links locally with clubs or music venues to offer work experience could prove invaluable.
For further assistance and career advice then the following sites may be of interest to gain further information:
Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/…hnicians.htm
The Audio Institute of America: http://www.audioinstitute.com/
Media Match USA: http://www.media-match.com/…s-402784.php
In a professional or commercial recording studio, at least two rooms are devoted to the recording process. The control room holds all the equipment, such as the mixer, the computer, the outboard effects, and the monitor speakers. The control room is also where the engineer, producer, and other non-musicians (such as the client or record-company executive) hang out.
The studio, or live room, holds the musicians and has very little equipment in it other than microphones and whatever gear the musicians need to create their music. The studio is typically adjacent to the control room, separated by a wall with a large, multipaned window to allow visual communication between the musicians and the control room personnel. Verbal communication is accomplished electronically through the microphones in the studio (so that the musicians can speak to the control room) and through the musicians' headphones (which allows the control room, via a „talkback“ mic, to speak to the band).
Professional recording studios spend thousands of dollars to treat their rooms for soundproofing and acoustics. Home recordists who are serious about creating a neutral environment, and who have earmarked funds for this, might construct a floating room, insulate the four walls with special material, and purchase movable baffles. But more likely than not, you'll spend your money on more tangible items, such as a spare hard drive or a software-based sampler.
For our hypothetical room, we'll consider several approaches to taming sound, none of which costs very much money or requires that much effort or expertise. Even hanging a winter coat in the corner or facing an acoustic guitar toward an overstuffed couch instead of the wall can help you either reduce reflected sound or isolate an instrument when recording.
For the computer recordist, the philosophy of room sound is sort of a black-and-white proposition: If you can't make the room an acoustic paradise, then you want to deaden it almost completely and add any ambient treatment (such as reverb) after the fact (i.e., during mixdown), electronically. Because you'll be recording (which can require isolation) and mixing (which should be done in a neutral room), the best compromise is to go for a deadened sound.
It's important to clear up one key issue in matters of room sound: Soundproofing is an entirely different issue from sound treatment. Soundproofing deals with keeping outside sound out and the inside sound in. As simple as that sounds, it can be very difficult and expensive to achieve.
Because the computer is the center of your musical operation, you might be tempted to place it front and center—say, within arm's reach of your right hand. But because a computer is noisy (due primarily to its cooling fans) and bulky, it's better to place it off of the desktop and out of the way. Keep just the monitor in a central location.
You will, of course, need access to the CPU periodically—when installing software or plugging in cables—but the most physical interaction many of us have with the computer box itself is pressing the power switch. After that, most of our activity is conducted via the mouse or the keyboard.
A good solution is to keep the computer on the floor under your desk. This not only keeps the desktop free and clear but allows the desktop surface itself to act as a sound barrier that somewhat inhibits the fan noise from hitting your ears directly.
Once you know the physical configuration of interfaces, it's time to look at the different types of interfaces available from a functional perspective (i.e., the different tasks they perform). An interface, regardless of whether it's a soundcard, breakout box with card, USB, or FireWire, can perform a variety of duties involving audio, MIDI, and other digitally controlled signals (such as synchronization). Also, many devices can perform all these tasks, which could make your interface a one-stop shopping solution for all your signal-routing and processing needs.
Analog Audio Interfaces
Analog audio is what comes out of your mic or instrument cable. It's what you would plug into a P. A. system or an amp, if you were playing live. But now we're in the digital recording world, so this signal needs to be converted to digital data to be recorded onto a computer. Inside an analog audio interface are analog-to-digital converters, chips and circuitry that turn continuously fluctuating voltages into discrete digital chunks. When audio is converted into digital data, two specifications are considered: the sample rate and the bit depth. The sample rate is how many times the converter samples (takes digital snapshots of) the incoming signal. Just as film projection involves moving a series of still photos past the eye fast enough to simulate continuous motion, so too is digital audio playback a series of frozen sonic images that, played sequentially at a fast enough rate, appears continuous.
Several sample rates exist, but the CD spec is 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), or 44,100 samples per second. Once these samples are captured, the next spec that comes into play is how to store them. A single sample at 16-bit resolution (16 bit means 2 to the 16th power) has a range of 65,536 different places to represent that signal. Higher sample rates and bit depths exist, and musicians are pushing to get these better formats as part of our available listening choices, but for now the CD spec of 44.1 kHz/16 bit is what all music must eventually become (even if it was originally recorded at higher and better sample rates and bit depths) if it is to be listened to on a conventional CD.
This article has a purpose of suggesting a home recording engineer several solutions on how to build a home production studio at affordable price. The great bit of a home musician’s talent is an ability to find best deals for buying professional gear at the bet price.
A nice way to get a quality low budget home recording and producing studio is to choose Pro Tools. For a home studio located in a small room this is a great method to save not only money but also space.