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What does an Audio Engineer do?

What Does an Audio Engineer Do?

Have you ever wondered what a audio engineer does?

If you are interested in the academic “book report” answer to this question, click here.
But, if you want to know the inside answer from professional audio engineers and usic producers, continue reading – or listen to their own words here:

Rick Camp, Recording Connection Mentor“A recording audio engineer records the sound that the artist is making and then he has to manipulate it with the EQ, and the compression, and the gates, and all the other little toys, into sounding like a record when he’s mixing it”

- Rick Camp, RC1 Productions & Master Mix Live – Las Vegas, NV
Credits: Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Kelly Clarkson, Usher, Dr. Dre, Earth Wind & Fire
An audio engineer’s first duty is to set up an ideal recording environment. This includes setting up mics, checking equipment and creating a professional atmosphere for clients.
After a recording is completed, editing is done to correct errors and enhance the recording. This can include removing unwanted sounds like pops & clicks, or by looping sections.

Bill Davidor, Recording Connection Mentor“As an engineer you want to nurture the artist and make them feel at home or special. This is one of the driving forces in creating a great final product, a track, demo, etc. When opening a new studio, your initial business concept should always include this, and it’s a part of my personal philosophy as an audio engineer: ‘Don’t ruin the artist.’ My best advice: Lose your ego. Don’t be a flake. Drop any negativity you may have.”

- Bill Davidow, Virlouise Recording – Anaheim, CA
Credits: Darren Vegas, Israel Houghton, Coca Cola, Powerade, Guitar Center


Donny Baker, Recording Connection Mentor“An engineer is the guy at the studio that knows how to make stuff sound the way it should sound together with other stuff. The best way to describe what an engineer can do, is if everyone in the band thinks they are the loudest in the mix then the engineer has done his job and the mix is done. The engineer should also be proficient with what ever the recording medium is, Pro Tools, Logic, Nuendo, Etc.

“The engineer is also the person that knows about how the studio works. Maybe the studio has a certain way of doing a certain thing and the engineer is the only person that can get that done. Like jiggling the toilet flush handle to get it to stop running all the time. It’s way more than that, but, you get the idea. Another thing the engineer is good for is knowing what it takes to get the job done quick and simple. Like maybe not have the backup singers sitting around the lounge the whole time we are tracking drums for the song. Maybe have them show up later.

“The engineer can be employed by the studio or work as a freelance engineer. Meaning that he is completely independent and works for himself. The freelance engineer usually works at many different studios and will establish a name for himself as the engineer to call to get a certain sound. As an engineer that works for a studio, as an example, he will just be there when the studio calls and has a job for him. The freelance guy will have to get own jobs. The business of marketing and actually doing business is important. If you are planning to become an engineer, I might suggest that you also learn business and marketing to help with growing and maintaining your business of being an engineer.”

- Donny Baker, ES Audio Services / Open Call Productions – Glendale, CA
Credits: Beyoncé, Brandy, The Klassics, Alex Cantrall, Silk the Shokker, Candace Glover
Once most of the editing has been done, the next step engineers take is mixing. Mixing includes adding effects such as reverb & delay, leveling dynamics, panning, and more.
Working with Clients
Engineers work closely with clients at all stages of recording, but the end of a project is most important. This is when the last final adjustments are made before mastering.

Cameell Hanna, Recording Connection Mentor“An audio engineer’s principle responsibilities these days are to keep everything connected and moving. There are a lot of different types of personalities in the room at any given time, and their main function if they’re working in the typical configuration, producer, artist, songwriter, is to make sure everybody is connected together and music keeps flowing.”

- Cameell Hanna, Serenity West Recording – Los Angeles, CA
Credits: Justin Timberlake, Adele, Florence & the Machine, Eva Simons, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg

Mike Johnson, Recording Connection Mentor“An audio engineer does, you know, one of two things. He’s got to either capture sound so it’s going to sound like music, or mix it, you know, blend the sounds together to make it like a presentation”

- Mike Johnson, Clear Track Recording Studios – Clearwater, FL
Credits: John Legend, Jeff Berlin, Boyz II Men, The Roots, Alice Cooper, U2, Madonna


Zach Phillips, Recording Connection Mentor“Audio Engineers are typically charged with the task of shaping and controlling sounds. The job varies depending on the specific field, i.e. recording, mixing, post production, live sound, etc… In the simplest sense, the job is about making things sound good. Engineering is a very technical job. Audio engineers draw on their knowledge of physics, electronics, computing, and math, in addition to utilizing their well-trained ears”

- Zach Phillips, Freq Lab Recording – San Francisco, CA
Credits: The Kooks, Talib Kweli, Dnae Beats, Jayleez, J-Banks, The Game, Alice Russell, Comedy Central
Did you know?
The Recording Connection offers one-on-one audio engineering training at hundreds of professional studios nationwide for only $8,800. With a 72% hiring success rate after certification*, opportunity is just a click away.

Sound like something you’d like to do?

The best way to become an audio engineer is to hang around a bona fide audio engineer…someone who makes their living as an audio engineer. Now you could beat your head against the wall trying to setup an apprenticeship (externship) with an audio engineer OR you could get in touch with us, the Recording Connection. We knock on doors for your so you are on the inside dealing directly with a bona fide audio engineer from day one.

Take our survey to find out if you have what it takes to succeed in the music business!

We don’t take everyone. In fact, we only take about 1 in 20 applicants. Take our 60 second survey and see if you have what it takes

Here's the academic "book report" answer:

Life as an audio engineer is in many ways similar to being a music producer. Like music producers, audio engineers work in the recording studio. In many ways their job descriptions are similar. In fact there are many people who work in both capacities, often at the same time.
Like music producers, audio engineers may record, edit and mix real audio sound in the studio. They also must work with singers, arrangers, musicians, record producers, artists’ management and everyone else, to try and create the best sound possible.

Generally however an audio engineer’s side of the equation is more technically oriented than that of a producer. While a producer may sit in the booth coaxing singer’s performances and artfully adjusting sound levels to blend best with one another, it is the audio engineer who has generally set up the microphone the singer is singing into.

They’ve also very likely had to mic the drum kit, plug the guitar, bass and keyboards into the soundboard and organize the background vocalists. Professional recording sessions for major artists often involve a producer and an engineer working together.

Life as an audio engineer can often mean being a second set of ears as well as a sounding board for the producer to bounce ideas off of. Good audio engineers often wind up contributing a lot more to a record than merely laying the cable for a tambourine mic. During the actual recording session it is the audio engineers job to make sure the recording of the studio is as “clean,” as possible, meaning that none of the technical elements interfere with the musical performances.

Audio engineers often work with artists for weeks before a recording begins. Setting up equipment, arriving at good studio sound for voices and instruments, helping musicians and singers feel comfortable in the studio, are all things that must be done prior to actually starting a recording session.

During recording sessions many audio engineers will function as producers or co-producers themselves. Others will merely stay on top of the technical side of things, making sure that everything runs as it should and making adjustments as necessary.

A good audio engineer will learn the studio he or she is working at like the back of their hand. They also should have a good working knowledge of how common musical instruments produce live sound and how best to capture that sound on tape or through digital means.

Life as an audio engineer can be an exciting and very lucrative career for anyone with a burning passion for music and the drive and technical aptitude to put it into action.

* Job placement statistics represent the percentage of students who graduated between May 1, 2013 and April 30, 2014 and found work related to their studies within six months of their graduation.

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Finding the Right Mentor: A Guide
What Does a Music Producer Do?
How much does it cost to record a demo in a professional studio?
How Do Record Labels Turn a Profit?
How much does a recording studio cost to build?
What does an Audio Engineer do?
Choosing Among the Best Audio Engineering Schools-A Guide
The Best Approach to Making a Demo Recording
How To Be In Demand As an Audio Engineer
Pros and Cons of Recording School
Diversification In the Recording Industry
How Can I Become a Music Producer?
What Does a Recording Engineer Do?
Is College Really Worth It?
How Can I Learn to Become a Studio Engineer?
Finding a Recording Career Mentor
Recording Schools Examined
Top Recording Schools
Audio for Film (Sound Effects)
Choosing the Right Microphone
Different Types of Microphones Compared
Analog or Digital: What Is the Difference?
How Can I Learn to Be a Studio Engineer?
Learning to be a Studio Engineer
Is Going to a Music School for You?
What Does a Concert Audio Technician Do?
What is a Studio Musician
What Goes Into Producing a Recording Project?
Taking Charge of Your Recording Education
Things To Look For in a Recording Studio
Understanding Different College Degrees in Music
Finding Work after Recording School
Getting a Job After Recording School
Importance of Hardware in a Recording School
Choosing the Right Microphone
Is Music School Helpful?
Common Software Programs in the Recording Studio
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Microphone
Overview of School Fee Waivers
Places to Look for Scholarships
Tips for Finding Financial Aid through Private Programs
Understanding Technology and Music
Researching Music Schools
What is the Best Way to Learn to Produce Music?
Music Schools and the Music Industry
What Is the Best Way to Learn to Record Music?
The Critical Flaw with Recording Schools
The Best Way to Learn to Record Music
Why You Need to Learn Pro Tools
Is Music School Right for You?
How Recording Schools Fail to Help Their Students
Will Recording School Improve My Chances for Success?
A Balanced Perspective on Recording Schools
Top 10 Things to Look For in Audio Engineering School
How the Best Audio Engineering Schools Can Still Fail You
Does Music School Help You Launch a Career?
The Critical Flaw of Audio Engineering Schools: A History
Do You Need Audio Engineering Scholarships?
Recording Connection Audio Engineering School: Direct Access to the Music Indust
How to Get Audio Engineering Certification
The Problem With Audio Engineering Schools
Do I Need an Audio Engineering Degree?
Recording Connection Audio Institute Provides Real-World Training
Recording Connection Audio Engineer School: A Common-Sense Alternative
My Band Wants to Record, Now What?
How Do I Get My Music Recorded?
I Want To Be a Hip-Hop Star
How the Internet Has Changed the Music Industry
Life As a Concert Audio Technician
A Rewarding Life As a Music Producer
Life As a Recording Engineer
Audio for Film
Choosing the Right Microphone
Life As a Studio Musician
Careers in Live Music
Careers in Recording
Copyrighting Music
How Can I Get a Record Deal?
How to Get Your Music Recorded
How Much Do Music Studios Cost to Use?
How to Get Starting in the Music Business
How to Make Money as a Music Artist
How to Make Money with a Home Recording Studio
How Can I Get a Record Deal?
How Record Deals are Made
Intro to Recording Your Music
Making a Living in the Music Business
Understanding Music As a Business
Recording Your First Album
Places to Look for a Job in Audio Production
Songwriting Tips
A Successful Career in the Music Industry
Ways to Get Your Recording Heard
What’s the Best Way to Make a Demo Record?
Sound Effects
Comparing Digital and Analog Recording
Does it matter where you live if you want a music career?
How do I Get my Music Recorded?
How do I Record my Own Music?
Life as a Studio Musician