Where do Sound Engineers work?

Recording Connection grad Jamila Nicolas learned sound for practical reasons, then fell in love with it. Now she’s working as an A4 at Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College.

Some of the places sound engineers work are fairly obvious: recording studios, film sets, TV stations, radio stations and the like. Others are a little bit more off the radar: convention halls, local clubs, corporations and home studios.

The sound engineer works with either live sound or pre-recorded sound. Their equipment may be as simple as a laptop computer loaded with audio software. It can be as complex as a state of the art recording studio with multiple “live” rooms, an assortment of microphones, patch bays, and multi-track console.

You can find sound engineers in a variety of environments. They might be at the back, or in the middle, of the audience during a live concert (so they can better hear what the audience hears). They might be squeezed into a small isolation room inside a TV or radio control room. They might be found sprawled behind a massive console in a recording studio or hidden off-stage at a theater or convention hall. Sound engineers can also be found in an office space designated for corporate audio/video needs or squeezed into an unused space under the stairs in a nightclub. They can be found in the remotest of locations ranging from the North Pole to the Gobi Desert, or they might be found lounging in their bedroom behind their laptop. Wherever there is a need to capture and record sound, there is a place where the sound engineer sets up shop. In short, the answer to the question “Where to sound engineers work?” is wherever the sound is.
If you are considering a career as a sound engineer, one of the things you’ll need to consider is how much of a nomad you want to be and how much structure you want in your life. Sound engineering for film and some TV shows, as well as live concerts invariably means you will be traveling a lot. Sound engineering for a recording studio, a corporation, TV or radio stations, a convention hall or a local club means you will be showing up at the same place almost every time.

Sound engineering for touring bands, film shoots and TV shows (as opposed to working at a TV station) and even at recording studios are very much a gig based career. They are mostly freelance positions that work on projects with a built-in end-date. Not only are the projects sporadic in and of themselves, they also can have early or late crew call times and require long days on a back to back basis.

Let’s suppose you want to be a sound engineer and want to be involved with music, but aren’t interested in composing your own music. You have multiple options: you could be an audio engineer at a recording studio, you could tour with a band doing their live concert sound engineering, you could be the house engineer at a local club or concert venue or you could even setup your own home studio to record local musicians. Each of these sound engineer positions requires different knowledge and different skills sets and uses different equipment. They also have different career paths. That’s why we recommend giving considerable thought to what kind of sound engineer you want to be before embarking on your career path. By defining your career path before you start your journey to becoming a sound engineer will help keep you on track and avoid detours.

 

Learn more about Recording Connection graduate Jamila Nicolas’s Journey into Sound.

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