Interested in Audio Engineering or Music Engineering?
If you’re interested in learning music engineering, also known as audio engineering, sound engineering, and recording engineering, here is some information about the kinds of jobs music engineers do and the various fields available for employment. In the field, music engineers are most typically referred to as audio engineers. As such, these technical specialists are experts in the capture, recording, editing, and mixing technologies involved in the production of audio. While a great many audio engineers work in music, audio engineers can work in the recording and production of nearly any sound medium. This includes producing and or editing sound for video games, new media, radio broadcasts, podcasts, phone apps, live sound venues, conferences, television networks, post production for film and television, and more. Within the realm of music making, music engineering may be understood as the tech-facing side of music production. If a music producer brings a band into the recording studio to record their first full-length album, it’s the music producer’s job to get the best performance for the best possible songs which showcase or position the band in the right light. The audio engineer will work in concert with the music producer to make sure the sounds and desired sonic qualities are achieved quickly, correctly, and efficiently. Many great music producers at the top of their game, from rock to hip hop, all started out as audio or music engineers.
Do you have what it takes to be a music engineer?
If you’re wondering whether you have the skills and natural ability it takes to be a music engineer or sound engineer, listen up.
If you have good ears and/or a tendency to cue in and listen closely to the sound quality, various parts, layers, or samples in the music you listen to, you just might be a natural. People well-suited to audio engineering are oftentimes, but not always, the persons who can pick out a particular baseline or hi-hat, or know where the sample in the latest hit was grabbed from. If they’re watching a movie or television show, less than great sound quality will stick out and probably annoy them.
Besides having the ears and the awareness, individuals who are well suited for pursuing a career in audio should have good if not great communication skills since the day to day work of engineering sound or music often requires making sure all parties involved are on the same page and the words musicians use to describe sounds or tones can vary greatly, as can the terms utilized by various producers, directors and fellow audio and analog “heads.”
An ability to deal with technology, data, and to make active learning an everyday pursuit is also another important quality to possess since there is a whole lot to take in and “geek out on” in the world of audio engineering, music production, sound engineering and more. Many thousands of highly successful audio engineers will tell the novice or upstart that learning and never becoming too haughty or self-important is crucial. Even world-renowned engineers like Chris Lord-Alge, Dave Pensado, and mixing great and Recording Connection mentor Mark Christensen say a love of discovery is an essential character trait for all audio engineers who want to stay relevant and working in the industry.
Music engineers should also have solid analytical and problem solving skills as well as be proficient at learning and operating various computer programs. Digital audio workstations, called DAWS for short, are the primary tool for most audio engineers. Popular DAWS include Pro Tools, Ableton, and Logic as well as FL Studio and Reaper, two free or less-expensive digital audio workstations often known to beatmakers and newbies. Although the technology used in music engineering does change from year to year, the underlying principles do not. The most common maxim among professional engineers is “Good in, good out.” What that means is that the primary objective should be to create the conditions for high quality sound (good acoustics), great performances from the musicians or subjects being recorded, and good capture of that sound via the right technology and correct practices. If all of those bases are covered, the “good in” i.e. the audio recording, should yield a “good out” i.e. a good sounding audio track or recording which will require nominal treatment in the mix.
Classified in O*Net Online (the career resource application and database sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration), lists this job as a “Bright Outlook” occupational field. Persons pursuing careers in audio need to possess strong communication skills, technology skills, and specialized knowledge. Knowledge of music and the fine arts, a good command of the English language, as well as electronic equipment, computer hardware and software, including applications and programming is recommended.
When hiring, experience, good hearing and listening ability, manual dexterity, good analytical skills, and a pleasant demeanor are qualities commonly sought by professionals currently working in the field of audio engineering, music production, and music technology. In order to gain the awareness, knowledge, skillset and technical savvy necessary for a career in music engineering or audio engineering, post-secondary education and a post-secondary certificate or certification can be obtained through Recording Connection, a program area of Recording Radio Film Connection & CASA Schools. Many conventional colleges, trade schools and universities also offer education in audio engineering and/or music production but a conventional bachelor’s degree is not necessary for entry into the field.
Want to know what is the best school for audio engineering courses? Consider this.
We believe the best audio engineering course is the one that works for you, enables you to learn and grow relevant, useful skills directly from a working audio engineer, and which fits within your current budget. There are a number of other criteria to consider when choosing the best school or audio engineering course, based on your circumstances.
Here are a number of Frequently Asked Questions, followed by answers to help you in your research of audio engineering courses and programs.
Q: How much hands-on time will I have with the gear and in the studio?
A: With Recording Connection, you spend a minimum of 10 hours per week in your mentor’s studio. This is a real working environment with quality equipment often used to produce award-winning work.
Q: How long is the course?
A: Most Recording Connection programs are 6 months long.
Q: Who’s teaching the course? Are they a working expert in the field?
A: Recording Connection instructors (mentors) are real working professionals, dedicated to their craft.
Q: Who has the teacher or instructor worked with?
A: All of our mentors have worked with professional musicians and are working professionals who earn their living as audio engineers, music producers and/or studio owners. Many of our mentors have won Grammys. Many have worked with world-renowned artists.
Q: What will I learn in the course?
A: Our holistic curriculum written by professional audio engineers and members of our RRFC Team contains lessons in a multitude of aspects, the mastery of which are considered of vital importance. Our audio engineering and music production students receive lessons in the following: Sound and Hearing, Basic Electronics, Digital Audio, Connectivity, Microphones and Mic Placement, Tracking, Pro Tools, Plugins and Processing, Mixing, Equalization (EQ), Dynamic Signal Processing, Time-Based Effects, MIDI, Automation, Acoustics, Monitoring and Mastering.
Q: Where will the audio engineering training take place?
A:Our students receive in-person, one-on-one instruction during lesson times at the recording studio where they extern. Lessons are delivered via our unique blended education model.
Q: How much does the course cost?
A: The Audio Engineering & Music Production program currently costs $12,860, not including the cost of financing our education, should you choose to do so. Tuition amount is subject to change.
Q: Can students tailor the course to meet their objectives?
A: Yes. Our courses can be tailored to suit your needs, interests, and talents along with the fundamental practices, techniques, and procedures contained within our Audio Engineering & Music Production curriculum.
Q: What will my career path be upon graduation?
A: The career path you take depends largely upon you. Recording Connection graduates have landed work as Assistant Audio Engineers, oftentimes at the very same studios where they trained as externs. Others have gone on to land jobs at Audio-Visual companies, got going in careers as freelance engineers and music producers, and quite a number of our graduates have even gone on to open their own recording studios.
Q: Will the course enable me to answer my questions and satisfy my curiosities?
A: We want our students to come in curious and anxious to learn. For those who have some audio engineering and recording experience under their belt, we suggest they begin our course pretending they’re a blank slate.
We believe investing the time to learn and, in some cases, relearn aspects of recording and engineering enables our students the opportunity to develop knowledge that far surpasses a theoretical or book-smart understanding of audio. As to whether we or our mentors can answer all of your questions, well that’s a hard question to answer. We can tell you that because of our one-on-one approach, you have the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with your mentor. With us you get access to a working professional who is committed to helping you master the material and who can explain things in detail. Learning in audio is often an iterative process. Concepts and technical aspects of the work become better understood over time, through application, repetition, and as your ears and brain attune themselves to working with sound.
The decision to attend an audio engineering course should not be taken lightly. It requires a substantial commitment of time (six months to four years) and money ($5,000 to $100,000). Do your research. Find out what you can from the schools’ websites. Check their reviews. Call the school and see if you can sit in on a class; see if you can or talk to their students, teachers, and/or graduates. Get the questions on your criteria list answered so that you will have the information you need to assess what is the right audio engineering course for you. Keep researching until you find the school, program, or courses that best meet your criteria. Then, you can apply to the schools that best suit your needs and move forward from there in your audio education.
How do I become a good audio engineer?
Audio engineers need to master technical know-how, the ability to work with clients, have a good trained ear, and possess knowledge of musical structure in order to thrive in today’s job market. Before you attend your chosen audio engineering school on your path towards becoming an expert audio engineer, well-versed in recording practices, compression, EQ, and the like, it’s important to have certain basic job skills firmly in your wheelhouse. These basic skills should be habit, not something you have to remind yourself to do. They’ll go a long way in ensuring your success, not only as an audio engineer, but in an array of careers, both within and outside of the music industry.
Here’s a list of basic job skills you should possess:
- The ability to show up on time, every time.
- The ability to meet deadlines. The maxim “under promise and over deliver” should be your mantra. Do this on every job, project, or gig and you’ll be doing more than many of your competitors.
- The ability to answer your phone, to return text messages, and answer emails. It may be your next gig or job offer, so respond quickly.
- The ability to build a rapport with the professionals you meet and interact with. If people like having you around, chances are they will want to work with you.
- The ability to keep learning. Staying current in music trends and genres is of paramount importance for working audio engineers.
If the idea of learning to become an audio engineer through a structured course curriculum and externship within a local professional recording studio appeals to you, consider the Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production. Designed to last six to nine months you will complete reading, homework, and quizzes on your own time at home or where ever else you deem suitable. The eBook assignments and reading materials are designed to prepare you for the one-on-one lesson time you spend with your mentor. Additionally, all of our Recording Connection students are expected to put in a minimum of ten hours per week inside of the recording studio for immersive study and observation. Our approach has helped literally thousands. What can we do for you? Tell us. We’re here to listen and to help.
Why our alternative to conventional audio engineering school works
There are many career opportunities available to those who are properly trained and connected in audio engineering, such as:
- Chief Engineer
- Staff Engineer
- Assistant Engineer
- Studio Owner
Additionally, many music producers, mixers, and mastering specialists are also audio engineers. In short, for any career in audio, we believe the best place to start is by learning the ins and outs of a recording studio as an audio engineer. Knowing how a real recording studio works where you meet real clients and work as an extern under real audio engineers and music producers is the kind of knowledge you just can’t get in books alone.
As you do your research, your list of your criteria should include questions like:
Are you interested in learning any of the following?
Many audio engineering students also learn the following:
- Audio Production
- Music Production
- Music Mixing
- Audio Editing
- Audio Compression
- Live Sound (see our Live Music Program)
- Sound Design
- Music Recording
- Digital Audio Production
- Music Theory
- Ableton Live (see Ableton Live Program)
- Music Composition
- Logic Pro X (see Logic Pro Electronic Music Production Program)
While a college recording studio might look nice, it’s not the same as a professional recording studio. The Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production program will place you in a real studio from day one. To make it as an audio engineer, you also need to know:
To make it as an audio engineer, you also need to know:
- Digital audio
- How microphones are designed and used
- Correct microphone placement
- The ins and outs of signal flow and patch bays
- How analog consoles work
- In-depth study of analog consoles
- Audio processing
- Pro Tools
- Reason, Logic, or Ableton Live
- Available audio plugins and how they work
- Signal processing and compressors
- How to perform a professional mix-down
- How various studios are designed and how their monitors work
- Electronic music and beat matching
- Sync and automation
- Recording and mixing ins and outs
- Surround mixing
- How to deal with clients
Q: Which is better, to learn audio in a real recording studio, or on a college campus?
A: You can learn audio engineering by attending school on a college campus or at another trade school. If you go the college route, it is likely take you longer to enter into the job market. If you attend a conventional trade school which specializes in audio engineering training, you may complete your studies sooner than at a college or university but training inside of a brick and mortar school simply takes more time and generally the cost of tuition is considerably higher than Recording Connection’s blended education approach. Traditional colleges and trade schools cannot duplicate what you will learn in a real recording studio. They are just not equipped to do it.
With us, you can learn audio engineering from a professional who has been recording music for years. The Recording Connection for Audio Engineering & Music Production program provides you with the same topics you would likely learn sitting in a classroom at a traditional recording school, plus the real world knowledge and information your mentor will give you, garnered from years of audio engineering experience.
In this lesson, we will take a look at the physics of sound. We will understand how sound travels through air, how our ears receive sound, and how our brains interpret the sounds we are receiving. Understanding this will help us build a foundation for how we can manipulate audio and create an experience, balance, and blend with the instruments that we are mixing. The most important thing to remember is not to feel overwhelmed.... Read more
Did you ever stop to think about what is happening when you flip on a light switch? We take for granted that it will turn on every time. We don’t stop to think about the evolution that went into making that light switch possible! But what does this have to do with audio? The answer is, a lot! The ability to record anything has been largely dependent on electricity for a very long time. In... Read more
Even before the introduction of the Compact Disc, digital audio started to shape the sound of popular music, as digital effects processors, samplers/sequencers, and digital synthesizers started to appear on commercial records as early as the mid 1970s. The evolution of computer-based technology was gaining tremendous momentum, and digital processing began to creep into every aspect of music production. By the 1980s, the digital revolution was taking the music industry by storm. Digital instruments, digital... Read more
Let’s think for a moment about the long journey that a single sound recorded in a studio must take in order to travel from the musician’s instrument to the control room monitors. Picture yourself in the studio tracking electric guitar overdubs with your favorite guitar player—Slash, or Jimi, or whoever, is in your live room are you’re sitting at the console running the session. Now, let’s follow the path of the electric guitar signal from... Read more
A microphone is a device that changes acoustic energy into an electric current that can be altered and manipulated. Any device that converts one form of energy into another form of energy is called a transducer. Microphones are used in many different applications and are typically the first stop in the signal flow of your recording path. In this chapter, we will look at various types of microphones, explain briefly how they work, and help... Read more
Microphone choice and placement plays a huge result in the final recording product. Everything we have discussed up to this point plays a role in how our signal is captured. Hopefully, by now you have started to think of the recording process as a lot more then just pointing a microphone at a sound source and pressing play. The many factors that come into play can affect your final product. In this chapter, we will... Read more
Tracking is the term that audio engineers use for recording multiple tracks of audio information at the same time. There are many different strategies used for many different situations. No one understands this process better than your mentor! In this chapter, we will take a look at some hypothetical situations and try to give you a general understanding of how to approach these situations. Objectives: Planning Mic Selection Setting Up Getting Tones Professional Behavior Troubleshooting Chapter Quiz Blog Entry Next » « Previous ... Read more
Pro Tools™ is an extremely advanced digital audio workstation (DAW). Pro Tools has remained an industry standard for engineers and producers in the professional studio environment, as well as for novice music enthusiasts, for more than 20 years. In this chapter, we will begin to scratch the surface of this very dense DAW and prepare you for the task of installing and using this amazing tool. This chapter will help educate you about Pro Tools... Read more
It’s time to start making some music! In this chapter, we will walk you through the installation and the basic functionality of the Pro Tools user interface. Don’t hate on Avid too much for the complexity of the installation. Be forewarned that this is a 48-hour process! Yes…48 hours! We have included step-by-step directions and a tutorial to help. After you get Pro Tools installed, we will look at some of the basic functionality of... Read more
The web defines a software plugin as, “a set of software components that adds specific capabilities to a larger software application.” In the case of digital audio, plugins add functionality to your DAW. From analog compressor emulators to bass wobble synths, plugins can enhance your sound and the way you work. In this chapter, we will look at some of the more popular plugin bundles you will see in the audio world and give you... Read more
You’re halfway there! This chapter is dedicated to preparing you for your midterm. We have put a lot information in your hands, and we want to make sure you are retaining it. Testing can send some people into panic attacks! We get it, and we want to make this as low stress as possible. For this section, we have included a ton of review material right at your fingertips, to make your test as painless... Read more
Mixing is the process by which we audio engineers combine an entire multi-track session into a stereo track. Mixing is the place where technical skill and creativity come together, resulting in the creation of a song. Here we take all the live instrumentation, sequenced MIDI and effects, and seek to create a balance between the elements of the song. There is no one correct way to approach a mix, just as there is no one... Read more
Equalization is the process that engineers use to alter the frequency response of an audio signal. Frequencies become more pronounced (if boosting) or less pronounced (if cutting), depending on what the engineer is trying to accomplish. Equalization (or EQ) is a crucial tool used in all phases of music production. Whether to enhance or minimize some aspect of the frequency spectrum, EQ is an important part of the workflow for the recording professional. In this... Read more
Dynamic range is the ratio between the largest and smallest possible values of a changeable quantity. In audio engineering, dynamic range generally refers to the distance between the loudest possible sound and the quietest possible sound in an audio recording. In a multi-track recording, each constituent track has a unique dynamic range; there is also a “master” or overall dynamic range, which is the total dynamic range of the tracks mixed together into the master... Read more
Time-based effects, along with many other tools found in the modern studio, are catalysts for creativity, and they have a wide range of uses in the studio and onstage. When applied to the audio signal, tools such as delay or reverb will alter the space and time of a given sound in the stereo field, depending on certain variables of the device you’re using. The desired effect can take you somewhere far beyond the original... Read more
Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI, is the standard way in which we interact with music in the digital world. Think if it as the DNA of your musical performance. Without it, our ability to compose, produce and perform music in modern times would be remarkably different. In this chapter, we will have a look at what types of messages MIDI contains, that is, how it allows humans to communicate with computers and digital instruments... Read more
Automation in Pro Tools is the ability to control a specific parameter automatically by telling Pro Tools what to do, and when to do it in real-time. For example, you might need to adjust the volume of your vocal track at 1 minute and 32 seconds by increasing the volume precisely by 4 decibels. At the same point in time, you might need to shift the pan on your guitar track from the left side... Read more
Acoustics is the study of how sound waves behave in an environment. Since you are nearing the end of this course you should be more than ready to handle some more difficult concepts. The science of acoustics could fill several volumes, so we have included those things which are important to your development as a music industry professional. Understanding these concepts and implementing them into your workflow will help you set yourself apart as a... Read more
Mastering is the art of sweetening the mix and preparing the mixdown for duplication. The goal of this chapter is to familiarize you with some of the very basics about the mastering process. Mastering is a very technical process that often involves specific gear that is calibrated to subtly alter a mix in ways that improve the sonic qualities of a specific song, and to alter multiple songs to work together as an album. Mastering... Read more
You’re finally there!!! This chapter is about preparing you for your final. Now is the time to find out how much you’ve learned, and what you want to keep working on as you move forward to your career. To make your final as low-stress as possible, we’ve included plenty of review material here, and your mentor will go over any questions you may have. Objectives: Section Reviews Final Exam Practical Exam ... Read more
Recording Connection provides affordable, unique education models coupled with mentor-based (externship) programs that can be engaged remotely or in person.
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Other schools do classrooms and campus studio labs, with us, your classroom is a real studio in the real world.
You will only learn from an industry veteran who owns or operates his or her own real-world recording studio. Other schools employ full-time teachers who may or may not have achieved success in the real world. Our mentors are not only artists in their craft but working, successful business pros. Imagine what you can learn from them!
Many of our students have been offered the opportunity to work on real-world sessions while they are students with us!! Our students have worked with Beyoncé, Kanye West, Robert Plant, Miley Cyrus, Solange, Khalid, Lady Antebellum, Aerosmith, Marilyn Manson, Johnny Depp and Billy Bob Thornton to name a few while being taught by legendary producers Joe Chicarelli, Al Schmitt, Detail, Ross Hogarth, Ryan Hewitt, F. Reid Shippen and countless others.
Recording Connection takes a unique approach to learning music production and pride ourselves on having a very modern approach to cost. Put plainly—we hate student debt just as much as you do. Throughout our 30 years in the business, we have made it a primary focus to keep our tuition affordable. Very affordable. While we believe we could price our education at three times what it actually costs, we have made it our mission to keep costs low. When you graduate with us, you will not be buried by burdensome amounts of debt.
In addition to the industry pro who will be your mentor, tutoring is available to you for the entire time you are enrolled with us. Need help with your homework? Can't figure out Pro Tools, Ableton, Logic or more? Want to learn how to make more beats? Have a question you forgot to ask your mentor? Want career advice? Want us to help you build a song? Create a resume? Our tutors and Academic Facilitators are here for you!
Our fully staffed Career Services Department exists for one reason—to help our students and graduates get hired. From helping you create an awesome resume, to handling and scheduling your job interview, to finding job opportunities in your area, we’ve got your back.
The more you give to our programs the more you get. Want more time in the studio to study, practice or observe? Simply prove your passion and dedication to your mentor and you will find there is virtually no limit to studio access.
Personal, hands-on lab time is built into our program. You’ll never find yourself fighting over gear availability with dozens of other students. And speaking of gear, because you will be learning in a real-world recording studio you will be learning on the latest gear.
The only way to learn how things work in the real world is to learn in the real world. Since our program places you inside a real-world recording studio on the very first day, you’ll learn all the essentials: studio etiquette, client relations, shortcuts, how to meet a deadline, the art of running a recording studio and so much more. This gives you a tremendous advantage over other schools’ students who never got off the campus and who often graduate underprepared.
You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s who you know.” In the music industry this is definitely true. With The Recording Connection you have access to industry connections on a daily basis. As your progress with our program and start sitting in on recording sessions, you’ll meet your mentor’s connections—artists, producers, mixers, managers, gear reps and many more. It’s networking from the inside.
Once you are in with us, YOU ARE IN! The Recording Connection deals with hundreds of recording studios, audio engineers, music producers, mixers, record labels and studio owners on a daily basis. As long as you are a student or graduate of our programs, in good standing, our access is your access.
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Looking to build a career as a music producer? Our insider access is your opportunity to make lasting hookups that can help you get started at producing today’s music. In our Recording Connection for Music Producing program, you’ll learn in private sessions with a professional producer who can show you the ins-and-outs of this dynamic career.