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:
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.
Take a look at what your “classroom” could look like. »