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Thread: Audio Engineers

  1. #1
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    Audio Engineers

    Hey guys,

    I have been toying with the possibility of studying Audio Engineering but do not know much about the major. The only things that come to mind with this major is that i will be mixing and listening to music (which sounds flippin sweet to me!), However things are never this black and white right? I just have some questions for anyone that knows anything about the major:

    What is the life of an Audio Engineer like?
    What does your job entail?
    What can you do with a degree in Audio Engineering?

    It is just a few questions to get the ball rollin' if you have anymore to add please do so.

    Thank you for your time,
    -Dan

  2. #2
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Da_Duck
    Hey guys,

    I have been toying with the possibility of studying Audio Engineering but do not know much about the major. The only things that come to mind with this major is that i will be mixing and listening to music (which sounds flippin sweet to me!), However things are never this black and white right? I just have some questions for anyone that knows anything about the major:

    What is the life of an Audio Engineer like?
    It all depends on what path you take. I have done every aspect of audio engineering from a FOH to arena mixing on the road with major artist, audio engineering plays and musicals on and off broadway, to film soundtrack mixing, editing, re-recording, and ADR; to stereo and multichannel audio. Each one of them gives you a different life. Live sound is basically a transitory job, as you travel a good deal of the year with different productions, which require you be as flexible and untied as possible. That was a hard life for me, as I am a home body type. Mixing on and off broadway is like having a temp job in audio mixing. You have to be creative, smart, technologically astute, and able to work well with a large dynamic of personalities. You work as long as the play is sucessful, and you always keep your eye on future work. I am currently working for a major film studio, and that job has long hours sometimes but a steady paycheck. You have benefits, a pension(its a union job) , great benefits, and very nice pay if you are good. Its like any job, except you mix film soundtracks for a living. There is also freelance, which is much like temp work, but you set your terms, get paid way more money most of the time, and get a chance to work with a large variety of creative talent. Doing audio only depends on whether you choose freelance, or work soley within a certain recording studio. Freelance audio is just like freelance film. Working at a certain studio in audio has benefits and compensation that vary widely, so its hard to go into specifics on that.


    What does your job entail?
    It really depends on which direction in audio mixing you choose. So this question is too vague to accurately answer.


    What can you do with a degree in Audio Engineering?
    Once again, it depends on which direction you choose to go into. Film, television, audio, live, it all depends.

    It is just a few questions to get the ball rollin' if you have anymore to add please do so.

    Thank you for your time,
    -Dan
    Dan, audio mixing right now, no matter which discipline you choose, it intensely competitive. It was not quite that way when I started, as there were plenty of opportunities if you were talented. However, if you choose this field because you think it is easy, or it would be cool to mix and listen to music, you will be sadly disappointed, and unltimately fail. It is competitive, demanding, requires talent and intense knowledge of your craft; you need very good technical understanding of the equipment you work with, know at least the basics of digital audio and computer software as it relates to digital audio, and have an open mind to learning new and up coming audio recording and editing software. Ya gotta be on yo toes!!!

    This is my little $10,425,378.20 (yes twenty cents!!!) worth!
    Sir Terrence

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  3. #3
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    It all depends on what path you take. I have done every aspect of audio engineering from a FOH to arena mixing on the road with major artist, audio engineering plays and musicals on and off broadway, to film soundtrack mixing, editing, re-recording, and ADR; to stereo and multichannel audio. Each one of them gives you a different life. Live sound is basically a transitory job, as you travel a good deal of the year with different productions, which require you be as flexible and untied as possible. That was a hard life for me, as I am a home body type. Mixing on and off broadway is like having a temp job in audio mixing. You have to be creative, smart, technologically astute, and able to work well with a large dynamic of personalities. You work as long as the play is sucessful, and you always keep your eye on future work. I am currently working for a major film studio, and that job has long hours sometimes but a steady paycheck. You have benefits, a pension(its a union job) , great benefits, and very nice pay if you are good. Its like any job, except you mix film soundtracks for a living. There is also freelance, which is much like temp work, but you set your terms, get paid way more money most of the time, and get a chance to work with a large variety of creative talent. Doing audio only depends on whether you choose freelance, or work soley within a certain recording studio. Freelance audio is just like freelance film. Working at a certain studio in audio has benefits and compensation that vary widely, so its hard to go into specifics on that.




    It really depends on which direction in audio mixing you choose. So this question is too vague to accurately answer.




    Once again, it depends on which direction you choose to go into. Film, television, audio, live, it all depends.



    Dan, audio mixing right now, no matter which discipline you choose, it intensely competitive. It was not quite that way when I started, as there were plenty of opportunities if you were talented. However, if you choose this field because you think it is easy, or it would be cool to mix and listen to music, you will be sadly disappointed, and unltimately fail. It is competitive, demanding, requires talent and intense knowledge of your craft; you need very good technical understanding of the equipment you work with, know at least the basics of digital audio and computer software as it relates to digital audio, and have an open mind to learning new and up coming audio recording and editing software. Ya gotta be on yo toes!!!

    This is my little $10,425,378.20 (yes twenty cents!!!) worth!
    What if you just wanna mix the wukka-wukka, chukka-chukka Seventies funk gee-tar parts on porn soundtracks?
    So, I broke into the palace
    With a sponge and a rusty spanner
    She said : "Eh, I know you, and you cannot sing"
    I said : "That's nothing - you should hear me play piano"

  4. #4
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    Sir Terrence,

    Thank you very much for the reply that was just what i needed to hear, the ups and downs of working as an audio engineer. You seem to know a great deal about the profession so if you do not mind i would like to pick your brain a little more.

    To give you some background on me personally, i have been working with some recording and mixing equipment at my church; my knowledge is very slim and i lack many of the proper technical terms to describe what i do. However i will tell you to best of my abilities what i do, do. I help set-up microphones, amps, and musical instruments so they all meet up at our main mixer board, then i assist with mixing the instruments and vocalists into sync. During sermons and worship i will run recordings and set-up tracks for CD's and Cassettes, then duplicate them after. This may seem like a small and nearly insignificant amount of work compared to what you might be used to, or have seen. However this is something i take pride in doing and I enjoy it very much.

    Like i said before I enjoy music to a great extent and would like to see about work with audio in any way be it, live shows, recording studios, or shoot even working in a film studio would be amazing. like you said tho, this is a broad field and i am not quite sure where to go from here. i will be looking into some Jr. College classes next semester and continue participating at my church; but is there any way that i can get, "ahead of the game" if you will? How did you start off? Where did you go to study this profession? If you do not mind answering some of these questions that would be great.

    I am sorry if i came across at first with a lack of respect, or interest toward the profession because i did not intend for that at all. I really do enjoy music and the amount of effort put into creating it. Life has taught me well enough by now that nothing is easy, nor will anything be handed to me on a silver platter. I am willing to work, and work hard to do what i want to do.

    Many thanks,
    -Dan

  5. #5
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    What if you just wanna mix the wukka-wukka, chukka-chukka Seventies funk gee-tar parts on porn soundtracks?
    You are going to need a audio degree in funky wukka, chukka-chukka recording arts. This is a really tough degree to get because there is a certain flava to mixing porn tracks. The moaning and groaning must not cover up the funk. The funk must be potent enough to drive the hips in a convulsive manner. This is not an easy task, and you really need talent to pull it off.
    Sir Terrence

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  6. #6
    nightflier
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    Oh this is just too easy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    You are going to need a audio degree in funky wukka, chukka-chukka recording arts. This is a really tough degree to get because there is a certain flava to mixing porn tracks. The moaning and groaning must not cover up the funk. The funk must be potent enough to drive the hips in a convulsive manner. This is not an easy task, and you really need talent to pull it off.
    Ahem... you sound like an expert in this specialized field.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Ahem... you sound like an expert in this specialized field.
    Maybe he is

  8. #8
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Ahem... you sound like an expert in this specialized field.
    Actually I left this field wide open for you to take. We know you need the practice.
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

  9. #9
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Da_Duck
    Sir Terrence,

    Thank you very much for the reply that was just what i needed to hear, the ups and downs of working as an audio engineer. You seem to know a great deal about the profession so if you do not mind i would like to pick your brain a little more.

    To give you some background on me personally, i have been working with some recording and mixing equipment at my church; my knowledge is very slim and i lack many of the proper technical terms to describe what i do. However i will tell you to best of my abilities what i do, do. I help set-up microphones, amps, and musical instruments so they all meet up at our main mixer board, then i assist with mixing the instruments and vocalists into sync. During sermons and worship i will run recordings and set-up tracks for CD's and Cassettes, then duplicate them after. This may seem like a small and nearly insignificant amount of work compared to what you might be used to, or have seen. However this is something i take pride in doing and I enjoy it very much.
    Working and learning your chops in church is an excellent place to start! That is where I learned to sing and play keyboards, and I am currently director of the audio/visual ministry at my church. It sound to me like live sound would be a great place for you to start.

    Like i said before I enjoy music to a great extent and would like to see about work with audio in any way be it, live shows, recording studios, or shoot even working in a film studio would be amazing. like you said tho, this is a broad field and i am not quite sure where to go from here. i will be looking into some Jr. College classes next semester and continue participating at my church; but is there any way that i can get, "ahead of the game" if you will? How did you start off? Where did you go to study this profession? If you do not mind answering some of these questions that would be great.
    "Getting ahead" in the game is really a "who do you know" kind of thing. But getting ahead in general would mean educating and giving your craft some experience. Classes at Jr. college is a good start. I would recommend you find a recording studio in your area and volunteer as a grunt to get you in the environment, and to learn how they mix. Keep working with your church. Another alternative would be recording school, which is immersive(your at it 8 hours a day), relatively short(you can have a certificate in anywhere from 14-30 months), or take the route that I did which was to attend film school. There are also recording arts schools out there like Full Sail(you can google it). Since I knew at an early age I was going into film mixing, I chose USC film school which is the best film school in this country. But MIT has a good recording arts program, and UCLA has a fairly good one as well(props to Woochie!).

    I am sorry if i came across at first with a lack of respect, or interest toward the profession because i did not intend for that at all. I really do enjoy music and the amount of effort put into creating it. Life has taught me well enough by now that nothing is easy, nor will anything be handed to me on a silver platter. I am willing to work, and work hard to do what i want to do.

    Many thanks,
    -Dan
    If this is your attitude, you will make it, no matter how hard it is to break into the business. A good, posititve driving attitude is required in this field. A natural talent does not hurt either. If you have any more question, shoot away. Good luck to you!
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

  10. #10
    nightflier
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    Doh!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Actually I left this field wide open for you to take. We know you need the practice.
    You didn't know I was going to be reading this post (I usually try to steer clear of your posts anyway), so don't try to play this one off like that. You obviously have way too much knowledge about these movies. I guess next you'll tell us you watch them with a "critical insider's perspective" too? Kind of like when your dad said he reads Playboy for the articles, right?

    So either:

    1) We now know what that mega-buck HT setup in your house is really for, or...
    2) You mix the sound for these movies, too.

    Whatever. It was fun to watch you squirm.

    Ahem... check that - bad visual.

  11. #11
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    Sir Terrence,

    Sorry it took so long to respond, but i want to thank you for your replies and quick answers to my questions. At the moment i do not have any further questions other then how does this career look financialy? If the answer to this question depends on what you do with Audio Engineering then could i ask you what is the financial working for live shows vs. working in a film studio? Money will not effect the way i look at the major or career choice but for the sake of asking another question I thought it would be a good thing to know and plan for. I am sure more questions will come up soon but untill then this is all i really have to ask. Thank you once again for your time.

    -Dan

  12. #12
    Forum Regular FLZapped's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Da_Duck
    Hey guys,

    I have been toying with the possibility of studying Audio Engineering but do not know much about the major. The only things that come to mind with this major is that i will be mixing and listening to music (which sounds flippin sweet to me!), However things are never this black and white right? I just have some questions for anyone that knows anything about the major:

    What is the life of an Audio Engineer like?
    What does your job entail?
    What can you do with a degree in Audio Engineering?

    It is just a few questions to get the ball rollin' if you have anymore to add please do so.

    Thank you for your time,
    -Dan

    Audio Engineering is a hard business to be in. There are more engineers than jobs.

    I guess you have to decide which discipline within the field you really want to pursue. There is traditional recording, live sound, stage production, sound for film, gaming audio, broadcast audio, and probably a couple I have missed.

    You might also want to consider a career in Electrical Engineering.

    -Bruce

  13. #13
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    He's correct...

    Quote Originally Posted by FLZapped
    Audio Engineering is a hard business to be in. There are more engineers than jobs.

    I guess you have to decide which discipline within the field you really want to pursue. There is traditional recording, live sound, stage production, sound for film, gaming audio, broadcast audio, and probably a couple I have missed.

    You might also want to consider a career in Electrical Engineering.

    -Bruce
    With the economic downturn, the shift of artists to home studio's and self production and the loss of recording budgets at Record Labels recording engineering maybe a dead or dying profession, at least as far as music is concerned. Read any of the trades and you'll see studio's all over the country giving up the ghost. Also dying out are CD production facilities. The entire industry is changing and you'd be best off to consider that before you spend thousands of dollars on a degree you might not be able to use.

    Da Worfster

  14. #14
    Audio casualty StevenSurprenant's Avatar
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    Another option?

    Quote Originally Posted by Da_Duck
    Hey guys,

    I have been toying with the possibility of studying Audio Engineering but do not know much about the major. The only things that come to mind with this major is that i will be mixing and listening to music (which sounds flippin sweet to me!), However things are never this black and white right? I just have some questions for anyone that knows anything about the major:

    What is the life of an Audio Engineer like?
    What does your job entail?
    What can you do with a degree in Audio Engineering?

    It is just a few questions to get the ball rollin' if you have anymore to add please do so.

    Thank you for your time,
    -Dan
    Perhaps you could pursue a specialty niche that would keep you independent and would probably have a great deal more fun than some of the high pressure gigs that you would have to do as a professional.

    For instance:
    http://www.truestereo.net/

    You can also reach this web site through ProMusica (Chicago)...
    http://www.promusicaaudio.com/

    You could do something like this while you decide what career path you want to take and gain a great deal of experience on your way to greatness.

    In this cut and paste world we live in, where many recording studios produce over processed and over compressed music, there is room for someone who cares about sonic quality over pushing out CD's.

    No offense to any audio engineer, but the recording quality of some CD's I have are less than or barely acceptable. On the other hand, a few transcend the ordinary and transport the listener to a place where the real world melts away and only the music exists.

    I realize that it isn't always the recording engineers fault. Sometimes it's the equipment that he/she has to work with and sometimes company procedure dictates the methods they use to produce their product.

    Something to think about is that once you are ready to enter the glamorous world of audio engineering, you have to choose between working for someone who cares about quality or working for someone who is all essence runs an audio puppy mill. With an overabundance of engineers, you might not have a large selection to choose from. Sorry to sound negative. I'm just thinking about alternatives.

    One final note...

    Think about this in context to what you are considering.

    I've heard it said that people who desire wealth do not pursue money, they pursue power and the money just comes to them.

    What I'm saying is...

    Don't pursue the goal of being an audio engineer, concentrate on learning what it takes to create quality recordings and the rest will come to you in due time.

    When I was taking engineering in college, there were students that did well in class, but it was by rote memorization of formulas and procedures. They did not understand the underlying concepts of what they had learned. Because of that, they couldn't think outside the box, so to speak, and soon forgot what they had learned.

    Another interesting thing is that when I asked them why they were taking engineering or what an engineer does, they did not know. Apparently, they choose that major for other reasons than the right ones.

    However, ever so often, there would be one student that shined above the rest. Being an engineer was the least of their concerns. They just seemed to enjoy the knowledge they were gaining.

    I hope you are of the latter type, because if you are, you are destined to greatness.

    Best of luck!

  15. #15
    Forum Regular FLZapped's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worf101
    With the economic downturn, the shift of artists to home studio's and self production and the loss of recording budgets at Record Labels recording engineering maybe a dead or dying profession, at least as far as music is concerned. Read any of the trades and you'll see studio's all over the country giving up the ghost. Also dying out are CD production facilities. The entire industry is changing and you'd be best off to consider that before you spend thousands of dollars on a degree you might not be able to use.

    Da Worfster
    A degree in Electrical Engineering is usable anywhere, not just audio.

    Large studios are closing, smaller project studios are hanging in, which means more competition. Many major record labels don't even record anymore, they expect the studio to provide a finished product to them now and they are just the marketing and distribution agent.

    Regardless, studio recording isn't the only place to make money as I previously stated.

    -Bruce

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