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Research Paper

  1. 1. Tyner 1Cal TynerTillerySenior ProjectOctober 12, 2011 Audio Engineering Imagine waking up to a world void of melody or rhythm. Imagine if the world onlyconsisted of random sounds and noises, things would be dramatically different. Luckily, audioengineering professionals prevent the deprivation of music on a daily basis. These particularengineers are basically the creators, editors, and even performers of modern-day music. Fromstart to finish, audio engineers compile sounds into a mix (song), edit the mix, finalize theproduct, and produce the albums. Furthermore, why is audio engineering important today? Thereis a simple answer: without audio engineers our world would be empty of music; unappealingsounds and noises would be the only audio that would fill our ears. Essentially, there is a demandfor audio engineers and technicians. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics,the field of sound engineering is expected to grow by 8% by 2018 ("Broadcast and SoundEngineering Technicians and Radio Operators” 1). So what makes a good audio engineeringtechnician? Foremost, audio engineers must have a creative aspect about themselves. A soundengineer does not see music as just music; but instead, sound engineers hear every instrument,the BPM (beats per minute), the levels of each sound, and what could be done to enhance themusic further. In essence, sound engineers have a particular mindset to perform their job
  2. 2. Tyner 2flawlessly. As stated by Baby Rani, “sound is the matter, which goes into our ears. It can bemusic or the noise. Engineering is the art of mixing the live sound to make it attractive to thehuman ear” (Rani 1). Therefore, sound engineers are expected to create appealing compilationsof sounds and effects. Another trait that is essential to the occupation is flexibility. During aninterview with Simon Kasprowicz, he was asked which traits were beneficial to someone strivingto be an audio engineer. He replied “This is such a difficult question… The main thing is to havea good attitude, remain calm under stress and keep a smile on your face” (Kasprowicz 1). Themost important characteristic needed to become a sound engineer, though, is simply the love formusic. In order to perform the job well, there must be passion for the music. Continuing on, whatspecific jobs do audio engineers perform? As stated earlier, audio engineers must be flexible to succeed in the music industry.For example, sound engineers work with “music projects, voice, sound and acoustic andelectronic complex systems,” and also, “work in multimedia and post-production facilities,professional, commercial, or private recording studios, in technical theatres, in the broadcastindustry as engineers, in sound reinforcement, and as sound and acoustical consultants andsystem engineers” (“Audio Engineer: Occupational Outlook for the Audio EngineeringProfessions” 1).Basically, sound engineers have a wide array of occupations available, whichmeans versatility is vital. The occupation that has grown substantially over the past decade, inrelation to sound engineering, involves performance. Known as “dub step,” this new genre ofmusic is expanding rapidly and will continue to raise jobs for audio engineers. Subsequent tothe “dub-scene,” audio engineers can find jobs in the radio broadcasting industry, as well as inthe recording industry. Moreover, what qualifications are needed to become an audioengineer?
  3. 3. Tyner 3 In today’s society, some form of degree or certification is needed to qualify for almostany career position. Unfortunately, sound engineering remains in that category. There areseveral prerequisites that are needed to obtain a degree in sound engineering, including beingable to play an instrument. According to Education-Portal.com, a student applying to becomean audio engineer must also have a high school diploma and be adept with computers andtechnical equipment (“Sound Engineering Degree Program Overviews” 1). Of course, thereare the options of either two year or four year degrees. Essentially, the higher educationearned implies a better reputation and, therefore, a larger paycheck. To some, though, audioengineering is not about the paycheck, it is about the love for music. Passion drives themajority of choices people make every day, from making plans for a Friday night to choosinga career. For sound engineers, passion for music is the motivation that drives them to createenjoyable compilations of music each day. For example, at Berklee College of Music, classesemphasize “artistic and professional excellence,” and students will “develop an informed andcritical aesthetic vision,” (“Music Production and Engineering Major” 1). It seems that thoseat Berklee have a strong enthusiasm for music and sound production, which is quite relative.Everyone has a choice of music, whether it is rock, country, rap, dub step/techno, bluegrass,oldies, or reggae. Each genre contains acoustics, electronics, vocals, and effects, but manyoverlook that aspect of music. Sound engineers differ from the norm, as they see music as acompilation of sounds and they respect each sound individually. Black and white, soundengineers are usually required to have a degree to be successful. The desire to createappealing music for people is what really allows sound engineers to be successful, though. Each profession requires tools to perform the job-at-hand, such as a mechanic using ajack to remove a tire from a car. So what tools do audio engineers work with? Jacks and
  4. 4. Tyner 4monkey wrenches? No, sound engineers work with a number of different instruments andtools to make, record and perform music. Audio engineers, though, are similar to mechanicsin the sense that some jobs require a few tools to obtain a finished product and some jobs takedays, months, or even years to complete. There are a variety of tools that aid a sound engineerin creating, recording and performing their productions. According to HowStuffWorks.com,the tools needed include: amplifiers, microphones, cables, monitors, and mixing boards; and“each of these items has specific functions that enable the sound engineer to control theoverall audio experience,” (Crosby 1). In brief, the mixing board and monitor are the maincontrols the engineer uses during a performance, and cables, microphones, and amplifiers arethe tools that allow the audience to fully experience the performance. When sound engineersare compiling and creating music, though, they still use some of the same tools used inperformances. For example, sound engineers “mix and edit voices, music, and taped soundeffects for live performances and for prerecorded events, using sound mixing boards,”(“Science Careers: Sound Engineering Technician” 1). The main tool that is used on and offstage in audio engineering is the mixing board. The mixing board is the most important partof an audio engineer’s “toolbox.” Luckily, amateur mixers that are striving to become audioengineers can obtain software that allows a standard laptop computer to act as a mixing board.There are several different types of software that can be utilized, such as Ableton, Beatcraftand FL Studio (“Music Mixing Software List” 1). Overall, there are a number of differenttools that are used in sound engineering, ranging from equipment worth thousands to softwarecosting less than one hundred dollars. Audio engineering is a complex occupation, unmatched by many others. Mainly,sound engineering is important because without it, the world only consists of random noises.
  5. 5. Tyner 5The world would be void of appealing sounds and, more importantly, music. Music willalways be present because audio engineers will always find new sounds and ways to mixthose sounds so they are appealing. Again, the desire for a large paycheck is not whatmotivates sound engineers, it is the love for the music. In conclusion, sound engineers play alarge part in the world, whether it is noticeable or not. What sound engineers create is notmusic, necessarily; but instead, enjoyment and satisfaction.
  6. 6. Tyner 6 Works Cited“Audio Engineer: Occupational Outlook for the Audio Engineering Professions.” Education- Portal.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <http://education-portal.com/articles/ Audio_Engineer_Occupational_Outlook_for_the_Audio_Engineering_Professions.html> .“Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians and Radio Operators.” Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S Department of Labor, 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos109.htm>.“Careers in Electronic Production and Design.” Berklee College of Music. Berklee College of Music, 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://www.berklee.edu/careers/electronic- production-design.html>.Crosby, Tim. “How Live Sound Engineering Works.” HowStuffWorks.com. HowStuffWorks, Inc., 28 Apr. 2008. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/live- sound-engineering2.htm>.Kasprowicz, Simon. “Q&A with Sound Engineer Simon Kasprowicz.” Interview by Heather McDonald. About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <http://musicians.about.com/od/ otherindustrycareers/a/qandawithkas.htm>.“Music Mixing Software List.” SanctuaryLane.com. Sanctuary Lane Studios, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.sanctuarylane.com/music-mixing-software.html>.“Music Production and Engineering Major.” Berklee College of Music. Berklee College of Music, Sept. 2010. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.berklee.edu/majors/mpe.html>.
  7. 7. Tyner 7Rani, Baby. “Sound Engineering Basics.” Bright Hub. Ed. Lamar Stonecypher. Bright Hub Inc., 2 June 2011. Web. 26 Sept. 2011. <http://www.brighthub.com/engineering/mechanical/ articles/15646.aspx>.“Science Careers: Sound Engineering Technician .” ScienceBuddies.org. Science Buddies, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science- engineering-careers/Music_soundengineeringtechnician_c001.shtml>.“Sound Engineering Degree Program Overviews.” Education-Portal.com. Education-Portal.com, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. <http://education-portal.com/sound_engineering_degree.html>.

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