Every one of the responsibilities of a sound recording engineer is based on a specific skill set and extensive experience. These professionals are very valuable in the music production sphere, and the best can boast of many successful collaborations that have lasted for decades.
3 Responsibilities of a Sound Recording Engineer
Who does not want their clients to be inspired by their work and collaborate over decades? In order to achieve that, the recording engineer has to be a master in his field.
Most importantly, you should easily detect any inconsistencies in the sound. To successfully do that, you have to train your ears daily.
Secondly, you should have tons of experience with analog and digital equipment.
Thirdly, new technologies come into existence every year, so you have to be a fast learner and tech-savvy to get a hold of it quickly. Fourthly, you have to have a perfect sense of balance so that you feel what exactly the mix lacks and what is already too much.
The recording engineer needs to know everything about every piece of equipment in their studio. Ideally, a recording engineer has to feel the control board as if it is a part of themselves. In addition, the recording engineer has to know exactly how each instrument affects the sound. Also, this professional has to differentiate the types of microphones, amplifiers, and preamps.
While technical skills surely matter a lot, a recording engineer has to have knowledge about audio production and music overall. Knowledge about room acoustics and the sound source is equally important because it determines which microphones should be used and how the musicians or vocalists should be placed.
Preparing recording equipment
It’s safe to say that preparing and operating recording equipment is the basic responsibility of the recording engineer. In the preparation stage, the recording engineer has to ensure that everything runs smoothly, equipment is working without any issues, microphones are placed exactly as the following recording session requires, and the software works without any glitches as well. To think ahead, the recording engineer has to prepare a session in the DAW of their choice and make sure that the software runs smoothly and that no glitches are present. No one should consider skipping this step because it’s in the best interests of the recording engineers to make clients cooperate with them again and again.
As soon as the client arrives, the recording engineer, alone or with the help of assistants, if there are any, has to set all instruments needed for the recording session and run cables in the rooms or booths. After that, the recording engineer needs to spend some time on correct mic placement so that the best sound quality is achieved. The number of microphones that should be set depends on the type of the instrument because the drum kit consists of a lot of separate drums, each of which has to have an individual microphone to catch its sound.
Then, it’s time to pay attention to establishing levels that measure the peaks of the incoming signal. Finally, the signal has to be routed to the headphone amp or several headphones because all of the musicians that take part in the recording have to able to hear each other as well as their instruments.
Operating recording equipment
The basics of every recording session are to ensure that everything leads to obtaining a recording of the audio that is clear from any issues and distortion. So it’s natural that to reach the said result, a recording engineer has to be a master in operating recording equipment. A lot of previously acquired skills and vital knowledge help every recording engineer to do this job correctly and present the client with the desired result.
The recording engineer operates specific equipment that records every part of the musician’s performance, which includes instruments and vocals. It’s expected that the recording engineer would make a lot of takes so that it would be easier to join everything together and create a mix that the client wants to achieve.
Mixing and mastering
During the mixing stage, the task of the recording engineer is to shape everything that was recorded into a balanced and nicely sounding mix. Nowadays, mixing, as well as mastering, is done on the computer with an audio editing software of choice. Recording engineers should have extensive knowledge of various methods and techniques of how to shape and balance the sound, which usually includes applying EQ, changing levels, reducing noise, and balancing the overall sound quality. Not only should the recording engineers balance the sound in accordance with the knowledge they have, but they also have to be excellent communicators and constantly ask for the opinion of producers and musicians about the quality and sound of the mix.
Guided by the knowledge and the general vibe of the mix, it’s of interest to the recording engineer to use different creative effects like delay, reverb, and compression to improve the overall sound of the recording and add a unique character to the sound. Also, it’s the responsibility of the recording engineer to make the song sound equally well on all playback systems, including streaming services.
Who is a sound recording engineer?
A recording engineer is a person whose job description is also known as a sound or audio engineer. The recording engineer is responsible for making from freshly recorded audio material a top-quality recording. These professionals are, above all, focused on technical attributes of music production and, in the majority of cases, responsible for studio equipment, as well as balancing the mix. While it’s rather an exception to the rule, recording engineers can be involved in mastering and producing.