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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Audio engineering is a part of audio science dealing with the recording and reproduction of sound through mechanical and electronic means. The field draws on many disciplines, including electrical engineering, acoustics, psychoacoustics, and music. Unlike acoustical engineering, audio engineering does not deal with noise control or acoustical design. An audio engineer is closer to the creative and technical aspects of audio rather than formal engineering. An audio engineer must be proficient with different types of recording media, such as analog tape, digital multitrack recorders and workstations, and computer knowledge. With the advent of the digital age, it is becoming more and more important for the audio engineer to be versed in the understanding of software and hardware integration from synchronization to analog to digital transfers.


Lexical dispute

The expressions "audio engineer" and "sound engineer" are ambiguous. Such terms can refer to a person working in sound and music production, as well as to an engineer with a degree who designs professional equipment for these tasks. The latter professional often develops the tools needed for the former's work. Other languages, such as German and Italian, have different words to refer to these activities. For instance, in German, the Tontechniker (audio technician) is the one who operates the audio equipment and the Tonmeister (sound master) is a person who creates recordings or broadcasts of music who is both deeply musically trained (in 'classical' and non-classical genres) and who also has a detailed theoretical and practical knowledge of virtually all aspects of sound, whereas the Toningenieur (audio engineer) is the one who designs, builds and repairs it.

Individuals who design acoustical simulations of rooms, shaping algorithms for digital signal processing and computer music problems, perform institutional research on sound, and other advanced fields of audio engineering are most often graduates of an accredited college or university, or have passed a difficult civil qualification test.


An engineer at an audio console.

An audio engineer is someone with experience and training in the production and manipulation of sound through mechanical (analog) or digital means. As a professional title, this person is sometimes designated as a sound engineer or recording engineer instead. A person with one of these titles is commonly listed in the credits of many commercial music recordings (as well as in other productions that include sound, such as movies).

Audio engineers are generally familiar with the design, installation, and/or operation of sound recording, sound reinforcement, or sound broadcasting equipment, including large and small format consoles. In the recording studio environment, the audio engineer records, edits, manipulates, mixes, and/or masters sound by technical means in order to realize an artist's or record producer's creative vision. While usually associated with music production, an audio engineer deals with sound for a wide range of applications, including post-production for video and film, live sound reinforcement, advertising, multimedia, and broadcasting. When referring to video games, an audio engineer may also be a computer programmer.

In larger productions, an audio engineer is responsible for the technical aspects of a sound recording or other audio production, and works together with a record producer or director, although the engineer's role may also be integrated with that of the producer. In smaller productions and studios the sound engineer and producer is often one and the same person.

In typical sound reinforcement applications, audio engineers often assume the role of producer, making artistic decisions along with technical ones.


Different professional branches

There are four distinct steps to commercial production of a recording. Recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. Typically, each is performed by a sound engineer who specializes only in that part of production.

  • Studio engineer could be either a sound engineer working in a studio together with a producer, or a producing sound engineer working in a studio.
  • Recording engineer is a person who records sound.
  • Mixing engineer is a person who creates mixes of multi-track recordings. It is not uncommon for a commercial record to be recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios.
  • Mastering engineer Typically the person who mixes the final stereo tracks (or sometimes just a few tracks or stems) that the mix engineer produces. The mastering engineer makes any final adjustments to the overall sound of the record in the final step before commercial duplication. Mastering engineers use principles of equalization and compression to affect the coloration of the sound.
  • Game audio designer engineer is a person who deals with sound aspects of game development.
  • Live sound engineer is a person dealing with live sound reinforcement. This usually includes planning and installation of speakers, cabling and equipment and mixing sound during the show. This may or may not include running the foldback sound.
  • Foldback or monitor engineer is a person running foldback sound during a live event. The term "foldback" is outdated and refers to the practice of folding back audio signals from the FOH (Front of House) mixing console to the stage in order for musicians to hear themselves while performing. Monitor engineers usually have a separate audio system from the FOH engineer and manipulate audio signals independently from what the audience hears, in order to satisfy the requirements of each performer on stage. In-ear systems, digital and analog mixing consoles, and a variety of speaker enclosures are typically used by monitor engineers. In addition most monitor engineers must be familiar with wireless or RF (radio-frequency) equipment and must interface personally with the artist(s) during each performance.
  • Systems engineer is a person responsible for the design setup of modern PA systems which are often very complex. A systems engineer is usually also referred to as a "crew chief" on tour and is responsible for the performance and day-to-day job requirements of the audio crew as a whole along with the FOH audio system.
  • Audio post engineer is a person who edits and mixes audio for film and television.


Audio engineers come from backgrounds such as Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering or the Fine Arts, and many colleges and accredited institutions around the world offer degrees in audio engineering, such as a BS in audio production. The University of Miami's Frost School of Music was the first university in the United States to offer a four-year Bachelor of Music degree in Music Engineering Technology. In the last 25 years, some contemporary music schools have initiated audio engineering programs, usually awarding a Bachelor of Music degree to graduates. Additionally, a number of audio engineers are autodidacts with no formal training.


Audio engineers in their daily work operate and make use of:

Recording engineers of note

Mastering engineers of note

Live sound engineers of note

See also

External resources

Simple English

A recording engineer (or simply "engineer" for short) is a person who operates, and usually chooses and sets up recording equipment. The term applies mainly to a person who works in a recording studio, but can also apply to people who do the same kind of work, in other places. An engineer may work with multitrack recordings, stereophonic or Surround sound remixes, or both.

Some amateur (and a few professional) engineers are self-taught, and learn mostly by doing, or with the help of a manual or how-to book. Many engineers started in other studio jobs (such as gofer or messenger), and learned about recording as they became familiar with the studio where they worked. An engineer learns about the use and placement of microphones, how to operate and maintain a mixing board, recording deck, effects and other machines, and how to manipulate live and recorded sounds, to make the best, and often the most unique, recording possible. A good engineer will strive to make recordings that are both of high technical quality, and also pleasing to hear.

Starting wages may be small in recording studios, and many novices work as unpaid volunteers. Experienced engineers, especially those who have worked on a hit record, may command a large wage. Some engineers are paid a salary, while others may earn hourly pay (sometimes based on the studio's rates), or be paid per session. Many go on to start their own recording studios, or maintain a private studio or mobile recording service. A few work only for a single recording artist, band, or producer.

Several colleges and universities in the United States and other countries offer classes in recording, which may cover its history, its uses, and of course technique and technical knowledge. Some schools offer degree or diploma programs in Recording. Graduating such a program does not guarantee a person a studio job, but increases one's chances, and can provide better preparation for such a career.

Besides studio work, some engineers have one or more specialties, such as digital remastering of old recordings, as consultants to places that give concerts and live performances, and sometimes as expert witnesses in court trials, when sounds or a recording may be important to the outcome of a case.

Noted recording engineers


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