KANSAS CITY • since 2015
Unlabeled Academy: Audio Engineering
What do Audio Engineers Do?
Audio engineers are the technical professionals that help to create the best recordings from the sound that’s being recorded. The basic premise behind audio engineering is to move sound from one location to another. Think about what happens during a concert – the vocalist sings into a microphone, but that sound has to get into the speakers so the audience can hear it. That’s just one part of an audio engineer’s job. Whether the sound is a singer, an instrument, or something else, a microphone must pick it up. After that, the sound is changed into electricity, which allows an audio engineer to determine what it will go, what will be done with it, and how it’ll actually sound. The sound can be recorded or made a copy of. If recorded, it gives people a chance to listen to it.
Audio Engineering at Unlabeled
An audio engineer at Unlabeled Music has three primary jobs:
• Successfully record and mix each client music
• Provide excellent customer service.
• Create Industry-Quality music. The engineer is responsible for making sure the recording of the musician’s work is done correctly, and the sound reproduced is of high-quality.
Three Pillars Of Audio Engineering
The initial step in producing a record is a recording. The audio engineer will do a multitude of jobs:
• Set up and tune the musical instruments
• Pick places for microphones to go and set them up
• Run cables
• Send the signals through some kind of outboard audio equipment such as a mixing console and finally record the sound to a computer or other program If recording to a computer, the audio engineer is likely to be using the Digital Audio Workstation program. All microphones will record a “track” of its own, which the audio engineering team will make adjustments to later. This tracking can be heard in every song, no matter where it is playing (YouTube, iTunes, Google Music, CD, radio, etc.). The tracking process is often equated with “music production.” However, music production looks at the education and philosophy behind song creation.
The second part of producing a record is called mixing. The audio engineering team will take each track recorded and put them together to create a unified music production (song). Here, pro tools are used to create unique sounds. One such option is to pan between the stereo channels (the moving the sound between the speakers), balance the levels so all instruments can be heard, etc. Here, audio engineers can be creative with the music using plugins such as automation, effects, or signal processors.
The last step to producing a record is known as mastering. At this final stage, the audio engineer runs through the finished product through final processing such as compression, limiting or EQ tweaks. The audio engineering team works to prepare the content for circulation (print CDs, streaming sites, etc.). Mastering is designed to polish up the song and ensure it sounds similar across every device and speaker system.