Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
With the rise of technology, more and more international students are choosing to study the science of recording engineering. Recording engineering is a growing industry that offers a variety of career options. International students interested in music, music theory, film, and computer science should consider seeking higher education in recording engineering.
Phil Ek, recording engineer and producer for such bands as The Shins, Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, and Band of Horses describes recording engineering as the "technical aspect of recording—the placing of microphones, the turning of pre-amp knobs, the setting of levels. The physical recording of any project is done by an engineer… Engineering is the bread and butter/nuts and bolts recording of the project."
A recording engineer is a specialist in the operation of machinery and equipment for the recording, mixing, and reproduction of sound, be that for music, film, or video games. Recording engineering in the US combines the creative and the technical aspects of sound, so international students thinking to study recording engineering should expect to study a variety of artistic and vocational fields, such as electronics, acoustics, psycho-acoustics, and music. A recording engineer must be skilled in the use of different types of recording media, and it is becoming more and more important for the recording engineer to be familiar with hardware and software integration.
International students who wish to study recording engineering have a variety of degree programs available to them. A certificate program in recording engineering in the US can take one to two years to complete. This program focuses on the basics of recording sound and mixing tracks to a professional standard. Associate's degree programs in recording engineering are offered as an Associate of Art, Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science. An associate's degree in recording engineering takes two to three years to complete. Students who study recording engineering in these programs should expect to take courses such as live audio production, audio theory and music history. Courses in a musical instrument, music business, and writing music may also be offered in these programs. Bachelor degree programs in recording engineering take approximately four years to complete and require more in-depth courses. International students who opt for these programs will receive a broad liberal arts education as they explore more advanced sound and audio engineering concepts. Bachelor's degree programs may also require a combination of music courses and audio engineering courses. Students who study recording engineering will be given a variety of focuses from which to choose, such as sound design for gaming, audio system installation, music composition, and acoustics.
International students considering studying recording engineering in the US should consider Full Sail University as a viable option. Rolling Stone named Full Sail "one of the five best music programs in the country." Full Sail offers an associate's degree in recording engineering and focuses on: sound fundamentals, recording and mixing, music production, and post-production. This variety of courses help students build the basic skills to allow them to choose which area of recording engineering they want to pursue. Students at Full Sail University will be taught the basics of music theory and computer science, how to create and recognize good music, how to use music and sound in video games, television, and film, and be given hands-on in-studio experience.
University of Miami's Frost School of Music was the first school to offer a degree in recording engineering in the US. Their Music Engineering Technology program offers both undergraduate degrees and a graduate degree in music engineering technology. The undergraduate degrees are offered as both Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Science degrees. Students in these programs are required to be involved in music lessons and performing ensembles, complete four levels of music theory, as well as a variety of other music courses. Their website describes this program as a "unique interdisciplinary program" that "emphasizes the study of music recording, music theory and performance, digital audio, electrical engineering, and computer science." The program requires proficiency on a musical instrument or voice. The graduate degree is a two-year program that focuses on electrical engineering, digital audio, psychoacoustics, and the psychology of music. Generally, only students with a BSEE, BSCE, or a BSCS degree are accepted into this program. Unlike the undergraduate program, however, proficiency on a musical instrument is not required.
American University in Washington, D.C. offers both a Bachelor of Arts in Audio Production and Bachelor of Science in Audio Technology. Students in both programs will receive hands-on training in the studio regarding the computer software and hardware equipment essential to creating audio for certain types of entertainment. American University also offers a master's degree in audio technology, as well as an accelerated bachelor's or master's program that allows students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Students who study recording engineering have a variety of career options open to them. They can choose to go into recording in the music industry and become studio engineers who work within a studio facility, recording engineers, mixing engineers who create mixings of multi-track recordings, or mastering engineers who mix the final stereo tracks that the mixing engineer produces. Students can choose to go into the gaming industry and become game audio designer engineers, or they may choose a career in the film and television industry. They can become live sound engineers, monitor engineers, or systems engineers and work with live performances.
International students interested in studying recording engineering in the US have a number of options, and that number continues to grow as technology becomes an integral part of our day to day lives.