Updated on Wednesday 27 February 2013
Recording engineering is a growing industry with several different fields of interest. Students interested in a recording engineering degree should pursue an education that will give them both the creative and technical skills that they will need in the business. Beginning recording engineers will need to start out small, but hard work, persistence, and networking will pay off.
Recording engineering is the science of recording, mixing, and reproducing sound. A recording engineer has experience and training in the production and manipulation of sound. Recording engineering balances science and art, drawing on fields such as electronics, acoustics, psychoacoustics, and music.
In the past 25 years, several music schools have begun teaching recording engineering. Instead of a recording engineering degree, these programs usually award a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis on audio technology. In a traditional engineering program at either an engineering school or department within a university, a recording engineering degree focuses on the mathematics and physics of acoustics as well as electrical engineering.
Many good recording engineers are also musicians. A background in music will help a recording engineer assist his or her clients by creating the appropriate music. International students interested in a recording engineering degree might consider also studying music, music theory, and music composition.
Recording engineering also requires a good deal of technical knowledge. A recording engineer must be proficient with different types of recording media, such as analog tape, digital multitrack recorders, and workstations. Recording engineers should be familiar with the design, installation, and/or operation of sound recording, sound reinforcement, or sound broadcasting equipment.
In a recording studio, the recording engineer is in charge of the technical equipment used in recording music. He or she must ensure that all of the equipment is functioning properly – including the placement of microphones. Different instruments require specific microphones to capture the best sound possible.
Before a recording session, a recording engineer should familiarize him or herself with the client’s music and style so as to better prepare for the session. A recording engineer should be familiar with his or her client’s music in order to create the best possible recordings.
After the audio is recorded, the recording engineer is in charge of audio post-production—the mixing and editing of the recorded audio. The engineer takes all the individual recorded tracks and combines them to create one complete, musically appealing whole. He or she must listen from both a musical and technical standpoint in order to make the necessary adjustments to create the best sound possible
Recording engineering is not limited to recording music. International students with a recording engineering degree may choose to go into fields such as film and television, broadcasting, recording sound and dialogue for video games, recording podcasts for the Web, or audio clips for talking toys. Recording engineers are needed in any medium in which sound is used.
The salary range for a recording engineer is between $18,000 and $85,000 USD per year in the US. International students beginning their careers in recording engineering may have to work for very little money or volunteer in a recording studio while they gain experience. Recording engineers may end up working as music producers, movie sound editors, musical composers, or song arrangers. Potential employers include concert production companies, television and radio stations, and recording studios.
Recording engineers are required to work with a large number of musical types and personalities. Patience, listening, dedication and attention to detail are critical personal skills to have in this field. Professional recording engineers must give each of their clients the same amount of care and dedication, regardless of his or her own musical tastes and preferences. Communication skills are also necessary in this field. Recording engineers must be able to communicate effectively with their clients in order to understand what their client wants and how best to make that happen.