For almost 13 years I have been involved in the entertainment industry. Ever since graduating from audio engineering school, I have received questions as to what I actually do as an audio engineer. The usual questions would be, "Are you something like a DJ?". To prevent further confusion amongst the masses, let me share my thoughts on audio engineering.
The entertainment industry has since evolved in line with the rapid advancement of technology from YouTube and Netflix to Spotify and Apple Music. The consumption of media has changed drastically affecting the industry that drives it and the roles of audio engineers that supports it.
Audio Engineers have always had been a behind-the-scenes role in the industry. Don't misunderstand me though, we play a very key role nonetheless. Without audio engineers hit songs will not be hit songs, films become less impressive, concert halls an auditory hell hole. The world would end up being a big sonic disaster.
Like doctors, we also have specialist audio engineers in each field. Here's a quick break down for some of the major fields in the various industries. If there is sound or audio involved, you can be sure an audio engineer is found nearby.
I hear you say "Anyone can be an audio engineer then. I just need to be involved or be part of the production". I agree and disagree, all at the same time. For example, digital audio workstations are very accessible now with some being offered for free! That means anyone has access to these audio editing/mixing application to mix or make music. Does that mean once you are utilising the software you automatically become an audio engineer?
So how do we actually differentiate an audio engineer vs. a technician or an enthusiast apart from being actually paid to work as a professional. It is the ability to make 'informed decisions' in any part of the production process. This needs to be an important actualisation for many working professionals. Being able to concisely explain why should this piece of audio be processed in such a way. Why should I use this EQ vs. that EQ. What would a compressor with 1:3.3 gain reduction at a threshold of -30db do to this piece of audio track. What is the "Loudness War". Every decision made must serve a purpose and a reason to why it is done.
I hope that I was able to explain the roles of an audio engineer. If you are interested in becoming an audio engineer but don't know where to begin or what to expect. Please drop me a message or comment below. If you're an audio engineer and have some funny stories do share them in the comments below.
Hey! I'm Bryan Limus, an audio engineer and music producer based in the tropical Borneo city of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. I enjoy creating art. photography and building stuff whenever I can. I am a musician and also a live sound engineer creating killer mixes.