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What Is Audio Engineering?

Audio engineering is a specialized field that focuses on the recording, mixing, and reproduction of sound. It's an intricate blend of art and science, where professionals use technology to capture audio performances, manipulate sound waves, and create acoustic environments. Audio engineers work in various settings, from recording studios and live concerts to film and television production. They are responsible for ensuring the clarity, depth, and fidelity of the sound that reaches our ears. According to the Audio Engineering Society, this discipline encompasses a broad range of activities, including noise control, acoustical design, and the development of new audio technologies.


Within the realm of audio engineering, there are numerous specializations, such as studio engineering, live sound engineering, and mastering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the demand for sound engineering technicians is expected to grow by 8% from 2020 to 2030, reflecting the industry's vitality. Audio engineers must have a keen ear for detail, a strong grasp of electronics and acoustics, and proficiency with digital audio workstations and other audio processing tools. Their expertise is essential in delivering the immersive soundscapes that elevate our experiences in entertainment, communication, and beyond.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Audio engineering is a branch of the engineering field which involves the process of recording sound and reproducing it by various means, as well as storing it so that it can be reproduced later. Audio engineers work in a variety of fields, including film and television production, broadcasting, electronics manufacturing, and the music industry. In order to work as an audio engineer, it is usually necessary to have an audio engineering degree, with advanced degrees available for people who intend to perform work such as designing new audio equipment.

Audio engineers are separate from audio technicians. Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment. These technicians may have advanced training, but they are not audio engineers, and the skills of an audio engineer may be required to set up the sound system, to determine the basic settings, and to train the technicians. Some technicians later go on to study audio engineering.

An audio engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave in different settings.
An audio engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave in different settings.

This field can include recording, editing, mixing, and mastering audio. Audio engineers are found working at all phases of production in any industry where sound is being recorded. Radio stations, film studios, recording studios, and so forth all retain audio engineers. This discipline may also include training and supervising audio technicians who may perform some of the daily work of audio recording and reproduction.

Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment.
Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment.

Another aspect of audio engineering involves the development of new audio equipment such as sound boards, radio broadcasting equipment, microphones, and so forth, along with new methods of data storage which can be used for audio. While audio engineering started out as a primarily mechanical field, today, the focus is primarily on electronic and digital techniques. Many audio engineers are also skilled with computers, as they need to use and develop software as part of their work.

Audio engineers are employed by TV and film production companies.
Audio engineers are employed by TV and film production companies.

Training in audio engineering is available at some colleges and universities, as well as specialized training programs. People interested in this career should be strong in math and the sciences, and they should have an interest in audio in particular. One does not need to be a musician or performer to work in audio engineering, but having an appreciation for audio art forms and an understanding of their history can be helpful. Highly talented audio engineers are, after all, artists in their own right who are involved in the production of finished works of art, from blockbuster films and obscure recordings of classical music.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

Discussion Comments

Saraq90

Audio engineering salaries are like many professions in that the salaries vary secondary to the vast array of areas the engineer could be working in. For example, you could own your own recording studio, you could engineer audio for live shows, you could work in a music conservatory, you could be a salaried audio engineer or an hourly paid contract audio engineer, etc.

snickerish

Here's a picture of an audio engineer working to record an artist in the studio. In this studio, you have of course, many people, including the artist, producer, first audio engineer, and second audio engineer (think internship).

The producer is telling the artist what they want from the artist. The first engineer is sitting behind the controls getting all of the sounds the producer wants from what the artist is doing. The second engineer is typically your engineer with little or less experience in comparison to the first engineer, so the second engineer is running all the cables and changing out the microphones, (considered 'grunt work') while he is learning how the first engineer's job skills.

The difference in the audio engineering salary between these two engineers - the second engineer typically earns 15,000-25,000/year and the first engineer earns 70,000-120,000/year.

geekish

My husband got a degree in this (well actually he was a few classes away from the degree but decided to take a job managing a band while they were on tour - a job he received secondary to the connections he made while in the program).

His reason for getting this specialized education was that he found himself, as a musician when he was recording in a studio, unable to tell the audio engineers exactly how to make the music as he wanted. Now he is able to record his own songs!

He went to MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University), which he chose because it was close to the music mecca of Nashville; but other audio engineering colleges are New York University, University of Michigan, Indiana University, Texas State University, Ohio University, and Belmont University which is located in the heart of Nashville! And although it is not a common a major as English or Education - there are many more schools that offer this degree. My husband loved it!

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    • An audio engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave in different settings.
      By: Tiler84
      An audio engineer should know how the various types of microphones behave in different settings.
    • Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment.
      By: Moreno Novello
      Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment.
    • Audio engineers are employed by TV and film production companies.
      By: DeshaCAM
      Audio engineers are employed by TV and film production companies.
    • Audio engineers may work at a studio and help singers record new music.
      By: imkenneth
      Audio engineers may work at a studio and help singers record new music.
    • Training in audio engineering is available at some colleges and universities, as well as specialized training programs.
      By: Ivars Linards Zolner
      Training in audio engineering is available at some colleges and universities, as well as specialized training programs.