The Audio Industry is such a vast one, and it offers diverse professional opportunities. Some of which you can learn either by understudying a practitioner or by acquiring a degree and also understudying an experienced practitioner. There is a debate on which method works best, but that is not the focus of this post. This post will be talking about Audio Engineering as one of the numerous professions available in the audio industry. When it comes to Audio Engineering, there are specialisations of this profession within the audio industry.
As the name implies, the recording engineer is in charge of recording. Mostly responsible for setting up the recording studio, making sure the right microphones are being used, works with the producer to apply the best recording techniques for different situations and sounds the band or individual is going for. Basically making sure the equipment in a recording session is working well and are optimally used. They communicate with all parties involved to get a recording that is satisfactory to all (Berklee, n.d., para 2).
A mixing engineer is saddled with the responsibility to mix separately recorded tracks into a single harmonious file. For instance, after the recording engineer has recorded instruments and vocals on their individual tracks, it is the job of the mixing engineer to edit these tracks to sound as though they were all recorded at the same time. He sees to it that the end-user is able to hear both vocals and instruments sounding great together. Agarwal (n.d.) states some of the aims of a mixing engineer as making sure there is a balance on all the tracks, using equalisation (EQ) to ensure the mix sounds good, adding effects that are necessary and sometimes making specific corrections on the vocals (para 3).
The recording and mixing engineers have a lot in common with a slight difference when it comes to specifics. For example, both engineers can work on the same project at the same time, such as in the case of a live concert. While the recording engineer takes care of setting up the stage, making sure all the equipment are in their right positions (musitechnic, 2018, para 4), the mixing engineer ensures that there is a perfect mix of all the signals coming into the console for the listening pleasure of the audience (para 6).
A mastering engineer is usually the last call in the production chain. He is responsible for the final mix of the master before distribution takes place. A mastering engineer is often expected to put a final touch to the mix already done by a mix engineer. There are different schools of thought as to what a mastering engineer should and shouldn’t do. Steve Albini is of the school of thought that the mastering engineer “should do very little to a master tape that is already satisfying” (Ereten, 2015, 12-15sec).
On the other hand, Murphy (2010) thinks a mastering engineer should do more to get the best output (4:12-4:41). Whichever school of thought a mastering engineer belongs to, the end goal is to have a piece of work, music or otherwise, have the same quality across various device it is being played on. An important quality any of these engineers must possess is the ability to listen and pay attention to details.
Agarwal, R. (n.d.). Mix engineer-job profile, qualities and more [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.audioshapers.com/blog/mix-engineer.html
Berklee. (n.d.). Careers in music production and engineering. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.berklee.edu/careers-music-production-and-engineering
DIY Musician. (2015). [photograph]. Retrieved from https://diymusician.cdbaby.com/musician-tips/5-ways-get-moneys-worth-every-recording-session/
Ereten, A. C. (2015, August 30). Steve Albini talks about mastering engineers and mastering process [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuvCIoiNPdI
Murphy, R. C. (2010, April 15). Recording boot camp: what is mastering and what does a mastering engineer do [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asgXZVhytUo
Musitechnic. (2018). The difference between a mixing engineer and a recording engineer. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from https://musitechnic.com/en/differences-mixing-engineer-recording-engineer/
Yamaha. (n.d.). [Photopgraph]. Retrieved from https://th.yamaha.com/th/news_events/2018/0316_10_plymouth.html