Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Audio Engineer

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Audio Engineer

Article excerpt

Audio engineers control microphones, mixing boards, speakers, and other technical equipment to help produce the desired sounds for recordings or live events. Their skills can be applied in a wide variety of industries and settings, ranging from film, radio, television, music, and video game production, to music concerts, theater productions, community events, and sports competitions. Some audio engineers serve as crew members for touring performing arts groups.

Work overview

The artistic side of my work involves mixing multiple audio sources, which requires a feel for balance, presence, and spatial separation. A record starts out as a blank canvas; the paints are the musicians and their instruments, and the brushes are my equipment.

There is an engineering side of the work; most of the equipment is electronic and requires a knowledge of signal flow. An understanding of how electronics behave is needed to determine the proper coverage of a given venue.

There is also a scientific side of the work; you have to know and apply the laws of physics. For example, we apply the inverse square law to determine the amount of sound pressure level (SPL) expected at any given location in a venue. The job also involves using mathematical equations--for example, to determine the farthest point a sound system must reach.

My favorite part of the job is that it creates memories for others that will last a lifetime. My least favorite part of the job is the long hours required to design, integrate, and deploy the systems. My typical show day is anywhere from 16 to 18 hours.

Career highlights

I have had the privilege to work as a mixing engineer for performing artists such as My Chemical Romance and Gavin DeGraw. I have also had the opportunity to mix for the nationally televised NCAA Final Four basketball games and the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Career path

My interest in the audio field began in high school in Puerto Rico. I played several musical instruments, and at school recitals and other events, there was always a need for someone with an understanding of performance sound quality to operate the mixing board. After doing that a few times I knew I wanted to work in the music industry in some way.

I spent a summer with a family friend in Florida and got a weekend job helping a local sound company. …

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