Recording Engineer

  • Recording Engineer

Before recording engineer Geoff Emerick was racking up acclaim and awards for his work with the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick, and Nellie McKay, he spent hours toiling away in the studio with the bands. Every note had to be shaped, mixed, and balanced together to achieve the artist’s intended vision. With the advent of increasingly more sophisticated audio manipulation technology, the recording engineer’s role in the production of a record is just as creative and vital as that of the vocalist, drummer, or guitarist. It is an art and a science, and a recording engineer is both a technician and a composer.


The recording engineer is responsible to the artist and the producer for the mix and overall sound of the album. This involves preparing the studio for a recording session, operating the mixing console, and maintaining all additional electronic studio equipment and instruments with the help of the recording assistant.

Individual components or tracks are recorded separately, and often repeatedly. Strings, drums, and vocals are isolated to perfect each one separately. The recording engineer manipulates each track and weaves them together while tweaking tone, intensity, and tempo, applying effects, and editing through the console. It is a process of constant revision until the desired result is reached. 

Skills & Education

College-level or technical school training in sound engineering and audio design are particularly important. Additional courses in music appreciation and composition will help to train your ear. Classes in computer technology and programming will prepare you for working with audio editing software like Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, and Sony ACID. To gain additional experience with the hardware and mixing consoles used in studio recording, you can look for work in a small studio as an apprentice, assistant, or intern. This will give you both insight into the business and hands-on training under a chief engineer. Of course, the ability to play one or more instruments and read music is a plus.

What to Expect

Recording sessions begin early in the morning and usually run late through the night, or even to the following morning. When one session is over, you can expect to start preparing for the next session right away. The hours are long and irregular. You must be flexible, patient, and creative, even without sleep. You will work side-by-side with artists and producers whose careers and paychecks hinge on the quality of your work, so you must be cool under pressure. Most of all, you have to be a good listener. A keenly trained ear for sound and the people skills to collaborate in a creative endeavor are the key attributes of a good recording engineer. 


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