When considering an audio engineering school and the process of recording an album, scenes from a Metallica documentary immediately come to mind: band members – nay, good friends – screaming back and forth at each other at the tops of their lungs, on the verge of breakdown in a deluge of cabin fever, a performance that would make Jack Nicholson proud. Stress can quickly turn the creative process contentious, and too little credit is given to the brave men and women who must bear witness to these banal arguments between overpaid prima donnas, the audio engineers.
Apart from the musicians themselves and the fly on the wall, few know of or appreciate the long hours spent toiling away in pursuit of the perfect sound, the blood, sweat, and tears that form the foundation of every seminal album. In the eye of the storm, the sound engineer must maintain his or her professionalism while converting abstract ideas from the possibly mood-enhanced minds of musicians into tangible sounds. Babysitting millionaires might not be what these unsung heroes signed up for in audio engineering school, but the process of recording, editing, mixing, and mastering an album – and then taking that album on the road – creates a legacy that goes beyond the credit in the liner notes. best music schools tulsa
John Lennon once wrote, “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done; nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.” It might be hyperbole, but if the Beatles all-encompassing work at Abbey Road Studios is any indication, Lennon and McCartney were intent on doing for the professional recording industry what Magellan and Cortez did to the professional cartography industry. But while explorers may not be happening upon any undiscovered lands anytime soon, the growing audio engineering school admission rate indicates that the youth of America is out to prove Lennon wrong. Sound engineers are by nature an innovative bunch, constantly exploring new sounds and pushing the limits of technology. What began as practicing and studying quickly evolves into experimenting and recording.
While music production is most commonly associated with sound engineers, the skills are equally valuable in the film and television industry. The art of post-production audio – which includes Foley recording and editing, background and sound effects editing, and ADR and dialogue editing – is an integral part of every finished television show and movie that comes out of Hollywood. The knowledge gleaned from an audio engineering school is applicable both inside the studio and outside of it. Having a song sound great in a pair of quality headphones and having that same song sound great at a live performance are two different animals entirely.
A sound engineer must be trained in monitor setup and operation, console operation, lighting and video production, sound reinforcement, and live recording and mixing. Without him, there would be no album, no concert, and no film. While he or she may not discover the riffs, play the instruments, or write the lyrics, the fingerprints of an audio engineer can be seen everywhere.