Sound Engineering

By Frank Bolger - Last update

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As anyone who has been to the theatre, cinema or opera will tell you, sound is as important a performer as any actor. Good sound design and production is essential to the immersive experience that computer games, concerts or TV shows attempt to create. Sound engineering courses train sound engineers, who play a crucial role in providing this experience.

Sound Engineers operate and control the sound equipment used in recording studios and in live settings. The sound engineer s main responsibility is to produce the highest possible sound performance in any given environment. This means that he or she must be trained in the use of all kinds of audio-based paraphernalia from mixing consoles and microphones to amplifiers and PA systems.

What’s involved?

The structure of a Sound Engineering course will largely depend on candidate s existing experience and what they wish to gain from the course. Sound Engineering programmes are available to total beginners as well as those that already have experience but are keen to up-skill or learn about the latest audio technologies,

Many part-time introductory courses in Sound Engineering and Music Technology will appeal to novices looking to embark on a new hobby. These are often ideal for anyone hoping to set up his or her own studio project at home. By allowing themselves to become familiar with recording equipment and software, students on these courses will find out how to record and mix music, set up for performing musicians, and how to produce a CD. Some programmes offer the option of private tuition, although this generally comes at a higher price.

More advanced Sound Engineering programmes will provide training is using industry-standard hardware and software such as Reason and Logic, Abelton Live and Pro Tools technology. Students on Certificate, Diploma or Advanced Diploma Sound Engineering programmes will typically receive training in areas such as music theory and production, audio editing, sequencing, and recording practices.

Many such programmes are specifically designed to prepare students for work in the industry and so they can be quite demanding. For instance, students are often required to complete several client-based studio projects, develop an understanding of the infrastructure of the music business, and develop their entrepreneurial skills through freelance work or drawing up recording contracts. For this reason, candidates should have a high level of commitment something that several courses attempt to determine through including an interview as part of their selection process. Note that candidates looking to enrol on more advanced Sound Engineering courses will be expected to possess at least basic computer skills.

Why do it?

Doing an evening course in Sound Engineering will reward anyone with plenty of creative energy, ingenuity and an experimental nature. Lovers of music and sound design will revel in the chance that such programmes give them to manipulate sound textures and effects, knowing that their interpretive contributions may greatly increase the impact of a film score, a game, or a live recital.

In addition to this, a qualification in Sound Engineering will add serious value to the resume of anyone looking to work in almost any area of creative media.

What comes next?

Students that have completed a beginner s Sound Engineering programme often go on to pursue the topic at diploma or degree level. Graduates from these programmes are continuously sought after in the film, music, theatre and game industries for work in a range of areas, such as production, postproduction and sound design. They may work as dubbing assistants, within radio production crews, as live audio engineers, or within animation studios.

At a glance

Beginner’s courses in Sound Engineering generally last between 8 and 10 weeks. Advanced courses in Sound Engineering or Music Production can run for up to 3 years (advanced diploma and degree level). It is also possible to enrol on shorter part-time programmes which focus on a specific area of sound production, such as learning how to use Pro Tools technology.


Frank Bolger

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