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Behind the Music: The Audio Engineer

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The music industry is a place full of musicians, producers, and creators who have the magical ability to make those perfect sounds we hear everyday through our digital devices. We want to listen closer and discover just who is behind the music, and today, it’s the audio engineer. 

Let’s Talk Career: What is an Audio Engineer?

An audio engineer (also known as sound engineer or recording engineer) is a professional who sets up music equipment to make, mix, and record music, commonly for commercial purposes. They are behind films, TV shows, radio, video games, and anywhere with sound recordings! 

They combine aspects of the technical and creative side of making recordings, and can also act as a music producer or an artistic manager. By capturing live or digital sounds from instruments, synthesizers, or voice, they have to mix and decide whether they want to include components such as equalization (EQ), effects like compression, or autotune within the music.

Audio engineers may work in a commercial recording studio or have their own. These engineers are typically in the recording industries with opportunities in advertising, music editing and mastering, or concerts and public places like nightclubs. 

A great audio engineer needs to know their technology and equipment, and how to set them up and use them creatively to create interesting sounds. By learning how to use different mixing panels, amplifiers, microphones, speakers and other necessary equipment, it allows for more creativity and flexibility in what you can produce. 

These engineers are an essential partner to music producers, music artists and performers. They help get the perfect recording for further mixing and mastering in order to be used for commercial or artistic purposes. 

Let’s Talk Career Path: What Can You Expect?

It could take years of experience to reach minimum wage. Furthermore, let’s not forget the costs of schooling or investing in music equipment if you are starting on your own. 

You may start off as an intern, which usually has little to no pay, before advancing to an assistant engineer where you can earn a small salary while working at an hourly rate or take on clients for a small fee. Furthermore, travel and long hours may be a norm. 

The beginning can be difficult as you need to build up experience, reputation and skills, but once the ball gets rolling, an audio engineer can earn a steady income through freelance gigs or a job at a studio. Furthermore, you may have the opportunity to be contracted to companies in various industries, or be in a specialized role such as a mastering engineer. 

As you accumulate experience, your reputation will also grow alongside your track record and clientele. With successful recordings and your name under the recording credits, people will seek you out, usually from word-of-mouth from happy partners. Your salary can increase based on your popularity such as working with popular celebrities.

However, many successful engineers believe that other rewards such as artistic-fulfillment, passion for music, collaboration with other professionals, or self-satisfaction of a great recording, often surpass the benefit of the salary. 

Let’s Talk Now: Serban’s Ghenea’s Success

Photo source: https://variety.com/2021/music/news/serban-ghenea-hitmaker-month-1235121422/

Serban Ghenea is a nineteen-time Grammy Award and three-time Latin Grammy Award winning audio mix engineer. He has mixed over 211 number one singles and albums for celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, and more! He places a great importance on working with artists, and ensures his music expresses just that.

“I try to help artists find their own sound. I’ve worked with a lot of new artists and helped them create their whole signature. My goal has not been to impose anything, but instead to try to help them get whatever they’re trying to do across” said Serban Ghenea on working with artists. 

Born in Romania, Ghenea came to Montreal with his family in 1976 at six years old. Throughout his educational career, he was involved in music. He joined Concordia’s jazz program, learned instruments, and taught at a music school. Then, he studied sound recording at McGill University before moving to the U.S. where he worked with Teddy Riley, a renowned R&B and hip-hop producer for a few years. 

“I got to work with Michael Jackson, and on the first two Blackstreet records, including their first big hit, No Diggity — that was my first No. 1” said Serban Ghenea speaking on his experience.

He believes that as an audio engineer, you have to be a musician.

“Everyone I know doing this at the top of their game is (a musician). How can you put something together if you haven’t experienced playing yourself? Having that background helps me make the right choices.”

Ghenea expresses his love for music, and believed that if he wasn’t an audio engineer, he would have pursued the path of a musician— just on the opposite side of the mirror. 

Let’s Talk Ending: A Summary

As an audio engineer, you will need creativity, music prowess, technical and networking skills, and perhaps some business knowledge, in order to succeed. The initial start can be difficult, but the journey is worth it if you wish to pursue a creative musical path and a passion for music.

With experience, audio engineers can have a large portfolio of hundreds of recordings, and collaborate with many music professionals in the industry to establish themselves as a reliable and talented backbone. 

Reference List

https://serbanghenea.com/

https://www.careersinmusic.com/audio-engineer/

https://montrealgazette.com/entertainment/music/former-montrealer-serban-ghenea-traces-grammy-winning-history-as-sound-mix-engineer

https://www.waves.com/waves-grammys-2021-serban-ghenea-taylor-swift