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RECORDING

Recording Engineer And Mixer

JOB OVERVIEW

The recording engineer retrieves and stores musical data, essentially everything that comes through the microphones. These engineers select and place microphones, record the music onto analog or digital tape, and work the console. The job of the engineer/mixer is to sort out the information that has been recorded and over-dubbed, and mix it down to two or four tracks, or whatever format is needed, so that people can understand the musical statement of the producer and artist.

SPECIAL SKILLS

In addition to technical abilities and people skills, Jimmy Douglass adds, “Knowing music is important for success. When I record a live band or a live orchestra, they give me a chart. I have to be able to read that chart as I'm doing the recording.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE

“On our first day of tracking,” explains Tom Harding, “We'll come in and get the musicians all set up. On sessions where I'm acting as producer and engineer, I'll get everybody's sounds and then get the artist set up. Before we start tracking, we'll probably sit around an acoustic guitar, play the song, double-check keys, and allow everyone to bounce ideas off each other. Then, we'll go out into the studio and start running down the song. Once all the tracking is completed, the musicians pack up and leave and we begin to work on vocals. After the lead vocals are done, we'll add the background vocals, and then maybe some sweetening, like adding tambourine. I'll put a lead vocal together from all the takes and let the artist hear it, and we'll decide if they need to punch a line or fix anything. After everything is recorded, it's ready to be mixed.”

CAREER TIPS

“If you do this [engineering or producing] for the love of what you're doing, then the success, the fame, and the money will not be denied you, eventually. You have to come into this job with the love of what you're doing first.”—JD

Stay abreast of changes in recording technologyread and attend gear and equipment shows.

POINTERS FOR THE JOB SEARCH

“Do your homework in terms of knowing who makes the records you like, who makes the sounds that you like. Find out as much as you can about how they make those sounds. What other records they've done. Try to learn as much as you can about the equipment they use. Find out who does what on a session. Become familiar with the latest technology by either buying your own equipment or going to a recording school. There is no reason you should ever walk in a door, trying to get a job, and not know how the system works. Learn all that you can about the genre of music you want to work in and be ready. The keyword is, never say ‘No, I can't do it.’”—JD

“You don't necessarily have to be in New York, Nashville, or Los Angeles to be a good recording engineer. With the invention of A-DATS, ProTools, and all the digital recording, you can have a great studio anywhere in the world.”—TH

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessRECORDING - Production: Producer • Record Producer, Recording Engineer And Mixer, Engineer • Second Engineer, Mastering Engineer