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RECORDING

Engineer • Second Engineer

JOB OVERVIEW

These engineers are charged with set-up, connection, and notation of all the equipment to be used during a recording session. They serve as backup for the engineer, taking on his board duties when necessary.

PREREQUISITES

A thorough knowledge of how to set up and use recording equipment is a must. The ability to listen, take instructions, and communicate well with an underlying positive personality are skills that will help you succeed.

CAREER TIPS

“Many times, writers, management, publishers, and promotion people come into the studio. It's really helpful if you know about other people's jobs in the industry.”

“A lot of people come to town and don't progress as quickly as they expect and become frustrated and quit. You've got to be willing to work hard and stick with it.”

A DAY IN THE LIFE

On the day of recording, Ricky Cobble arrives at the studio one to two hours before the session begins so that he can set up the equipment, including microphones, stands, any specially ordered gear. He puts tape in place and makes appropriate notations on the board. When the musicians arrive, he assists in getting them set up and miked, with all lines working properly. Throughout the session he is available to assist with anything from getting coffee to running the board while the first engineer steps away. At the end of the session, the second helps break down the equipment.

POINTERS FOR THE JOB SEARCH

THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“My least favorite part of my job are the hours and being away from my family. The engineer is the first to arrive at the studio and the last to leave. The arsenal of musicians shows up after everything is set up, and once the recording is over, they leave. You're there another hour or so, tidying things up.”

THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS JOB:

“The thing I love the most is working with all the musicians.”

“Enroll in an accredited school where you can learn about all aspects of the industry. I highly recommend learning how all the different areas of the industry work. Get into an engineering class and learn about signal flow and how the different pieces of equipment work, and what pieces of equipment you should use to get the sound you want. Then do an internship at a studio. Some people get started by working at small studios in small towns and gaining hands-on experience.”

RICKY COBBLE, FIRST ENGINEER, LOUD STUDIOS

Ricky Cobble grew up amid the country music of eastern Tennessee, and was always interested in music. At an age when all his friends were putting together bands, he knew he wanted to work in recording. Introduced by a friend to the music program at Belmont University, he moved to Nashville to attend classes and ended up serving an internship at Quad Studios. He started out doing the things that nobody else wanted to do: answering the telephone, making coffee, watching the door, and working the night shift. Soon he was setting up microphones and assisting the second sound engineer. More importantly, he was getting the opportunity to observe the recording process and see how the producers and engineers worked. When his internship was finished, Cobble was hired as house assistant, charged with the technical aspects of interfacing the studio's equipment with the additional equipment brought in by engineers for specific recording sessions.

During his four years at Quad, Cobble developed relationships with the recording teams there. When several of these people started up Loud Studios in 1994, he was brought in as house assistant, and quickly worked his way up to the second position. As second engineer, Cobble has worked with artists like Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Randy Travis, as well as with top-notch producers like James Stroud. He broke into the first engineer position by tracking and mixing for several developing artists, and landed his first major session in 1999 by being in the right place at the right time. When a flight delay stranded the first engineer in Hawaii, Cobble stepped into the position at the last minute to record tracks for a Clint Black album. Cobble has since engineered on albums for Faith Hill, Toby Keith, and Montgomery Gentry.

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