The Future of Sound Engineering

In the years leading up to today it has been necessary for someone who is skilled in using and manipulating sound recording tools, to be involved in the recording process of an artist or band. Since starting work at the Hit Factory recording studio in NYC in 2000 I’ve seen the *need* for this technological expertise decrease.

Recording technology has become so transparent and simple to use that almost any artist with ambition can learn a piece of software or hardware, and record themselves. Many times in a band situation, the responsibility falls on the tech savy member of the group. This is a very good thing because it makes the creative process fluid.

So, where does that leave the person who is skilled in using technology to record music? This issue is something I’ve thought about ever since getting into the engineer business professionally years ago. Many a conversation has centered around this issue. Here is my view on where things are heading.

The recording engineer has two responsibilities. One is to make sure that the technology needed for the creation process works. Her responsibility is to make the technology transparent so that creativity can just flow. Making the instruments sound good by using quality equipment, using interesting techniques, and capturing the essence of what is being played all fall into this side of being an engineer. The second responsibility is a much more personal thing which is acting as a sounding board to the artist or band. Providing perspective, suggestions, guiding the artist through the process, and acting as a producer all fall into this side of being a recording engineer. The best engineers are not known for their technical prowess but the vibe and energy they bring to a recording session.

The first responsibility, the technical one, is moving towards being totally transparent on its own without the help of an engineer type of person. Recording hardware and software is only going to get better, cheaper, and simpler.

The second responsibility, the subjective one, is in some ways becoming more and more important because there are simply more artists who need the perspective that a good engineer can provide. The sheer amount of music that is being made due to the power of cheap recording systems made for home use is overwhelming and all of that music can benefit from another perspective.

Artists and bands can always benefit from a ‘second set of ears’, and that will never change. Injecting a trusted outside perspective on the creative process will always make a project better or different in a positive way. The sonic expertise that recording engineers have can add that last bit of special something that puts a song over the top.

Today, the stage of the creation process where artists and bands can benefit from an engineer is the ‘mixing’ stage. This final stage is where a trusted perspective can help take a piece of music to another level.

The recording industry needs engineers that can provide this expertise to more artists and bands that ever before. There will always be a need for both responsibilities of an engineer but there will increasingly be a greater need for that outside perspective. Wouldn’t it be great if all the musicians making music on a budget (and who isn’t today) had access to the expertise of a top notch engineer?

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  • yepi250

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Evajasmine01

    wondering how you managed to predict the future of sound engineering correctly :-)

  • jenifer

    Sound Engineering career is a best and interesting future fro those who are interested in this career. as this post said sound engineer has responsibilities to complete their work.