Can sound engineers practice it?

- Sep 12, 2020-

Technical aspect

Bob McCarthy also gave a speech at the event and suggested that the audio should be divided into "subjective" and "objective".

One of the goals of sound engineers is to use specific physical principles and measurement methods to interpret sound or system technology into quantifiable data. As for this part, anyone can do it as long as they are willing to study hard.

However, in order to be fair, I must give a piece of advice: if you want to be a competent audio engineer, you need to learn and master many fields, but there are many. Next, we will focus on a few of them

No.1 electricity

To be a qualified engineer, you need to master a lot of basic principles of electrical engineering. Terms such as "impedance," "voltage," "peak factor," and so on, must become part of the vocabulary of every engineer who really wants to understand how sound is transmitted and reproduced.

No.2 acoustics

This is a very critical area - understanding the sound performance of different rooms, the sound characteristics of different frequencies, the relationship between time, frequency and even phase, etc., which is crucial for audio engineers. Another important aspect is to learn how to measure the sound in the room, how to understand the meaning of the data on the dashboard, and make reasonable selection and processing according to these data.

No.3 computer technology

In this digital era, our work is largely dependent on DSP devices. It is common to use these devices to handle file management, data storage and format compatibility. In addition, there will be digital mixer based on server running plug-in, speaker processor based on DSP and even virtual instruments commonly used by modern musicians.

No.4 ITThe reason why it and computer technology are divided into two parts is very simple, because I have met many engineers who are proficient in computer technology, but they don't know how to build network or router IP. Since we use several common digital protocols every day, so that our digital devices can communicate with each other, understanding how to configure the network and keep the network stable is an important part of the knowledge that audio engineers need to master.

No.5 audio processing

Tools such as equalizers, compressors, and noise gates; consoles of various shapes and sizes; microphones and loudspeakers - many specialized tools are used in our work, and we must understand these devices from the perspective of audio processing.

The advantage of this is that for most devices, the basic principles of operation can be learned and applied to all devices. (for example, the threshold knob on a compressor performs the same tasks and functions, whether on a dedicated analog device, digital console, plug-in, or speaker processor. )However, there are still a large number of equipment or models with some unique functions, which need special study to give full play to the full role of an equipment.


The subjective aspect of sound includes all that is not quantifiable, and also our personal view of how something should sound. Although these are mainly personal aesthetic problems, but still need to accumulate a lot of knowledge.

So, in shaping the sound, what knowledge can we learn to make our choice more convenient?

No.1 music theory

Music theory includes the knowledge of rhythm, melody, mode, chord, and how an instrument makes sound. Knowing how drums sound can help us put the microphone in a more reasonable way. Knowing how to compose a song can affect people's mood more effectively. Another small aspect of music theory is that we can understand musicians' vocabulary so that we can communicate with them better and provide them with more meaningful audio input.

No.2 music history

This may seem strange, but in fact, it is of great help to our work. When I first worked with the band, it was my responsibility to understand what records they had released in the past and how their music (and "sound") had evolved over time. In addition, during the conversation, they may refer to other songs or singers. Being able to refer to a specific record with a specific voice is a very effective way of communication. Therefore, understanding the language they speak is also a priority.

No.3 ear training

Yes, that's right. It's not a mistake for me to classify it on the subjective level. Does 2KHz sound the same for everyone? Short answer: No, not the same. Everyone hears different sounds, so we need to train our ears and brains to recognize frequency, as well as volume, compression and other nuances, as well as changes in sound in complex acoustic environments, in order to make informed decisions.

All the above lengthy remarks are to illustrate one point: an excellent audio engineer can be trained through teaching and learning. Like all other professions, some people have more talent or ability than others, but no matter what kind of job it is, it usually takes years of training, research and study to achieve something.

However, in the end, I would like to say that it is equally important - another key factor, which I have often mentioned in my teaching in recent years - to be good at communication, friendly, respectful to others, and able to maintain professional professional competence in high-intensity work.

In fact, these are more difficult to obtain through learning, because it involves the psychological level, not the technical level. However, this is all later.