A long way to realize sonic events

A story about how a long, winding road transforms passion, style and way of life.
Unfortunately, this won't be a "five ways to ..." quick guide to becoming a sound engineer. If I haven't disappointed you yet, make yourself a cup of tea and sit down comfortably so that you can soak up the story with your whole self.
It is a story about passion, difficult moments, excitement and a number of other emotions that can tear a person. As a young adept in the art of sound, I have often witnessed conversations between my older colleagues "as it used to be". Listening with my mouth open, I couldn't tell what was true and what was just fantasy. One thing is certain - this profession is a bit specific and there are many ways to practice it.


Sound engineer ... who is?

Maybe it is worth first to define briefly what the sound engineer does, so that there is no doubt about what is discussed in this article. This is the function that is responsible for all audio activity, be it live for concerts or post-production in a recording studio. The final effect depends on him, thanks to a series of processes that take place with the help of a mixing console equipped with the necessary processors, the knowledge of which is obligatory - such as compressors, equalizers, gates, reverberation cameras, distortion and other modulations. The producer must have knowledge in many fields, including acoustics, physics, electronics, musicology and instrument studies.

Where to start?

The most popular method of acquiring a profession is exploring knowledge on your own, being interested in the subject and reading, and finally employment in a company related to the sound system. Each process is very important and our enthusiasm should not fade if we set up tripods and wind up cables for the first year. It's up to us how much we learn by watching and asking more experienced colleagues.
Over time, we will learn how to correctly position microphones and match them to instruments, until we have the necessary knowledge, how the whole chain is connected with each other, i.e. the construction of the main rack of the digital mixer, splitter, plugs, wires, diboxes, sound sources and everything else is on the scene - this is of great importance in a crisis situation, where reaction time is important and we are able to precisely determine where the cause of the failure is and quickly remove it.



Get to know your work tools

When we feel like a fish in the water on stage, we can be interested in the amplifiers and presets contained in them - if our company uses a passive system. Of course, if we plan to work in the studio, this issue does not apply to us, but it does not hurt to learn a bit.
At this point, when all the technical details are nothing new to us, it's time to learn about the processes that take place in the mixer. It is best to find out how a given device affects the sound and in what order we should use each processor. In the era of digitization, an effective way will be to work in a DAW type program, i.e. a digital non-linear editing platform where we can translate theory into practice.
It will be a good idea to read books related to the field of interest to us, or to hire yourself as an assistant producer and watch him work at the mixer. Once we feel strong enough, we will have to get to know the construction and interface of the mixer - unfortunately every company has its own technologies and way of working. Although all the processes are the same, the same patching, i.e. assigning the appropriate channels from the rack to the mixer surface, can cause a lot of problems - so it is worth choosing a mixer that is quite popular, e.g. Soundcraft VI, DiGiCo SD, Yamaha CL, or Allen & Heath dLive. These are professional digital consoles used at the biggest events - the sooner we figure out how they work, the better for us.

Time for the first projects

Acquiring the abovementioned skills will probably take some time, but your colleagues will already be able to tell if we are trustworthy and we will cope with this challenge. It will be the perfect moment to consider whether we are interested in the work of a monitor or front engineer and apply for the first small projects. The ideal testing ground is all kinds of outdoor events on a small scale or concerts in community centers where local bands play and everyone will be able to forgive us for minor mistakes, or even not notice them.
With time, we will notice ourselves that we are getting better and our mixes are becoming professional - then we can offer our work to larger companies as a responsible, experienced producer. In this way, we gain the necessary knowledge and practice, as well as acquiring connections that are very important in this industry in order to gain interesting orders.