sound engineer in front of a mixer and monitors

VoiceTalks AV Series: What does a sound engineer do?

What does a sound engineer do, you ask? Well, some might argue that the sound engineer’s role is the most important of all the audiovisual production team members. Why?

Well, picture this: you’ve just received your newest project’s final version. You rub your hands together in excitement, fully expecting to hear something incredible when you hit play. After all, with a killer script and talented voice actors, what could possibly go wrong? But instead of an engrossing soundscape, you hear a distorted and echoey din that hurts your ears. And just like that, a would-be excellent project tanks.

Now, this scene echoes the need to have a talented sound engineer steering your project in the right direction. Someone to help you organize your project’s sound by balancing creativity with technicality. But, ‘what does a sound engineer do?’ Let’s take a closer look at what is a sound engineer, what does a sound engineer do, and the different types of engineers you can utilize for various project types.

What is a sound engineer

A sound engineer is a trained technician integral to any audiovisual production. Their sound-sensitive well-trained ear helps them work on various projects, from voice overs and online/app games to product demos/explainer/eLearning videos, films, and even radio. However, they’re more than just computer buffs who mess around with electronics. Some sound engineers can even design and monitor the sound at conferences, corporate or sports events, musical performances, and broadcasts. But with such a varied work field, what do these techs do in different AV projects?

What does a sound engineer do

What does a sound engineer do

Sound engineers directly impact every part of a project because they handle everything from microphones, mixing boards, and the overall acoustics to editing software and plugins. Like a conductor coordinates different musicians and instruments in an orchestra, a sound engineer guides and directs the multiple technical aspects of a production’s sound. These trained techs also have numerous AV responsibilities during production.

Here is a quick breakdown of their responsibilities

  • Work with the producer/director to understand the project vision and offer creative ideas.
  • Design and set up the complete recording system, including microphones, monitors, and mixers.
  • Use a mixing console to check the sound quality before and during a recording.
  • Conduct sound checks.
  • Resolve audio problems that arise during recording.
  • Enhance and edit audio using hardware and software tools.

Different types of sound engineers

Although sound engineers work primarily in sound environments, different AV projects require specific niche expertise. Here are 5 examples of niche areas for sound engineers.

1. Studio sound engineer

A studio sound engineer handles mixing and mastering, adding different effects, auto-tuning, equalization, and more in the studio. However, this type of sound modification occurs only once the entire recording is complete.

2. Game audio design engineer

A game audio design engineer works with video game audio. Their designs range from music tracks to character dialogue and sound effects like cars, bikes, soldiers, and sounds of war. They can even create new or different sounds for a specific project. Like a jumping effect or even an iconic shout like Hadouken – the special attack sound from the fighting game Street Fighter.

3. Recording engineer

A recording engineer handles the sound during recording sessions for video voice overs, podcasts, or music videos. These experts set up recording equipment and ensure that the sound is word-perfect!

4. Audio post engineer

An audio post engineer handles audio for TV and film AV content. Although, as the name suggests, they also get involved only when the production is complete.

5. Systems engineer

A systems engineer does the music and sound for live events. They usually work as a small team of live sound and monitor engineers. As a unit, these engineers work together to ensure that audio quality is top-notch for the audience while ensuring that the performers can hear themselves properly onstage.

What does a sound engineer do for voice overs

Professional sound engineers can make the voice over recording process as appealing as a shiny new Ferarri. While the voice actor provides killer vocals for the project, the sound engineer wraps it up as perfectly as a present. Sound engineers keep the vocals natural and unprocessed, but use tools like compressors, limiters, and noise gates to edit various aspects of the audio files. For example, they might need to reduce compression or add background music. The idea is to get the mixing and balancing right to deliver a complete package. For example, the music should not overpower the vocals or vice versa. So, in a way, sound engineers and voice overs are somewhat of a packaged deal.

Final thoughts on sound engineers

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Working with a sound engineer can work wonders for your audiovisual project, whether a short eLearning video, product review, or commercial. They can help you understand and use advanced technology and equipment to record sound and video. Sound engineers can even create new techniques and sound effects to enhance your AV projects. As trained techs, they will help you achieve high-quality sound that’s pleasant on the ear and hold the audience’s attention. And this will keep the audience coming back to watch more of your work.

So, now that you’re figured out your project requirements, it’s time to hire a voice actor to steer your AV production to the heights of success! Keep in mind that a voice actor’s talent and a professional sound engineer are critical ingredients in high-flyer projects. And Voice123 has an abundance of expert vocal skills to suit any project type. So, get clicking and book a voice actor today!

(This article is one of a six-part series; the other articles cover: What does a producer do, what does a director do, what does a casting agent do, what does a scriptwriter do, what does an editor do? Don’t forget to have a look at them as well!)

FAQs: Sound engineer

What is a sound engineer?

A sound engineer is a technician that designs and monitors sound environments for various AV projects.

What does a sound engineer do?

Sound engineers guide and direct multiple technical aspects of a production’s sound using various software and equipment.


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