What Skills Do Sound Engineers Need?

Sound engineers are the background guys that handle the technical creation of your favorite songs. This job requires certain attributes and skills to be carried out effectively.

Most people can pick up sound engineering easily while it may pose a challenge for others. This is mainly because people don’t really understand what it takes to become a sound engineer.

With that said, this post will cover the necessary skills needed by sound engineers. Having worked in music and audio production for a whole decade, I am familiar with the landscape and what it actually takes to become a sound engineer.

So, if you’re considering sound engineering as a career. This post will walk you through what you actually need in terms of skill set.

With that said let’s get into the skills that sound engineers need.

Good ear

Having a good ear as one of the skills needed in sound engineering may seem like something everyone interested in sound engineering would know but this is not the case at all.

While some people may have a good idea of what a good ear actually entails, very few understand what kind of ear you need for sound engineering.

For you to be an effective sound engineer, you need more than a good ear, you need a trained ear.

Having a trained ear will help in your decision making and how you approach the technicalities of audio production.

A trained good ear will be well suited to handle production calling on the knowledge of the individuals understanding of audio perception.

The fact is, every one of us perceives audio differently which means that sound engineers should take this into account as they carry out their work…

This is of importance because it can make production judgement that fits a wide criteria of audio perception.

Technology

Another important aspect and area of skill that a sound engineer should have is technological knowledge.

Sound engineering is basically technology. It is carried out on computers and these computers are the tools with which sound engineers are able to execute their ideas.

Before you get scared off into thinking you need to start studying technology….relax.

All you need is a firm understanding of audio technology which is mostly the basics, but the deeper stuff can help just as much because it can widen your perspective.

For example, sound engineers need knowledge of Digital Audio Workstations because this the software that will help them carry out their job.

Digital Audio Workstations are associated with a lot of things that you need to learn and pick up because they’ll be essential to your audio engineering.

Secondly, you’ll need to know how to use this technology to be able to work on audio and apply your various knowledge, digitally.

If you’re just starting out, it’s almost vital to pick up one good digital audio Workstation to begin with. I have a full list of various Digital Audio Workstations Here, that can help you get started.

Remember that technology is very important and it is something you’ll have to adopt if you’re looking to fully pursue sound engineering as a career.

Acoustics

Acoustics are another key part of effective audio production. As a sound engineer that will work in various environments, you need to know and understand the relationship between sound and your room and general space

This is what acoustics essentially are all about…. it is basically prepping our spaces to ensure that we maintain a good flow of sound within our space in a manner that doesn’t affect the way in which we carry out our audio engineering and production.

Acoustics are a huge topic that you need to look into and understand deeply because they’ll essentially contribute a lot to your qualities as an audio or sound engineer.

For example, in music production, acoustics serve the key function of helping us make our rooms more idea to recording mixing and mastering. You’ll have obviously heard of acoustic treatment, soundproofing, etc.

These are the ways in which we make our spaces more spacious to carry out audio work effectively. Therefore, a lot will go into making sure the recording booth is properly sound proofed to ensure that recording can take place with no sound interference.

The control room also will be properly be acoustically treated to ensure that audio isn’t tainted by anything during playback.

These are a few examples to give you an idea of the skill set you need in terms of acoustics, what you’ll need will be unique depending on the specific audio career you decide to go into.

Equipment

Another vital thing of importance that cannot be left out of this discussion is equipment knowledge.

Initially, I thought I should combine technology and equipment and Express it as one skill set in this post but after reconsideration. I felt it was better to separate these two even though they’re closely related.

With that said, equipment knowledge is a fundamental part of any sound engineering career. You need to know the equipment you need to engineer sound.

Therefore this will mean picking the right microphones, the right audio interfaces, the right digital audio Workstations, mixing consoles, pop filters, instruments, speakers etc.

All these things are necessary for sound engineering and simply knowing about them is not enough.

You need to know the right combination of all the equipment I’ve listed above. Plus, you also need to know the right individual equipment that you can work with best.

Being a sound engineer is a technical job that will require you to work with technology and equipment.

Problem solving skills

As a sound engineer you’ll tackle various production problems in your journey and I say this because it was the same for me. It took me years to develop a process.

Therefore, you have to be a natural at problem solving because audio engineering is half technical knowledge and half good judgement.

Good judgement is a result of you having the ability to confront problems when they arise and having solutions ready to handle them.

Communication

Good communication is another key skill that you have to develop as a sound engineer.

Audio engineering is a job that works best if you’re able to receive feedback and give feedback.

Having good communication skills also shows that you’re willing to learn. Which is great because this career path is filled with many lessons and it pays to actually listen to people and learn from them.

Furthermore, as a sound engineer, you often times work to reach a desired outcome for a client, therefore being open to communicate is almost necessary to allow for good working principles.