How Recording Engineers Work

Recording engineers monitor the control panel during a recording session. Here, Jonathan Davis of Korn, standing left, and Maurice "Parlae" Gleaton of Dem Franchize Boys talk to an engineer. See more recording studio pictures.
© Frank Micelotta/Getty Images for Virgin Records

Even on your best day singing in the shower, you'll never sound as good as your favorite pop artist sounds on her latest CD. That's because professional musicians have the help of audio engineers to make their beats "phat," their sound lush and their vocals flawless.

Recording engineers man the control panel at a studio recording session. They push the faders, twist the knobs and click the computer mouse as musicians lay down tracks for an album. They're experts in everything audio. If you want the bass line to be thicker, they know which microphone to use and which level to tweak. A good recording engineer not only takes orders, but makes suggestions on how to make an artist sound even better.

Recording Studio Image Gallery

Recording engineers must carefully balance art and science. To achieve the creative goals of the client, they need to use a vast array of complicated analog and digital tools. They need to be able to communicate with artists to understand their needs and then push the right buttons to make musical dreams a reality.

Recording engineers aren't confined to the music industry. They're needed wherever and whenever audio is being recorded for any kind of broadcast medium. Recording engineers work with video game companies to record music, dialogue and sound effects for games. They work in audio post-production for television and film. They record podcasts for the Web and audio clips for talking toys.

Just what do recording engineers do? What skills do recording engineers need? And, how do you become one? Read on to find out.