Sound Engineering Basics: 8 Essential Tips for Beginner

Written by: MT Team

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Sound engineers, also known as audio engineers, play an important role when it comes to the music industry. If you have ever gone to a concert, you may have been impressed with the clarity and quality of the music. This is due to the hard work of the sound engineer.

A sound engineer is responsible for using a quality DAW to mix, reproduce, and manipulate the effects of sound. Many work in music, though this is not a requirement.

For example, some may design and control the sound found in theaters, conferences, and other sounds given to a crowd.

If you are looking to become a sound engineer, then starting with the basics is important. Many beginners want to jump right in and are surprised when things get hard or do not work well for them. Some of the basic tips you can follow as a beginner sound engineer include the following.

8 Sound Engineering Basics

1. Skip the Mastering for Now

Mastering is an art on its own. As someone new to sound engineering, you should focus on some of the basic steps and come back to mastering later. This is an advanced technique that beginners don’t need to bog themselves down with this right off the bat.

Mastering seems like a lot of fun. There are plenty of cool plug-ins and other fancy tools that come along with mastering, and you may want to jump in right away.

But, you should learn the basics first and work your way up to mastering later.

2. Check That the Gear Matches the Room

If your gear doesn’t sound good in the room you plan to play, do not try to place microphones on them too. This will just make the whole set sound bad. Test out all the gear that you have before you jump in with the microphones.

Sometimes the room may not have the right acoustics for your gear. You may need to come up with a new location or get creative to improve the sound.

Do this work before you add a microphone to anything.

3. Limit Your Microphone Choices

As a beginner, it’s normal to love the sound of many different microphones. Or you may assume you need a lot of them just to begin.

When you have too many microphone choices, not only does this cost a lot of extra money, it can cloud your decision-making too.

Take some time to learn how a microphone works. Start with just a few options and use them as much as possible. This helps you understand how each microphone works. If you do need another sound later on, then that is the time to make the purchase.

4. Take Time to Learn

There needs to be a lot of learning when you are a beginner in sound engineering. Start by reading manuals and taking notes on things that you want to remember. Keep a journal for this to help you find the stuff that is important later on.

Set up some sessions where the only thing you plan to get done is to learn. Some sessions need to be focused on recording music. But you also need some designed just for growth. Errors need to happen so you can learn and grow, and that can only happen during these extra sessions.

5. Learn About Phasing

The idea of phase is going to be baffling for a beginner until they start to master some of the skills. That is fine. You will learn more about it as you continue to grow.

This is a big sore thumb for an engineer who is not experienced because it is something hard to learn.

When you finally get this down with a lot of practice, you will be able to turn your simple recording into something that sounds professional.

6. Spend Time on the Plug-ins

There are many plug-ins that you can use as a sound engineer. These tools, when used well, will make a difference in the sound that you get. Keep in mind that these are tools, just like your instruments and microphones.

It is a good idea for beginners to limit their plug-in collection. Start with a few that you think are very important and then learn how to use them well. Continue to use these until you know them inside and out, how you can exploit them, and any of their limitations.

Once you know how these work, you can increase the plug-ins that you use. This helps you to really understand the plug-ins and to avoid overwhelming yourself in the process.

7. Ignore Mixing for Now

Just like with mastering, you should avoid mixing in the beginning. Mixing can be fun and adds another dimension to your music. But it also takes some special skills and can be confusing to get started.

As you start to develop your own music and get better at creating the sounds that you want, mixing will start to come more naturally to you. Do not focus on this as the main event right now because that will just add more unnecessary stress.

8. Avoid Marketing

Don’t worry about marketing right now. You may need that later to get some sales. Right now though, focus on developing your skills and making amazing music that others will want to purchase from you.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to become a sound engineer is something that takes time and practice. There are some who seem to have an innate sense of how the music should sound and how to make small changes to get an amazing song. Most people will need to go through a lot of trial and error to make this happen.

By following some of the steps above, you can go from a beginner to a professional with sound engineering. Practice, hard work, and lots of mistakes are your best friends in the process of learning how to be a good sound engineer.

About MT Team
Posts on all things related to instrument education, gear reviews, and so much more. Written by the MusicianTuts editorial team.

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