A sound recorder is someone who records and reproduces any audible noise, including voice, using many different types of audio equipment. Besides equipment, various techniques are also used to record, manipulate and enhance sound. Sound engineer, recording engineer, acoustical engineer and audio engineer are other names used to describe a sound recorder. While there are slight differences between these distinctions, they do essentially the same functions as a sound recorder.
Sound recorders use equipment for the recording, mixing and reproduction of sound as well as being knowledgeable in the use of analog tape, digital multi-track recorders and understanding how to transfer analog sound to a digital format. Using software and hardware specifically designed for audio recording, they will synchronize and improve audio recording for a number of applications like movies, computer and console games and videos.
Using various techniques, a sound recorder will perform a wide range of tasks like noise control, acoustical design, and sound level setting. Depending on their project role, an audio recording engineer will be called upon to perform tasks on any level, from the basics of microphone placement to the more advanced aspects of sound waves and sound wave integration.
Translating analog to digital sound and synchronizing sounds to visual media is also an important aspect of the work of a sound engineer. In the studio, he or she is responsible for not only recording but also editing, mixing and mastering the sound recording. They must also be familiar with design, installation and operation of equipment for sound recording, reinforcement and broadcasting.
Although they should be educated in the overall process of recording, typically a sound recorder will specialize in one or two steps in the total sound recording process. The four steps involved in the production of a recording are: recording, editing, mixing and mastering.
There are many career paths in sound recording:
- works within a studio facility, and can work with a producer or on their own
- specializes in only the recording of sound
- an entry level or training position in larger studios and usually assists full-time engineers with microphone setups and sometimes rough mixes
- who creates mixes of multi-track recordings (often a commercial record is recorded at one studio and later mixed by different engineers in other studios)
- who makes any final adjustments to the overall sound of the recording before commercial duplication
Game Audio Designer/Engineer
- who deals with all sounds included in game development
Audio Post Engineer
- a person who edits audio for film and/or television
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If you are thinking about becoming a sound recorder, it is essential to have an interest in music, sound, creative arts, broadcasting, electronics, as well as be able to listen to complex sounds and distinguish individual components.
While traditional education is not required for many positions in the field, colleges and accredited institutions around the world offer degrees for the sound recording field, such as a bachelor of science in audio production. The university of Miami was the first university in the United States to offer a four-year bachelors degree in sound engineering technology. Experience also plays a big role in the sound recording field, and being mentored by others in the field can have a great influence on your career.
Sound recorders can work in a variety of settings, depending upon whether they work for a large studio or are self-employed. Often they work with other creative individuals in a collaborative work environment. Flexibility, a positive attitude, reliability and a willingness to learn are essential when working on a film or game.
With the increased use of computers and software designed to manipulate audio feeds, sound recording is becoming more and more mobile and large amounts of time are not required in a studio, but a thorough knowledge of the trade is.