Perfecting My Theater Room

3 Mixing Practices A Sound Engineer Should Master

Many of the top performing artists today wouldn't sound half as good as they do without the help of a sound engineer. Sound engineers play an important role in recording, mixing, and mastering the live performances that go on to become hit records.

Modern sound engineers need a wide range of tools in their arsenal. Learn about three mixing practices that a sound engineer should master in order to effectively create music that will appeal to the masses.

1. Equalization

Equalization is one of the most basic mixing practices in use today. Equalization can be summed up as changing the balance of different frequencies within a recording to optimize sound.

A sound engineer who has mastered the art of equalization is almost like a sculptor; shaping the frequency of each contributing instrument and voice to ensure each can be heard distinctly.

Without proper equalization, a recording may sound muddled or varying components with similar frequencies may mask one another.

2. Compression

It's important that the overall volume of a recording remains consistent. This means that there shouldn't be sections of a recording that are much louder or much softer than the rest of the audio.

Sound engineers can help eliminate fluctuations in volume within raw audio by using a mixing practice known as compression.

In order to help even out the volume of an audio track, a sound engineer uses a threshold setting. Whenever the dB range of a particular frequency within the audio drops below or rises above the threshold setting, the compressor works to minimize noticeable differences.

3. Effects

All good sound engineers can use effects to their advantage in creating a unique sound. Effects are used to manipulate how an audio signal sounds. Most of the effects that are in use today work by altering the parameters of rate, feedback, or drive.

Some of the more common effects used by sound engineers include panning, reverberation, and chorus.

Panning gives the illusion that the source of a sound is moving. Reverberation is a combination of multiple echoes into a single frequency. Good reverberation can add a dreamy or solemn quality to a recording.

Chorus is an effect that can give the illusion of multiple sounds. A specialized machine creates digital copies of the original sound, then plays back multiple copies simultaneously. A sound engineer can alter the delay timing and pitch modulation of each copy to create enough of a difference for the combined sound to be more believable.