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Article : The 5 game changing reasons you need a professional Audio Engineer in your life !

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

If you are trying to have your music, Podcasts, Radio Advertisements, Radio show or live event seen in its best light, one of the most underestimated yet fundamental aspects to achieving this is through having a good standard of Audio Engineering/Processing.

Whilst many of us will "swear blind" our home recordings sound as good as "the stuff on the radio" and honestly; often you may not be wrong.

The fact of the matter is, an experienced Audio Engineer is hard to replace, to quote Young Thug and a variety of other chart topping artists, the important thing to understand is that what an Audio Engineer actually does is actually rarely understood, and it tends to be only people active in the music and media industries that have a more insightful perceptive on this through experience.

Otherwise it's simply assumed that an Audio Engineer is simply a "button pusher" that doesn't hold any grand significance to the end result of the "talent musician". In this day and age in particular, this couldn't be further than the truth.

In fact, it could be argued that many Audio Engineers are solely responsible for the success of many artists Success and at least partly responsible for significantly more. The miracle that someone that can't sing, play an instrument, rap or songwrite very well can book a studio session and leave with a song that sounds in-tune, balanced and listenable is a modern miracle that isn't quite appreciated for what it is yet.

This is the product of an Engineer with years of experience. So to move onto our point our first reason would undoubtedly be

1. Years of experience

In the world of music, time is a cruel, cruel companion, particularly to an amateur. The issue here is that an amateurs curve of development is much sharper in the beginning than an Engineer with years of experience.

So what tends to be the issue for people creating their own music is that they will hear "dramatic" improvements month by month in the quality of their music, this is natural as you learn the early principles of the craft. The issue here is (and any experienced Engineer will vouch), whilst that curve of development definitely becomes slower and more consistent with an experienced Engineer, it is because most of these fundementals have already been learned over the years. Hiring an Engineer is basically hiring those years of experience in which they have undoubtedly had thousands of "techie" problems which you will be gradually experiencing step by step.

This is not to discourage the effort, but to wake you up to the difference. It is this experience problem solving that allows a quality Audio Engineer to quickly, efficiently and consistently produce an industry standard result on 'any' song.

2. Experience in specific genres

Undoubtedly, after years of experience working in the field, most Audio Engineers tend to develop themselves in specific genres of music, for example a gifted engineer that specialises with Heavy Metal / Rock is not guaranteed to be a great R&B and Hiphop Engineer (although these paths cross for many individualals).

Generally speaking you find "great engineers" specific to the scenes they primarily work in. Especially in this day and age when there are clear and distinct "generational" changes, meaning that what was "Good Engineering" 5/10 years ago to 25-40 year olds (through our own experience) often sounds "dry and Boring" to under 25s, teens and Kids.

A practical example is that millennials and generation Y listen to alot of "Trap" (ASAP Mob, Rick Ross, Young Thug, NBA Youngboy, Juicewrld etc), "Dancehall" (Koffee, Popcaan, Spice etc) and "Afrobeats" (Mr Eazi, WizKid, Burna Boy) so generally speaking, the style of Engineering on these newer styles of music is much "wetter" (more dampening FX such as Reverb, Delay (echos), Flanging, Phasing and so fourth.

10 years+ and definitely in the 90s, many would have been conservative about the "dryness" of a mix and deemed much of today's work "unprofessional".

And that is not to say that either is right or wrong, neither is. It's about understanding the styles of music you are trying to articulate. An experienced Engineer has a much more seasoned understanding of this because it's their "profession" that they eat, sleep and breathe.

So When you hire an Engineer, both you and the Engineer will need to understand what you are trying to achieve, and an engineer with adequate experience in the genre you are working within may be able to work wonders and capture your vision accurately.

3. Experienced Engineers develop their own own refined "special sauce"

So picture as crazy as your mixes may sound already; that you had "5+" years of doing this process, again, and again and again ? You can only imagine how detailed it would become right ? Exactly.

With an experienced Engineer this is exactly what you are getting. Whilst some matters are technical facts, others are a matter of taste, and the beauty in shopping around for "the right engineer" for you is that many have done exactly what we have described.

That "special sauce" we refer to is a matter of taste. Believe it or not, despite all the technical knowledge, it is this above all that is usually the selling point to artists. It's the reason for Kesha Lee's, Alex Tumay and many others continued flow of blooming business as well as the more traditional (legendary) engineers such as Young Guru, David R Ferguson, Johnny Cash and so fourth.

Whilst all the technical knowledge is necessary, it's the refined process with time that will be the selling point, so be sure to take advantage of this and study an Engineer's work to see how consistent their "sound" is.

Whether you are recording at home and looking for someone who can do your stems justice, or your booking studio time, this gem will aid you in finding and creating a signiture sound.

4. Takes the Load off

Now even if you can Engineer your own music, we understand just how disruptive it can be to have to start doing maths/physics in order to mix your music and make it master-able. Hiring a professional takes the load off and allows you to stay in your "creative zone". When you have done your research and found someone/somewhere with the level of consistency and communication you need; it really is a huge weight lifted from the creative process.

It isn't simply "glamour" why Record Labels are willing to pay to top dollar for a high quality, professional studio experience for their artists. It's because it's understood that this is the place both the product and the brand are being created.

The problem is, this type of capitalist thinking is often blamed for "stifling the art". By putting your money where your mouth is; you essentially lift the burden of pressure of trying to fuse the creative and the business in places where each should be maintained independent (but mindfully) of each other.

Independent artists often have a burden of responsibility placed on them which we are not even aware can be draining until the moment we are able to look back at our situations with oversight. Despite all the glamour, it really isn't easy to be a "one man show", in fact it will slow you down and burn you our if you are not conscious of how much responsibility you are carrying.

Lighten the load simply by getting out of the mindset of "I can do everything myself", yes you can. But hiring professionals where possible will just get the job done faster, likely with better quality.

5. Guaranteed industry standard everytime.

Most people already understand the principle behind this but we believe there are still things to be cleared up. It is very true that the core advantage of hiring a professional audio engineer, whether for mixing, mastering or both is that you are essentially guaranteed a certain standard of quality.

But there is still an art to doing this, without intentionally shooting anyone hard work we do believe it's necessary to point out that not everyone who owns Logic, a set of speakers and a space to record is a "professional" per say.

You will not be able to tell who is a professional simply via flashy gear or cool credits (see our article on How to spot a Fake Audio Engineer).

You will need to do ample research on as much of each engineers work you are considering, and don't simply go off "one song" because what is rarely explained to artists is that on any given song, an engineer may simply be credited for "pressing record and tracking the vocals" and then sending the stems (files) of the song to an actual professional via Zipfile but have no formal skills in engineering themselves other than general knowledge.

In Conclusion

Understand there is nothing wrong with starting small or working with an upstart, but this should be made clear so you are not miss sold and you are 100% aware of what you are paying for.

One of the most common issues we have come across is people needing to pay for things 2/3 times with different people because they were misinformed to begin with.

We hope this article has been insightful for you; Follow us and stay in the loop for more useful insight into the music business.

Much love

A-Grade

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