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A man is working on a mixing board in a recording studio. A man is working on a mixing board in a recording studio.

What is an engineer?

2 min read

Understand the role engineers play when it comes to recording.

Engineers work on perfecting the sound at various phases of the performance or recording.

There are four different types of engineers involved in live performances and creating :

  • Concert engineers – balance and mix live performances

  • Recording engineers – capture the sounds

  • Mixing engineers – balance and mix it all together

  • Mastering engineers – enhance the final product

Engineer roles: Example of where different engineer roles fit into the sound recording process. Note: All roles can be performed by the same person. There is no fixed way to do this.

What does a concert engineer do?

The concert engineer sets up all microphones, instruments, wires, amplifiers, and sound effects and connects them to the mixing table and concert speakers. During the engineer balances and mixes instrumental and vocal tracks to optimize the live sound experience. During the concert, the engineer adjusts levels and sounds as required by the artist and for the best sound quality.

What does a recording engineer do?

Recording engineers work with , , , , and other to ensure that sound is captured in the best way possible in a studio or live setting.

The recording engineer often works for or with a , or and will set up microphones, adjust input levels, and ensure everything is amplified or recorded perfectly.

What does a mixing engineer do?

Once the recording is done, a mixing engineer will take all the separate recorded parts and blend them to create a cohesive and balanced sound. The engineer will adjust various recorded tracks levels; the audio, and adding effects like and levels, , and to create a balanced mix. When completed, this is sometimes referred to as the .

What does a mastering engineer do?

A mastering engineer makes adjustments to enhance the final mix and prepares it for . They ensure that the sound is consistent across all sections of the sound recordings that make an album, EP, or single, and for various and that there are no issues with volume or distortion.

All four roles described above can also be accompanied by an assistant engineer who helps or specializes in certain tasks each type of engineer undertakes, such as microphone placements and setting up all equipment needed.

What rights do engineers have?

Engineers usually receive financial compensation for their work from the concert organizer, recording studio, record label, or other sound recording owners. In those instances, they do not have rights in the or .

Explore more in our Mixing and Mastering topic.

Image credit: Eric Ivar Persson, Parapix