You’ve dreamed of being involved in the Music Industry for as long as you can remember. You know that becoming the “next big thing” is more a matter of luck and talent combining in a “million to one” shot. You didn’t despair, however, when you realized there are other careers you can pursue in the technical side of the Music Industry such as being a music producer or a sound engineer. The question is: how do you pursue your goal of working in the music industry?
Acoustic guitar is one of the most commonly played instruments. It is a relatively simple instrument, just six strings strung down the neck and over the sound hole in the body. As basic as it looks, recording an acoustic guitar can be a challenging process. How can I record an acoustic guitar? What kind of guitar recording equipment is involved? How do I get that bright, shiny string sound?
What does an audio engineer actually do? That depends on a number of variables! The very basic idea of audio engineering is being able to get sound from one place, to another. An audio engineer needs to be able to set up mics, route signal, test equipment, add EQ or effects, and make sure the overall program is listenable.
For example, if we think about what happens at a concert – sound starts with the vocalist singing into a microphone. Where does the sound go from there? How does the crowd get to hear it coming out of speakers? What happens in-between the microphone and speaker?
When you put on a NetFlix show, and you hear your favorite actor crack a joke – how was it possible that you were:
- able to hear that joke,
- listen to it when you wanted to hear it, on demand,
- and hear it in the comfort of your own living room?
This is all possible thanks to the recording arts and sciences that allow us to capture and playback sound!
What is an audio production? Behind every recording there are thousands of puzzle pieces that need to be put together to paint our aural picture. As a listener, you expect to press play and hear a tune. There are hundreds of hours of audio production that lead up to the very second that first sound wave hits your ear. From tuning the instruments or setting up foley pits, to the mic selection and scratch testing, and eventually to mastering for playback, there’s a lot that goes into making an audio production that results in a great recording.
You love music. You spend all of your time listening to music, either on headphones, earbuds, in your car’s stereo or out at live shows. It’s more than a calling, music is a way of life. So how can you make a career out of your passion for audio? Become a sound engineer.
Mic Selection: What mic is right for me?
Mic selection is one mystery of creating a masterpiece of a recording. The first microphone was developed in the 1870s. Over the past century and a half, many more have followed in its path. There are thousands of different mics on the market today. Whether they are new, used, vintage, one-off, wired, wireless, proximity or designed for stage use. There are dynamic mics, condenser mics, ribbon mics, lapel mics, so many different mics. How do you know which one is the right one to use?
The beautiful thing about our audio engineering education is that, while it’s a science, it also allows a lot of room for creativity. Since sound quality is often subjective, it is important to understand how to mic selection can benefit your project’s sound. Every audio engineer will have a favorite microphone, whether it’s an SM57, Blue Bottle, RE-20, or SF-24. Some audio engineers may even have a custom mic they made themselves. CRAS has a huge mic locker! Students get to experiment with countless microphones during their time at the Conservatory.
What makes these mics so different from each other? Why would one be better to use versus another? To understand this, we must understand some microphone basics.
Case Study: Bobby G.
FROM DEEJAY TO CRAS TO STUDIO OWNER/OPERATOR, VIA THE U.S. NAVY
“I was able to take every tool that CRAS gave me and turn it into an opportunity. I follow the codes I learned in the Navy – honesty, integrity, commitment, loyalty.”
CRAS was the first audio recording school to ever certify in the digital audio workstation known as Pro Tools. There are many DAWs out there, and everyone has their favorite, but Pro Tools has been one of the industry standard apps for a long time now. For this reason, we like to focus on training our future audio engineers in all the ways Pro Tools works, and how you can make Pro Tools work for you!
The audio world is ever evolving, and CRAS is no stranger to that idea. Always looking to expand, upgrade and improve, we refuse to be left behind. Among the changes we’ve made expanding to the school, Monday marks a new dawn on the beginning of a new pair of studios.
SSL, or Solid State Logic, have been building amazing consoles for decades now and have developed a great reputation in the music industry. There are hundreds of studios throughout the world that use SSL equipment every single day, and we are happy to say we are one of the few educators in the world that teach comprehensive audio recording and production education using SSL consoles. Our flagship Studio A at each campus use SSL 4000+ series consoles, which demonstrate classic analog circuitry and rich, warm sounds.
The Conservatory is one of the few schools that has a massive focus on analog sound gear. 6 of our 8 full studios incorporate analog consoles from Neotek, API and SSL, as well as 24-track analog tape recorders from Otari and Studer. While this provides a lot of on-board signal processing capabilities, you can’t forget our outboard gear racks.
Connectable via bantam jack or TT patch bays, each studio has an array of outboard gear, and most notably we have a large collection of HARMAN Lexicon processors. We have four Lexicon MX400 units, two PCM92 processors, and some classic PCM80 and PCM70s.