Tips for Sound Engineers
After 20 years working as a sound engineer, Craig Parker Adams has developed his style of recording simply by "getting to the best with what you got " . Here he shares some insights on running a recording studio but also some favorite tools & tips gained by first hand experiences from the many mentors he as worked with.
Tips on Becoming a Sound Engineer
So you've invested in equipment & now want to record others - well here are some helpful tips on being a sound engineer.
- Master Listening. Be very aware of the sonics available in the space.
- Talk, meet & get to know the talent first whenever you can. Go to a show or rehearsal if possible. Meeting at the studio can be a big foretelling help. Get as much information & see if you can deliver what they need & want. Semantics are not your friend in the esoteric world of the arts - ask them for an audio ref of a song that they want or hope to sonically sound like when completed.
- Do not be territorial! If your not the right person for the gig for whatever reason & you know somebody or someplace else that is a better match, then hook em up & take care of their needs & smile while you do it.
- Hopefully you have spent thousands of hours recording yourself so you are very familiar with your equipment both hardware & software but just in case , always be ready to handle any equipment glitches and to be able to quickly solve problems if & when they occur. Handling these sorts of situations separates the novice from the pro so if your gear goes down on the session - start reversing the pay clock! It's not on them - we take it!
- You do not have to be a total gear head, focus on the heart of the artist & what they're hoping to summon musically as well as their hopeful end result.
- Some musicians book places on vibe alone so always provide the best vibe to the session & space. It starts and ends with you - pay attention to your demeanor & be what you wanna be around.
- Biggest lesson learned: PATIENCE. Whenever possible don't rush the artist on the hunt & don't get frustrated or question what the hunter is hunting for (that is to say - what you do not or can't see yet) just OBSERVE what they're hunting for and OBSERVE how they hunt for it.
- Build your list of contacts. It is good to meet players, singers & get familiar with their skills. You may be asked for referrals or may need to find & book players. Knowing great session players that can come in & get the job done will become a valuable asset & make them, you & your clients extremely happy. Win-win-win is the equation to be.
- Make referrals & always help others where you can. This is the major grassroots key to longevity in this industry. Me & my studio have been built on 19 years of referrals , no advertising.
- Pace yourself. Sessions can be like a marathon for the engineer while everyone else takes breaks & steps out, the engineer is usually doing something so learn to pace yourself & don't crash.
- Take care of your ears. Being a good listener is part of being a sound engineer so If you love playing live or go to shows take care of your ears.
- Invest in a good chair. The type that breathes. You will be doing A LOT of sitting. For your health, back & butt it is money well spent. I use the Herman Miller Aeron chair size C. Don't forget your eyes either. An easy on the eyes monitor is a good call.
Less is more when setting up so I say again, get to the best with what you got. & one other tip, never be embarrassed of what you don't know yet.