For many, taking the ambitious entrance into the field of audio engineering can be a challenge. Nowadays, the advantage of the internet has numerous artists developing skills at paces beyond what anyone would’ve thought possible twenty years ago. Diving head first into the physical and social realm of audio engineering can seem daunting, and the outcome might appear to be a bit vague, but it’s nothing more than a little summation can clear up. With that said, here are several reasons that audio school can benefit you:
A little backstory: The Recording Workshop (Chillicothe, Ohio) was my school of choice. Not only was it affordable, it was quick. The five week syllabus contained more than I had learned in two years on my own, and my curiosity had built up enough for me to take the plunge. I was tense at first, but touring the facility made it apparent that the time spent would be quite valuable. Compressed courses are not for everyone, however, and if you have trouble with finding the right school for you, be sure to check out our list of the 25 best audio engineering schools in the U.S.
When you arrive at your destination, staff will be there to greet and show you around the facility. Likely, the first thing you’ll be shown are the credits, awards and records that line the walls. The staff makes a point to show off the achievements of their previous graduates while listing examples of careers that may result from the course.
A one-on-one rundown of the various studios will quickly reveal just how intensive these programs can be. The staff understands that consoles, control surfaces and other gear may appear complex and overwhelming for those with little experience, so getting you comfortable with the environment is first thing they strive to do. They always do a great job at making you feel right at home while keeping you excited for what’s to come.
Content creators have a great way of keeping your brain constantly jogging whilst also keeping everyone’s personal interests in mind. You may work with sound for film one morning and be recording a band by nightfall. An afternoon lecture about the different types of microphones might be followed up with an evening mix session. Variation is the key to keeping your skill level consistent with the other students throughout the course.
Every school has its own way of getting students to remember the key functions and elements of its content. Becoming fluent with the ins and outs of machinery requires a deeper understanding of signal flow, key commands and being able to instinctively make choices that will benefit the sound. Many facilities rely on repetition in order to make this work. Learning about signal flow may be tough, but the countless weeks of applying your newfound knowledge to actions in the studio will develop a strong sense of confidence and instinct.
Staff contacts, textbooks and copious amounts of hand-outs are among the resources that will be given to you. There are always staff members on the facility eager to answer any questions. Depending on the school, you may be given personal studio time for recording, mixing and mastering. Outside of the educational throne, items like magazines and web addresses are given as a way to find gear that they would recommend.
The biggest perk of audio engineering school is the ability to become familiar with lots of technology you might not get access to use otherwise. Consoles are the centerpiece of almost every studio. Pro-Tools and Logic will never escape your line of sight. Microphones, control surfaces and audio-interfaces are all in an arm’s reach. 2-Inch tape machines and the Neumann KU 100 Dummy Head Binaural Microphone are a few examples of the rarities I’ve come across during my experience.
One beneficial aspect of studio sessions is the presence of a mentor. No matter how many times you find yourself struggling to understand a concept, mentors will be there to help you grasp everything you need. They give tips and tricks along the way that allow you to become more efficient with the provided technology and software. No questions go unanswered in the studio, and mentors will almost always be the ones to answer them.
In the professional world, there are people that will be tough to get along with.
Working with others outside of recording sessions can be one of the more unexpected challenges. It’s easy to work with people who have relative interests and ideas to you, but sooner or later you will run into one person who might challenge your ideas. More often than not, mixing sessions will end up with at least one tweak that isn’t quite agreed on by the entire group, thus arguments can happen.
Becoming accustomed with the ideas of those you don’t agree with can provide a very unique way of figuring out how to bring a session back to life.
In the end, going to school for audio engineering is a blast. Getting to know other students and the faculty is a great way to get your foot in the door. The knowledge you gain will smoothly translate into the actions you make, and by the end of the course, the studio setting will feel like home.