Audio engineering is a branch of the engineering field which involves the process of recording sound and reproducing it by various means, as well as storing it so that it can be reproduced later. Audio engineers work in a variety of fields, including film and television production, broadcasting, electronics manufacturing, and the music industry. In order to work as an audio engineer, it is usually necessary to have an audio engineering degree, with advanced degrees available for people who intend to perform work such as designing new audio equipment.
Audio engineers are separate from audio technicians. Many recording facilities, concert halls, and so forth retain technicians who operate audio equipment. These technicians may have advanced training, but they are not audio engineers, and the skills of an audio engineer may be required to set up the sound system, to determine the basic settings, and to train the technicians. Some technicians later go on to study audio engineering.
This field can include recording, editing, mixing, and mastering audio. Audio engineers are found working at all phases of production in any industry where sound is being recorded. Radio stations, film studios, recording studios, and so forth all retain audio engineers. This discipline may also include training and supervising audio technicians who may perform some of the daily work of audio recording and reproduction.
Another aspect of audio engineering involves the development of new audio equipment such as sound boards, radio broadcasting equipment, microphones, and so forth, along with new methods of data storage which can be used for audio. While audio engineering started out as a primarily mechanical field, today, the focus is primarily on electronic and digital techniques. Many audio engineers are also skilled with computers, as they need to use and develop software as part of their work.
Training in audio engineering is available at some colleges and universities, as well as specialized training programs. People interested in this career should be strong in math and the sciences, and they should have an interest in audio in particular. One does not need to be a musician or performer to work in audio engineering, but having an appreciation for audio art forms and an understanding of their history can be helpful. Highly talented audio engineers are, after all, artists in their own right who are involved in the production of finished works of art, from blockbuster films and obscure recordings of classical music.