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. 

  1. Master Listening. Be very aware of the sonics available in the space. 
  2. 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. 
  3.  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. 
  4. 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! 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9.  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. 
  10.  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. 
  11. 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. 
  12. 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.

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