In Praise of Sound Engineers

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The people who focus on the technical aspects of the sound of music have helped revolutionize music as people know it. Many of the extremely slick and smooth recordings that we hear today sounded very rough and disjointed when they were first recorded in the studio, which may have nothing to do with the talent of the musician or the musicians in question.

It is customary today for people to complain about the state of modern music, saying that there was some earlier time in which musicians did not need sound engineers in order to sound great. The thing is, a lot of musicians in the past still would have benefited from sound engineers. Sound engineers eliminate static and studio noise: they don’t just add synthetic sounds in order to fill in tracks. Incidentally, the fact that they do is more of a function of the fact that people have higher standards for the music that’s close to their ears than they do for the music that is being sung very far away.

Many people know that in live performances, the musicians are going to stammer, and their voices might break momentarily. Live performances aren’t intended to be perfect, and people don’t expect complete perfection. They are more likely to edit out tiny mistakes, the way we tend to edit out the stammering and the awkward pauses that people will sometimes make during the conversations that we have.

However, people don’t usually have that same tolerance for awkward pauses and mistakes when it comes to scripted television. Television characters who talked exactly like real people would often be painful to listen to, and despite the push for modernism in television, witty and clear dialogue has never gone out of style. It is the same for the manipulations that sound engineers will use in the studio.

They know that the music that they record is going to be held to higher standards than the music that the same musicians would perform live. Live performances, even in an age of ubiquitous recording devices, is still something that people generally consume and then forget about: they don’t listen to these momentary performances over and over again the way they would for their favorite recorded tunes. Something that people are planning on listening to over and over again needs to be the sort of thing that people would want to play over and over again, and the sound engineers of the world can definitely make that happen for all musicians.

 

Posted under Sound Engineering