A mixing engineer is a person who creates the final version of a song or other type of recording after all voices, sounds, and instruments have been recorded on individual tracks. The engineer mixes these individual elements together until the desired balance of vocal and instrumental volume and frequency has been achieved. Mixing engineers typically operate large, complex audio consoles used in recording studios. A mixing engineer may work in music, radio, television, or motion picture industries, and also with live events such as concerts and Broadway shows. These engineers typically refine their skills through years of hands-on experience.
Modern sound recordings are typically made using some form of digital audio system that makes it possible to record dozens of different tracks during a single recording session. Instrumental and vocal tracks are usually recorded separately, and then blended together afterward by a mixing engineer. Before the recording process begins, the engineer must first ensure that all of the recording equipment is in working order and properly set-up for the session. Once the recording session begins, the mixing engineer must monitor the audio being produced from both a musical and technical standpoint in order to produce a final version that is as perfect as possible.
A mixing engineer may also use specialized equipment in order to produce certain types of sound effects, such as rain, sirens, or explosions. The engineer may also add delays or echoes to a recording as well as slow down or speed up the tempo. When making a television recording, a mixing engineer will sometimes add sounds, such as laughter or applause, to help direct the viewer’s attention to certain portions of dialog.
Mixing engineers are an essential part of the recording process and often consult directly with a recording artist to help refine and improve a musical arrangement. At certain times during a recording session, an engineer must not only adjust the recording equipment, but must sometimes adjust the actual performance of the recording artist in order to achieve a better finished product. Musicians often rely on a mixing engineer’s extensive knowledge and wide variety of recording experience to help them shape the sound of each track. Mixing audio is generally regarded as type of art form that typically requires many years of experience to perfect, and a talented engineer is usually in great demand.