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Hybrid Sound Engineers?

Modern sound engineering and music recording involves much more than simply picking up an instrument plugging it in and getting a musician to play it. There are enormous amounts of skills and techniques that must be mastered by the new age sound engineer if he/she is to compete in the highly competitive music industry.

Until recently engineers have learnt their skills on the job in the “school of hard knocks” as they develop their careers. These days however, an up and coming engineer is presented with an extremely steep learning curve that continues its incline with the rapid advances in technology. Indeed an engineer is expected to understand the foundation and history of his/her career and master the new rapidly advancing changes and developments that take place daily.

Mainly due to the technological advances over the last decade we have seen a shift in the working practices of many organisations, and sound engineering is no exception. The technology has spawned new opportunities for creative sound engineers.

The multimedia/interactive hungry public demand high quality audio in all situations. A CD player exists in just about every home in the developed world and the medium is able to store audio that is theoretically beyond the listening capabilities of the Human ear. This situation feeds and fuels developments for high quality audio in parallel industries. People want (if not sub-consciously demand) CD quality audio not only in the home but at the theatre, in the car, from the television, games, CD-ROM and the internet to name but a few.

Combined with this scenario is the overlapping of the disciplines of art/media and sound. We can find multi-media booming everywhere around us and this in turn creates a need for hybrid professional engineers that can translate artists ideas/concepts into real, albeit digital integrated packages, suitable for a variety of digital mediums.
As an example, Internet Web sites exist where whole albums along with video are self-published and can be downloaded to a personal computer and recorded onto a recordable compact disc (CD-R).

The old school music industry is in fact struggling to keep abreast of the incredible rate at which the digital age is affecting the storage, transmission and more importantly the cloning of high quality audio. Some predict diminishing CD sales from conventional record stores as the Internet gathers momentum driven by the non-technophobic youth.

This leaves the door wide open for active sound engineers with the necessary skills to become part of an exciting new continually evolving industry.