Top 5 Audio Engineering Tips For Beginners
Audio Engineering 101
Audio engineering is WAY tougher than most people think. People will tell you to mix at low volumes, balance signals, route your track to buses, and sometimes even to pull all your faders down and start from scratch!
There are hundreds of tips on how to become a better audio engineer. So to help you start somewhere, we’ve compiled a beginner list of 5 pro tips for beginners that we call, Audio Engineering 101.
1) Pull From Inspiration
Whether a client is having you be their audio engineer for the first time or if this is your own track that you want to make perfect, it is always important to have a reference song to pull your inspiration from. What do you want this track to sound like? Listen for the sonic characteristics that are critical for either you or your client to save you from going in the wrong direction.
2) Setup Multiple Groups
Especially when you’re first starting out, setting up ways to group tracks in your DAW will make you so much more efficient and save so much time. Examples of good groups to set up are Bypass, Solo, Fadar, and Mute groups.
As you progress as an audio engineer, your sessions will become massive! Learn to simplify sessions now and group out everything to solidify the basics while you’re still starting out.
3) Beware Panning Too Hard
Now, you don’t have to pan hard right or pan hard left just because there’s a pan pot… It may seem like common sense, but panning something too wide in a mixdown is actually what causes a mix to fall apart in the middle, forcing you to start from scratch.
We see this all the time with piano recordings, choir recordings, double-tracked backing vocals, and double-tracked guitar pieces.
4) Test On Multiple Devices
In today’s age, there are so many different devices people can play your tracks on: smartphones, computers & laptop speakers, earbuds & headphones, studios, studio headphones, cars with good speaker systems, cars with bad speaker systems, boom box, iPod, internal stereo system, yeah, you get the picture.
You’ll have to get perspective on how your track sounds on multiple different devices in order to grow from amateur to pro mixer. You can audibly listen to the differences yourself or read up on what to do consistency across platforms.
Getting this information and doing the research yourself can greatly increase your internal decisions about panning, equalization, and levels.
5) Learn To Step Away And Come Back Fresh
Our last tip is what separates the beginners from the pros. After hours of working on a track, your mind becomes fuzzy, and your ears have heard the same sounds for so long that your impression becomes warped and your ears become fatigued.
This is when the pros step away, work on something else (or relax), and come back with a fresh mind and fresh ears to hear what progress has been made on the project.
And with that, you should be ready to work on mixing your next track! Be sure to check out article on audio mastering to learn what it is and why it’s important.