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Audio Recording Engineers

History

The job of the contemporary audio recording engineer began in the late 1940s with the development of magnetic tape as a recording medium. Tape provided a new and flexible method for recording engineers to influence the outcome of the recording session. Before tape, records were cut on warm wax blanks that allowed only minimal manipulation of sound quality. Generally, whatever the musicians produced in the recording studio is what came out on the record, and the degree of quality rested almost entirely in the hands of the studio engineer.

The innovation of tape and the introduction of long-playing (LP) records brought significant improvements to the recording industry. Since tape allowed recording on multiple tracks, recording engineers were now needed to edit and enhance tape quality and "mix" each track individually to produce a balanced sound on all tracks. Tape allowed recording engineers to perform patchwork corrections to a recording by replacing sections where the musician makes an error or poor sound quality occurred.

By the 1950s recording engineers played a vital role in the record industry. The emergence of rock and roll brought an explosion of recordings in the industry, and each recording required a technically proficient, creative, and skilled audio recording engineer. Although engineers often had to produce sounds at the direction of the music producer, many worked at their own discretion and produced truly unique "sounds." Engineers also found employment with film productions in Hollywood and for radio station productions throughout the United States.

The development of music-related software for the computer has altered many aspects of music recording, particularly in the editing process. Many time-consuming tasks previously performed manually can now be done in half the time or less with new specially programmed software. More than ever before, today's audio recording engineer must be highly educated and up to date with the rapidly changing technology that ultimately affects the way he or she performs the job.

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