Audio engineer

An audio engineer with audio console, at a recording session at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
Noted audio engineer Roger Nichols at a vintage Neve recording console.
Acoustic diffusing mushrooms hanging from the roof of the Royal Albert Hall.
The Pyramid Stage
Live sound mixing
At the front of house position, mixing sound for a band
Correcting a room's frequency response.

An audio engineer (also known as a sound engineer or recording engineer) helps to produce a recording or a live performance, balancing and adjusting sound sources using equalization, dynamics processing and audio effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound.

- Audio engineer

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Vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

A drum produces sound via a vibrating membrane
Spherical compression (longitudinal) waves
A 'pressure over time' graph of a 20 ms recording of a clarinet tone demonstrates the two fundamental elements of sound: Pressure and Time.
Sounds can be represented as a mixture of their component Sinusoidal waves of different frequencies. The bottom waves have higher frequencies than those above. The horizontal axis represents time.
U.S. Navy F/A-18 approaching the speed of sound. The white halo is formed by condensed water droplets thought to result from a drop in air pressure around the aircraft (see Prandtl–Glauert singularity).
Figure 1. Pitch perception
Figure 2. Duration perception
Figure 3. Loudness perception
Figure 4. Timbre perception
Approximate frequency ranges corresponding to ultrasound, with rough guide of some applications

An audio engineer, on the other hand, is concerned with the recording, manipulation, mixing, and reproduction of sound.

Equalization (audio)

Process of adjusting the volume of different frequency bands within an audio signal.

A stereo graphic equalizer. For the left and right bands of the sound content, there are a series of vertical faders, which can be used to boost or cut specific frequency ranges. This equalizer is set to a smiley face curve, in which the mid-range sound frequencies are cut.
Equalizers are also made in compact pedal-style effect units for use by electric guitarists. This pedal is a parametric equalizer.
The very uneven spectrum of white noise played through imperfect speakers and modified by room acoustics (top) is equalized using a sophisticated filter using digital hardware (bottom). The resulting "flat" response fails, however, at 71 Hz where the original system had a null in its response which cannot be corrected.
Two first-order shelving filters: a −3dB bass cut (red), and a +9dB treble boost (blue).
Second-order filter responses.
UREI graphic and parametric EQs; the device on top is a Power conditioner.
The equalizer-section from the Audient ASP8024 Mixing console. The upper section has high and low shelving EQ, the lower section has fully parametric EQ.
A first order low-pass (high-cut) filter implemented using only a resistor and capacitor.

Much later the concept was applied in audio engineering to adjust the frequency response in recording, reproduction, and live sound reinforcement systems.

Recording studio

Specialized facility for sound recording, mixing, and audio production of instrumental or vocal musical performances, spoken words, and other sounds.

Control room at the Tec de Monterrey, Mexico City Campus
An audio production facility at An-Najah National University
A Mexican son jarocho singer recording tracks at the Tec de Monterrey studios
Neve VR60, a multitrack mixing console. Above the console are a range of studio monitor speakers.
Engineers and producers watch a trumpet player from a window in the control room during a recording session.
A selection of instruments at a music studio, including a grand piano
Music production using a digital audio workstation (DAW) with multi-monitor set-up
Allen & Heath GS3000 analog mixing console in a home studio
The Siemens Studio for Electronic Music ca. 1956.
Donna Summer wearing headphones during a recording session in 1977
Danny Knicely records with Furnace Mountain Band in Virginia (2012)
The studio at Ridge Radio in Caterham, England

Ideally, both the recording and monitoring (listening and mixing) spaces are specially designed by an acoustician or audio engineer to achieve optimum acoustic properties (acoustic isolation or diffusion or absorption of reflected sound echoes that could otherwise interfere with the sound heard by the listener).

Broadcast engineering

Field of electrical engineering, and now to some extent computer engineering and information technology, which deals with radio and television broadcasting.

Audio engineering and RF engineering are also essential parts of broadcast engineering, being their own subsets of electrical engineering.

Effects unit

Electronic device that alters the sound of a musical instrument or other audio source through audio signal processing.

A pedalboard allows a performer to create a ready-to-use chain of multiple pedals to achieve certain types of sounds. Signal chain order: tuner, compressor, octave generator, wah-wah pedal, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, EQ and tremolo.
Various type of guitar and bass effect pedals.
Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 overdrive pedal
An example of an effects chain. From the input [right] to the output [left]:
Rackmounted effects in road cases. These road cases have the front protective panels removed so the units can be operated. The protective panels are put back on and latched shut to protect the effects during transportation.
The Eventide HE3000 Ultra-Harmonizer pictured here displays the entire name of an effect or setting, which helps users to find their preferred settings and effects.
Multi-effects like this Boss ME-50 include many effects in one pedal.
Even in the 2010s, the vintage Fender Bandmaster remains a sought-after amp by guitarists (pictured is a 1968 model). Note the four inputs, two for regular sound and two which are run through the onboard tremolo effect unit.
A Fender Vibrolux Reverb amp and a ROSS amp
The Fuzz Face effect pedal.
Several Boss pedals connected together.
"Clipping" an instrument's audio signal produces distortion
A rack of rackmount audio compressors in a recording studio. From top to bottom: Retro Instruments/Gates STA level; Spectra Sonic; Dbx 162; Dbx 165; Empirical Labs Distressor; Smart Research C2; Chandler Limited TG1; Daking FET (91579); and Altec 436c.
Peter Frampton's Talk box.
Thomas Organ Cry Baby Wah-wah pedal (1970) manufactured by JEN.
An MXR-101 Phaser pedal
An Electro-Harmonix Polyphonic Octaver Generator (POG).
A vintage Echoplex EP-2 delay effect
Folded line spring reverberation
An EBow guitar string resonator.
A Line 6 modeling amplifier shown from above. Note the various amplifier and speaker emulations selectable via the rotary knob on the left.
A rotating Leslie speaker in a clear plastic cabinet. Typically, the Leslie is mounted in a wooden cabinet.
A selection of bass effect pedals at a music store.
T-Rex brand "Mudhoney" overdrive pedal.
Some rock and pop guitarists and bassists use "stompbox" format electronic tuners.
This footswitch controls an effect (distortion), but it is not an effects pedal as the case does not contain effects circuitry; it is just a switch.

Musicians, audio engineers and record producers use effects units during live performances or in the studio, typically with electric guitar, bass guitar, electronic keyboard or electric piano.


Headphones are a pair of small loudspeaker drivers worn on or around the head over a user's ears.

Headphones on a stand
Wireless headphones
Bone conduction headphones.
Brandes radio headphones, circa 1920
Sennheiser HD 555 headphones, used in audio production environments (2007)
Headphone cord with integrated potentiometer for volume regulation
Circumaural headphones have large pads that surround the outer ear.
A pair of supra-aural (on-ear) headphones
In-ear monitors extend into the ear canal, providing isolation from outside noise.
A typical example of a headset used for voice chats
Sony Ericsson Cordless bluetooth headset
Lightspeed Aviation 30 3G ANR Aviation headset used by aviators
In-ears are among those good for noise isolation.
A typical moving-coil headphone transducer
Electrostatic loudspeaker diagram
Balanced armature transducer with armature balanced and exerting no force on diaphragm
A custom in-ear monitor which uses 8 balanced armatures in a triple crossover configuration (4 low/2 mid/2 high). Headphone designs often use multiple balanced armatures to provide a higher fidelity sound.
Sony MDR-7506 headphones in stowed configuration
Product testing - headphones in an anechoic chamber

Headphones are also used by people in various professional contexts, such as audio engineers mixing sound for live concerts or sound recordings and DJs, who use headphones to cue up the next song without the audience hearing, aircraft pilots and call center employees.

Live sound mixing

A monitor engineer and console at an outdoor event
Two FOH consoles at an outdoor event.

Live sound mixing is the blending of multiple sound sources by an audio engineer using a mixing console or software.

Record producer

Recording project's creative and technical leader, commanding studio time and coaching artists, and in popular genres typically creates the song's very sound and structure.

with audio console, at a recording session at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation
Music producer Sir George Martin, best known for his work with The Beatles, pictured with members George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon at a recording session at Abbey Road in 1966
Phil Spector producing Modern Folk Quartet, 1966
Brian Wilson at a mixing board in Brother Studios, 1976
Mixing console

The executive producer, on the other hand, enables the recording project through entrepreneurship, and an audio engineer operates the technology.

Acoustical engineering

Branch of engineering dealing with sound and vibration.

The transparent baffles inside this auditorium were installed to optimise sound projection and reproduction, key factors in acoustical engineering.
Disney's Concert Hall was meticulously designed for superior acoustical qualities.
Ceiling of Culture Palace (Tel Aviv) concert hall is covered with perforated metal panels
At outdoor concerts like Woodstock, acoustic analysis is critical to creating the best experience for the audience and the performers.
Ultrasound image of a fetus in the womb, viewed at 12 weeks of pregnancy (bidimensional-scan)

Audio engineers develop and use audio signal processing algorithms.


Transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.

Shure Brothers microphone, model 55s, Multi-Impedance "Small Unidyne" Dynamic from 1951
A Sennheiser dynamic microphone
David Edward Hughes invented a carbon microphone in the 1870s.
Humphrey Bogart, Jack Brown, and Lauren Bacall with RCA Varacoustic MI-6203 ribbon microphones broadcast to troops overseas during World War II.
Electronic symbol for a microphone
Inside the Oktava 319 condenser microphone
AKG C451B small-diaphragm condenser microphone
First patent on foil electret microphone by G. M. Sessler et al. (pages 1 to 3)
Patti Smith singing into a Shure SM58 (dynamic cardioid type) microphone
Edmund Lowe using a ribbon microphone
Western Electric double button carbon microphone
Vintage Astatic crystal microphone
The Optoacoustics 1140 fiber-optic microphone
University Sound US664A dynamic supercardioid microphone
An Audio-Technica shotgun microphone
The interference tube of a shotgun microphone. The capsule is at the base of the tube.
A Sony parabolic reflector, without a microphone. The microphone would face the reflector surface and sound captured by the reflector would bounce towards the microphone.
Samson microphone with a USB connector
Neumann D-01 digital microphone and Neumann DMI-8 8-channel USB Digital Microphone Interface
A comparison of the far field on-axis frequency response of the Oktava 319 and the Shure SM58
An AKG C214 condenser microphone with shock mount
Microphone with its windscreen removed
Singer and disc pop filter in front of a large-diaphragm condenser mic
Bi-directional or Figure of 8
Various microphone covers
Two recordings being made—a blimp is being used on the left. An open-cell foam windscreen is being used on the right.
"Dead cat" and a "dead kitten" windscreens. The dead kitten covers a stereo microphone for a DSLR camera. The difference in name is due to the size of the enclosure.

Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, hearing aids, public address systems for concert halls and public events, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, sound recording, two-way radios, megaphones, and radio and television broadcasting.