Why Audio Professionals Need to Evaluate Sound
Audio professionals need to evaluate sound to define what they hear, to understand what they hear, and to communicate with one another about sound. These are important aspects of the job functions for almost all people in audio.
Recording engineers and producers, obviously, must have well developed listening skills because evaluating sound is one of the most important things they do in their work. The need for highly refined skills obviously holds true for composers and performing musicians, especially those involved in the audio-recording processes. All audio professionals who listen to sound share a similar need for these skills. The technical people of the industry, those involved in artistic roles, and those in manufacturing or facility design, or product sales and many others, all must share observations and information about sound.
There are other reasons audio professionals need to evaluate sound in addition to talking about sound in precise and meaningful terms. The recording’s sound qualities need to be observed, recognized, and understood to perform a great many jobs in the industry. Nearly all positions approach sound evaluation in a somewhat unique way. In fact, there might be as many reasons (significantly or slightly unique) for evaluating sound as there are job functions within the multitude of positions in the audio industry.
For the recordist, there are additional benefits to sound evaluation, and some will be discussed in detail in later chapters. These include ways to (1) keep track of one’s work so that the audio professional can return to those thoughts/activities in the future, (2) plan recording projects out of the studio, (3) understand the work and ideas of others, (4) recreate sounds and musical styles, and many more.
Nearly all people in audio work directly with some aspect of sound. These aspects might be vastly different, yet these people must com – municate directly and accurately to share information. In order to share information, sound must first be evaluated and understood by the listener.
Understanding sound begins with perceiving the sound through active attention. One can then recognize what is happening in the sound or recognize the nature of the sound, provided the listener has sufficient knowledge and experience. The listener must know what to listen for (i.e., the artistic elements of sound) and where to find that information (perhaps a particular musical part). This recognition can lead to under – standing, given sufficient information. What is understood can be communicated, with the presence of a vocabulary to exchange meaning – ful information that is based on a common experience.
Excerpt from Understanding and Crafting the Mix by William Moylan © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Dr. William Moylan has worked with leading artists across the full spectrum of jazz, popular, and classical genres. His recordings have been released by major and independent record labels, resulting in wide recognition, including several GRAMMY award nominations. A leading educator and an active recording engineer and producer for over 30 years, he is a Professor and Coordinator of Sound Recording Technology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.