How do I Become a Mixing Engineer?

Bryon Turcotte
Bryon Turcotte
Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

In a recording studio, a mix engineer is the individual responsible for blending together all the elements of an audio production to develop an acceptable and audibly pleasing balance. Once all the instruments and vocal parts have been recorded, the mixing engineer then creates a "mix down" or final version of the completed piece of music. This individual must not only understand the science and technical aspects of audio production, but also should possess the understanding of how each instrument and vocal component relates to its counterpart in the audible spectrum. To become a mixing engineer, you must be able to first listen closely to the whole musical picture and ultimately decide what sounds best. Some of this comes naturally from musical experience or formal education, but to become a mixing engineer takes more than following a standard recipe.

If you want to become a mixing engineer, you should possess a good combination of knowledge, experience, and talent. Many communication schools offer courses in audio production and engineering, but entering into this environment with no practical experience or the ears to hear beyond the music may lead to a very difficult beginning. Mastering the science of audio engineering will not guarantee a successful career as a mixing engineer, but an audio engineering course for someone with some initial experience can obviously increase the chance of progress. Building up your experience and absorbing technical knowledge is only the first step in the process to become a mixing engineer. The next leg of the journey is about investing time, working with the tools, and meeting the right people.

Reaching out to a trustworthy mentor can help you avoid time spent on a wasteful course and may lead to a productive and beneficial path which you might not have found alone. Approaching an established mixing engineer or studio owner about volunteer service or an internship could help you to develop a valuable skill set, and also allow you to gain some experience within an active studio environment. Offering to mix the recordings of local musical groups will not only build a resume of experience, but will also help you to meet other audio professionals, musicians, and potential clients for future projects. Over time, with much persistence, an investment of long hours, and a lot of hard work, your desire to become a mixing engineer may be fulfilled.

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