Whether mixing front of house or helping a band record their next release in the studio, here are a few things most sound engineers will have in common.


1. Have a balance of technical and feel

While you need to know your way around a mixing desk, technical skills can only take you so far. Many of the top sound technicians have a real love and feeling for the music. Having a passion and love for what you do takes your knowledge of the programs to the next level.

As studio sound engineer Pepe Minutoli said to Forte Magazine, “You need to be able to offer not only enthusiasm and interest but also bring some form of existing knowledge and skill-set to the table in order to be considered.”

So it’s really about a balance between the two.


2. Easy to get along with

This may sound like a simple enough concept, and there will be sound engineers out there who aren’t, but the ones at the top of their game generally have a reputation from musicians of being easy to get along with. They worked with the artist not at loggerheads and helped to create a mutually pleasing end result. Music created out of conflict alters the result, and it’s generally not a pleasing final product.


3. A music fan

If you’re helping create music and helping to make it sound its best, you need to be listening to what else is out there. This not only helps you pick the trends in music, but it gives you a greater appreciation for the different traits other sound engineers will have on music. Go to gigs and see how the live sound engineers do their thing. Maybe there’s something you’d do better? Witnessing others do well or not so well is a great means in helping shape the kind of music that you’ll be helping produce.

Many musicians over the decades have jumped into sound engineering and vice versa, with the likes of Pepe Minutoli mentioned above in the band Cast Iron Pinata, Brent McLachlan in the Skeptics, Daniel Siketa of MDRN Love and many more. A connection to music of this sort helps build rapport with the band you’re doing sound for even more.


4. A great listener and mediator

Each act is likely to be very different from the last, but one thing that will remain a constant is how passionate each musician is about their music. Understanding this is very important, as that passion may also serve as a barrier to you offering advice on how to make the music sound its best.

Knowing how far to push your personal decisions and how much to let the musician control the result is a fine line that can really achieve wonders when approached properly.


5. Able to adapt. Open minded.

With technology continuously evolving, as a sound engineer you need to be doing the exact same thing. If you lock yourself into the comfortability of what you know, chances are the musicians will leave you behind as they look for new ways to showcase and advance their music. Taking courses, learning from other sound engineers and keeping up to date with the newest in technology are a few ways to make sure you can offer the best there is.

Grammy winning mix/recording engineer based in NYC, Ariel Borujow, told Modern Mixing in 2014 that he is continually learning (and sometimes from unlikely sources): “I’m 37 years old and I have not stopped learning. One of my assistants just taught me something the other day. He sent me a mix and I was like “That’s cool what did you do?”