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What tools should i familirize my self with as a sound technician

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2 answers

Sung Joo’s Answer

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From personal experience, there are so many great audio tools out there that it's becoming increasingly difficult to decide which ones to pick. Also, you have tools for different audio venues, such as Live Audio, Studio Mixing, Recording, Mastering, and so forth.

Depending on where your interest is, or even if you're just starting with audio, I suggest that you first pick your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). I say this because many DAW softwares come pre-loaded with tons of audio tools that you can start using right away, such as EQ, compressor, delay, reverb, etc, with advance recording and editing capabilities. One thing to keep in mind is that each DAW is built for slightly different purposes, with many overlapping features. For example, audio engineers who are focused on recording and/or editing audio tend to prefer Pro Tools but you can easily record/edit audio in Logic Pro X or Cubase for example. Music producers and writers tend to love Logic Pro X but you can surely produce using Ableton Live or Pro Tools. I suggest that you try different demo versions, if available, and see which ones best suit your needs.

Of course, as suggested by Seth, if you need to record, you would need a microphone, a pre-amp, and an audio interface. If you're just starting out and want to keep your setup simple, there are USB microphones out there that combine all the 3 components for you.

Once you pick your DAW, and have the needed hardwares, try recording, editing, designing and playing around with the pre-loaded audio tools in your DAW. From there, you may find interest and/or require to do more than what the existing tools are providing you with. For example, I used Logic Pro X to record and mix a friend's vocals but I needed a more advanced tool to look into the audio frequencies and perform pitch corrections. When I searched online, I had found Melodyne, Antares and PitchMap. I read many reviews, tried all the demo versions, and eventually landed on Melodyne.

My point here is that audio tools should be acquired by need and purpose, depending on what type of audio projects you'd like to work on. DAWs will serve as a platform, in general, and you will most likely layer different audio tools on top of that. Below is a basic audio setup (of tools) that can get things started for you:

  • Computer
  • DAW
  • Microphone + Preamp + Audio Interface (or just a USB Mic)
  • Speakers or Earphones




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Seth’s Answer

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There are several sets of tools for sound engineering on which area you focus on: Deploying and mixing live sound, recording engineer, musician, producer. Each area will have slightly different toolsets.

Ears! It may seem obvious, but learning how to listen carefully is key to any job in sound. Practice hearing different things with careful listening. Learn what to listen for. Also be sure to protect your ears early on.

Mixer: This is used in music creation, sound recording, and sound reinforcement. It's a key tool for anyone working in audio. Pay attention to the "Aux" buses and how you can route audio, along with EQ, panning (Left to Right placement in a mix), and volumes.

Effects: These are used by musicians, live sound, and recording. For recording, focus mainly on compressors, and EQs. For musicians, you may want to look at other effects, such as delays, reverbs, and phasers. 

Sound editor: A good example of a free sound editor is Audacity. There are commercial ones as well, but this allows you to see sound waves, crop, edit, and apply effects. Usually used by musicians and producers.

Sequencer: Protools (this is the big one used everywhere in the industry), Logic, or Cubase. Fruityloops may be a good place to start. The sequencer allows you to move around chunks of audio to create compositions. Usually used by musicians and producers.

Microphones and Mic-Preamplifiers ("mic-pre"): Used to capture live sound, there are a variety of microphone types with different frequency responses, suitable to different instruments and settings. It's good to have a cursory knowledge as a musician at least, and as a recording engineer this will be very important to capture a good quality sound.

One book that was very useful in learning about many aspects of sound was the Computer Music Tutorial by Curtis Roads.  

Note: I'm not a professional in this industry, but writing and producing music is a hobby of mine.

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