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How did you become an engineer ?
View Poll Results: How did you become an engineer ?
professional schools with certified diploma
5 Votes - 9.09%
internship in professional studio's
9 Votes - 16.36%
self made man / woman
36 Votes - 65.45%
other ....
5 Votes - 9.09%
Voters: 55. You may not vote on this poll

Old 17th October 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

How did you become an engineer ?

Here's a couple of questions :

1. How did you become an engineer ?

2. What do you do to stay up to date ?

vote in the poll section while at it
Old 17th October 2002
Lives for gear
Tim L's Avatar

I got interested in engineering after buying a cassette 4 track (Tascam Porta05) back in I think 1987. After a time I decided to take some audio classes at a local college. One of the professors took me aside and said I was probably one of the few people in his classes who actually may have a knack for this stuff. He gave me the number of a buddy who owned a studio with a pretty steady flow of work. Place had an MCI 536b and Otari MTR-90 MKIII w/CB120 locator. Started as an intern and ended up with a paid slot doing allot of the smaller sessions as well as assisting on everything else. He ended up closing the studio after a few years for various reasons so instead of joining the NYC rat race I put my little place together out here on Long Island...

Not sure what you mean by "up to date"...Do you mean technically (as if there was enough hours in a day the way it's been going) or musically?
Old 17th October 2002
Moderator emeritus

I was playing bass on sessions (in West Texas), and when the owner went on vacation one summer, he left me the keys to the studio so that I could play around (MCI 2" and Audiotronics console). After I came to Nashville, and was making a living as a session player, I thught of a couple of projects that I wanted to do which were so weird that I didn't even want to trade out time for them. So I bought a couple of DA-88's and a Mackie mixer. 10 years later, I'm working 14-18 hours a day in my own studio. I don't play a whole lot of bass anymore, but I do have a lot more gear...

And I still haven't finished the projects that caused me to buy recording gear in the first place.
Old 17th October 2002
Lives for gear

The band I was in for 6 years, SPiNE, recorded in a few studios over the years and I wanted to learn the craft each time we recorded. Before we ever went into a studio, I was trying to record demos so we could book shows at clubs. I knew it could be done much more professionally, but the punk rock ethos I was in at the time had me recording into a ****ty boombox. But guess what? We got shows anyway 'cos they liked the music and didn't care about the sound quality.

From the boombox, I progressed to my friend's 4 track and mic, then I bought a VS880, Mackie board, more mics (the usual $100 or less suspects), 1/2" Otari 8 track. The whole time I was doing this, I would go to the library and take out for books on recording, until one day, internet audio forums became a very valuable learning resource for me.

I was still missing knowledge of the basic recording foundations so I went to California Recording Institoote (lol, can use t-u-t or a smilie will pop up) for a 9 month hands-on intensive course and got a diploma at the end of it. From there, I interned at a local studio for 6 months, saved the money from a part time job for many years, and built up my studio.

Throughout this time, I was recording my band and bands we knew for practice until I eventually figured out what I was doing well enough to open a recording studio.
Old 18th October 2002
Lives for gear
Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar

ha ha ha.. i got into it by mistake...

I was outa school and i was reading all my fave pro audio porn mags, and i decied i need to buy and build bitchin studio.I ended up buying half the melbourne arm of the national broadcaster (ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation... think the Australian version of the BBC and i mean that in EVERY way... neve city!!!) in a garage sale that would make ppl drool like rabid dogs...

I sold most of it off to locals in and around melbourne and a stack of studer A80's 1/4 and 1/2" machine to stax of freakin audiophiles..... man they gota pull that stick out of their ass some time or at least their heads but thats andother thread of roum in itself!)

and i was stuck with a 2" 16 track MCI.. so i tried to sell it to anoyone an deventually luck would have it that the studio where i was to get a job had a JH24 that needed a new machine for spares etc... so i sold it to him and about a week later i told him that he forgot to take the remote and autolocator... and i asked if he had any jobs... 2 weeks later.... i get a call going like 'quick my assitat is sick or sumthing i need someone!' and the rest is or was history!...... he got meaddicted to Neves so blame him!!!!!!! so hes my 'pusherman!'yuktyy

When is tarted that day i didnt even know what an auxiliary was!!! but suffice to say learing in 'the trenches' made me learn 100 fold what i would froma book or bull**** school... and working with REAL ENGINEERS who make real albums for record companies is a real eye opener and makes u realsie how much bull**** there is that is perpetuated by the scools and indusrty ingeneral.... This is the type of experience that you can only learn in a real studio.. not that i am discountingthe value of virtues of home recoridng as well.

Old 18th October 2002
Lives for gear

Originally posted by Wiggy Neve Slut

When is tarted that day i didnt even know what an auxiliary was!!! but suffice to say learing in 'the trenches' made me learn 100 fold what i would froma book or bull**** school... and working with REAL ENGINEERS who make real albums for record companies is a real eye opener and makes u realsie how much bull**** there is that is perpetuated by the scools and indusrty ingeneral.... This is the type of experience that you can only learn in a real studio.. not that i am discountingthe value of virtues of home recoridng as well.
Depends on the school and what you did before and after you attended. From being a "home recordist" type already, I knew enough that the first 2 months of school made me wonder if I would be wasting my money by continuing there. When I finished the course and went into interning, I realized my schooling was sufficient up to a point, and that things were alot different outside the safe confines of what I had gotten used to along with my classmates. I would equate it to the difference between working comfortably in only one studio environment for a long time and then being forced to jump out as a freelancer all of a sudden. What helped was I did emerge from that school with a solid foundation of recording know-how that I didn't have before.

The way you learn to engineer defines how you engineer, and I wouldn't say any one way is better than another as long as it works. There are many ways to learn the same thing and I wouldn't discount any of them. I would add that there are certain situations in which you would learn things that you wouldn't have a chance to otherwise. That applies to engineering and making records.

But "real engineers"? "Real records"? Nah, that's a load of crap. This sounds like a spin off from the 2" tape is dead, long live PT thread. You're a "real" engineer if you're recording music skillfully enough that people want you to do it for them. If you told them they weren't making a "real record", they wouldn't let you be a "real engineer".

There are a lot of people who are better skilled than I am at engineering, and there are a lot who are less skilled than I am. Neither of the two are doing it any less or more "real" than I am.

If I may quote Yogi Bera here: "Some people can have a false sense of reality." Ok Yogi, you keep defining your reality and I'll keep defining mine! lol But which one's fasle?
Old 18th October 2002
EveAnna Manley's Avatar

I had this stupid idea that I wanted to be in the music business so I took a semester off from college, drove out to California and landed a job soldering and wiring up tube amps...
Old 18th October 2002
Gear Head

I got stung by the gearslut fary when I started my first band in the mid 80:s, Then I moved to California and started visiting the Guitar amp factorys and discussed amplification design with the coolest guys in the business, Bogner, VHT, Soldano, Groovetubes and many more. I have always been into electronics and been building and design sudios ever since.
Old 18th October 2002
Lives for gear
Midlandmorgan's Avatar

Always had an interest in the "behind the scenes' stuff, so I've dabbled a bit over the years...finally got too old, fat, and lazy to be onstage, so got a small program to do some home demos...the thing has grown like a plague...

besides, engineering/producing is the PERFECT job for us closet control freaks...
Old 18th October 2002
Internship at music studio complex (3 rooms)

Desks there during my 6 solid years there before turning freelance were:

Custom build - (used by the Smiths & Marriane Faithful)
Trident A range
Trident TSM range
SSL 'b' (!!!!) - the 'Phill Collins drumsound' console BTW

later on return visits


2"'s were all Telefunken
1/4 & 1/2 inches were all Ampex ATR 100 series
3 Plates and one spring
Old 18th October 2002
Lives for gear
Knox's Avatar

it's better then being a proctologist . . . unless you are doing rap
Old 19th October 2002
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar

Originally posted by Knox
it's better then being a proctologist . . . unless you are doing rap
*cough cough, Ahem....*fuuck
Old 19th October 2002
Lives for gear

Originally posted by EveAnna Manley
I had this stupid idea that I wanted to be in the music business so I took a semester off from college, drove out to California and landed a job soldering and wiring up tube amps...
I'm so glad that happened! Last Thanksgiving, after being thankful for my family and friends, I was thankful that Manley gear exists and made its way into my studio. lol

Old 19th October 2002
Gear Addict
Greg Heimbecker's Avatar
I started getting into SR after my major mysteriously changed from Music to undeclared after my freshmen year, could have just been a clerical error but I took it as an Omen. A roommate joined a jazz vocal act called Rare Silk which got signed by Polydor and turned into a national act after a couple of years. I was still trying to do school around our touring schedule for about 5yrs... just never quite worked...

When in town I'd record recitals and dink around tape opping for a little soundcraft, 80-8 rig for the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble (Trpter Ron Miles came from this group) or do live to 2trk w/ an Ampex 440 and a Yamaha pm-1000 for groups locally. A roommate got a studio audition w/Miles based on a demo done in our living room through 2 ****ty little 8ch boards straight to cass. I found GOD himself on the answering machine! What a buzz!!!

Mid 80s between tours I ran a B-16, AMH CMC32 room for a guy who wanted to own a studio. It gave me a great place to play between tours. We did tons of Eno and Laswell kinds of **** with no time pressure whatsoever. It just came at the cost of recording really lame garage bands to pay the bills.

The touring gig died at the hands of a meglomaniacal road manager in 88 and I returned home to play locally and share an E-16, Ramsa rig in the living room with a couple jr engineers I'd brought along. No control room, tracking with phones, sounded great for what we had! We even had a 6'parlor grand for a couple of years. Bedroom under the living room drove the girlfriend round the bend though!grggt

Quit playing fulltime and dove back into SR regionally in 92 and got this room running for the university about 94 and weened myself from SR as momentum grew. Been running this joint for 8 yrs now and am at peace with it since we redid the control room this summer and accepted that 95% of what we did was in Pro Tools. Like most anyone who learned with tape I miss how easy it is to get flattering tones but this market can't support the cost of 2". And as many of us have found out we can get much closer to the tones we want with different mic/pre choices than what we might have used for going to tape. I do plenty of jazz and classical which fair better in digital than gtr laden rock as well. Oddly enough Meg has actually seen our little Berger room here at the edge of the cornfield a couple yrs ago and my former assistant did a bit of SR for her as well.

Staying current is the same as always, talking with other engineers and learning from their experiences. Now instead of the relatively small number of local engineers or those I'd meet touring I can share experiences with the lot of YOU worldwide. rollz

Now WTF am I going to do about retirement... hmmmm

Hey Chris, if you run into an american drummer there named Ron Pliewacki tell him I said hi. I'm sure we have a greater appreciation for one another now that we're not riding around in the same van!
Old 27th October 2002
Gear Maniac
palebluedot's Avatar

'new boy'

I'm still really young to all this really, but I started as a tea boy when I was about 14 (basically just shadowing and moving the odd microphone when I was allowed!)

I then at 16 fast tracked college and got a job as an in house engineer in a UK studio in the Midlands, not increddible but it had a Mackie D8b, some nice outboard and a few nice microphones, worked with some excellent producers though.

Spent far too much time on Logic and then started doing more freelance programming stuff.

For the last couple of years I've set up on my own, mainly a programming facility (massivly into RnB type stuff) But I do record vocals and am very much into vocal post production. I'm also a part time college lecturer in music technoligy.

I'm not great authority on any of this (how can I be at 20?) but just doing what I love doing and ever trying to get better...

Old 31st October 2002
Gear Head

1. I got onto a converted school bus with 4 other diluusional musicians and headed off to Hollywood. Once there, I walked into every studio I could find offering to perform any necessary service. The fourth place I tried had a pile of coaxial and triaxial video cable taller than I am that looked like spagetti (they had just bought out Merv Griffin's mobile TAV unit). I was taught the over-under coiling technique and the rest is history. Within a year I was taking care of all audio gear in the three stage facility as well as performing loadmaster and audio duties on the truck. Gradually I gravitated to operating my own demo room over the television work.

2. These days (back in Illinois) I do as much work as I can and sit in with friends on other sessions at other studios whenever possible.

Old 1st November 2002
Here for the gear

After returning home after my first year of college in 1967 (yes, I'm old), a friend of mine who played bass in a band told me that his band won a battle of the bands and the prize was a recording session in a real studio in Seattle and asked me if I wanted to go along. It was a 3-track 1/2" with an Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speaker for monitoring each channel. That's when I decided what I wanted to do. In 1970, I heard about a new studio in Seattle. I dropped in, told them of my electronics and music background, and they said I could hang out if I wanted. The equipment included a 16-track Scully with a Langevin board and a Fairchild limiter. After awhile they hired me (I also had to be a roadie for one of the co-owner's bands). Then the recession hit Seattle and I was laid off. Got a gig in Portland (8-Track 3M with an Electrodyne board). In 1972, got an acoustic duo an album deal with Elektra. They wouldn't let us record it in Portland, so got to go to LA for most of the summer. Worked primarily in Elektra's Studio A (API Board), Studio B (same studio where The Doors and Bread worked - does anybody remember what kind of mixing console they had?) and Producer's Workshop (same building as The Mastering Lab). Mixed at Armin Steiner's mixing studio. In 1977, moved to LA for six months to work in someone's home studio (Helios board with 40-track Stephens recorder).

That's enough for now.

BTW, my high school bass player buddy is still making his living as a musician.
Old 1st November 2002
Lives for gear
groundcontrol's Avatar

Being a teenage keyboard player at the birth of midi and sampling. I was the nerdie type of the band that had to have a mixer for his keys and learn to program the DMX and how to use the Portastudio. From there, the progression to programming/producing/commando-engineering my band's and others demos led to a full time programmer/techie job with an established "New-Wave" band of the time. Part of the pay was living with the guys in a gigantic apartment on top of a trendy night club where, in between gigs and rehearsals, I continued producing demos for friends and such with the band's equipment. At one point I ended up producing a couple of succesful singles for that band in the good studio in town. (I got ripped off big time financially of course, but was not really aware of the money aspect at that time nor did I cared...) The studio owner (a mad genius/heir of a rich family/benevolent patron of the art-type) really liked what I was doing and basically gave me the keys to the studio and, at 24, I became the head engineer/manager of the biggest studio in town! (It was an absolutely amazing place as the genius had designed/modded the whole place and its content and could basically afford what he wanted sort of...) It was a bit weird and a lot of clients were really surprised when, after things were arranged on the phone, they came for their session and found a skinny kid (that they always tought was the runner!) in front of the board running (ruining?!?...) their session. The owner talked a couple of established artists friends of his in working with me and I slowly got to do a couple of higher profile gigs. I was practically living there, doing jingles in the morning, albums in the afternoon and garage/indie friends' bands at night... after some years of that, I got really sick and had to rest for months! At that point, I decided to start a band with a gifted singer I had met previously as a side project for my down time. The demo tape we did at a friend's 8-track studio got us signed to Sony and perpetually touring for 3 years! There goes ya rest! Eventually I dropped the band because I really missed being in the studio more than a couple of weeks a year and I missed working with many different people and musical styles. (The moron A&R and label director I had to deal with did not help...) So I got back into producing full-time but with my band's success under my belt I was being offered better acts/budget. At that point, I started a studio and a publishing/management/production company with my former band's manager (a longtime friend) and we're now slowly building our roster that we sign to various deals to record co's. It's a lot of work but it's really gratifying to discover cool guys and acompany them from nothing to a major label deal, radio hits and a growing fan base. So I almost only work on our own stuff now. It's not as good money for all the work but much more fun!

Geez, that's sort of my whole life in a nutshell!!! grggt

Allright enough!
Old 16th November 2002
Lives for gear
entropy's Avatar
I lied!

After coming to London, I got a job in a crap music retailer to learn what a sampler was/ what cubase was etc etc. After a year of shifting crap gear, I lied to a studio manager, saying that I used to do loads of live sound back home (NZ) and that it would be no problem in the studio. The studio in question was doing a lot of in-house production, mainly underground dance tunes, but there were a few good producers there doing some good stuff.

The first session was a nightmare! After about 20 hours of recording I managed to record over half a song on the tape.....bugger, back to square one. I persisted though and ended up doing about 3 days work without sleep to rectify my earlier error. The boss was so impressed with my diligence, he kept me on. Luckily, the label went really well and they managed to acquire an old ssl room...... the rest they say is...... rubbish
Old 18th November 2002
Gear Nut
Jamie Tate's Avatar

When I was in 6th grade I was obsessed with a live, 1981 Billy Joel album called 'Songs in the Attic.' It just sounded so good. I noticed there were credits recorded by Brian Ruggles and mixed by Jim Boyer. This intrigued me, so at the next Billy concert in Cleveland I walked up to the FOH mixer (Brian Ruggles, who had recorded the album) and started talking to him. I guess it was a shock that an 11 year old was displaying some sort of idol worship to him. He took me backstage to meet Billy and the band and told me to start reading Mix magazine which I did... every word of it for the next 15 years.

I took it from there.
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