As podcasting continues to rise in popularity, many individuals are eager to explore opportunities within the industry. This is particularly true for those who possess a pre-existing interest in technical aspects, like sound engineering.
However, what about individuals without technical skills? Can they learn the podcasting process, and if so, how long does it typically take?
What Needs To Be Learned?
When it comes to audio engineering, there are a few key things that you need to learn, especially if you want to break into podcasting in a technical role. These things will form the foundation of your skill base and prepare you for more challenging work.
Understanding how sound works is crucial. This includes learning about sound waves, the causes of echoes and unwanted distortion, as well as finding the optimal environments for recording.
A sound understanding of music theory is also necessary in order to interpret notation properly and to understand how different instruments interact with each other, especially if you’re getting involved in a music production.
Having an understanding of the science of sound allows for better manipulation of effects while recording or mixing audio, making the overall production process smoother and more effective. The ability to control tones, frequencies, and levels can be used to create truly unique sounds.
In general, a smaller recording studio is particularly advantageous, especially for podcasting, as it minimizes echo, distortion, and intrusive ambient noise.
This means reading up on what each piece of audio equipment actually does, and how they all connect to one another during use.
This is probably the most complicated part – at least to a layman – but with the right practice and time to learn, you can soon get the basics.
This will help you set up your own sound equipment, with all the things you need to get going.
This is also good when recording podcasts, and can help things audio engineers work much faster.
For the more advanced users, having a thorough knowledge of how to use midi controllers and record multiple audio tracks at once is also essential for any aspiring sound engineer or music producer.
Anyone who wishes to become a successful sound engineer must have an in-depth understanding of not only sound itself but also the tools used to manipulate it.
Learning the hardware is one thing, but a good audio engineer will also need to learn how to use basic audio recording software – something that is part and parcel of the industry in the modern age.
This means learning things like recording and editing software that can help you learn the basics in a simple and effective way – teaching you transferable skills that you can apply to most software applications.
Editing is also a big part of what audio engineers do, and it is important to know what each term means, and how each function affects sound from the ground up.
These terms and processes can seem daunting at first, but with time and practice, you will learn what makes things sound good, what does not, and what effects can salvage poor audio.
Recorded audio tracks will need to be combined, equalized, and mixed together — so a basic understanding of music mixing software is essential.
You can also use plugins and other tools to create effects that weren’t possible on regular recording equipment. This lets you craft a unique-sounding sound design and audio experiences that cannot be replicated in real life.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to audio engineering. With the right attitude and dedication, anyone can become proficient in the craft of sound production.
This is perhaps one of the most valuable skills in the music industry, and definitely worth learning once you get going.
Mastering is essentially making sound recordings consumer-ready, in that the sound is of sufficient quality that it could be uploaded or recorded onto a sellable format.
Audio engineering calls for the ability to master music and sound quality in order to achieve the desired sound and make it sound its best.
It involves equalizing, compressing, and otherwise manipulating the mix of a song or track when producing music to give it an overall polished feel. It also helps bring out certain elements and make them stand out more clearly.
Most audio engineers, sound designers, recording engineers, or live sound engineer pick up this skill along the way, improving alongside their other skills, to the point where they can tell by ear what sounds good and what sounds bad.
Do You Need A Degree?
This is a common misconception about such skilled work as audio engineering.
The fact of the matter is that no, you don’t need to go to college and get a degree to either practice or become well-versed in these skills.
Perhaps this was once the case, but thanks to the internet, and the presence of cost-effective, affordable audio software, just about anyone can get quality equipment, and develop useful skills to break into podcasting and become sound engineers.
One of the key reasons podcasting is popular is the freedom it offers people to learn audio engineering online.
There are also plenty of online audio engineering programs and audio engineering courses available that offer the same knowledge as a traditional four-year degree program.
It will also help if you research audio engineering specializations and become familiar with the different types of audio engineering jobs, such as music production, live sound reinforcement, studio recording, post-production mixing, and mastering.
This research will help you determine which type of job would best fit your skillset and interests so that you can pursue a career in audio engineering.
One of the benefits of podcasting is that it provides a wide array of opportunities for people to engage with the process, learn new skills, and create content that others can freely enjoy.
Does It Require Expensive Gear?
Another misconception is that you need expensive or midrange equipment to record, edit, and produce high-quality audio for podcasting.
The truth is, even low-end equipment today is far superior to what was available a decade ago. This means that, regardless of your budget, you can find something suitable for the task at hand.
For the most part, all you really need is a computer or laptop with enough power to run your DAW of choice, some decent headphones and/or monitors (depending on what kind of work you’re doing) and either an audio interface or a USB microphone.
Once you have these basics sorted out, you can then upgrade your gear and sound systems as necessary.
However, it’s important to remember that while quality sound system is important, it isn’t the only factor in producing professional-sounding audio.
The real key is understanding what you’re doing and having the knowledge of how to use your gear effectively.
What Equipment Do You Actually Need?
When it comes to equipment, there are only really a handful of things you actually need to create and record high-quality sound.
Ultimately this includes a basic computer or laptop, an audio interface with 1 or 2 channels, clear, sturdy headphones, a mic stand, mic, mic cables, a digital audio workstation (software), and a small, quiet place to record or edit in.
All of these things can be acquired relatively cheaply and easily, meaning you don’t need to spend a fortune in the early days of your engineering career.
What Really Matters?
Ultimately, what really matters is the development of a sense of understanding when it comes to the audio, and creating the best environment within which to properly capture, record, and edit good audio.
This can be something as simple as proper soundproofing, or choosing a recording environment that doesn’t have too much echo, ambient noise, or other potential forms of interference.
This is definitely something that comes with practice, but if you can establish meticulousness early on in your ‘education’, then you will have the best tools you can move forward.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about audio engineering and the best ways and means to learn the necessary skills.
It’s true that podcasting can be a lucrative career for those with the skills, the drive, and the work ethic, and luckily there are also more resources than ever to not only develop your own podcast but learn the necessary skills as you go.
So if you are wanting to break into audio engineering, then why not give some of these methods a try? Something tells me you won’t regret it!