8 personality traits of a great audio engineer

This job can be hard. It can make you want to curl up and cry yourself to sleep, but it can also lead to some of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have. Regardless of which one of those things you’re currently feeling, having these 8 personality traits will make your job easier and are traits that every great engineer has.

Patient

Working with people is hard, but collaborating with someone on something creative and personal to them is a lot harder. Collaboration is a balancing act; it requires a delicate dance. A ballet is happening between the artist and engineer. When you see a producer that really knows what he’s doing it’s really remarkable how well they’re controlling the session. As an engineer or producer you’re not always going to love what the client has to say, but it’s how you react and manipulate the situation so everyone is happy and the product ends up the way you promised that makes you a great engineer.

Well organized

Be on time, have things set up, make sure everything needed for the session is ready to go and the studio is clean, have songs edited, tracks labeled and sessions backed up multiple times, have amps out that you’re going to need, etc. etc.. It’s the engineer’s job to make sure the session is running smoothly and the only way this can get done is if things are organized. Recording multiple songs requires a lot of time management. You need to be able to make sure you have enough time to finish the project on schedule. If you are constantly not finishing projects on time and clients need to pay more than what you had originally quoted them then they will not be very happy and less likely to be returning customers.

Positive

Negativity is the single most morale draining characteristic when in the studio. There is nothing that can bring down the energy of a session more than negativity. “That sucks”, “that sounds bad,” “that’s a stupid idea”…… Leave all of these at the door. This type of attitude will just make a bad situation worse and a good situation bad.

Humble

Trust me, you don’t know everything and probably never will. There is always room to grow and always room to learn. The best engineers are incredibly humble and always learning and looking for new ways to improve their skills– that’s how they got to be so good. There was never a point in their career where they stopped and said, okay I’m good enough I don’t need to read or practice or experiment anymore.

Perceptive

Be aware of your surroundings. If a client isn’t enjoying them self or doesn’t like the sound of something, or is getting frustrated with a part they’re not always going to tell you. Pay attention to how everyone around is acting and make sure you are giving them an environment that allows them to best do their work and be creative.

Eagerness to learn

In this rapid changing industry, technology moves quite quickly and if you don’t stay ahead of the curve you’ll certainly be left behind. Keep up with the news and the industry. Stay informed on what products are being released and make sure to demo them and stay relevant.

The engineers that decided to learn Pro Tools before it was Pro Tools were the ones that had a head start and were able to land more work.

Diligent

Be attentive. Be persistent. Do your job with care. If I tell an intern to patch in 1176, 1 and 2 on channels 19-20 then I expect them to make sure that they’re patching them in correctly. If you’re asked to do something, take an extra few seconds to double check your work. Making mistakes is okay and will happen but there is no excuse for being lazy and not paying attention to detail.

Reliable

Show up and finish projects on time, give accurate time frames for how long things will take, answer emails, text messages and phones calls in a reasonable amount of time. Being a reliable person shows that you care, it shows that you take pride in your work and you can be depended on which is very important when clients are trusting you to see their project through and make their vision come to life.

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David Silverstein

David Silverstein began engineering at the age of 14 when he purchased a Fostex four track cassette recorder. After high school he enrolled at Five Towns College where he graduated with a Bachelors of Professional Studies in Business with a concentration in Audio Recording Technology. He has worked under renowned engineers and producers Jim Sabella (Marcy Playground, Nine Days, and Public Enemy) and Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Spacehog, The Ramones and The Lemonheads).

David currently works out of Sabella Studios in Roslyn, NY.