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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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Balancing the “Art” of Sound engineering

This column which is a first in a series of “Soundideaz” columns is dedicated to all the “Sound Artists” of India. I will discuss several diverse aspects of this profession in each issue. Reader’s comments and suggestions are paramount to me as only constructive feedback will help me get closer to my writing and you closer to what you would like to read. Please feel free to express your thoughts and suggest the topics you would like me to cover in this column!

The respect and dignity earned in today's time by a Sound engineer has never been better. Over the years, the sound engineer has been witness to the rising acclaim, and credit goes to sound engineers of the yesteryears who have paved the path for this well-deserved recognition.

The golden era of Indian popular music has witnessed prominent Sound engineers creating an impact on the music of that era with their exceptional recording skills. Technology in sound recording in those days was still in its nascent stage and it all boiled down to the “art” of the sound recordist. The role of the sound engineer in creating great music with little or almost no technological aid cannot be undermined. It’s definitely worth mentioning.

Acoustic instruments were the main ingredients of these works of art as electronic instruments were still on the horizon. Recording an ensemble of acoustic instruments, with 2-4 microphones and delivering impeccable results is something very difficult to replicate even today, despite having technological revolutions at our fingertips, which is why I feel these technical geniuses should be reminisced as artists!!!

The sound engineer is as much an artist as the artist on the other end of the chain who is belting out great music with his voice and musical instruments , the only difference between the two, is the type of tools being used for creating the work of art. Every piece of gear or plugin is only as worth as the artist using it with his skills. Whenever we discuss a painting or a photograph we instinctively think of the painter or photographer and not the brushes or camera used by the artist. On the other hand it works quite the opposite when a recording is discussed. The preliminary discussions, more often than not, border on - What did you record on? Which preamp was used? What monitors were used? Analog or digital? etc.

In today’s recording scenario predominantly the tools are given more importance than the artist who uses them. This is where I see the balance between technology and art changing rapidly.

Technology in the pro audio industry is evolving year on year with new products and upgrades, making it inevitable for manufacturers to market their products in a way which would inflate or magnify the product’s competitive and creative advantages to the marketplace and end user. This strong marketing pitch creates an impression that it’s the products, that are making or breaking the Recording. This not only confuses the young upcoming technical talent whom they target as future customers but it also confuses the buyers of their services (the producers and the studios), leaving them to believe that a specific equipment or a studio equipped with the latest “state-of-the-art” gear will elevate their recording to another level.

This brings us to the attitude of the sound engineer per se. The definition of a “good recording” is changing rapidly and the artist (sound engineer) hardly has any control over this. They have been so busy complying with the needs of the client that they seem to have forgotten what good sound is!! Or actually in today's time are they even concerned with making their recording sound better??

There has been an exponential rise of freelance mixing engineers in the recent past, all of whom are probably doing a great job, but are they not missing out on coming together and re-establishing the importance of their art? The notion that a specific software or plugin is what one needs to get the “right mix” is almost imbibed in today’s younger generation. Hardly anyone has any patience or is willing to invest time to hone the art of mixing. I call this the “fast food generation” where the impatience is so pronounced that everybody is looking for instant gratification by becoming a sound engineer within the span of less than six months.

For this generation, the scales tilt heavily towards networking and/or marketing their music rather than perfecting their skills and honing their talent. And I do not hold them solely responsible for this attitude.

It’s we the fraternity who has failed in establishing and instituting the fact that - ART is primary, Not the Paintbrush. We have almost lost the race to the equipment “marketers”. And why did we lose? Cause we were never aware that there isn't race, or there could be some other completely unanticipated competition; having said that, I wish to make it clear that I am not against technology or the marketing of technology. It’s just that it’s unfortunate that the “Art” of sound recording and mixing does not get its rightful due.

The machines are trying to enslave humans. Today a producer would not think twice before renting a studio for hire and paying steep charges just by looking at the size of the studio and the impressive gear he would get, but is apprehensive when it comes to paying the “artist”. They would even go to the extent of implying that studio hire charges should be inclusive of the sound engineer’s charge or simply just say “I just need an operator, any one will do”.

The producer on his end is also most concerned about marketing his product. It’s primarily the look and ambience of the studio that entices him more than the quality of equipment deployed by the studio, as a good picture or video in the studio would help him in his marketing. Without a blink of an eyelid they will pay big bucks for a “fancy” studio for some “fancy” marketing footage, before shifting the recording to a studio which is affordable and CAN record.

We the fraternity should stop ignoring this problem and start addressing it instead. Only if we emphasize our hard work as a piece of art, will the next generation recognize it as an art, else this art will not have a better fate than an outdated piece of audio equipment.