When are you considered a Mastering or Mixing Engineer?

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by NickSoldier, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. NickSoldier

    NickSoldier Guest

    When is someone allowed to call themselves a Mastering, or Mixing engineer?

    Are there certain college requirements, or a degree?

    What about people that taught themselves, reading, studying, putting in the manhours?

    I know there are people out there, that didn't go to school for Music Production, Mixing, or Mastering.....
    Yet, they are great at what they do.....

    They know all the theory and applications, and successfully apply their knowledge.... yet don't have a certificate that says...."I am a Mixing/Mastering Engineer"....if one exists.....

    Does one exist?
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    LOL repeatedly...

    There are very few degrees that grant you a title in audio. The only ones I can think of is Tonmeister from somewhere like the Peabody Conservatory or colleges and universities like John Hopkins which Peabody is part of.

    Other than getting a doctorate in sound, which I guess you could do, there are no formal titles associated with a degree that I know of.

    Most people just take on the name of mixing engineer or mastering engineer irrespective of their education or experience. One day you are just plain John or Joan and the next you give yourself the title of "engineer"

    In the old days you could not call yourself a professional engineer without getting certified by the state you lived in and you had to take a test to even use the word "engineer". Since there was no test for audio engineers there were no certified audio engineers. Most "engineers" were in the chemical, acoustical, structural, mechanical or aeronautical fields and had to have a college degree and past the state test(s).

    I had a good friend who had some business cards printed up in the 1960s who used the words audio engineer on his card and someone got a hold of one from the professional engineering society and was in the process of suing him for the illegal use of the term engineer. It actually went to court but the judge threw it out as my friend had a degree in broadcasting from a state college and held the first class radio engineering license from the federal government and the judge ruled that he had a degree and had past a test given by the federal government.

    Today you can call yourself anything you want to call yourself without any fear of reprisal. The problem is you can have no experience and no knowledge of audio and you are in the same category as someone with 40 years of pro audio experience who graduated from college and has been doing audio his whole professional life. I guess the proof is in the pudding as they say so the audio engineer title you give yourself is only as good as you are.

    Hope this answers your questions...!
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Yeah, degrees and certifications are neither necessary nor sufficient for the title. (See the numerous threads on audio schools.)

    The safest place to use the title is on a piece of your work. If you mix a CD, then you are the "mixing engineer." If you master a CD then you are the "mastering engineer." If you play guitar on a CD then you are a "guitarist." ..... and everyone can play the CD and judge whether you deserve any of those titles.
  4. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Chicago area, IL, USA
    Home Page:
    The sad part is that it doesn't even work backwards -- Some of the absolute worst 'engineers' I know have college degrees in audio engineering.

    KEEP IN MIND here that I'm not bashing people with AE degrees collectively -- But with some of the stuff that some of these learning institutions are teaching, it's rather shocking that the teachers survive. And the better engineers I know with 'paper' were fine engineers before they went to school for it...
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    I'm a Mastering Engineer because I'm still trying to master the art of sound.
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    And on the internet, no one knows you're a dog....
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2006
    Blacksburg, VA
    Some of us have our suspicions.....
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I resemble that remark....
  9. cdmasternow

    cdmasternow Guest

    so true.

    I think you can call your self a mixing or mastering engineer when you, run and work in a studio as an engineer for a living or, when you record an artist, and a year later they come back to you to record thier next album
  10. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    I run and work in a studio and despite innumerable hours tweaking the CR and perfecting it, and some mastering-grade equipment I am happy to call myself a mixing engineer but not a mastering engineer. I'd say the latter requires access to not just the knowhow, but the very top level of monitoring chain, usually costing more than most of our studio setups, together with mastery and ownership of things like oscilloscopes, stereo processors, bit analyzers, and the suchlike. When I do 2-track editing for people, I check mono/stereo, multiband comp if appropriate, raise volume using L1 or L2, perhaps a little EQ track-to-track, bouncing via tape or analog compressor or tube EQ, or adding a good reverb, I tell them its 'finalizing' not 'mastering'. Often people are happy just to have a secondary mix engineer cast an eye over and perform this work to get their mixes up to spec and checked in a different room. Sad to say they probably pay me the same as they'd pay to go to a proper mastering engineer in this day and age.
  11. Robin.bjerke

    Robin.bjerke Active Member

    Jan 31, 2010
    I think this question is a very hard one to give an accurate and concise answer to.

    Personally, I like to think of myself as a recording engineer, and whether people agree with this or not is up to them. The people who disagree are not going to be the people who hire me to do the job, and therefore really do not matter that much in real terms. I am very young, inexperienced (though most people my age who have been doing it for as short as I have are less experienced) but incredibly passionate. I call myself an engineer because when I sit in the studio, behind the desk, interfacing with the band and making music, I can do so for 13 hours straight without thinking of looking at my watch. I call myself an engineer because this is what I love to do and I am going to do it no matter the cost. It is a slow process, and I need a daytime job to keep things trundling along, but I notice that my clients recognize the love that I have for it, and I think they in turn recognize me as an "engineer".
  12. Big K

    Big K Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Munich / Germany
    Home Page:
    A mastering engineer ...what is this rare animal...
    Maybe lets figure out what it takes to be one and later what he needs to do the job..

    Good ears..for sure..
    broad knowledge of music styles and sound...if he doesn't specialize..certainly yes...
    musicality.... who needs that ;-))
    ability to walk through sounds, compressions,frequencies of instruments & the whole song..not a bad idea..
    sensibility as to what the artists means.....helps a lot
    phantasie...can't hurt..
    consistency of hearing... not everybody has that gift...but, yes...
    understanding and knowledge about audio technology
    knowledge of causal relationships between all those means of sound processing

    What he needs
    prestine monitoring...........
    balanced room acoustics .............
    a comfortable DAW on a good computer ....
    outboard and/or plugins that life up to the needed standarts.
    HigherEnd cabling....
    Excellent HeadPhones.....
    a quiet place to work in.....
    coffee perculator & fridge ;-)
    comfi chair.....

    what devices:
    Please, feel free to add to the list.........

    Hey, Robin..lol...13 hours...you lucky guy, you are chucking it in early for an AE...;-)

    Hello Jeemy, to call your work finalizing is a great move. That is what I did for the first 10 years..
    After that I slowly began to realize what mastering actually ment and as Bob Ludwig says: I am still learning every day.....


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