Sound Engineering and Production

Sound Engineering and Production


in radio, television, and sound-recording studios, the creative direction and organization of the process of recording musical, dramatic, and literary productions, as well as documentary and educational material (usually on magnetic tape), for subsequent multiple reproduction, broadcasting, and storage. It also includes the control of the amplification in theaters and large concert halls equipped with electroacoustic systems. In some countries (such as the USA, Great Britain, and France), the functions of the producer are shared by an engineer, who controls the microphones from the board, and the musical director, who takes charge of the recording.

Sound engineering and production developed as an independent creative activity and profession during the 1940’s and 1950’s as a result of rapid development and wide use of high-fidelity electroacoustic apparatus and magnetic recording in radio broadcasting and sound recording. Modern broadcasting and sound recording require of the producer not only a knowledge of the apparatus and the laws of acoustics but also general knowledge, widespread learning in all areas of art, a good ear, and highly developed aesthetic taste.

Sound engineering and production requires the preliminary detailed study of the work to be recorded (scores, pieces, and so on) and the development, together with the performer, conductor, and producer, of the acoustic interpretation of the recording, which creates for the listener the effect of presence (the concept of how and where events unfolded, of the staging, the actions of the actors, and so on). The problems of preservation and transmission of the natural timbres of the instruments and the musical balance among the sections of the orchestra and between the orchestra and the soloists, as well as the nuances and the general emotional tension of the performance, must be solved when recording music. To create a well-conceived aural image and to transmit to the listener all the colors of a live performance, sometimes even emphasizing details that are unavoidably lost in a theater or concert hall, the sound producer selects and prepares the room for the recording, places the microphones, and, by means of electroacoustic equipment controlled by a mixer on the producer’s control board, selects the volume level and the ratio and coloration of the sound signals received from the various microphones. Modern stereophonic sound recording makes possible the accurate transmission of the position of the sound sources not only with respect to depth (the distance from the listener) but also laterally (left, right, and center). Working directly with the performer, the producer is the ideal listener and adviser, as well as the conductor and coauthor of the aural artistic composition being recorded on a tape or disk. Sound engineering and production also includes the supervision of editing, in which the recording of the work is created from the most successful fragments of several recording versions.

The recordings made by the Soviet producers A. V. Grosman, I. P. Veprintsev, D. I. Gaklin, G. A. Braginskii, and I. G. Dudkevich have repeatedly won prizes at international competitions (including the C. Cros Grand Prix du Disque of the French Academy of Sound Recording).

In the USSR, sound producers specialize on the basis of an advanced musical education in courses at the State House of Broadcasting and Sound Recording and the Television Center. A number of countries, including Poland, the German Democratic Republic, and the Federal Republic of Germany, have conservatories with departments or divisions of sound engineering and production. Regular international symposia and congresses of sound producers and engineers are held in the USA, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Sweden.