This is a very common question that I come across and simply put the answer is, “It Depends”
There are a lot of good Audio Engineering Programs out there that impart some really high-quality education to students. But that being said there are a lot of factors to look at when making a decision about joining an Audio Engineering Program or Audio School
The internet has been a game-changer in providing people with easy access to information and it has become very easy for someone to look up a certain thing and learn it through these mediums, but there’s a big catch with this. There’s so much information so readily available that it gets extremely hard to sift through the piles of incomplete/incorrect information out there.
The lack of a proper structure to any form of learning can leave some major holes out that may take years of unlearning to correct. Apart from all of this, usually in a course, students are given tasks every week that they are expected to complete in the given time frame to be able to pass the course. Without having these structured learning systems in place, it may get very difficult for a novice to understand where to start and what to learn first.
A lot of people tend to think of Audio Engineering as a fixed science. Yes, a lot of what we do as Audio Engineers is Science, but it’s equal parts Creative as well. There are many ways to get a drum sound using the same technical know-how of how Microphones, Preamps or converters work. What we personally believe is that in order for students to be able to really grasp concepts, they need to go through the entire process of doing these things for themselves and learning from them.
There is no substitute for practical learning which can be obtained through audio school.
You may know theoretically which microphone to use where and how to get the best tone out of a guitar, but in the real world, there are so many other variables to consider that this theoretical concept doesn’t hold true anymore.
Quick Feedback System
Everyone has heard of the 10,000-hour rule, that if you spend 10,000 hours of your time on doing one specific thing you can achieve mastery over it. The thing that is important to take from this is the feedback system of how we as humans learn. Whenever we take up something new to learn, we come across a lot of challenges and issues that we face, be it challenging math problems or completing a mix. Along this path, we make countless mistakes and as we adapt and learn from these mistakes, we get better every time we face a similar challenge. In order for this to work you need to make these mistakes, learn from them and move on to the next project.
The upside of enrolling in a course is that you have access to an experienced faculty that can guide you through these mistakes and make you aware of them, since most of the time we don’t even know the mistakes we are making. This learning process can be extremely powerful and I have personally seen a lot of students excel tremendously when they put their learnings into practice.
Becoming a good Audio Engineer is one of what makes a successful engineer, along with it you also need to be someone who has good connections with the right people in the industry as well as other soft skills that can’t be taught. Working in a studio environment can provide all of this to students who are starting out. When you work as an assistant Audio Engineer in the studio, you can get to interact with Musicians and other clients who have booked the studio and in some cases even allow you to showcase some of your skills to them.
Working in a studio environment also teaches you how to communicate with clients, how to deliver to a brief, how to set up a workflow so that you can deliver the quality expected of you, and not to forget how to think quickly on your feet.
Building a Portfolio
The Audio Engineering and Music Production industry is primarily a service-based industry that hires people based on their skills, experience, and quality of work they produce. We encourage students who join the course to use their time here to build a solid body of work, by using the 4 studios in our facility. Here the students can work on projects from Live Band recordings all the way to doing surround mixes for films.
The stronger a student’s profile the better chance they have of bagging a full-time work opportunity after completing the course. Most of our students have been able to get placement in various organizations, just on the merit of their work profile.
All of the things above are in favor of joining an audio school and be that as it may, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to go to an audio school to become an Audio Engineer. Going to a good school may just help speed up the process of learning and save you many years of time that you may have to spend doing this learning by yourself.