mixing-table-mixing-music-musician-159206-compressed

We recently had a small workshop at the studio to discuss career opportunities in the field of sound and how new audio engineers can find their niche in such a diverse field, to build a solid career for themselves. The panel we had invited, spoke on the subject of every sound engineer finding their own signature sound, but in today’s blog I’d like to talk about what we meant by that, in detail.

Every engineer or producer can go about finding their own sound, and potential clients will choose a producer based on their signature sound. To start with, let’s try and understand what this sound really is, how does one define it? This sound can be anything as specific as polished drums, or tight low end, groovy rhythm section or even something as generic as a clean or dirty mix. Your signature sound is unlikely to be just one factor, but an amalgamation of many such subtleties.

So how does one find their own sound? According to me, the signature sound comes from 4 major places:

Every engineer or producer can go about finding their own sound, and potential clients will choose a producer based on their signature sound.

No. 1

Drawing Influences

This is a very interesting approach to finding your sound. By drawing influence, I don’t mean you precisely emulate what your influencer is doing but what this means is that you look at their approach and then add your own unique touch to it.

For example: Let’s take Mark Knopfler’s Boom Like That. I draw a lot of my influences when it comes to drum sounds from there. The way that kick sits in with the rest of the song and the overall tone of the drums with the overheads slightly accentuated in the high mids is what I’m trying to achieve.
Boom Like That
Now does this mean that I’m copying what Guy Fletcher was doing? Well yes and no. I’m drawing inspiration from what I heard and liked about that sound and then found my own unique way of doing it. Obviously, It’s not possible for me to do exactly what Guy did on this track, but I can add my style and preferences to it to make it my sound.

NEW BATCH STARTS FROM 1ST APRIL 2019

The certificate course aims to create a set of engineers with a keen set of ears and a sharp mind by facilitating a hands on approach towards the art of sound engineering.
Very often when I’m working with mixes, I have a very specific approach to the various elements. These are usually a trickle down of the kind of style and influences that I admire and align with my sensibilities.
No. 2

How our ears are tuned:

Everyone hears things differently, we all know this. My ears are very sensitive to high frequencies whereas some people really like extremely bright “Hi-Fi” sound. This inherent difference in the way we hear things also adds a lot to the sound of an engineer/producer. When I’m approaching recordings as well I usually prefer to have my recordings done in a way where I don’t use to many microphones which tend to have a bright characteristic sound so the recordings sometimes tend to not be too saturated in the higher frequencies on the way in. So immediately all my recordings tend to have this warmer sound which later on the mix stage might or might not becomes brighter depending on the style of the music that is being recorded.Some people whose ears are tuned to more transient oriented sound will approach recording in that manner and so on.
No. 3

Preferences

When it comes to writing music and even engineering it we all have our preferences, some people like to keep the bass as the focus of their sound while some people may like to keep the kick groove as the major focus in their mix. Similarly when it comes to arrangements, some producers might like writing bass lines that are sparse and between the downbeat whereas some people might like to write a groovy bass line syncopating with the drums.All of these preferences mainly dominate the “Sound” of an engineer. These things can be applied to different things like transitions, snare sound, compression, guitar tones, spatial placement, vocal mic, saturation and the list goes on.

No. 4

Why should you develop your own sound?

Nobody will want to hire you if you are exactly similar to the next engineer. The reason someone will want to hire you as an engineer or a producer on a project is because they want to impart your sound to their music. They are paying you so that you can apply all of the above mentioned things to their music.
The process of developing your own sound takes years of experience, you can’t just wake up one day and decide that XYZ is your signature sound. It is a rigorous process of working on Mixes day in day out till you reach a point where you’re happy with the way they sound. Then identifying what made it work and building on it the next time you’re recording so that you have a better source from the mix perspective.

Experiment, Practice & Repeat!

Careers in Sound Engineering

Get in touch!

If you guys have another other questions you would like to shoot at me, just shoot me a mail at ronak@gray-spark.com.
Exclusive

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email