What is the difference between a sound designer, sound editor, audio engineer, and mixing engineer?


What is the difference between a sound designer, sound editor, audio engineer, and mixing engineer?

In: 7095

Sound designer :”the doorbell should go bing bong”

Audio engineer: records the bong and the bing

Editor: removes noise and adjusts the recording

Mixer: adds the bing and the bong together

So I have an audio engineering degree and have done some of this work.

sound designer: is someone that makes sound for things that don’t exist in the real world for for example Ben Burtt for star wars was asked to make the sound of a spacecraft lazer shooting so he recorded hitting a wire with metal and edited it to make it sound like what a spacecraft lazer shooting would be like.

Sound editor: would be someone that works for movies, tv, podcasts, or like a YouTube channel that takes recorded audio and edits out parts that they don’t want in, compresses the audio so that people taking quieter will be heard and people that are yelling will be at the same level as the quieter person with you having to turn up and down the volume while listening. Things like that .

Audio engineer: someone that works for example recording a band in a studio putting mics on instruments and recording those into tracks either digitally or to analog tape and uses effects to mix those tracks together so make a rough demo, the demo is then usually sent to a dedicated mixing engineer. They could also work in a live concert setting miking instruments and mixing it together so that a concert is enjoyable and so that the guitar is not way louder than the vocals.

Mixing engineer: is someone is dedicated to mixing the recording engineer would send all the tracks with individual instruments (guitar, bass, hi hat, bass drum, snare drum, cymbols, and so on) and mix those all together so that all the instruments sound good together and a processed properly. They would then sum all those tracks down to one audio file and send it to a mastering engineer

Mastering engineer: they work with just the audio track and edit it to make sure all the frequencys are working together and nothing is to muddy or bright, really the final touches.

Sound designer: makes the desired sound with a synth and/or other instrument.

Sound editor: arranges the recorded sounds.

Audio engineer: makes sure the sounds are recorded the right way.

Mixing engineer: makes sure all of the recorded sounds sound good together.

Here’s what I understand so far:

**Audio Engineer** is mainly just an umbrella term for the following, but it can possibly maybe be used interchangeably with recording engineer.

A **recording engineer** specializes in audio equipment and is able to make sure that all equipment is placed properly and recorded well so that the mixing engineer or sound editor has good material to work with. These may also be called an A2.

A **sound designer** works to figure out what sounds a movie needs, and find or create those sounds.

A **sound editor** is a general editor, similar to a YouTube editor, who specializes in sound, making sure that the content from the recording engineer or sound designer is stitched together, adjusted, and balanced in a way that sounds nice. A sound editor can also double as a mixing/mastering engineer in smaller settings.

A **mixing engineer**, sometimes doubling as a mastering engineer or mistaken for a mastering engineer, makes sure that all of the sounds in a movie, performance, or song are balanced and equalized. This is also the job performed by a live audio engineer, except, y’know, not live. These may also be called an A1.

(Bonus: A **mastering engineer** adjusts smaller details like EQ and other things that may have been missed along the way; makes sure the final mix is polished and ready for distribution from a professional standpoint.)

“Audio engineer” is pretty much a catchall term for the other three, and many more sub-disciplines. They’re the people who handle the technical aspects of audio production in general.

For the other terms, let’s look at [this scene from Jurassic Park](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc_i5TKdmhs). How do you get it to sound the way it does?

They obviously didn’t have a T-Rex at hand to make noises for them. What does she sound like? Her roars, her stomping around, everything. The job of the sound designer is to come up with this sort of thing and more. Some of this work can easily be done well ahead of time, before the filming starts, other parts might need to happen later when you need something bespoke for a particular bit.

Now you’re done filming, and somebody’s gotta build a timeline out of all the audio recordings. When Tim closes the car door, there won’t have been one single T-Rex sound for the whole sequence of noises she makes when she reacts. Somebody needs to know the sound library for the T-Rex effects well enough to build that sequence out of the chunks you have. This scene has no music, but, if it did, somebody would need to line it up with the dialogue and sound effects. All these things are the job of the sound editor.

At long last, you now have a fully-assembled scene, but things are not quite right, still. Just before the T-Rex smashes the car roof, Lex and Time go from laboured breathing to screaming, and then you have the loud trumpeting that makes the kids covers their ears. Somebody needs to make sure the relative volumes all work together. When the T-Rex flips the car over, you can distinctly hear some piece of metal rolling off to the left, and the tyre deflating panned to the right when she bites into it. Those sounds were obviously not recorded at a specific position (first, it’s annoying to do it that way, second what happens when the editor decides to use the camera that was off to the other side?) This sort of positioning and volume adjustment is the job of the mixing engineer.