Audio Engineering vs. Music Production: Key Differences and Similarities

audio engineer and music producer

 

If you’re wondering, here is the short for difference between audio engineering and music production:

 

Music Production incorporates a producer and a creative role that goes through the entire process of creating music. This is more of managerial role. So that includes beats, writing loops, and sketching out demo songs.

 

Audio engineering is the actual recording of the production. The main goal is to make sure the equipment does what it is supposed to do. No creative input is needed in this field and it mainly will submit to the needs of the production that is in place.

 

Music Production

 

Primary Task

The primary task of a music producer is to see the big vision. They are the ones who coordinate all the pieces and bring the musicians or songwriter’s visions to life and sometimes with their own spin on it. They usually have a character that they embed into the song, whether it’s intentional or not. Producers have certain styles of producing and their ears will hear things in a certain way that dictate how that brings that vision to life. They have holistic responsibilities and make hard decisions that the songwriter maybe can’t get out of their minds.

 

Main Challenge

The main challenge is overcoming the ego of the songwriter which is typical and natural because songwriters are creating this piece with all their hearts and souls. A producer will need to be able to connect with the songwriter or musician but also approach them with tact to help them craft and mold a song without completely destroying their vision too much. Another challenge to the music producer will be working and managing other people and there will be some difficulties that arise with that.

 

I Should Become a Music Producer If:

  • You can understand the recording process.
  • Good with people.
  • You can deal with expectations from others 
  • Experience with project management 
  • Able to cast a vision for a song
  • You’re creative and can think outside the box

 

creative music producer

 

Audio or Sound Engineering

 

Primary Task

The primary task of an audio engineer is to engineer the audio.

 

It will mean that you will need a strong understanding of how the equipment works. For example signal flows, how to get the voice into the microphone or into the preamp, plus any output gear you think might enhance that sound.

 

Then recording it with the proper signal change and also gain structure is important to get the proper levels in the studio so there are no weak signals, which would be hard to manipulate later.

 

Main Challenge

The role of the audio engineer is very technical and it is very hard for musicians as well.

 

It requires a different mindset. Using the audio gear to achieve the sounds the producer may be looking for. If you have access to a ton of gear, it’s important to understand what each piece does, what their sound is, and what their character is. For example, how to choose the right microphone for the right voice or instrument sound. 

 

I Should Become a Music Engineer If:

  • Enjoy working with electronics
  • Likes to working with different sounds
  • Understand how to manipulate sounds
  • Can wear producer hat
  • Organized
  • Can set up an affective recording session
  • Know or able to determine the sound of their room

 

These technical challenges are areas that are addressed in a music engineering degree program.

 

creative music engineer

To learn other topics about music engineering go to our career guide. Watch this 7min video from the Khan Academy for a glimpse into a young music engineer’s early career.

 

Double Roles

 

music producer vs music engineer infographic

 

Can someone do both as one position even if there is a difference between audio engineering and music production? Absolutely!

 

On bigger projects, there is usually a budget to get one of each. In this age of home recording studios and mobile recording setups, it is better if you are able to do both. You would be able to bring a lot more to the table and be a lot more effective because you understand and get the most from both sides. You’ll find that people will come back to you because you’re a valuable asset!

 

Visible Music College offers both a certificate and bachelor’s in both music production and music or audio engineering. 

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Learn more about our Music Production Program at Visible Music College.