Mixing Engineer's Handbook

The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook


I have a few questions about studio internships
Thanks to the revolution in affordable recording and mixing technology, more music is being written, produced, and mixed today than ever before. The mixer’s art is now a unique blend of time-tested principles and skillful technique using the latest high-tech tools. If you’re ready to learn today’s art of mixing, this is the book for you. THE MIXING ENGINEER’S HANDBOOK, 3RD EDITION, is the latest update of the most popular book on audio mixing ever written (more than 150,000 copies sold). Popu…

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Top rated Music books on Reddit rank no. 29

I have a few questions about studio internships(r/audioengineering)

TruTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything” has a really great video about internships and how most of them are actually illegal according to the US Department of Labor:

Internships are a tricky thing. What they should be is an educational experience wherein you shadow an engineer or engineers as they do work. You should be learning stuff and the people you are interning for should be going out of their way to teach you stuff. However, this is very often not the case. I’ve inteviewed for several internships, and one of them (Chicago Recording Company, the biggest in Chicago) requires that interns work 40 hours a week, unpaid, for three months, and at the end of the internship you MIGHT get put on their “Crew” which is basically a freelance intern. Just look at that link and try to tell me that doesn’t look like a completely shit deal for the intern.

If you are interviewing to be an intern and they say stuff like, “Your responsibilities will include making coffee, doing food runs, and other errands.” and they’re not talking about how they will be teaching you engineering skills, for the love of Rupert Neve SAY NO! These are gigantic red flags and should be avoided at all costs. You don’t learn shit about audio engineering by making people coffee, grabbing food for clients, and mopping floors. Those are paid jobs handled by baristas, delivery people, and janitors, respectively.

I was in one of those “do nothing, learn nothing” internships for three months. I interviewed at Particle Audio in Chicago shortly after graduating from Columbia College Chicago for audio engineering. I made coffee every morning, filled fridges, and took out garbage. I spent most of the internship sitting on my computer reading about audio and working on my own projects. I had only one opportunity in the three months I was there to sit in on a mix session and look over the engineer’s shoulder. And what’s especially stupid about it is that everything that she was doing was shit I already knew how to do! They didn’t even have specialized plugins for god’s sake, they were just stock Avid shit.

After all that time I get to the exit interview and the producer tells me, “You’re really great /u/Hutchinson76, I think you have the temperament and personality to really succeed in this industry. Unfortunately we can’t offer you a job because you don’t speak Spanish and we want an assistant that can.” As I leave as a guy my age—who I recognize from Columbia—is waiting in the lobby to interview for the assistant position (he was not an intern at Particle). I check the company’s website a week later and he’s the new assistant audio engineer.

I fundamentally regret taking that internship. I wasted three months of my life thinking that I’d get a job at the end of it all. Do not under any circumstance sign up for an internship that is anything other than an educational experience. I can’t reiterate this enough: an internship should be a hands-on learning experience. It is illegal in the United States and many other developed countries to have people on staff working for free. You should not have an extended period of time where they’re dangling a job in front of you so you go get people venti-non-fat-no-whip-sugarfree-vanilla-lattes. That’s super fucked up.

TL;DR Don’t do an internship where you’re not learning stuff as a prime directive—fetching coffee and food for engineers is not going to help your education.

Now, it sounds like you are in a position where you really do need to learn how to be an engineer, and learning at a studio in your area could really benefit you. Just be super clear with the folks you interview with what the deal is, because you don’t want to get roped into something that’s going to waste your time and money. If you can’t find something like that, do not fret because there are lots of great resources where you can learn engineering on your own for free:

Listen to the UBK Happy Funtime Hour Podcast. Gregory Scott and Nathan Daniel are two hilarious engineers who really know the craft.

Watch Pensado’s Place. Dave Pensado is a huge music engineer and his Into The Lair videos are great little vignettes into his mind and engineering methods.

FabFilter also has really excellent deep-dive videos that talk about everything from what Mid-Side processing really is to the differences between upward and downward compression and expansion.

If you’re more into reading, I highly recommed Bobby Owsinski’s series of books about recording, mixing, and mastering. These books were used as text books in my college, so they have earned their accreditation.

You can also find fairly relaible help here on Reddit, and on other forums across the web. Just beware of people who get caught up in Gear Acquisition Syndrome, who say that its not worth recording a damn thing until you have a $100k signal chain and you’re recording in 192k/32bit float.

Most of all, just do the work. You’ll learn so much more by trying stuff, fucking it up, and figuring out how to fix it. If you don’t have a recording setup right now, don’t worry too much. You can build your setup up over time, just get a starter bundle from Focusrite or M-Audio and you’ll be able to do what most anyone else can.

TL;DR 2: You seem like a good candidate for an internship, but there are lots of other resources you can use to teach yourself how to engineer. See links above.


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Bobby Owsinski

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Cengage Learning PTR

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The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook

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I have a few questions about studio internships

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