Do you have to understand electronics to be a sound engineer?
I feel that I am struggling with electronics. Do I really need to understand this or is it something I can ignore?
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Audio equipment works by electronics, so if you have a certain amount of understanding you will gain a good deal of confidence in what you are doing.
However technology has moved on and it is less useful for a sound engineer to understand electronics than it used to be.
For example, imagine you were a sound operator in a theatre musical in the 1990s and while you were preparing the mixing console for an evening performance you found a problem. If you had a good grasp of electronics you would be better able to describe the problem to a maintenance engineer and everything would be working properly much more quickly.
Indeed, you might have found a way of working around the problem, although you wouldn't have been expected to fix it yourself.
These days however digital consoles, electronically speaking, mostly either work or don't work. Knowing electronics would not give you any advantage.
Where a basic understanding of electronics will help, as one example, is in the selection of equipment such as microphone preamplifiers.
Manufacturers' advertising material often talks about such equipment in terms of its electronic design. So if you know what a Class A amplifier is, for example, you are at an advantage over someone who doesn't.
The best plan is to have a really good try at understanding the basics of electronics, from Module 1 of the Audio Masterclass Sound Engineering and Music Production Online Course. If this works for you, that's great.
If you find that it is too abstract and you don't get on with the topic, don't worry. Many working sound engineers have only a very sketchy knowledge but they manage just fine. Concentrate on the areas that are best matched to your talents.
By David Mellor, Wednesday June 16, 2010