Recording Studio Technician
Recording studios stockpile a vast inventory of audio gear to meet the varied needs of their clients. To keep it all in good working order, studio managers rely on the skill and talent of technicians who are specifically trained to diagnose and treat any short circuit or buzz in the line.
The recording studio technician is primarily concerned with maintenance and repair of electronic equipment, including cables, microphones, and amps. Depending on the individual’s range of expertise, he or she may also be tasked with caring for instruments in the studio’s inventory and performing repairs like bridge replacements on guitars or changing out drum heads. The studio technician works closely with in-house recording engineers and staff to regularly inspect gear for damage and wear, and will respond to immediate needs for troubleshooting and replacement of equipment during recording sessions. It is the studio tech’s responsibility to ensure that the tool shop is properly stocked with replacement parts and necessary expendables—you can never have too many guitar strings, heat shrink tubes, or microphone RCA transformers. For major repairs or items under warranty, it is the technician’s job to contact the manufacturer to schedule a field technician or arrange to ship the equipment.
Skills & Education
A college degree in recording arts, music production, or electrical engineering is recommended, but not a standard requirement. Training, however, is mandatory. This position demands an individual with considerable expertise on audio equipment, and a thorough understanding of electricity and circuitry. Safety is a major concern when working with electricity, even when a device is unplugged; capacitors store energy that can cause serious injury and equipment damage if not properly handled. You will likely be soldering something a few times a week, so start practicing now. Likewise, replacing connectors and making cables are the most common repairs. Experience as a musician is helpful, as the ability to repair stringed and percussion instruments is invaluable.
What to Expect
Positions will vary from one recording studio to the next based on the size and need of the company; opportunities exist for full-time work, as well as part-time and freelance employment. Audio equipment manufactures and rental houses employ technicians in their warehouses to prep orders and go out on service calls to client studios. This role is a step up from the studio setup worker, but may become a dead end for anyone looking to make the jump to assistant recording engineer. You’ll spend most of your time in the tool shop, not in recording sessions, meeting producers, or learning the craft of sound mixing. However, for someone who is more mechanically inclined and prefers to tinker away in his or her private science lab, this is an ideal gig. It is also an excellent transition to and from work as a venue audio technician or on concert tours.
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