From Ponytails to Nerds?

Its long been the case that the public perception of what we do has been very different from our image of ourselves.When I worked briefly as a sound engineer for a small cabaret performance, an artist insisted on calling me "sparks". The general perception is that sound engineering is predominantly about electrical knowledge. I think this may be why so many sound engineers had ponytails. To distinguish them from electricians and align themselves with the creative side of the music industry. I have been excluded from the ponytail fraternity as I am follicly challenged. I have had to argue that we are different because I cannot demonstrate it with creative hairstyling.

Perceptions change. Now the problem is that building contractors and venue managers see sound design as part of the IT industry. It is true that sound is transmitted around a venue as data and because of this sound engineers need a good understanding of IT and data transmission skills. But once the transmission has reached the loudspeakers, acoustics becomes the dominant discipline.

Sound engineers will never become just IT people, because they need to understand dynamic range, limiting, compression, masking, speech intelligibility and other sound engineering concepts. But most of all they need to understand what happens when the sound leaves the loudspeaker and that is acoustics.

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