Recording studios are made up of many moving parts. While some studios are run by a single person, others have multiple persons, all filling a specific function in the studio.
The head engineer is usually the most senior member of the production team. Not necessarily by age, but length of time at the studio, or in the industry. They typically have first selection over projects and take lead of the larger sessions and clients. These engineers sometimes have assistants to help them during tracking or mixing. Depending on their skill level and notoriety, they may also have a manager who helps them with booking gigs.
An assistant engineer can have their own projects in the studio but are typically assisting a lead or head engineer on a project. The assistant handles a lot of the setup in the mixing and recording process. Assistants will typically work with a specific engineer, learning their setups and style. The assistant will help setup microphones in recording sessions, prepare the files and routing in the DAW, and other preparation tasks to help the lead engineer. Assistants play a vital role, even being on site for other engineers and producers wishing to use a specific room in a large facility.
Editors are the clean-up crew for audio sessions. From cutting out noise, fading different takes, level matching, and more. They prepare the audio from a recording session to provide the mixing engineer a uniform session to work with. Editing is a vital and mostly overlooked step to creating a polished sound.
Producer is a very broad term. In a basic sense, the producer handles the money, booking, and helps progress the vision of the band or label. They handle booking the studio, the recording engineer, mixing engineer, and mastering house. They typically have a sense of how to achieve specific sounds and push the artists to give their best performance. But producers can also fall into different categories.
The audio tech is the heart and soul of many large facilities. Having the know-how to repair, modify, and create any gear in the facility. Usually with electrical engineering knowledge, they keep all equipment running at its best, and fix any broken pieces in the studio.
Every role listed here provides a vital component to the recording and mixing process. While each role has a specialty, in smaller studios, an engineer or owner must take on every role at any time. The next time you go to listen to your favorite album or song, look up how many people were involved in the creation of the music you’re listening to. You might be surprised as to how many (or not so many) people had a role in its creation.