Monitor microphone levels and positions so performances sound right.
A Tracking Engineer is one of several Audio Engineers in charge of recording and editing audio, which is a complex process. Although they’re only three or four minutes long, your favorite songs typically take hours to record in a studio. Days, perhaps, or maybe even weeks.
That’s because a studio recording, unlike a live performance, must be flawless. As a result, Musicians record several “takes,” the best bits of which are later combined to make the final recording that’s played on the radio.
When you’re a Tracking Engineer, it’s your job to record those “takes.” The pieces of audio you record are eventually put together by a Mixing Engineer to create a completed song under the direction of a Music Producer.
While most modern recording is digital, the position of Tracking Engineer originated in the days of tape recording, when separate sounds were recorded from multiple sources to different “tracks” on a single piece of tape. As a result, you could record vocals, drums, and guitars separately to the same tape, then play them back as if they’d been recorded in the same room at the same time.
Although technology has evolved beyond tape, your job as a Tracking Engineer is still recording the separate, discrete elements of audio tracks. The process typically starts with recording percussion — since drums establish an initial rhythm — and usually ends with recording vocals, since Singers typically adjust their voices to accompany the music. In between, you record everything else, from guitars to pianos to trumpets, all of which requires setting up, testing, and adjusting recording equipment, as well as regulating sound quality and volume.
Basically, you’re a musical Seamstress, capturing individual audio threads that are later woven into musical fabric!