Audio engineering – my story so far

I have been working in professional audio since 1996. On the back of me attending a live sound course I started working as a studio assistant in a recording studio and learning the ropes to become a studio engineer. Back in those days analogue recording was still very popular and I’m happy to say that my first ever recording session was onto 2” 24 track analogue tape which is a very special recording format. Around this time digital multitrack formats existed which were tape based but most engineers still preferred to record onto analogue reel to reel. Eventually hard drive based digital multi-track formats emerged which became a bit of a game changer in giving engineers the possibility to view and edit the recorded waveform. This flexibility led to systems like Otari radar and Pro tools quickly being established. The move away from tape based systems was also welcome as repairs due to mechanical wear and tear were both disruptive and costly.

Running in parallel to the recording studio work was an interest in live sound engineering with an early project of learning to mix a mates band in his garage and then moving on to us actually performing in bars and venues. This endeavour got me stared as a live sound engineer and soon I realised that the adrenaline rush associated with creating a great sounding show was very addictive. As the live sound engineering role grew over many years I got to travel all over the world mixing some fantastic artists in various venues.

Below is an overview of some of the artists and events that I have mixed live sound for.

Rodrigo Y Gabriella

Duke Special

Luka Bloom

Dervish

Sinead O Conner

The Revs

Oxegen music festival

Strictly Come dancing

Riverdance

Celtic man

Zoe Conway

John Martyn (RIP)

Suzanne Vega

Haldern Pop music festival

Running alongside mixing live events I have also been busy teaching others audio engineering.

From 2006 – 2010 I was responsible for delivering the Live sound course for an educational institute in Dublin Ireland.

In 2010 I joined the education and technical team at d&b audiotechnik who are one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of sound systems for live events.

More information about d&b can be found here:

d&b Soundscape. More art. Less noise.

My role at d&b involves sound system design, sound system optimisation and tuning using analysis software as well as teaching all of those topics.

I still mix live sound occasionally although in recent years my role has shifted from being the guy mixing the band to the being the system technician who is the one responsible for everyone in the audience hearing good sound.

It has been quite easy to transfer my passion for great audio for live music events into creating great audio in the home environment. Having a reference point of so many years of recording and mixing live music is a solid foundation from which to fully understand all the challenges in creating an authentic listening experience in the home environment.

Education has played an important role in my journey for the last 15 years. As well as teaching lots of people I have created ample opportunity for myself to learn as well. To that end I have completed 2 acoustics courses and have qualified with a Diploma in Acoustics and Noise control from the Institute of Acoustics as well as a Masters in Applied Acoustics from Derby university.

My master’s thesis was written on the Acoustical characteristics of a Church building, which was a detailed analysis and study on how to optimise a large space for the purpose of modern worship/music along with communal singing.

For the last few years I have very much enjoyed putting together a great music system in a dedicated listening room at my home. This endeavour has brought many hours of very pleasurable stereo music listening where I have been pleasantly surprised by the high quality of some of the components that are available to audiophiles. In particular my experience of adding acoustic treatments to my music room has not only radically improved the performance of my system but also created the inspiration to offer this service to the UK market place.

This, along with identifying additional needs in the marketplace has inspired me to put Ultimate resolution together, which serves as an audiophile resource where I am committed to offering advice which is not in any way influenced by commercial factors.

My recommendations and specifications will only be influenced by technical and musical performance with an emphasis on the mantra that “the system is only as good as the weakest link in the chain”.

In many cases the listening environment is the weakest link in the chain so the conversation will invariably start there, with the facility to conduct acoustical surveys, where appropriate.

With the very high quality of the audio systems now available I’m very excited to able to help people achieve an authentic and emotive listening experience in the home environment.

All the best,

Oran Burns MSc

3 thoughts on “Audio engineering – my story so far

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