What Does A Sound Mixer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Sound Mixers

Sound Mixers are responsible for recording clear audio on set during filmmaking or television productions. They manage the equipment and crew that captures dialogue and background sounds.

Bachelor's degree
Interest Match

A Sound Mixer or Production Sound Mixer is the crew member who records audio on a film or television set. Working as a Sound Mixer gives you the chance to be part of the production team. Unlike the Sound Designer, you work on the set, capturing dialogue and background sounds. The audio is then incorporated into the final production by the Sound Designer and post-production sound department.

Many people may not know that the Sound Mixer is also the head of a department. They manage the production sound department, which includes the Boom Operators and several assistants.

What they do

Sound Mixers are responsible for recording clear audio on set during filmmaking or television productions. They manage the equipment and crew that captures dialogue and background sounds.

Manage a Sound Crew on a Film Set

The Sound Mixer is the head of the sound department during principal photography. Depending on the budget and size of the project, the sound department may also include a Sound Assistant, Cable Runner, and one or more Boom Operators.

In some cases, the Sound Mixer may hire the remaining audio production crew or provide input on who to select for the roles. When principal photography starts, the Sound Mixer manages the team and delegates tasks.

Determine What Types of Mics to Use and Where to Place Them

The Sound Mixer is responsible for the overall quality of the audio. To capture clear audio from Actors or speakers, the Sound Mixer needs to decide what types of microphones to use and where to position them. However, the Sound Mixer may also delegate these tasks to the Boom Operator.

Along with the position of the microphones, the Sound Mixer may need to decide where to place the boom pole and other sound equipment.

For complex shots where the Boom Operator needs to remain mobile or follow the Camera Operator, the Sound Mixer may need to design a path and perform a trial run to keep the shadow out of the camera’s frame.

Operate a Sound Recorder

Operating the sound recorder and related equipment is the primary job duty of the Sound Mixer. You will spend most of your time monitoring the recording process. This includes paying attention to sound levels, unwanted noises, and distortion.

The Sound Mixer records all audio on set. Along with dialogue from Actors, the Sound Mixer records live sound effects, music, wild lines, and the room tone.

The room tone is the sound of an empty room or a set when no Actors are speaking. It provides a baseline for smoothing out dialogue and sound effects during post-production.

Maintain a Sound Report

Throughout the principal photography, the Sound Mixer maintains a detailed sound report or log sheet. The sound report is a list of every take that was recorded. The list includes extensive notes, including the scene, the Actors involved, the dialogue, the number of audio tracks, and technical details related to the audio. A sound report is a necessary tool used by the Sound Editors during post-production to sync the audio with the video.

Consult with the Director During Production

The Sound Mixer works with the Director throughout the production process to ensure that the audio is properly captured. The Sound Mixer is typically brought in during pre-production to discuss the sound perspective, types of microphones, and equipment needed for the project.

During production, the Sound Mixer may notify the Director of any sound issues, such as unusually noisy external sources of sound or equipment problems.

What is the job like


You Get to Work on Interesting Projects

The variety of projects can help keep this job from becoming boring or stale.

You May Work in a Variety of Industries

To continually find work, Sound Mixers often work in multiple industries. You may work on films, TV shows, theatre performances, festivals, events, commercials, or even news broadcasts.

Sound Mixers Have Job Flexibility

Without permanent employment, you have the flexibility to work anywhere and take time off between projects.

You May Progress to Other Careers

If you tire of working as a Sound Mixer, your experience and connections may help you transition to other roles, such as Sound Designer or Foley Artist.


You May Work Long Hours on the Set

The Sound Mixer stays on set throughout the day, which can run for 14 hours or more during a film or television production.

You May Not Find Full-Time Employment

As with many careers in film, Sound Mixers rarely find full-time employment. They typically work as freelancers after gaining experience in other roles.

Where they work

Production Companies and Film Studios
News Organizations
Sound Design Companies
Independent Sound Mixing Services

Sound Mixers often work on film or TV sets. They are often employed by production companies involved in the production of films, television shows, or theatrical performances. Sound Mixers may also work for news organizations, recording the audio for news broadcasts.

Sound design companies that offer sound design services for original productions also employ Sound Mixers and other Audio Technicians. Sound Mixers with enough experience and professional connections may work as freelancers and offer their services independently.

How to become one

Step 1: Learn How to Use Audio Recording Hardware

High school students can prepare for this career by learning how to use audio recording hardware and software.

Step 2: Earn a Degree in Sound Engineering

Many Sound Mixers have Bachelor’s degrees in Sound Engineering or Audio Production.

Step 3: Volunteer for Projects That Require an Audio Crew

Most Sound Mixers work as freelancers, which requires you to build contacts. Start networking and building relationships by volunteering for any project that requires an audio crew.

Step 4: Look for Entry-Level Work

You may need to start as a Boom Operator or Cable Runner before finding work as a Sound Mixer.

Step 5: Offer Your Services as a Freelancer

As you gain more work experience on film or television sets, begin using your connections to land a job as a Sound Mixer. Continue to develop your contacts and perform your job well to receive steady employment.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Organizer

People with this personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Sound Mixers need good communication skills, as they manage a crew of people and need to build industry connections to find work. You will also need to be very perceptive, which is necessary for keeping mics and equipment out of the camera’s view.

Successful Sound Mixers are well-organized, as they need to maintain equipment, manage other workers, and perform their job duties without direct supervision. You should also be reliable and dedicated to your work, which may help you land your next job.

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