Not everyone is a sound engineer. A sound engineer is 50% geek (a cool one at that), and 50% ‘sound artist’. A well-trained ear and sensitive to balances in audio is a requirement. Developing that ‘ear for perfection’ takes practice. Did you ever notice many sound engineers enjoy music, or know how to play an instrument in a band? They understand balanced sound. To give you an example of ‘non-sound engineering’, someone who believes playing music in the background of a recording is enough to mix it with the voice levels. This may sound ok to someone new, but painful to a well-trained ear.
However, anyone can have a ‘good ear’ for balance, but it will only be good for casting, unless you know how to use the tools to achieve the very sound you know is perfect. Some voice talent/producers may even consider their equipment an extension of themselves, and give it a name (which is fine…nicknames show endearment). With powerful digital audio packages like Pro Tools, Audacity, or sweet Vocal Suite software, there is a temptation to think engineering is just copying, pasting, and deleting some bouncy lines on a screen. True, you have to learn through practice, but auditioning is not the time to practice. Auditioning is the “job interview”. A good sound engineer knows how to balance levels, and how to balance the use of effects and compression. They also get this ‘ouch’ face when they hear something that is not perfect, as if someone poked them. Think of it this way…
If you were a musician cutting your first album at a major record label, would you like it, if they released your work with distortion or background noise or uneven levels? You would not buy an album like that, so you should hold yourself to that same professional standard for the anonymous listener when working online. Are you worried about work being stolen? Don’t worry about it; we will get to that later.
And hey…if you feel like some schooling is on the horizon for you, take a look here!