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Jake Kluge’s Tips: How to be a successful audio engineer

Audio editor/mixer Jake Kluge has worked at Dallas’ Charlieuniformtango for over 14 years. This audio vet knows a thing or two about how to succeed in this business. His recent work includes spots for Fiat and Home Depot out of The Richards Group, as well as a project for Universal Orlando via TM Advertising.

This busy pro was kind enough to share his wisdom with postPerspective.

If you’re the type of engineer that works with a client sitting behind you, as many of us are, your middle name should be Collaboration. You’re working for your clients. Their word is final. But, there is a reason they come to you — you’re good at this “sound thing.” So it’s ok to ask, ”What if we tried something like this?” It’s even more ok to ask, “What were you hoping to hear for this area?”

Kluge recently collaborated with The Richards Group for Fiat and Home Depot.

Your Ears: Take Care of Those Money Makers Inside the Studio
Monitor at a reasonable level. You’re going to be using your ears to make a living. You’ll probably even use them when you get home from work. Do not monitor at 90dB. Do not monitor consistently at 85dB. Use your judgment, but keep it down to a reasonable level. The rule is, if your ears are ringing after a session, that’s bad. Don’t do that.

Your Ears: Take Care of Those Money Makers Outside the Studio
Carrying over from the last tip. Those ears of yours — moneymakers — are pretty darn important to your career. Wear earplugs at concerts. Wear earplugs at band practice. Wear earplugs during fireworks. Just wear earplugs. Buy some good ones and keep them with you at all times. You won’t regret it.

Change Your Mouse/Trackball/Tablet Every So Often
I’ve been track balling for 15 years solid. Recently, I have experienced what I am assuming is carpel tunnel syndrome in my wrist. It’s not bad, and if I switch from my trackball (old faithful) to a mouse, my wrist feels better. So my conclusion is, switch it up every once in a while. Oh, and stop slouching, you slob.

Other People Have Good Ideas Too
If you’re lucky enough to have other audio people working with you, pick their brains about everything. “What’s another good search word for “whoosh?” “Why is my master fader clipping so hard?” “Do these pants make me look fat?” That kind of stuff.

Fortune Favors the Bold
It’s true. Go out and get the big job. Try out crazy ideas in your sound design or mix. Ask out that girl/guy you’ve been crushing on…. send me the wedding picture.

Jake Kluge is an audio editor and mixer at Charlieuniformtango (@CUTango) in Dallas. You can reach him at

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