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From Abbey Road to Brisbane: The journey of an audio engineer

With almost four decades of experience in the audio and music industries in Australia and the UK, Adrian Carroll has seen it all whilst working as an audio engineer with acclaimed international voice-over actors and artists. Now at SAE Brisbane as department coordinator for audio, Adrian is giving back to the industry by nurturing future talent.
Adrian Carrol audio engineer, wearing leather jacket

“Looking at my time in the audio industry, my best work is the recording I’ve done with international voiceover artists like Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Ross, Tom Baker, Penelope Keith, Nigel Planer and Richard O’Brien,” Adrian explained.

“I’ve also had the chance to work with artists like Voodoo Lust, Charlie Owens, Joell Ortiz, Kxng Crooked, The Skeletones, The Headstones, Splatterheads, The Queensland Choir, Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, The Royal Artillery, Royce da 5’9″ and producers of the calibre of Mike Hedges.”

“I’ve always chosen the best recording studios and that’s reflected well when I’ve dealt with artists. The members of Brisbane Band Voodoo Lust came over to England when I was there, and I was able to bring them into Abbey Road Studios where we did an overnight lock-in recording, which I later mixed and mastered at Silk Sound and the SAE campus in London.”

During his varied career, Adrian has been an influential name at radio stations across Brisbane, including as Production Manager at 4BC. That time in radio has stayed with him, and continues to be an inspiration for his love of analogue technology.

“I have a Sony MCI 16-track two-inch tape machine, 44-channel Amek console and Studer A-810 stereo mastering machine. I’m not using any digital platforms to record, and the recordings go straight onto two-inch tape through the recording console, so it is very much an analogue experience with the artists I work with.

“Digital sound has been second to analogue for a long time, because of the ‘level wars’ where digital didn’t have any dynamic range, which led to a lot of people returning to vinyl and working with tape.

“With digital music platforms evolving, they now require a dynamic range of 14dB, which is a similar level that you find on vinyl, so we are now in an age where digital is actually going to sound quite good.”

“From my own personal perspective, I still like the tactile activities of loading up tape, putting a band through a mixing console, and engineering it with faders. Using tape machines is very much an experience.”

The appeal of analogue audio engineering has seen a renaissance in recent years, with Adrian’s students at SAE having “an unquenchable appetite” for it.

Since 1985, Adrian has had a connection with SAE. With stints as an audio lecturer in London and Australia, and has been lecturing at the Brisbane campus for the past five years.

“SAE has been very much a home for me. I’ll go out into the industry and then come back and impart that knowledge I’ve acquired onto students.

“I enjoy setting students up for a career in the industry, and giving them the foundational skills and attitude needed to be successful.”

Adrian’s biggest achievements in the industry comes from the work he’s done with classical music and SAE audio students.

“Part of what I do at SAE is prepare students for industry once they graduate. One of the opportunities we’ve had is to work with the Queensland Wind Orchestra.

“I firstly teach students how to record the orchestra in a rehearsal, and then they will record the live performance independently. I find students as a consequence of a project like that become vastly more enriched in their experience.

“Once students have the ability to record an orchestra, which can be very technical, they’ll have the ability to record anything big – like a motorbike rally or a choir.”

Looking to the future, Adrian has a number of exciting projects in the works. “I’d like to produce more record releases using tape machines, work on completing a doctorate, and continue training students to be successful in industry.”

Bearded man working on an audio desk

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