Careers: TV – Working in Sound

In Careers in the Music Industry, Music Technology by itssaamLeave a Comment

In this post we’ll talk about working in Sound, focusing on Sound for Television Broadcast.

A role of someone who works in TV is very misinterpreted, and it’s not always obvious what we do. Whether you want to work for BBC or Sky, the roles are similar in each company – it’s just finding the one that suits you.
In TV there are many positions available for work, the first questions that need to be answered are:

  • What you’re good at doing? – Studio, Production or Post-Production?
  • What you enjoy doing?
  • How experienced are you?
  • What knowledge have you got of each role?

Roles for TV – Recording of a Show

The main roles in a TV studio, just focusing on sound at show recording stage are

  1. Sound Number 1
    This person is in charge of all things relating to the Floor Sound of a show. They’re in charge of the Floor Sound Assistants, and are who you report to should there be an error. Usually, they’re the most experienced in the role.
  2. Sound Number 2
    These are second in charge, they’re just below the sound number 1 (supervisor) and have also had a long length of experience in the role. Sound Number twos also focus on floor sound, and the rigging/de-rigging of a show.
  3. Floor Sound Assistant
    TV Sound assistants are there to carry out many tasks. Mic fitting, (de-)rigging of speakers/amps, sound recording/broadcasting equipment, communication systems and positioning microphones as-well as general maintaining of equipment. They work under the supervision of the Sound Number 1 (Supervisor) and work through the recording stage of a show.
  4. Sound Supervisor/Mixer
    This is the person who will live-mix the output of the recording for the show. They’ll level each mic as intended, along with controlling levels and EQ decisions needed for music and FX for the show.
    When the TV show is live, the final mix is done in the studio, in house by the Sound Mixer.
    If the show isn’t live, and is going through post-production, it’ll be mixed by a separate sound mixer again – after post production has been done.
  5. Gram Operator
    Gram Operating is one of the un-known roles of Sound for TV. They’re in charge of playing out music, FX and controlling MIDI devices used during filming.
    Example: The Buzzer you hear in a game show, will be rigged into the GramOps’ PC and they’ll control the level and the sound that comes out after triggered – which is then recorded in for the show’ use.
  6. Boom Operator
    A Boom Operator is someone who is in control of a Boom or FishPole microphone. They’re mainly used to capture voices in the audience (on Studio related shows) or to capture audio outside, interviews or other vocal based show.
    Technique is key in this role. A good Boom Operator will perfect the way they hold, position and capture the audio from the microphone.


Roles for TV – Post-Production to Ready for Broadcast

After the recording stage of a TV show, it’ll need to be edited and cut ready for broadcast. This dedicated team of people are the last stage before it’ll be broadcasted on TV to millions of people. Roles include..

  1. Sound Mixer
    This is the person who will mix the final show. Usually the programme Director will sit in on the final mix, giving their ideas and expectations whilst the mixer conducts the final mix, alongside watching the edited show.
    They’re in charge of ensuring levels are consistent and most importantly ensuring broadcasting regulations and standards are met – for example, LUFs and PPM6 loudness readings.
  2. Foley Recordist
    The Foley recordist is someone who will record all extra ‘foley’ sounds as needed. They’re to ensure a good quality sound has been recorded for editing.
    Note: Not all shows need foley. A cookery show may, as all sounds recorded on location or in the studio may not be adequate – but a game show, may not as they are able to capture direct signals rather than necessarily capturing spill from mics etc.
  3. Foley/FX Editor
    The Foley/FX editor will edit, cut, crop the audio and add any additional sounds to the programme – filling in time, ensuring there isn’t too much un-wanted quiet space, gripping the audience etc.
    This role is the last place the programme will go before going to be mixed by the Sound Mixer.


It’s worth while noting that all these roles work alongside the show producers and directors – ultimately decisions on the content is made by them, our role is to technically provide them with that outcome – using the best equipment and resources available at the time of recording/producing.

Getting work within TV isn’t necessarily about a qualification or how much you know, sometimes about who you know or where you are – unfortunately. Although, gaining experience is definitely an advantage and if you’re interested in working in Sound for TV you could actively apply for work placements with BBC * or check out ITV’s Insight Pool *, to mention a couple.


If you’d like to read more on roles, current jobs available or how to apply/gain experience in these roles follow a link below.

Broadcast Now Magazine

AMPS – Association of Motion Picture Sound

SMPTE – Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers

BBC Academy – TV


*MusicTechStudent is not affiliated with these companies.

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