Audio Engineers Make Music Possible – An Interview with Thaer Bader

“Not everyone has the capacity to understand or appreciate the challenges we face as audio engineers.”

Unfortunately, it’s true. Audio engineers rarely get the respect and acknowledgment they deserve, as Thaer Bader pointed out in a recent interview.  

Bader has provided his award-winning audio engineering expertise to many different artists and audiences over the course of his career. To give a quick sample, Bader has worked as the sound engineer for the Boston Marathon main stage, the City of Boston’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Copley Square, and the 2022 Providence, Rhode Island PVD Fest.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Bader has worked tons of live shows, solving problems on the fly to keep things running smoothly, and he’s also educating audio engineering students in collaboration with UCLA and Berklee Abu Dhabi. 

Bader has also been featured in notable publications like CAC Boston, Jewish Journal, UCLA, Berklee College of Music, Signal Hire, Symphony Space, and Sabeel.

Professional music simply wouldn’t be possible without the work of skilled audio engineers, and Bader is here to tell us why. 

Welcome. Thanks for being here. Do you think audio engineers need to have a certain personality type to be successful?

Bader: I believe that the most important part of every profession is social skills, regardless of what you do, and in my field, as an audio engineer it’s even more important. We have so many responsibilities already, starting with building and designing the system and meeting all the requirements. But that isn’t enough. In order to succeed you have to have a wider understanding and awareness of your surroundings. Not everyone has the capacity to understand or appreciate the challenges we face as audio engineers. 

We care so much about our sound quality and service and we opt to perform in the most ideal environment, but that is not always the case. That being said, we have to step back and make our decisions based on the facts. For that to happen, you have to have very good social skills to pass on the information to the client without him thinking you’re being lazy or uncomfortable. 

For the second part of our job as audio engineers, I believe that to be successful you have to give full attention to the artist’s needs. That’s a major factor in the overall performance. If you come with a positive attitude and are willing to help the performers on stage despite the circumstances, they will feel more confident and perform better because they know in the back of their heads that I care about them and about their sound and that I’m willing to do anything in my power to help them.

What were some of your earliest audio engineering jobs? 

Bader: I started as a stagehand at Berklee College of music, wrapping cables and pushing cases, like everyone who started in this industry. But I knew where I wanted to be and what position I wanted to have, and that took a few good years of hard work and dedication to get a full-time position as an A1, A2 in one of the most important companies in the northeast, Bergsten Music Inc, leading projects for major labels and main events in Boston and in the northeast in general, such as the Boston Marathon, New Year’s Eve, Plymouth Symphony, Cape Cod Symphony, etc. 

Do audio engineers need to keep up with developing audio equipment/sound system equipment? 

Bader: Absolutely! There is no doubt about that. Even if you think you are up to date, there’s plenty more you could be learning. By keeping yourself up to date, you can make sure you will be comfortable doing any project, no matter what it is, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s changing constantly, and there’s a new challenge every day.

This might be tough to nail down, but what’s the most difficult part of your job?

Bader: That’s a very broad question. There are a million things that can go wrong in this business, and you might lose a very important client very easily. You’d hope everything goes well and as planned, but you can’t control everything in this business, unfortunately. So it’s a double pressure for sure.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from working various engineering jobs?

Bader: Be respectful and honest about your opinion and people will respect you no matter what.

So how stressful is it to work a live event? Does it feel less stressful over time?

Bader: It is stressful indeed, no one can hide that, no matter what level you’re working at. With more experience, it definitely gets less stressful over time, because you start to build the ability to foresee things that you weren’t taking into account in the past, and that directly helps in every new project. Also, we have a lot of prep time and pre-production time that helps eliminate stressful situations.

What can you tell us about your work with various educational institutions? 

Bader: It’s always a pleasure to pass on the knowledge from past experiences to new passionate students who want to follow the same career path. The more you teach, the more you learn.

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Mike Thompson

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