Super sounds for pop production

Sound engineer Sam is Metropolis Studios' whizz kid behind hit albums for Rihanna, Pharrell and Paloma Faith.

We caught up with Sam to find out about life in the studio and to see just what it takes to make a No.1 track sound amazing.

Sam also took part in our #AskAnEngineer Twitter Q&A for Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2014. You can take a look at his answers below.

Name: Sam Wheat
Age: 32
Job title: Chief Sound Engineer
Company: Metropolis Studios
Hometown: Lichfield, Birmingham
Qualifications: University of West London, Ba Hons 1st - Music Technology

Hi Sam, tell us about your job…
As a sound engineer, I make high quality recordings for artists. The recordings then go on to post-production stage, where the team and I edit, mix and master them. These then become the songs you hear on radio.

Sam Wheat

As a studio engineer at Metropolis, a professional recording studio in London, the majority of recordings we make are for well-known artists in the music industry, which means I get to work with some amazing people.

How does your work affect music?
My job affects the quality of sound and the type of sound you hear on a day-to-day basis. As music has become clearer and new sounds have been created, we’ve been at the forefront of communicating those changes to the general public.

What do you like most about engineering or your job?
Being able to work and earn money for something I really enjoy.

How did you first become interested in engineering?
I did some work experience in the local recording studio during my time at secondary school. That led me to look into sound engineering as a career choice. Once I knew I wanted to get into sound engineering, I worked in all sorts of music-based positions up and down the country to gain experience.

There are a number of different routes you can take into a career in engineering. What route did you take?
The route I took into sound engineering was through my degree. I chose to move down to London from Birmingham to study Music Technology.

I knew it was quite a competitive environment to get into and to work in, so the experience I had gained back in Birmingham really helped to secure the job I now work in.

How important was studying maths and science in school for what you do now? Did you enjoy it at school?
I never excelled at school but the basics that you learn are always going to be of assistance. Sound, and therefore music, is pure maths and physics so knowing about those subjects is a great help. The interfaces and technology help bridge the gap between very complicated theory and the practical nature of my job.

What personal qualities do you think are important for being an engineer?
You have to be very personable and have a lot of patience to be a sound engineer. As well as being a technical activity, I am trying to engineer performances out of artists to get the very best out of them.

There are fewer women working in engineering than men. What would you say to girls who might be interested in a career in engineering?
We need far more women on the technical side of the recording industry. All the female sound engineers I work with are very successful.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Catch up with music! I also enjoy going out for meals with friends and if I get the chance to, I like travelling.

If you could go back in time and be the inventor of any product, what would you choose?
The vinyl lathe. It’s a very simple and accurate piece of equipment that was so successful at reproducing sound that we still use it today.