Audeze chats with mixer and engineer Thomas “Mister T.” Gloor

January 06, 2024

Thomas “Mister T.” Gloor is a Swiss mixer/engineer working at A.K.A Studio in Lausanne. He works in a wide variety of music genres, from rap to folk, thru electronic music, soul and reggae.
Thomas Gloor wearing Audeze MM-500 Headphones in his Studio
"The MM-500 is a great complement to the monitoring system I have in the studio. It allows me to look for details that can only be heard when the speaker is an inch away from your ear." - Thomas Gloor
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of? 

Lately, I have been working with quite a few amazing young artists based in Switzerland, such as Nnavy or Iya Ko, for example. I am really excited about it because I was called to work on their records at a very early stage in the production process and early in their careers. It is great to witness so much raw talent. Switzerland's music scene is not as big as, let's say, the UK's, France's, or Germany's. However, for the past 4-5 years, it has been growing and gaining more attention than before, with acts exporting themselves way more. So I am really proud to be part of the path these young artists are following. They have the music, the talent, and the hunger for it. I am just happy to be helping them get through the finish line when it comes to their records. Although I am always trying to be a part of what is going on in Switzerland, I am also starting to extend my work with artists outside of the country, such as Nneka (Nigeria/Germany), Muthoni Drummer Queen (Kenya), and French rappers Georgio and Bekar, for example. I am very proud to have been part of Georgio's album "Années Sauvages" and Bekar's "Plus fort que l'orage" both produced by a very talented producer/composer from Lille (France) called Lucci. We have been working together since Bekar's debut mixtape "Boréal" and have developed a very nice friendship ever since. Both records made it to the French Album Top, which feels great.

Iya Ko - Rose Noire 

Nnavy - Come and Get it 

Georgio - Espirit Libre

Bekar - Eric Koston

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

I would say 90% of my work is mixing, but I started wanting to get involved earlier in the process, be it producing or recording. It is a very different feeling to be there during the creation stage or even just at the recording stage when a photograph of the song is taken at a precise moment in time, as opposed to just getting an email that says "Can you get it mixed for yesterday?" Getting involved earlier in the process also allows me to ensure that the material I will have when it comes to mixing is in good shape technically, especially when it comes to vocals. I usually try to choose which projects I want to enter earlier on, as it is very important for me to feel a connection with the artist I am working with. Artists do not attend mix sessions as much as they did before, so I think the vibe in the room is not as much of a factor. But when producing or recording, you are confined in the studio with someone for days and nights in a row. It needs to feel good for everyone to deliver their best, on either side of the glass.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

I started by playing guitar and drums in punk rock bands when I was 12-13, around 2000. Already being an avid fan of rap and reggae, I started building my record collection and started a sound system with a friend of mine, which sparked my interest in loudspeakers and got me into studios, attending and later engineering recording sessions with some of my heroes such as Ken Boothe, John Holt, or Israel Vibration. Later, I attended SAE in Geneva and landed a position as an assistant/Jr. engineer at a studio in Lausanne. After completing some spot internships, I returned to the Lausanne studio where I worked and did quite a lot of sessions. I hesitated to leave the country for a while, but then got the chance to take over the studio in 2013. I knew I would never get such work conditions elsewhere, so I decided to stay in Switzerland. I was later joined by Alexis Sudan, my business partner, who started out as my assistant at the studio and became an amazing engineer. We now run the studio together, and have very complementary visions when it comes to it. There is a constant drive to improve every aspect of the rooms, from the technical aspects to hospitality.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

My father had a big record collection with a ton of jazz, soul, and R’n’B records, including a lot of Stax and Motown records. That was my first contact with music. My mother worked as a camera-woman/D.O.P, and she would take me on set when I was a kid. Seeing the boom operators and their little Nagra machines also had me going crazy. One day she took me to a film music composer’s studio, and I completely lost it. I think that was the time when I knew I wanted to have something to do with the technique behind the music. I was amazed by the ability to influence sound. Later on, I was lucky enough to meet quite a few extremely talented and knowledgeable people, some of whom I consider my mentors, and who taught me basically everything valuable I know. I can’t omit every interaction I’ve had with electronics technicians/engineers in various studios, who educated me about the importance of healthy electronics, especially when it comes to monitoring.

Can you briefly describe a moment of frustration from your past work, and what you may have done to overcome the obstacles? Would you approach it differently now?

Not really a moment, more of a general production problem: badly recorded vocals and the impact they have on the final mix. People tend to think that vocals are the easiest instrument to record, whereas I think it is one of (if not) the hardest. There is so much articulation and emotion that can be lost if the vocal is badly recorded. And yes, this applies to rap vocals as well. In my opinion, it is one of the few things that are impossible to fix. You can make decisions, use effects to cover it up, and sometimes it becomes some kind of aesthetic statement, but a clean vocal sound starts with a perfectly recorded vocal. I wish some producers and engineers would pay more attention to it. It leads to spending 75% of the mixing time fixing something that will never sound great in the end. I very often try to have them recut the vocal, and when possible, I’ll do it myself.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favorite tools/instruments recently?

Well, it is not equipment I 'turn to' per se, but I have to say my room and monitoring chain. I’m lucky enough to be working out of a Tom Hidley non-environmental room, with Rey Audio/Kinoshita loudspeakers, Cello amplification... My partner and I are constantly trying to upgrade the monitoring chain, to scrape for the last percent of precision, definition, and quality, going from the electrical installation to the DA converter we use to monitor and the cables used throughout the signal path. Talking about outboard gear, there is very little that doesn’t get used on a daily basis in the room. But if I had to pick favorites, it would definitely be my Avalon E55 EQ’s and my Neve 33609B. The EMT 245, 246, and 252 reverbs get a lot of love. I still find plugins to be a bit behind when it comes to this type of reverb. I’m not talking about the very natural-sounding ones but more the very characterful ones like the EMT 245 or the Lexicon PCM60, for example.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path for their own careers?

It is hard for me to give advice, as I am constantly seeking it myself. However, for anyone looking to pursue a career as a mixer - someone who sits at the desk every day working on a different song - I believe building a deep knowledge of music aesthetics is crucial. While being a musician can be helpful, having a broader understanding of musical culture is just as important. Listening to as much records as possible for pleasure, and also to build a mental catalogue of aesthetics. This is a challenging career path with many moments of doubt that can be difficult to overcome. My main advice would be to focus on doing your work as well as possible, without worrying too much, and try to be as confident in yourself as possible. If clients continue to seek out your services, you must be doing something right. If they stop, then it is time to ask yourself the right questions and take steps to improve.

How long have you been working with headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

I’ve always used headphones in recording situations because I happened to record outside of my room, so I needed a reference point. I was never really satisfied with the way it sounded and could never really get used to the absence of crosstalk. I managed to overcome this issue by using a headphone amplifier that can feed a bit of the left signal in the right can, and vice versa. For mixing, I usually only use headphones as a kind of consumer reference, not really as a working tool. Maybe sometimes to check for hiss, clicks, or pops. This changed when I was introduced to the LCD-X by a producer friend. I used it on two different records, and it allowed me to gain a tremendous amount of time when it came down to cleaning up vocal tracks and notching out offensive frequencies. After a while, I got to try the MM-500, and this was a real shift for me. It allows me to make real mixing moves, do revisions on the road. It feels like having a pair of nearfields on my head. The speed of both models is pretty impressive, and I can hear all the articulations I need to hear, almost as if I were in the studio.

Do you have any additional comments or stories you want to share?

“Cool” is very often, if not always, better than “right”.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work?

Well, first off, the MM-500 is a great complement to the monitoring system I have in the studio. It allows me to look for details that can only be heard when the speaker is an inch away from your ear. Then, and that's where it is a real game changer, I can now make serious mix decisions when on the road, or in another studio. Revisions, even when heavy, can be done outside the studio because I trust these headphones so much, down to the low end.

On a side note, using the MM-500 also allowed me to shorten the "car test" process of the mix, because it increased the quality of translation of my room, which was already great! I usually spend quite a lot of time listening thru earbuds, little bluetooth speakers, laptop speakers, etc. I still do it, but I usually don't need to rely on this so much as the MM-500 also allows me to have a precise, yet comfortable headphone listening experience.

Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

I mixed NNAVY's Ep "No Promises" using them, and it was a huge help in the vocal mixing process. Her voice is amazing and was very well recorded, so little details, like choosing which mouth clicks or breath to leave in, had a huge impact and the MM-500 helped me keep everything in check. These days, I am in the production phase of two different soul records, so I have to be a bit more mobile, and they help a lot!

MM-500 Headphones on Thomas's mixing table