Audeze chats with producer and engineer Sheldon Gomberg

May 13, 2023

Sheldon Gomberg spent the first part of his life as a musician, touring and doing sessions with people such as Rickie Lee Jones, Warren Zevon, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ryan Adams, Five for Fighting, Grant Lee Phillips, and more. He later transitioned into producing and engineering, working with such artists as Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite, Rickie Lee Jones, Peter Case, Peter Himmelman, Mark Eitzel, the Watkins Family Hour, etc.

Sheldon Gomberg in the studio with his Audeze LCD-X headphones
"These amazing headphones put me in a real sounding space, which makes it easy to make mix decisions, ie level, panning, and effects, with 100% confidence."  - Sheldon Gomberg
Here's our chat with Sheldon:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

All the Ben Harper records:

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite: Get Up!

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite: No Mercy in this Land

Ben Harper: Winter is for Lovers

Ben Harper: Bloodline Maintenance

Rickie Lee Jones: The Devil You Know

Rickie Lee Jones: Balm in Gilead

Peter Case: Highway 62

Peter Himmelman: The Boat That Carries Us

Peter Himmelman: Press On!

Peter Himmelman: Unstoppable Forces

I do a lot of records for the Sweet Relief musicians fund charity...

Sweet Relief III: Pennies from Heaven

If You're Going to the City: a Tribute to Mose Allison

Party for Joey: a Tribute to Joey Spampinato

That oughta be enough, or too much! :-)

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

On most of the records I do, I am producing, engineering, and mixing. Sometimes it's just one or two of those things.

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 out as a guitar player, but was asked to join a band on bass. I fell in love with the bass, and spent the next 30 years under the influence of that addiction! :-) I started producing and recording people more for fun, but it quickly became more than that, and became my life, and you don't hear me complaining about that, now do you?!

I started off listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Santana, the Stones, Chicago, Yes, T Rex, Roxy Music, Weather Report, Pink Floyd, and artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Iggy and The Stooges, David Bowie, Eno, Jaco, Rickie Lee Jones, etc. I still listen to them to this day, along with a growing list of other great artists, and add to that a lot of jazz. Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, West Montgomery, Miles Davis, etc., etc. Kind of all over the place, and it still is to this day! I just like music. Call me crazy.

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

Well, I've kind of named a bunch of my influences and heroes, so I'd say getting to play with some of the artists I revered growing up, and getting to tour to a lot of beautiful places. Y'know, just getting to play and record music, period, and especially with great musicians, well, that's worth the price of admission right there!

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?

When I first ventured into producing, I had a partner who was handling the engineering, and that was a good fit for me. In the middle of two records, he flaked on me and left me holding the bag, and I won't do that to people I'm working with, so I jumped into the deep end and took over the engineering. I had done it before, but not to where I would've assumed that role on a professional level, but at that point I did what I had to do, and when I was done, I decided there was no reason for me to have anybody else doing it, and put myself in that position again, so, 'trial by fire,' that galvanized my "engineering career." Actually by doing that, he did me the biggest favor he could've. So, in an odd way, I owe him for that! :-) I wouldn't change that for anything! A lot of times there are positives in the negatives. Always look for them.

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

I tend to lean towards older gear, most of the time. I have a Quad 8 Coronado that I love. Neve 1073s. RCA BA6As. LA2As. 1176s. Neumann U 47's. AKG 414 EBs. RCA ribbons. Coles 4038s. Royers. The good old Shure SM 57 always comes in handy! The newest piece of gear I'm excited about is the Audeze LCD-Xs. :-)

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

Run like hell! :) If you're looking to get rich, there are easier ways to do it. If you're passionate about it, there's no better life!

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

I don't usually use headphones for mixing. I'll use them to check stuff sometimes, but they are not usually a big staple for me. I'll listen to stuff in the house that way, though. Now that I've got the Audezes, I think I'll be spending a lot more time with my ear goggles in place.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them recently?

These amazing headphones put me in a real sounding space, which makes it easy to make mix decisions, ie level, panning, and effects, with 100% confidence.

I've recently been using these headphones on a new Peter Himmelman record we're just wrapping up, amongst others.

 Sheldon Gomberg's Audeze LCD-X headphones