Audeze speaks with engineer Luc Suèr

June 06, 2023

Dutch born "self taught" live audio engineer Luc Suèr cut his teeth in the 80's Amsterdam punk-rock scene. He relocated to New York in the mid 90's while touring as monitor engineer with Sonic Youth and Beck. Over the years, recording and (studio) mixing has become the thing he tries to fill the time between tours with. His main job now is with Hiss Golden Messenger as TM and FOH soundman.

Luc's discography as recording/mixing engineer includes: several works on Sonic Youth's SYR label, Christina Rosenvinge, SFEQ, Hungry Ghosts, Two Dollar Guitar, Hiss Golden Messenger's "Forward Children" and "School Daze"....

Luc Suèr in the studio with his Audeze LCD-XC headphones

"I've spent a lot of time in my basement, mixing with headphones on. Previous to Audeze I wouldn't have been able to mix, simply because I couldn't rely on them as a reference."  - Luc Suèr
Here's our talk with Luc:
Can you pick out any highlights from your work that you're particularly proud of?

Most recently, the release of two Hiss Golden Messenger live albums of which all proceeds are going to a public education charity organisation.

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

Live audio; FoH engineer

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

As singer in a band in my late teens, I would listen to anything that hit me emotionally. Whether it was my dad's Ray Charles 10-inch, "Sgt Pepper", "Songs in the Key of Life" or "London Calling". It's still that way.

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

Yes, getting kicked out of the band and asked to do sound! After that I just got lucky with the jobs I got offered.

Heroes/role models: I have admiration and respect for many, many people (Quincy Jones, Nick Lowe and Beyonce, to name a few) but I don't know if I'd call them hero or role model. Inspiration, for sure.

Funny interaction: As a 20-something year old I worked for Dutch audio rental company Ampco (now APR). They put me on the North Sea Jazz Festival two years in a row as monitor engineer. The first time I got this assignment I decided to look at the show schedule for "my stage" and realized that (holy shit!) James Brown was on it! I tried to prepare as much as possible but when the time came, just before show time, Mr. Brown's road manager came up to me to urgently request for all monitors to be removed from stage: "Mr. Brown doesn't use monitors and does not want to see them anywhere on stage!"

As disappointed as I was, I got some help and removed all monitors. Then, when the band came on, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a kind voice whispered in my ear, "I'm the drummer and I need a monitor, just make sure my boss won't see or hear it".

At which point I snuck down behind the stage and slid a wedge behind the drummer so that it stayed out of view from down stage.

I had a great time exchanging "secret signals" with drummer Arthur Dixon to get him what he wanted to hear. He came to shake my hand after the set! I did monitors for James Brown's drummer!

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?

Getting fired by Beck's PM because I couldn't keep up, doing monitors for an 11-piece band, some of whom were on in-ears, the rest on wedges. I should've asked to hire an assistant engineer and that's what I would do now if my work overwhelmed me.

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

My microphones are probably number one. Favorite for recording is my vintage U67, on stage a DPA d:facto 4018 vocal mic.

When mixing I love my open back planar magnetics!

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

There are an infinite number of ways to get the job done; practice common sense and don't be afraid to put your personality into it.

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

For multiple decades. It's only been in the last few years that I trust headphones as reference and sometimes even prefer them over studio monitors.

When mixing I actually lean on headphones more than on monitors. I use speakers to get different perspectives.

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

I'm lucky to be doing what I love!

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

Over the past two covid years I've spent a lot of time in my basement, mixing with headphones on. Previous to Audeze I wouldn't have been able to mix, simply because I couldn't rely on them as a reference. I'm still bringing home multi-tracked live shows to mix for release.