Professor Toby Seay

Research project: The Sound Engineer's Creativity: Mediative practices and the recorded artifact


Much attention has been given to producers and performers in the sound studio, who, for the most part, are credited with the artistic output of music production. Sound engineers, however, are often viewed in a more pragmatic and facilitating role. The craft of sound engineering is often blurred with producers, as studio operations are not always clearly defined. Therefore, I will explore the sound engineer and the engineer's practices as part of the creative music production system and how the engineer mediates the system to impact the recording, the performance, and creative decisions. This work construes an identity of the engineer as a tacit creative leader within the recording studio and details mediative practices used to craft a recording by exploring the relationship between the engineer's agency and the recorded artifact. I will seek to answer the question, How does the sound engineer employ creative leadership in the recording studio? Through prior publications and an archival project, this research project will inform future engineers and contribute to knowledge in the fields of record production studies, sound studies, and audiovisual preservation by identifying the recording engineer as a creative leader and describing the mediative processes employed by engineers in crafting a sound recording.

  • Research degree: PhD by prior publication/portfolio
  • Title of project: The Sound Engineer's Creativity: Mediative practices and the recorded artifact
  • Research supervisor: Dr Leah Kardos
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Oded Ben-Tal


Toby Seay is Professor of Music Production at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He has a long career in the music industry as a musician, recording engineer, technical consultant, and audio preservationist. As a recording engineer, Toby has worked on numerous Gold and Platinum Certified recordings as well as 8 Grammy winning recordings. Toby's research focuses on music production and engineering practices that result in sonic signatures and audio recording preservation standards, specializing in multi-track materials. Toby is the Project Director of the Drexel University Audio Archives, which is home to the Sigma Sound Studios Collection.

Areas of research interest

  • Music Production
  • Audio Engineering
  • Sound Studies


  • MS in Library and Information Sciences
  • BMus in Music Industry