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A Conversation with David v.R. Bowles, Award-winning Classical Recording Engineer/Producer

David v.R. Bowles inhabits a sprawling space in Wildcat Canyon, high up in the Berkeley Hills where nature’s bounty is a source of inspiration.


It also happens to be home to his Classical Recording Company, Swineshead Productions that he formed in 1995. Here’s where Bowles does mixing and mastering once he’s wrapped up meticulous recording and production forays in a multitude of venues. (These include churches, concert halls, and professional spaces such as Skywalker Sound in Marin)

Having a well-earned reputation and growing international profile, he might journey to Europe on a recording spree, work with authentic period instruments, ensembles, choirs, the opera, etc. before he flies back to Berkeley.

On the flats, at First Congregational Church, he’ll weather a particular set of challenges that a magician would deal with by illusion.

In David’s case, he has a little of everything up HIS sleeve, including the most refined tricks of the trade. He’s learned these through conscientious, self-disciplined study, apprenticeships, and dedication to the art and science of his chosen profession.

(He possesses Early Music certification, and Performance Degrees from Juilliard in Cello)

Steadily and ardently he works with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra based in the Bay area; a bassoon ensemble, (Musica Franca), Carol Wincenc (American Flute Quintets) He’s recorded Gwendolyn Mok who plays Brahms selections on Erard and Streicher period pianos, while Seth Carlin channels Schubert through the Fortepiano. The list goes on and Magnatune features David’s albums on its well-managed website.

Bowles’s discography grows as he maintains a state-of-the-art approach to his work, absorbing techno-advances while logging finite measurements for mike placements, and “patched”-in edits.


For an unswerving devotion to his metier, he’s earned a Grammy nomination, and a generous outpouring of rave reviews published in The New York Times, Stereophile, Gramophone Magazine, Opera News, The New Yorker, Miami Clasica and Classical Candour. In addition, reams of magazines and websites have lauded him for his high standards of audio engineering and production.

In output alone, he’s racked up scads of commercial releases in CD and paid download formats, while he’s recorded hundreds of live performances and produced broadcasts for NPR and the BBC. Add in a past faculty appointment at Indiana University, and an upcoming presentation at NYU, and you have a mega giant in the recording cosmos.

Our Conversation

David’s imagination and intellect sparked 60 lively minutes of ear-catching exchange yesterday.

Against a backdrop of lush foliage, birds singing and sounds of animals sauntering through the brush, he fleshed what he loves with immense enthusiasm and it was contagious.

Thank you, David!



The following three video segments reveal the many facets of David Bowles’s work as sound engineer and producer. In total, they cover a wide range of topics including his musical background and career turn; recording techniques in different venues, adjustments associated with instrumental timbres, “patches” in the editing process, mixing, mastering and much more.

As a finale, the crown jewels of Bowles’s artistry and techno-mastery are on display in a set of stunning sound samples.


Part 1 (Can you capture reality in recording? Creating desirable spaces in the recording environment; David’s musical background; Patching as part of the editing process)

Part 2
(Miking and recording the piano, period keyboard instruments, and harpsichord; Reel-to-Reel and digital histories. LPs.. Transfers to Cd; More about editing and Patching)

Part 3

Sound samples provided by David v.R. Bowles

Music of David Carlson [MSR Classics MS1283]

Cello and acoustic piano: “Sonata for cello and piano” (commissioned by Chamber Music America and performed by Emil Miland, cello and David Korevaar, piano). Recorded at UC Santa Cruz.

Viola and acoustic piano
: “True Divided Light” for viola and piano (commissioned by Noe Valley Chamber Music and performed by Geraldine Walther, viola and David Korevaar, piano) Music of David Carlson [MS1283]

Erard Piano: BrahmsThe Composer’s Piano [MSR Classics MS1420]
Pianist Gwendolyn Mok performs Johannes Brahms piano works: opp. 116 and 118 on a 1868 Erard piano,

Streicher Piano: Mok, pianist performs Brahms opp. 177 and 119 on a 1871 Streicher piano.

Harpsichord: Katherine Roberts Perl performs Couperin’s Ordres 24-27 on a John Phillips French double-manual harpsichord, after Nicolas Dumont. Recorded at Skywalker Sound.


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