Walter E. Sear (born 1930-) is an American recording engineer, instrument importer, instrument designer, composer, tuba player, movie producer, synthesizer pioneer, and vintage recording equipment guru. Since 1970 he has run the legendary Sear Sound recording studio in New York City, which is known for its vast collection of vintage analog recording gear and is patronized by bands such as Sonic Youth, Steely Dan, Wynton Marsalis, and Paul McCartney.
Sear started out his long and varied career as a classical tuba player. After 4 years at the [[Curtis Institute] of Music], he landed a job as principal tuba of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He later was a freelancer in New York City, playing for 6 years with the Radio City Music Hall pit orchestra as well as The Symphony of the Air, The Goldman Band, Sound of Music and numerous commercial studio dates.
In the late 50's, he became interested in tuba design and began importing European tubas made to his own specifications from the Czech company Cerveny and the Belgian companies De Prins and Mahillion. He sold these tubas from a Manhattan showroom. These tubas, popular because of their relatively low price, unique design and quality workmanship, are typically engraved with the name "Walter E. Sear, NYC" on the bell. Sear estimates that he produced about 2000 of these tubas. His background in chemistry at Temple University with BA degree from The George Washington University helped with the metallurgical processes that he innovated. He also holds a B.M. from The Catholic University of America and has done doctoral studies at Columbia University.
In the late 50's he became friendly with Robert Moog after buying parts from him for a homemade Theremin. In the early 60's, Sear used his music industry connections to become Moog's sales agent and business partner. He encouraged Moog to make his synths more practical, eventually leading, in the late 60's, to the development of portable synthesizers which could be used in live performance. Sear also became known as a performer and composer on the Moog synthesizer for various movie soundtracks including Midnight Cowboy.
He built his first recording studio in 1964 as one of the first commercial electronic music studios. Sear Sound is the oldest recording studio in New York City, and boasts over 285 vintage and contemporary microphones, four rebuilt Studer recorders used by the Beatles at Abbey Road, and one of the earliest Moog synthesizers, built by Sear with Moog.
Sear has an Honorable Discharge from the regular United States Air Force with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He served at Bolling AFB in Washington, D.C.