30 Under 30: Matthew McQuaid, Audio Engineer

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Matthew McQuaid loves his job. His young but prolific career as a freelance audio engineer includes gigs with clients as diverse as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Maroon 5, UB40, and the NFL. In a way, McQuaid’s portfolio is just an extension of how he spent his days as a kid: music always on, deconstructing toys and household items with an intense curiosity about how things work. Fate brought him onto a sound crew in high school, and he’s never looked back. “I love working in the production industry because it perfectly combines creativity and technology,” says McQuaid. With a passion for problem solving, true artistry, and a work ethic that has helped him achieve the vision of Chris Isaak, Santana, and Lenny Kravitz, McQuaid credits his achievement to having found his true love—that combination of engineering and music—and the fortune of having mentors along his journey toward perfecting his craft. 


Name: Matthew McQuaid

Age: 26

City, state of residence: Chicago, IL

Position/title: Freelance Audio Engineer

Current project(s): Maroon 5 (PA Tech), Prophets of Rage (FOH Tech)

Most notable achievements: I had the opportunity to work on the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 40th Anniversary Tour. It was, without a doubt, the most positive experience I have had so far in the industry. The organization is a class act from top to bottom. I learned so much from everyone out there.

When I started in this industry: 2009

How I got into this industry: During high school, I played in band and was a member of the drama club tech crew. At the suggestion of a teacher, I looked into attending Columbia College Chicago to further pursue audio. I started at Columbia in the fall of 2009, where I met a friend who needed help around the shop of a small sound company named RJ Recording & Sound in Geneva, IL.

Influences: I’ve been lucky to have great mentors at every level of the industry that have influenced me. I’ve gained so much insight and knowledge from spending time with each of them. I’m also a huge music fan, so you can find me listening to something and analyzing it at most hours of the day.

Worst advice I've ever heard: I usually can find some value in every piece of advice I am given, even if I know it wasn’t the best advice.

Best advice I've ever heard: Do it right the first time.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: It’s a perfect blend of creativity and technology for me. I’m creatively challenged when I get to solve complex problems or mix, and I’m technically challenged working with cutting edge audio products and software.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: I’ve been reading a ton of posts on Merlijn van Veen’s blog recently. Lots of really great tricks for subwoofer array design and system optimization in those articles.

Plans for the future: I’m focused on becoming a great systems engineer and FOH tech right now. Hopefully, at some point down the road, I’ll have the opportunity to mix FOH.

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30: