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This profile was last updated on 1/11/01  and contains information from public web pages.

Chief Engineer

Phone: (650) ***-****  HQ Phone
Ampex Corporation
1228 Douglas Avenue 1228 Douglas Avenue
Redwood City, California 94063
United States

Company Description: I am pleased to report that Ampex Corporation earned a profit of $14.8 million for its 1997 fiscal year. This resulted in earnings per diluted share of $0.32, an...   more
Background

Employment History

  • His Studio
  • Recording Engineer At Studio 3
    Skitch Henderson
  • Audio Director
    The Steve Allen Show
  • Violinist

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Advisor
    Toscanini
11 Total References
Web References
David Sarser ...
gbpreview.adaptec.com, 11 Jan 2001 [cached]
David Sarser
...
David Sarser: A True Recording Idol
...
David Sarser, one of the Roxio community's most active members, is also one of the greatest audio engineers who ever lived.Need proof?The music librarian at the Library of Congress calls one of Sarser's recordings the best he has ever heard - and that's just the latest addition to Sarser's extraordinary 50-year resume.
He played a Stradivarius in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Arturo Toscanini - later he was the conductor's advisor.He went on to be the musical director for the network's Opera Hour, The Steve Allen Show, and Hallmark's Hall of Fame.He has recorded Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Dianah Washington, Maurice Chevalier, and Zero Mostel, and invented many pieces of recording equipment and techniques.Now retired, he has been beta testing for Roxio and has definite opinions about the state of CDs and the quality of today's recordings.So, how does one reach such achievements?The same way you get to Carnegie Hall:
Practice, Practice
In high school, in Kansas City, Missouri, Sarser practiced the violin four hours a day and was accepted to Juilliard when he was just 16.After a couple of years of living in New York by himself he finally got to play Tchaikovsky with Juilliard's symphony orchestra.That's when he became fascinated with recording.
"The orchestra had really done some outstanding work, but when it was recorded on 78 it sounded so terrible," says Sarser."I decided to find out how recording worked and see if it could be any better."
After a teacher took him to RCA to see recording in action, Sarser purchased a $100 recording unit and asked Julliard for a room to record the other students.They gave him a little room he could use once a week."That's how I got started in recording.I was always looking to improve it.I recorded everybody at the school."
That ended abruptly when the U.S. joined World War II and drafted Sarser.He told the draft board that he would make a good tech or entertainer but was classified "chemical warfare."He was sent to St. Louis for training and then assignment.This is when music probably saved his life.On Christmas Eve he had seen a large classical harp in the window of one of the barracks and went to investigate it the next day.
"On Christmas they let us go for the day so I wandered over there and asked if I could see the harp," says Sarser."An old man came out--he must have been about 50--and he said, 'I've been waiting for you!' meaning other musicians. 'We want to have music in the officers' mess, and he threw a fiddle into my hand."When the camp's Colonel heard him play, he asked if he would like to play every day at 11:00 and 5:00."We got a good group going.Then I noticed that there were lines leading to speakers in the enlisted men's mess and I asked if they worked."Soon the music was being piped in there too.
"A few weeks later Glenn Miller came through and he heard the music," he says."He'd been looking for something to do for the men and that's where he got the idea to play in the mess halls.
...
But time was running out and Sarser knew he would soon be shipping out and into the infantry.He called a former teacher, now in Hollywood, to see if there was anything he could do to get him into a wartime musical show called "Winged Victory."When he didn't hear back he planned what he thought might be his final trip home.Just then he was called to the office."Who do you know?"growled the officer."You're going to New York."He was reclassified "Entertainment Specialist" and sent to join Dave Rose's Winged Victory Band.
The Stradivarius
...
"I took a week off and went to visit a violinmaker to get my fiddle fixed," says Sarser."The place was loaded with fiddles but one struck me." It was a Stradivarius.It was in the shop because the famous concert violinist Efram Zimbalist wanted to sell it.Sarser took it down from the shelf and began playing.The violinmaker told him it was probably worth $60,000 but that Zimbalist was looking to sell it quickly and he could probably have it for half of that.That was still a small fortune in 1949, but Sarser put all of his money together, and borrowed more, and was able to buy the violin.
"Buying that Strad got me a different life," he says."I was in the newspaper.I took it everywhere with me, and everyone was in awe.They drooled over it."That violin is worth well over a million dollars today and was supposed to be Sarser's retirement but it was stolen from his studio in the mid-60s.Just when the FBI seemed close to finding it, it disappeared, going to a buyer in Japan.Later Sarser found out that it was on display in a Japanese department store, but he couldn't get the name of the owner.Sarser says that while he owned the violin it was always called "The Ex-Zimbalist" and that's how it was displayed in Japan."They should at least call it the Ex-Sarser now," he says with irony.Still, he can always hear his Stradivarius: Sarser used it as a test instrument to see how pure he could get his recordings.
The Shows Must Go On - With Quality
Sarser moved on from the orchestra to become a musical director for some of NBC's shows.The first step was to help bring opera to the English-speaking masses.Regarding the controversy that some people believe opera shouldn't be translated, he responds, "Most opera buffs are a bunch of snobs."To Sarser, an opera is not just a drama; it is music.He listens to the radio the same way.When others are listening to the content, Sarser hears the production value-or lack of it.He misses the old days of broadcast.
"We used to have a director, producers, and a 35-piece orchestra, and a lot of it was ad lib," says Sarser."If we had a one-hour show to do, we'd have a one-hour rehearsal right before we went on the air.Then we played from the beginning to the end.Now the production values are terribly low and it's all automated.That's true of radio, TV, and the movies.It's not an art anymore.Radio is about the loudest signal."
...
One place Sarser found true quality was working on The Hallmark Hall of Fame specials.A favorite memory from that time is of 1969's "The Littlest Angel," which starred an incredible cast including E. G. Marshall, Tony Randall, and Johnny Whitaker of Family Affair.It's the story of a young shepherd who is having trouble adjusting to being an angel.
"Fred Gwynne was in that show," says Sarser referring to the actor who became famous as Herman in The Munsters TV show."He was a huge man.He was playing an angel so he wore wings and had to sit on a cloud and sing a song.
...
Sarser was also the audio director for The Steve Allen Show and he got to know Allen very well."Steve was good at everything," says Sarser of the show's host, who could play the piano, write songs, do comedy, and was an expert on many subjects.He was also well known for his temper."Steve's worst enemy was Steve, but I liked him in spite of his personality."Sarser saw the cruel side of Allen sometimes, but he could be extremely generous as well.That's also when Sarser first worked with Skitch Henderson, the original orchestra leader of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.
Taping Toscanini
All this time Sarser was still honing his audio recording skills.Time well spent, as those skills were about to be judged by a master-make that Maestro.Arturo Toscanini was going to do a recording session at NBC.
...
"Toscanini never liked the sound of his recordings," says Sarser.So the session sent people into quite a panic, knowing that measuring up to Toscanini's quality and expectations would be almost impossible.They ended up with four different recording setups, including Sarser's.After the session they all voted in the control room and they chose Sarser's recording."When they played it for Toscanini you could tell he loved it."After that he worked as an advisor to Toscanini.In fact, it is Sarser's recording of the 1957 memorial concert for Toscanini that the music librarian at the Library of Congress judges to be the best recording ever made.
That was just the first of Sarser's famous collaborations.Together with the celebrated musician and inventor of the solid-body electric guitar, Les Paul, Sarser was instrumental in getting Ampex to make an 8-track recorder, with 8 separate erase and record heads, and sophisticated mechanical and electrical switching.It was the first one ever built, long before the recording industry had even thought of multi-track recording.
While still working at NBC, Sarser combined his technical know-how and musical ear when he opened his own
Studio 3; A Place Of Recording History
www.reevesaudio.com, 15 Nov 2006 [cached]
DAVE SARSER
...
David Sarser at Town Hall
...
of DAVE SARSER at STUDIO 3, NYC.
Dave Sarser, who played his violin, the "Zimbalist Stradivarius", for Arturo Tuscannini and his NBC Symphony Orchestra throughout the 1950's, is also an incredibly innovative audio engineer and electronics design pioneer.
...
Around that time, there was a studio called Audio/Video on 57th Street and 5th Avenue in New York, owned and run by Dave Sarser's friends, Ollie Summerland and Gene Shank.
...
Dave Sarser was, among many other things, the original east coast Ampex sales rep. He sold the first 3 track Ampex to RCA for Jascha Heifetz for his work at Republic Studios.
Sarser at Tape Dave Sarser checking out one of the 3 Ampex 300 Consoles he installed in the Toscanini Studio in the basement of Villa Pauline in Riverdale. (Note the Brush headphones hanging next to the patch cords)
Dave Sarser's close relationship with Les Paul made him a great part of the legends of recording history.
...
The collaboration of Les Paul and Dave Sarser, along with none other than singer/actor Bing Crosby, an early supporter and benefactor, led to many classic (and amazing) recordings of radio and television success for Les Paul and vocalist/guitarist wife and partner Iris Colleen Summers, better known as Mary Ford.
...
Excerpt from a recent email from Dave Sarser:
...
"The" 3 track 1/2" Ampex 300 deck sold to RCA by Dave Sarser.
...
Dave joined 3 of these Altec 342B mixer/amps to build the first A&R Studio in the old Mogel film building on 48th St. in NYC.
...
A colleague of Dave's, Skitch Henderson was the well known orchestra leader of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.
...
Dave, Skitch and Skitch's second wife, Ruth Henderson entered into a partnership in a recording studio and called it Studio3, simply named after the three partners.
...
The studio was constructed by Dave in the last remaining landmark New York City carriage house of the Peter Stuyvesant estate.
...
At an auction at the famous New York Roxy Theater, Dave bought some electronic equipment and a basic metal panel cabinet which were part of the theaters original sound system. On a napkin during a lunch, he laid out the design draft for a console in the style of a broadcast board. Using the panel purchased at the auction, he machined holes into it. He then sent the panel to his friends, Ollie and Gene, designers of the world famous Pultec Equaliser, at Audio/Video Studios. They painted the panel in their renowned Pultec Blue enamel finish, so the console would match the Pultec gear Dave would install in the studio's equipment rack.
...
Three of the pre-amplifiers were modified by Dave Sarser, by paralleling the output triodes and adding a feedback loop in the circuit to give them sufficient gain and power to output audio up to +24 decibels into 600 ohms to be used as the mixers final stage program buss amplifiers.
...
Dave Sarser at His Studio
...
Dave Sarser at his Studio3 custom board.
...
I met Dave Sarser in 1961, my last year of high school. I was on my way to Pratt Institute of Technology when I realized there were no courses in recording technology or audio engineering. I was at a loss. I had all the audio questions in the world, and Dave had more than all the answers. He taught me that the secret to creating audio circuitry is in the experimentation.
...
Since Dave was an Altec distributor as well, Altec mics including the three 21c Lipstick condenser mics (below), and Schoeps, Sennheisser 421, were among some of the Studio 3 mic collection.
In STUDIO 3 during '60's STEINWAY PIANO campaign recording session. Dave Sarser, shown here manning his console
...
NW AYER representative looks on (top left next to Dave). The voice-over talent reads the Steinway scripts at the Altec 21C "lipstick" condenser tube microphone with omni capsule to his right.
...
Dave Sarser with the right stuff, "tweaking" the Pultec EQ, Fritz Steinway (seated right) and the NW AYER advertising reps looking on.
...
Dave Sarser's Pultec
How's this for a plug-in? Gee! 80 watts of mono power. Dave Sarser's Compressor
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Dave Sarser's Custom Lipstick Microphone
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Gloria Sarser, AKA Miss Gloria of Romper Room and still wife of Dave Sarser.
Frequently Asked Questions
www.reevesaudio.com, 13 May 2005 [cached]
Around '64, as a recording engineer at Skitch Henderson's Studio 3 during the daytime, my mentor, Dave Sarser (see web site) who had set up private discotheques like LÈ Club (almost "speak easy"-ish) in the '50's and '60's, assigned me to a new club called Ondine. It was named after an Olympic winning sailboat.
Links to General Resources & Unofficial Web Pages About Particular Manufacturers
www.aes.org, 25 Dec 2009 [cached]
Studio 3 History Site devoted to the career and studio of David Sarser, violinist, Ampex rep, engineer and electronics designer.
http://reevesaudio.com/studiothree.html
reevesaudio.com, 25 Dec 2000 [cached]
DAVE SARSER
...
A tour of The 9 x 3 CHANNEL PULTEC BLUE custom made console of DAVE SARSER at STUDIO 3, NYC.
revised 9/7/03 ... J.R.
Dave Sarser, who played his violin, the "Zimbalist Stradivarius", for Arturo Tuscannini and his NBC Symphony Orchestra throughout the 1950's, is also an incredibly innovative audio engineer and electronics design pioneer.
...
Around that time, there was a studio called Audio/Video on 57th Street and 5th Avenue in New York, owned and run by Dave Sarser's friends, Ollie Summerland and Gene Shank.
...
Dave Sarser was, among many other things, the original east coast Ampex sales rep.He sold the first 3 track Ampex to RCA for Jascha Heifetz for his work at Republic Studios.
Dave Sarser ... checking out one of the 3 Ampex 300 Consoles he installed in the Toscanini Studio in the basement of Villa Pauline in Riverdale. (Note the Brush headphones hanging next to the patch cords)
Dave Sarser's close relationship with Les Paul made him a great part of the legends of recording history.
...
The collaboration of Les Paul and Dave Sarser, along with none other than singer/actor Bing Crosby, an early supporter and benefactor, led to many classic recordings of radio and television success for Les Paul and vocalist/guitarist wife and partner Iris Colleen Summers, better known as Mary Ford.
...
Excerpt from a recent emil from Dave Sarser:
...
... ... "The" 3 track 1/2" Ampex 300 deck sold to RCA by Dave Sarser.
...
Dave joined 3 of these Altec 342B mixer/amps to build the first A&R Studio in the old Mogel film building on 48th St. in NYC.
Emailed 4/18/03:
...
A colleague of Dave's, Skitch Henderson was the well known orchestra leader of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.
...
Dave, Skitch and Skitch's wife, Ruth Henderson entered into a partnership in a recording studio and called it Studio3, simply named after the three partners.
...
The studio was constructed by Dave in the last remaining landmark carriage house of the Peter Stuyvesant estate.
...
At an auction at the famous NY Roxy Theater, Dave bought some electronic equipment and a basic metal panel cabinet which were part of the theaters original sound system.He laid out the design draft for a console in the style of a broadcast board on a napkin during a lunch.Using the panel purchased at the auction, he machined holes into it.He then sent the panel to his friends, Ollie and Gene, at Audio/Video Studios.They painted the panel in their renowned Pultec Blue enamel finish, so the console would match the Pultec gear Dave would install in the studio's equipment rack.A meticulous white formica desk was constructed by Dave's long time friend, chief carpenter from the NBC Broadcast Studios.It served as the pedestal for the Pultec Blue console trimmed with 2 inch black RCA industrial broadcast knobs, which formed the Control Room centerpiece.
The "base" of the console consisted of 20 19"rack mounted Altec all tube mic pre-amps that were part of the Roxy auction.Nine of the pre amps were used for microphone amplification.Three of the pre-amplifiers were used as summing amps for the mixer's three busses.Three of the pre-amplifiers were modified by Dave Sarser, by paralleling the output triodes and adding a feedback loop in the circuit to give them sufficient gain and power to output audio up to +24 decibels into 600 ohms to be used as the mixers final stage program buss amplifiers.
...
... Dave Sarser at his Studio3 custom board.
...
I met Dave Sarser in 1961, my last year of high school.I was on my way to Pratt Institute of Technology when I realized there were no courses in recording technology or audio engineering.I was at a loss.I had all the audio questions in the world, and Dave had more than all the answers.He taught me that the secret to creating audio circuitry is in the experimentation.
...
Since Dave was an Altec distributor as well, Altec mics including the three 21c Lipstick condenser mics (below), and Schoeps, Sennheisser 421, were among some of the Studio 3 mic collection.
In STUDIO 3 during '60's STEINWAY PIANO campaign recording session.Dave Sarser, shown here manning his console (rear top center beneath the Ampex 300 tape deck). Fritz Steinway, John Steinway, Sr. (seated) discuss the script as NW AYER representative looks on (top left next to Dave) . The voice-over talent reads the Steinway scripts at the Altec 21C "lipstick" condenser tube microphone with omni capsule to his right.
...
Dave Sarser with the right stuff, "tweaking" the Pultec EQ, Fritz Steinway (seated left) and the NW AYER advertising reps looking on.
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