Music Behind the Tech: Dave Wilde

Music and tech make a perfect pair — coding, troubleshooting and focusing on projects are often accompanied by a soundtrack for many in the IT industry. Whether it’s getting into that “flow state” or simply dialing in on a complex problem, listening to music seems to be the method of choice for IT employees looking to unlock creativity.

In this series, called Music Behind the Tech, we’ll help you get to know Rackspace employees, their stories and the relationship between the music they love and their work. We’ve even embedded their playlists at the bottom of each post. Rock on!

For Rackspace OpenStack software engineer Dave Wilde, the way you listen to music is as important as the music itself. In his spare time, Dave builds headphone amplifiers, which for the uninitiated are exactly what they sound like — amplifiers for the speakers inside headphones, which boost sound quality and add to the overall listening experience.

While Dave gravitated towards his interest in headphones and sound quality on his own, his role as an audiophile has also coincided with his career at Rackspace.

When he was nine, Dave got his first computer and was immediately fascinated with the way everything worked. This passion led him to his first job, where he helped run IT for a hotel owned by his father. After parlaying that into an IT job with a financial institution, Dave joined Rackspace as a level two Linux Technician. It was there that his real obsession with audio began.

“The first set of headphones I got was kind of on a whim,” Dave said. “I was looking around at different options and saw a sale on Audio Technica ATH-M50s, which you’ll see employees using all over Rackspace. I think I may have had the first set of those, and they were the first set of headphones I had where I could tell the difference between spending some money and using what you get for free with your devices.”

Dave’s career at Rackspace quickly took off and he became a lead tech just a year and a half after coming on board. After five years at Rackspace, he received a bonus and immediately upgraded his audio gear, purchasing a set of Denon headphones. Dave began to hear new things in the music he listened to, and became more interested in different types of music such as jazz, acoustic and classical.

At the same time, he noticed headphones could only go so far. As he became more interested in the quality of the music he was listening to, he began looking to amplifiers as a way to enhance that music even more.

“I’m a Learner,” Dave said, referring to his Gallup Strengthfinder traits. “Just about every tech at Rackspace is a Learner. I started learning everything I could about headphones and that led me to headphone amps.”

Always one to tinker with things, Dave found some plans online and decided to try his hand at building a headphone amplifier himself. “As soon as I built the amp, I let some Rackers listen to what I had done, and they were blown away,” he said. “They had never heard music amplified properly before.”

Today, Dave is a software engineer on our OpenStack Private Cloud platform team. He focuses on the auto-remediation of issues and fleet management to help support the entire fleet of OpenStack private clouds, both on and off-premise. Whether he’s troubleshooting an issue or hard at work deep in the command line, you’ll often see him with his headphones plugged into his homemade amplifier.

“It’s a passion,” Dave said. “I don’t think you can listen to music properly without an amp.”

Dave’s Liner Notes:  

Over the ear head phones or ear buds? In a quiet environment, over the ear, open headphones because you hear more sound. In a noisy environment, [over the ear] closed because it blocks out ambient noise.

Spotify, Google Play or Pandora? Spotify and Pandora

Beatles or Rolling Stones? Wow… Rolling Stones

Biggie or Tupac? Tupac

Johnny Cash or Waylon Jennings? Oh man, that’s not even fair. Waylon.

Deadmau5 or Danger Mouse? Deadmau5 

Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong? Louis 

Song that’s stuck in your head? Ack! I’m so embarrassed to admit this because I heard it this morning and I hate it. But it’s Despacito. It’s that new Justin Bieber song. 

Best concert you’ve ever attended? Red Hot Chili Peppers here in San Antonio. It was a blast. This is the first one I went to with my brother-in-law. We sat in the very, very, very nose bleed top row rafters and I had a ton of fun.  

Stay tuned for our next Music Behind the Tech profile and visit Rackspace to find out more about our experts and the ways they’re helping customers tackle their toughest IT challenges. And whether you like smooth jazz or hard rock, if you’re looking to start your own career at Rackspace, be sure to apply online today.

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