We put Leapwing’s Al Schmitt Signature plugin through its paces on a variety of different instruments in our Headliner HQ studio...
20 Grammy Awards and collaborations with Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Madonna and Michael Jackson — this is what comes with the name attached to Leapwing Audio’s first signature plugin. Al Schmitt is a recording legend in every sense of the word - and Leapwing Audio, who entered the plugin game in 2015, have done extremely well to work with the recording engineer to recreate his brilliant sound in this new plugin — ‘echo’, not reverb, to use Schmitt’s terminology.
Leapwing spent time with Schmitt with a view to getting to the essence of his work and to try and come close to replicating his sound that has been so abundantly successful in nearly seven decades at the top of the music industry. A tidbit that must be mentioned: at the very start of his career at 19 years old, Schmitt found himself alone at Apex Studios with Duke Ellington and his orchestra. Unable to reach the studio owner or head engineer, he said “Mr Ellington, I’m not qualified to do this.” Ellington patted his leg, looked him in the eye and said “It’s okay sonny, we’re going to get through this.” They then cut three songs in four hours.
With deep attention to detail, Leapwing looked very closely at Schmitt’s studio gear, workflow, and the characteristics of his sound; the subtle harmonics, the echos, compression and EQ. They describe the process as an “incredible journey” — meticulously going through his mixes and analysing many multitracks. The team quickly realised Schmitt had a few distinctive traits that defined his legendary sound. And the main thing they honed in on perhaps comes as a surprise: a unique simplicity. Al Schmitt doesn’t use lots of processing, and has a restrained approach to adding just the right amount of texture to the music he works on.