Location recording, editing, and mixing specialist focused on classical, jazz, and all genres of acoustic music.
Dr. Brett Leonard is an active freelance recording and mixing engineer. He has worked on projects ranging from orchestras to progressive jazz, hip-hop to classic rock, including projects with artist such as Lenny Pickett, John Patitucci, Matt Haimovitz, Jerry Douglas, Cecile McLorrin Salvant, and the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, and producers such as Russ Titelman, Bob Belden, Meshell Ndegeocello, and Devo Springsteen. Dr. Leonard currently serves as the chief recording engineer for the Chelsea Music Festival in New York. In 2007, he began BLPaudio, a company providing recording services, acoustical consulting, system design and equipment rental. BLPaudio has since provided consulting services to numerous private studios, event spaces, performance venues, and institutions including the United National International School, the Musée de Beaux Arts Montréal, the Musical Instrument Museum and others.
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Interview with Brett Leonard
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: I love analog outboard and large analog consoles, but today's workflow is so much faster in the digital realm. I typically do most of my work "in-the-box", but I definitely still bust out a Pultec now and again...
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I love location recording for live concerts, but I've found myself mixing more and more lately. Classical editing has always been a specialty, as well.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I run a multi-platform setup with Pro Tools for most of my jazz and pop production, and Pyramix for classical work and mastering. Great monitors and solid acoustic treatment make the place, and a ton of great mics help get everything right from the start!
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: Listening! Both to the tracks AND to my clients.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: I work on a lot of contemporary classical, jazz, and acoustic music, in general. I love getting my hands on a good rock or pop tune, though.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I've been working on audio productions professionally in some capacity since 2003, as an assistant, editor, engineer, etc. I've learned a ton through formal education at places like McGill and New York University, but I've always balanced that with amazing mentors who have run me through the professional wringer and taught me more than any book or class ever could!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: Pair of DPA 4006A microphones, a Grace preamp, an RME Fireface UFX, and my laptop. I could record anything with that!
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What are you looking for in your production? Do you want musical perfection, raw emotion, pristine audio? How can we maximize your time and budget? Where should we focus to meet your goals? Who or what do you want sound like? How can we work from the BEGINNING of the production process to get there '
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I love exploring new music and helping artists convey their message and emotion. I think audio professionals are the ultimate facilitators, helping artists realize their visions and dreams.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I promise honesty. Some engineers will under estimate time budgets, the difficulties faced in a certain process, or the ability to make a track what is desired; that's just not my style!