New Music Gear Monday: Leapwing Al Schmitt Signature Plugin

Al Schmitt Signature plugin image

Al Schmitt is one of the most accomplished recording engineers on the planet, a giant among men that almost everyone in the industry looks up to. Just a few of his credits include Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Miles Davis; to Johnny Cash, Toto and Steely Dan. Add to that Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Celine Dion or Paul McCartney and the list goes on. Now Leapwing has analyzed Al’s workflow, gear and processes of the last decades, from subtle harmonic characteristics to echos, compression and EQ, to release the Al Schmitt Signature plugin. 

The Profiles

The Al Schmitt Signature plugin has 6 distinct profiles: vocal, piano, bass, brass, strings, and mix (buss). Each one has different sonic characteristics and parameters based on Al’s workflow and perception of each instrument. The thing you’ll notice is that the plugin has minimal controls and that they change for each profile.

For instance, the Vocal profile features just 4 parameters Body, Air, Echo (this means reverb – classic studios always labeled reverb as “Echo”) and Compression. Air has 3 selections (5, 8, 16) as does the Echo (A, B, C). Contrast that with the Brass and Strings profiles that only have Echo Level and Echo Type and you can see not only how easy to use this plug is, but also Al’s philosophy as well.

Al’s Approach

If you’ve ever had the pleasure to watch Al work, you’re amazed at how good he can make everything sound without much fiddling like most engineers. He knows just what each instrument needs, gives it that, and it explodes in the room. Most of the rest of us have to work much harder than that. With that in mind, every parameter on his plugin works really well for the function they’re designed for. If you recorded it well to begin with, this plugin will make them it sound even better.

Al’s specialty is acoustic music, so that’s where the plugin stands out. Using it on real strings, acoustic bass, and brass just makes things better without any fuss. I especially like the Echo (reverb), which is so smooth and just blends into the track.

The Mix profile is a bit surprising in that it contains more control than the others. EQ effects include a Sub Boost and an Air Boost. Sub Boost provides a bell curve with boost only, up to +5 dB centered at about 25 Hz. Air Boost provides increasing gain with frequencies above 3 kHz yielding approximately 3dB of gain at 10 kHz. There’s also a 3-band compressor with dual knob controls for low-frequency, mid- frequency and high-frequency bands, along with a link switch to link the compression parameter for the bands.

And There’s More

Besides the parameter controls for each profile there’s the standard input and output controls plus a unique level indicator which shows the intended instrument with lit rings extending from it indicating its level. For compression, there are blue rings that extend inward showing the amount that is being applied at 1/2dB per ring.

The Leapwing Al Schmitt Signature plugin is available on Mac OSX (10.10 +), Windows 8, 10 (64-bit only) and in AAX-Native, VST, VST3 and AU plugin formats. The price is normally $159 USD but there’s an introductory deal for just $129. Yes, there’s also a free 30 day demo available.

You can find out more here, or watch the video below for more details.

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