Leapwing have scored themselves something of a coup by bagging Al Schmitt’s talents and working with him to make something useful for mixing and mastering engineers. Al Schmitt needs no introduction; the CV includes Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Toto, Michael Jackson, and he has won more Grammys than any other producer or engineer.
The plug-in comprises six profiles aimed at particular uses. These enable multiple effects: EQ, compression and Echo (reverb) in varying combinations and with various parameters and ranges, depending on the chosen profile (there are six). Controls are simple, often interacting and controlling multiple parameters under the hood; you can’t see exactly what they are doing. But no matter, Schmitt has selected and restricted the effects and their parameters, ranges and settings to gently guide you in an appropriate direction. Leapwing have implemented these in a neat and stylish animated interface, making it a breeze to achieve great sounds.
The plug-in includes large Input and Output faders and meters, and a toolbar with presets and undo etc. at the top. The plug-in is intended for insert use.
The Mix profile offers a pair of fixed frequency boost-only EQ bands: Sub and Air. Then there is a three-band compressor, with linkable controls, each affecting threshold and ratio differently, with ratio varying depending on level and frequency. The fast attack, slow release suits most program. There are separate band gains, and simple LEDs to indicate gain reduction. It sounds smooth and subtle, and it’s superb for enhancing the master bus when mixing.
There are also profiles for vocal, bass, brass, piano and strings (although oddly not drums). Bass provides just three settings: Compression plus Body and Air Levels. The compressor slider affects multiple parameters and sounds great on bass guitar. Body and Air are effectively bass and treble, but Al’s secret sauce means that these interact with each other in a pleasant fashion. And the bass profile adds level-dependent harmonic distortion of up to 10% for a lovely warm sound. Vocals, piano, brass and string profiles include luscious reverbs where you only choose from three types (which are different in each profile) and how much.
Each profile provides between one and three presets as starting points. Parameter ranges never extend to bonkers, this is for achieving musical results. I love the approach; there are no complicated user-configurable setups – this is a fully finished design where the limitations focus you towards achieving amazing sounding tracks.
Pros: Sounds terrific, easy to use, beautifully thought-out.
Cons: No dedicated drums profile.