Over the last 20 years, legendary record producer Patrick Leonard has helped shape the sound of popular music through his work with Elton John, Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi, Michael Jackson and other top hit-makers. Starting in the studio at the age of 14 and touring by 18, Leonard has earned a reputation for his musical creativity, as well as the ability to completely “flip” a well-known song and infuse it with new life. His varied keyboard/piano styles range from classical and jazz to rock and R&B, keeping his compositions innovative.
In addition, Leonard enjoys an almost unparalleled level of personal success—his 1986 collaboration with Madonna, True Blue, sold over 26 million copies. When working with elite artists, Leonard has unlimited access to the most celebrated recording gear on the planet. After countless multi-platinum records and several Grammy nominations, he continues to redefine the standard by choosing M-Audio’s wide range of music creation and recording solutions.
How did you come to know M-Audio?
A few years ago, a friend of mine recommended M-Audio gear because no one else was developing products that gave musicians hands-on control over certain processes. M-Audio provided controllers and other products that provided total manipulation of software parameters and recall functions. The more control you have, the more you can create. M-Audio controllers help maintain that creative medium. I keep watching the product line because M-Audio is obviously thinking about what people are doing.
M-Audio gear turns processes that are somewhat stiff into creative tools that are non-repeatable. The architecture is so open that two musicians can take the same piece of gear and generate dramatically different results. It cultivates the notion that you can actually do something that no one else can do.
The Sputnik was designed to deliver a lush sound like that of vintage microphones. How does it compare to the other mics you have used?
The Sputnik sounds absolutely wonderful in every situation. We recently completed a record where we used it for both lead and background vocals and it sounded amazing. On the soundtrack for Madonna’s new documentary, I Am Because We Are, we’ve been using them for everything and getting exactly what we want.
How would you describe your experiences with the EX66 reference monitors?
We had just finished mixing a record on an extravagant three-monitor referencing system, so I knew what the content was supposed to sound like. When we listened to playback on the EX66 monitors, I immediately noticed a dramatic improvement in image clarity. They sounded fantastic. Since then I’ve installed EX66s in my studio and on my keyboard setup as well. They serve a perfect function—just the right size with excellent imaging. They sound smooth and fall in a perfect space, which is important when you’re working at a desk. I absolutely love them.
What other M-Audio gear do you use?
Wherever I go, I take my Axiom 25, a FireWire 410 and my laptop. I’m able to get a lot of things done that I could never do with a piano. The portability factor is huge. I worked on a Bon Jovi record using just my laptop and an M-Audio keyboard controller. A lot of the instruments and drum parts I sequenced ended up on the final recording.