Home » News » Leonardo Bella Brings Vibrant Sonic Detail to Georgy Gusev’s ‘Starlings Over Rome’ with Mojave Audio

Artist/producer on capturing the sonic personalities of rooms and the magic of short signal chains


Maui, HI, August, 24, 2021—For more than forty years, artist, composer, and producer Leonardo Bella has been on a singular quest to capture the fine details of acoustic instrumentation in unique spaces across the globe. From his years as co-owner ofSkyline Studios in New York to his work with orchestral ensembles for Sony Classical, Bella’s assets have been his finely tuned ear and a discerning, almost spiritual dedication to constructing the perfect signal chain of only the finest components. He recently brought these skills to bear on a video performance of renowned Russian cellist Georgy Gusev of “Starlings Over Rome” — a piece arranged for a trio of cellos that sees Gusev ‘accompanying’ himself on all three parts. To ensure that every detail of the lively performance was captured, Bella utilized some of his trusted favorites — the Mojave Audio MA-1000 and a pair of MA-100s. 

Magic musical locations

A major part of Bella’s recording process is in careful selection of the recording location. Despite decades of experience working in celebrated recording studios around the world, he often purposefully  selects non-traditional locations with more unique sonic qualities to bring out the best performances in  the artists and ensembles that he works with. “Every room has inherent natural musical qualities that can be heard in a recording,” he explained. “Knowing that, I’m always looking to capture that so that a listener will feel enveloped in the experience.”

For his work on ‘Starlings over Rome’, he chose a bright, lively sounding room on the island of Maui that complimented the airy quality of Gusev’s arrangement. Arranging the space as he would for a live trio performance, Bella says it was easy to get Gusev in the right performing mindset. “I try to bring every performer to a space like this that allows them to make heart-felt, expressive music,” he said.  “For Georgy, it was a beautiful round acoustic space that we set up to be like a live performance — the perfect place for a piece like this.”

“Especially when trying to honestly capture acoustic instrumentation, finding these ‘magic rooms’ is a big part of my process. When you discover that and match it to a performer and by extension the right microphone, you get something special. Something that places the listener within the music so they feel like they can walk into it and feel truly enveloped.”

Trusted tools for the shortest signal chains

To give a true stereo picture Bella placed the MA100 room mics in ORTF position, center stage, and did not move them as Gusev switched chairs from left to center to right to perform the 3 cello parts. The MA1000 was placed as a spot mic 2 feet back from the cello and moved to each of the 3 chair locations. Having spent decades developing his ear around the specifics of microphones has made him especially discerning about which he chooses to bring on a session. “I’ve listened to hundreds of microphones over the years which has really trained my ear for the right qualities, and when it comes to Mojave, they give me exactly what I need. The MA-1000 has a wonderful controlled warmth that is incredibly useful and balanced for almost anything. Between that and the MA-100 pair we got the perfect imaging for this and it really felt like a full section once the tracks were mixed together.”

Using the highest quality signal chain between the source and the recording mediumhas made him especially discerning of his choice of equipment, and as such Bella has developed a very specific set of conditions for how he prefers to work. “I’m a firm believer in mixing and matching the appropriately chosen mics, preamps and A to D converters, with the shortest possible cable run to the preamp.”

The breadth of his experience has allowed him to make recordings where the listener feels the musicians are right there in the room with them “At the end of the day though, it’s the microphone and me in the room trying to be in sync with the musician and to do that I need ones I can really rely on.” “Almost every mic I own now is a Mojave,” he concluded. “I can’t say enough good things. I use them every day.”

For more information about Leonardo Bella, please visit http://leonardobellamusic.com/

For more information about Mojave Audio, please visit http://www.mojaveaudio.com/

About Mojave Audio

Mojave Audio was founded by Technical Grammy Award winning David Royer, widely known for his ribbon microphone designs with Royer Labs. Mojave Audio makes world-class microphones for Artists and Engineers who are passionate about their sound.

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