Since the early 1970s, Leszek Wojcik has been recording exquisite classical music performances at top venues including Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, The Rose Theater and Carnegie Hall, where he is employed as recording studio manager. Wojcik, who is also a highly sought after freelance classical recording professional, recently acquired a pair of Neumann KH 120 monitors.
Wojcik had been using a competitor’s pair of monitors, but ‘never really fell in love with them.’ He decided to switch to the Neumann KH 120s after one of his classical recording colleagues, Mateusz Zechowski, recommended them, citing their outstanding transparency and natural sound. Since then, they have become a foundational element of his control room and he’s never looked back.
“It took me about 15 seconds to make the decision to switch to the Neumann KH 120s,” Wojcik says. “The midrange is fantastic. It’s very truthful and flat, which is critical in recording classical music. For me, the midrange is the single most important part of a monitor’s sound, because most of the compositions in Western music were written for this range.”
Wojcik, who has a master’s degree in Tonmeister Studies from Chopin Music Academy and who lectures on “Aesthetics of Recording” at New York University, is well versed in both the theory and practice of audio recording and draws from over three decades of experience: “I come from the school that encourages making your decisions based on listening,” says Wojcik. “No two situations are the same in classical music recording so you have to keep searching for the perfect sound and you do this by listening. For this reason, the main component of the control room are the monitors, and the Neumann KH 120s are a great tool.”
Wojcik’s first field test of the KH 120 came during the recording of a performance of an orchestra from Qatar at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Wojcik set up his Neumann KH 120s in an alcove adjacent to the hall where he monitored the recording and also sent out a stereo broadcast mix for television. While he was monitoring at low levels, he says that the KH 120s performed admirably, providing a dynamic sound that simplified his job.
For Wojcik, having the right mix of tools is an absolute prerequisite to creating the vibrant recordings he has become known for in the industry. “I’m sure that the chisel and the hammer that Michelangelo used to create his statues were the highest possible quality of the time, and for me, the Neumann KH 120 is a wonderful tool to have — it’s like Michelangelo’s chisel,” Wojcik said.
In addition to the Neumann KH 120 monitors, Wojcik relies heavily on other Neumann and Sennheiser equipment such as Neumann KM series microphones, Sennheiser MKH series microphones — including the Sennheiser multi-pattern MKH 8000 which he uses on the ‘most demanding’ instruments — and a pair of classic Sennheiser HD 580 headphones.
“The basic premise of classical music recording is concert realism,” Wojcik concludes. “The recording should reflect the concert sound. If you go to the ideal concert hall, sit in the ideal seat in the ideal distance from the performance, this is how you should expect to hear a well made recording. Your skill and your choice of tools is immensely important. In my work as a recording recording professional, the Neumann KH 120s are a very important tool for me.”
Leszek Wojcik recording on location with his Neumann KH 120 monitors at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City.