Oscar-winning composer
(White Helmets, Virunga, Moon Shot)

"I love how ARIA sounds so intensely beautiful when it's close up to an instrument but at the same time it feels very natural."

"The first time I heard ARIA was at my friend Joe [Rubel]'s studio, Pixel, on a cello recording by Peter Gregson who is an avid ARIA user. 


I loved how it sat in the mix; I felt the sound captured both the depth and roundness of his cello while being present and sounding really open. Needless to say I picked one up very shortly thereafter! 


"I am a huge fan of the ARIA, it occupies a space in my studio right next to where I sit and I can swing the stand over and record anything very quickly. 


Clients love how it looks, and the power supply and cable are both a really solid build. I also really like the inclusion of the high-pass filter and pad switches on the power supply. "A lot of modern mics require help in the mixing stage in terms of EQ and saturation to bring things to life, but the ARIA sounds good to me on everything. If you take the time to find the correct mic placement, in my experience you'll virtually never have to do any corrective EQ. 


I record all kinds of instruments all the time and need them to be able to hold up all the way up to big cinema systems, and I really feel confident with the ARIA when handing things over to music mixers or dubbing mixers in a way which I wasn't with previous mics I used in my own studio. "I use the ARIA for every mono source I record at my studio: cello, violin, trumpet, guitar, hand percussion, glockenspiel... all sorts of stuff. 


I love how it sounds so intensely beautiful when it's close up to an instrument, but at the same time it feels very natural as well when you get more of an overall perspective on an instrument. 


When we were recording the score for The White Helmets I rented in a Neumann U47 and put that alongside the ARIA as I think the 47 also sounds great on cello. We were layering a cello choir of various parts on top of each other and it was fascinating to see how the two mics complemented each other in a great way; I was able to pick and choose either mic or a blend of the two depending on how I wanted each particular voice to sit in context. It was a way of EQing without actually having to reach for an EQ. 


Considering the U47 costs about ten times more, I think it's a real testament to the quality of the sound of the ARIA, and that exercise really reinforced it as a top-quality mic for me. 


"As well as being all over the The White Helmets and Virunga scores, the ARIA can be heard on every project I've worked on since I got it in 2014. One place you can really hear it is on the cello solos on Miracle Baby from The White Helmets original soundtrack album: 


"The team for The White Helmets was the same as the one that worked on the 2015 film Virunga and I've worked with director Orlando von Einsiedel for many years. For White Helmets we worked in a slightly different way because, from early on, Orlando and I wanted to write a 'suite' for the film that could be used in the edit. This is certainly not an uncommon way of working but for us it was one of the few times when we started writing anything more than sketches before there were full sequences of picture strung together.


 I think we both enjoyed it and I feel that as long as you're still open to completely reshuffling things further down the line then it's a good way to work. The danger is always that you get attached to things, but it's important to continually question whether you're making the best decisions, but Orlando has a great sense of the overall picture always, so he helps steer the ship and it's such a blast to be part of a talented team like that. 


"Everyone involved is brilliant and we work really hard to try and tell the story in the best way we can. I love working with those guys. Orlando and I definitely have a shorthand after working together for so many years, but every new project is different and throws a new set of challenges our way. I think when you know the team involved it's helpful in terms of everyone having trust in one another and knowing that sometimes certain scenes take longer to find the solutions to than others and giving you that space to experiment and really find the heart of it. 


"To win an Oscar for The White Helmets was such a surreal moment. I'm not sure if it's sunk in yet. On one hand it feels amazing that the film has been recognised for its craft, but more importantly, it's brilliant that more people will get to know about the White Helmets and the struggles they're still facing in Syria. It was such a humbling moment to see Orlando and Joanna [Natasegara] accept the award and read out a powerful reminder of whom we made this film for. 


When all of Hollywood gave a standing ovation in solidarity with the heroic rescue work those guys are doing over there every day, it was a really emotional moment and we all felt really proud to have been able to bring this important story to the world. 


"I'm also really proud of Virunga, a feature documentary about the park rangers in the oldest national park in Africa. It was such a special film to be involved with; it's a documentary but feels more like a thriller in many ways. 


Another project I'm very proud of is Moon Shot, a beautiful web series, executive-produced by J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Trek Into Darkness, Lost, Super 8), that tells the story of various teams around the world who are developing low-cost robotic methods of space exploration.


 It's very inspiring and was a joy to write music for. "In terms of new stuff that you'll hear ARIA on, I've got an exciting BBC Three series called Five by Five directed by Kate Herron and starring Idris Elba, which was a lot of fun to compose for. I'm also working on my first album, which is a new and exciting way to work for me as I'm so used to writing to picture. I hope to release that later this year."

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