Leslie Ann Jones, director of audio at Skywalker sound, talked to a room full of audiophiles at Sennheiser’s SoHo pop-up.

High quality audio with Leslie Ann Jones


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Leslie Ann Jones may not be a household name for everyone, but in the audio engineering community she is as famous as they come. Jones spoke at Sennheiser’s SoHo pop-up store about the wonders of high quality audio.

  • Autor: Jeff Ihaza

On a recent evening at Sennheiser’s SoHo pop-up store in New York, the Grammy-Award winning audio engineer Leslie Ann Jones courted a room full of her biggest fans. Perhaps not a household name to most, Jones is something of a superstar in the audio engineering community. As the Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, Jones is responsible for some of the most iconic, and enthralling, film scores in all of cinema. The world-renowned engineer was at the store to talk about high-fidelity audio, and the setting couldn’t have been better. Above the basement-level events space is an array of Sennheiser products perfect for audiophiles looking to get the most out of their sound.

The Importance of high quality sound

Jones started by giving a brief introduction to the basics of high fidelity audio. When audio is recorded, she explained, there are subtleties in sound that is lost to inferior audio formats. Jones explained that in her studio she primarily records and mixes in high definition. To an audiophile, especially one dealing with hours upon hours of sound, this can make all the difference. Jones explained how in different recordings, you can actually pick up on more of the instruments present in the room.

How the best movies in the world sound so great

When it comes to what we hear in theaters, that is still very standard stereo sound. But the benefit of using Hi-fi equipment during the production process is that, as Jones puts it, you’ll get the best possible stereo sound you can achieve. Jones made it a point to remind the audience of the array of Sennheiser products suitable for listening back to high fidelity audio. The HD 600, Jones noted, is a good low-cost option for the audiophile looking to learn more about high fidelity sound.

A lifetime’s work in sound

The room was close to capacity as members of the professional audio community, from students to seasoned veterans, filled the space. As such, Jones made it a point to give everyone a sneak peak inside of Skywalker Sound, located on the elusive Lucas film ranch in California. Jones showed the crowd her recording space, where an orchestra sized room records the scores for films like Star Wars and and Jurassic Park. Amidst “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd, Jones showed off the enviable landscape of the enormous, and illustrious, Lucas Ranch. When one attendee asked if it’d be possible to get a tour of the facility, Jones answered, a bit plainly, “no.” Indeed, Lucasfilm is a coveted workplace in the audio community, in part, because of how mysterious it is.

Tools of the trade

Leslie Ann Jones grew up surrounded by music. Thanks to her musical family (her father is the bandleader Spike Jones and her mother is the singer Helen Grayco), Jones was exposed to an assortment of musical influences. She grew up listening to exquisite vocalists like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. When Jones was fourteen, she received a Sears Silvertone electric guitar and started playing in a band where she played Top 40 hits on guitar and sang background vocals with the all-female group. It was during this time that Jones started getting involved with the technical side of music and audio. She started to arrange music for other bands and assembled a PA system from scratch. In 1974, Jones served as road manager and live sound mixer for the band Fanny on their world tour.

The crowd at the SoHo pop-up was full of familiar faces for Jones. Over the course of her expansive career, Jones has made a number of friends in the community. A number of audio professionals stayed behind after the talk to chat with the famed engineer one-on-one.