Universal Audio Sphere DLX and LX Review: Professional Quality

The house recording revolution has come. From low cost and reasonably priced audio interfaces and software program to the rocketing abundance of USB microphones in the Zoom era, there isn’t any motive why you possibly can’t make chart-topping singles in your bed room. (See: Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell.) It’s simple to get audio high quality that is adequate, however now high-end corporations are aiming to assist common musicians get true studio high quality at residence.

The most recent Sphere DLX and Sphere LX modeling mics from Common Audio ask a easy query: What when you might have nearly each well-known microphone obtainable at your fingertips in a single, sub-$1,400 gadget?

Plug in these stereo mics to any audio interface, open up the software program, and also you acquire entry to tens of 1000’s of {dollars} of modeled microphone sounds, and even the flexibility to alter them post-record. It’s been a recreation changer in my small challenge recording studio, and one that may make next-generation indie rockers sound cleaner and extra dialed-in than ever. You’ll be able to even use a mannequin of the Eilishes’ own Neumann, although you could be disenchanted to comprehend that expertise is the primary motive they sound so good.

On the Mic

The Sphere is available in two sizes and costs, the cheaper LX and costlier DLX, each of which come inside well-engineered comfortable circumstances. (You’ll be able to stack them, however they are not going to outlive a success with a baseball bat.) You get two mounts within the DLX case, a daily one and a shock one, and only a non-shock mount within the LX case. The bigger DLX will look instantly acquainted to those that have tried the Townsend Labs Sphere L22, one other modeling mic that got here out just a few years in the past, and for good motive. UA bought Townsend Labs, utilizing its tech to recreate the previous mannequin and create the smaller LX collection for extra budget-conscious people.

Common Audio has made all the things from mic preamps and compressors to microphones over the previous 24 years. Like all the things the corporate makes, these mics feel and appear like they’re designed for skilled use, with stable steel enclosures and a beautiful match and end. The principle distinction between the 2 is the scale. The smaller and extra reasonably priced Sphere LX simulates lots of the identical mics as its greater brother, however it lacks 18 mic fashions included on the bigger mic. You get 20 mic fashions on the smaller LX and 38 on the DLX.

{Photograph}: Common Audio

Each are stereo microphones that file via the back and front of a customized 1-inch stereo capsule. On their very own, they’re extremely transparent-sounding mics; that is partially what permits the mic’s plug-in software program to research and emulate traditional microphone polar patterns, tone, and so on. Each are powered by 48-V phantom power, with white LEDs that mild up the capsule when the mic is plugged in and energy is on–a cool impact that I haven’t seen on different mics of this sort. It makes you are feeling just like the capsule is asking to your mouth.

The one draw back to the mics being stereo is that these do take up two channels of your audio interface. When you have a smaller interface, you’ll have to trace vocals and every other devices at completely different instances. Not an enormous deal, however value noting for these with solely two mic channels.

Recording Sphere

The mics are mainly Photoshop for mic selection and placement. You’ll be able to choose what mannequin of mic you want. Anybody who has hung round an expert recording studio will instantly acknowledge many, if not nearly all, of the microphone fashions included contained in the Sphere’s plug-in controller. All the pieces from traditional Neumann fashions just like the U47 and U67, to extra fashionable mics just like the Shure SM7B and Sony C800G, can be found. There’s even a choice of ribbon microphones, which could be tremendous useful on horns or for a classic sound.

You’ll be able to choose mics after recording too. You put in the plug-in, set it up on a stereo channel of your digital audio workstation, and select which mic you wish to use and the way. You’ll be able to all the time change it later, offered the audio was recorded by the Sphere mic to start with. The plug-in works with each main piece of audio recording software program, from Garageband to skilled requirements like Professional Instruments, which makes it nearly foolproof.

Not solely are you able to regulate the particular mic, you possibly can even regulate the polar sample, which is the “lens” of a mic that controls the route from which the mic data, whether or not that is tightly in entrance or an omnidirectional recording. You’ll be able to even use mics in methods the unique mannequin wouldn’t enable; I appreciated utilizing a mannequin of a classic RCA ribbon mic in a tighter configuration than the classic mic would enable in actual life. I get a lot much less bleed from surrounding devices. You can even regulate the space from the mic, the place generally you will get too many pops from “p” sounds or sibilance from “s” sounds.

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