Universal Audio Sphere DLX and LX Review: Professional Quality

The house recording revolution has come. From low-cost and inexpensive audio interfaces and software program to the rocketing abundance of USB microphones within the Zoom period, there isn’t a cause why you possibly can’t make chart-topping singles in your bed room. (See: Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell.) It’s straightforward to get audio high quality that is adequate, however now high-end firms 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 if you happen to might have just about each well-known microphone obtainable at your fingertips in a single, sub-$1,400 system?

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

On the Mic

The Sphere is available in two sizes and costs, the cheaper LX and dearer DLX, each of which come inside well-engineered gentle instances. (You may 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 cause. UA purchased Townsend Labs, utilizing its tech to recreate the previous mannequin and create the smaller LX sequence for extra budget-conscious people.

Common Audio has made the whole lot from mic preamps and compressors to microphones over the previous 24 years. Like the whole lot the corporate makes, these mics feel and look like they’re designed for skilled use, with stable metallic enclosures and a beautiful match and end. The primary distinction between the 2 is the dimensions. The smaller and extra inexpensive Sphere LX simulates lots of the identical mics as its larger 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 document by means of 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 basic microphone polar patterns, tone, and so on. Each are powered by 48-V phantom energy, with white LEDs that gentle 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 type. It makes you are feeling just like the capsule is looking 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’ve got a smaller interface, you’ll have to trace vocals and another devices at totally different occasions. Not an enormous deal, however value noting for these with solely two mic channels.

Recording Sphere

The mics are principally Photoshop for mic alternative and placement. You may decide what mannequin of mic you need. Anybody who has hung round knowledgeable recording studio will instantly acknowledge many, if not just about all, of the microphone fashions included contained in the Sphere’s plug-in controller. The whole lot from basic Neumann fashions just like the U47 and U67, to extra trendy mics just like the Shure SM7B and Sony C800G, can be found. There’s even a collection of ribbon microphones, which might be tremendous useful on horns or for a classic sound.

You may decide 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 may 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 just about foolproof.

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

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