We at Townsend Labs are very excited that our Sphere L22 now is the first and only microphone modeling system to offer AAX DSP support. It’s included in version 1.3 of the Sphere software, which is a free upgrade to anyone. It’s especially exciting to me personally because I worked as a DSP engineer at Avid for over thirteen years and I was part of the team that developed HDX and AAX technology. I have a deep technical understanding of the benefits that DSP based systems provide and I love that Sphere works with an even wider range of platforms.
The Sphere L22 is a microphone modeling system, consisting of a high-precision, dual-channel condenser microphone and the Sphere plug-in. The Sphere L22 can solve a number of problems for studios, and opens up new creative possibilities that traditional microphones simply can’t offer.
Sphere also has significant advantages over other modeling microphones. With the addition of AAX DSP support in Sphere 1.3, owners of Pro Tools HDX systems can now enjoy perfect integration of the Sphere microphone system into their existing DSP-based workflow and monitor the over 20 included microphone models with near-zero latency while recording. But there are many more advantages to Sphere over other modeling microphones as well as traditional ones:
Not one mic—it’s many
Perhaps the most obvious advantage is that Sphere puts a world-class mic locker within reach. You have an amazing sonic palette to work with, without spending the over $100,000 that the current microphone collection would have set you back. We continuously add new mic models, thereby increasing the value and expanding the options further over time.
The unique technical design of the Sphere L22 system takes things far beyond merely mimicking the on-axis EQ curve of the original microphones. Sphere captures the transient response, harmonics, proximity effect and three-dimensional polar response—every relevant aspect that makes up the entire personality and behavior of the original microphone. No other modeling microphone on the market offers the same level of accuracy and detail.
Better workflow gives better results
With Sphere L22, you can change the mic type, polar pattern, proximity effect, and other microphone characteristics—after tracking. This allows you to audition the sound of different microphones and settings without tiring the singer or voice actor. And you can do it in the context of all the other audio that will be present in the final mix.
Blend two mic models
Sphere L22 lets you combine two microphones and seamlessly blend between them to taste in the software, always with the sound perfectly in phase.
The exclusive Off-Axis Correction™ feature included in the Sphere software makes it possible to reduce bleed, undesirable room coloration, and other common issues. Again, this can be done long after the recording took place.
The dual-capsule design of Sphere even makes it possible to turn it 90-degrees in relation to the sound source and use it as a stereo mic. The included Sphere 180 plug-in manages the separate input signals from the Sphere’s two capsules, and gives you beautiful and phase coherent stereo recordings.
Capturing the DNA of Microphones
Sphere’s two-channel approach is the foundation for modeling the complex polar patterns, off-axis characteristics, and proximity effect of the original microphones – even just in cardioid. Capturing these details with a single capsule is simply not possible.
Coming into Pro Tools on a stereo track, all of the microphone parameters can now be controlled with the plug-in after the fact. Microphone choice, polar patterns, and even off-axis colorations now become mix tools that can be utilized to great effect. They also can become dynamic and can be automated in the timeline. For the first time ever, microphone technology achieves the same level of control and accessibility as essentially all other aspects of the digital audio recording chain.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of what Sphere is capable of but I hope you can get an idea of how it could work for you. Whether you use HDX, HD Native, or Pro Tools with a third-party interface, Sphere will support your system and your workflow.
You can try the Sphere plug-in on your system by going to the downloads page at townsendlabs.com. And you can download pre-recorded audio files so you can hear Sphere in action without owning the microphone.