Universal Audio Sphere DLX and LX Review: Professional Quality

The dwelling recording revolution has come. From low-cost and inexpensive audio interfaces and software program to the rocketing abundance of USB microphones in the Zoom era, there is no such thing as a motive why you may’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 ok, however now high-end firms are aiming to assist common musicians get true studio high quality at dwelling.

The newest Sphere DLX and Sphere LX modeling mics from Universal 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 you acquire entry to tens of 1000’s of {dollars} of modeled microphone sounds, and even the flexibility to vary them post-record. It’s been a recreation changer in my small undertaking 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’ own Neumann, although you is perhaps disillusioned to understand that expertise is the principle 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 gentle circumstances. (You can stack them, however they don’t seem to be going to outlive a success with a baseball bat.) You get two mounts within the DLX case, an everyday 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 a couple of years in the past, and for good motive. UA bought Townsend Labs, utilizing its tech to recreate the outdated mannequin and create the smaller LX collection for extra budget-conscious of us.

Universal Audio has made every part from mic preamps and compressors to microphones over the previous 24 years. Like every part the corporate makes, these mics look and really feel like they’re designed for skilled use, with stable steel enclosures and a stunning match and end. The fundamental distinction between the 2 is the dimensions. The smaller and extra inexpensive Sphere LX simulates lots of the similar mics as its larger brother, nevertheless 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: Universal Audio

Both are stereo microphones that file by way of the entrance and again 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 investigate and emulate traditional microphone polar patterns, tone, and many others. Both 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 solely draw back to the mics being stereo is that these do take up two channels of your audio interface. If you’ve gotten a smaller interface, you’ll have to trace vocals and another devices at completely different instances. Not an enormous deal, however price noting for these with solely two mic channels.

Recording Sphere

The mics are principally Photoshop for mic selection and placement. You can decide what mannequin of mic you would like. Anyone 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. Everything 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 is even a number of ribbon microphones, which may be tremendous useful on horns or for a classic sound.

You can decide mics after recording too. You set up the plug-in, set it up on a stereo channel of your digital audio workstation, and select which mic you need to use and how. You can 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 Pro Tools, which makes it nearly foolproof.

Not solely are you able to alter the precise mic, you may even alter the polar sample, which is the “lens” of a mic that controls the course 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 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 may also alter the gap from the mic, the place typically you will get too many pops from “p” sounds or sibilance from “s” sounds.

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