Modelling Microphone Systems

signalpath

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The latest SOS has a review of Universal Audio Sphere DLX & Sphere LX Modelling Microphone Systems. This is a lighter version of the 2017 review of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 which since UA acquired Townsend is pretty much the same thing. This month’s review sums up by saying ‘When modelling is this good, it gets harder and harder to justify spending top dollar on vintage.’ which is a pretty ringing endorsement.

Reviews are always useful but it would be interesting to hear of real field expertise (that’s absolutely not me) and what you think pros and cons of the technology are and where it is headed.
 
I’ve got zero experience with this but am definitely at the point where I’ve got enough faith in modeling to trust it and would most likely go in this direction before investing the same money/more money into really nice mics.
 
I use a Townsend Sphere L22 quite extensively. The 47 version in the Sphere compared to the WA47 Warm audio tube mic, I cant hear much a difference if any at all. That's either a ringing endorsement for Warm Audio or Townsend or both. Prior to that, the Sony 8000 model was my go to, but I've been exploring more and more.

Make sure you have at least a stereo interface with stepped inputs, or inputs that can be linked stereo. It's doable if you don't, but it's designed for this
 
I have been curious about those "systems" too. Don't Slate and Antelope also make modeling mics?
 
I have been curious about those "systems" too. Don't Slate and Antelope also make modeling mics?
I used slates mic. I have both of them. Honestly it's a toy in comparison to the Townsend/UA. Directly compared both.
 
my main issue with the more basic mic modelling (like Slate) is they completely overlook the polar patterns and bleed. The bleed on those mics can sound really odd, especially once you start processing it, and the lack of polar patterns can make them a poor choice for certain applications. These mics are also really annoying if you want to use any outboard HW while you record - you have to go in and out the computer and also lose the benefits of the modelling.

The Townshend mic is excellent because you can control the polar pattern and bleed.

Overall though, I’d rather deal with the mic choice and placement first and then process. Leaving so many options open just gives more headaches and possibilities for things to go wrong or change after the fact.

A great mic and preamp chain goes a long way - I think if you already have those and want an option for other situations then the Townshend is a great choice.
 
my main issue with the more basic mic modelling (like Slate) is they completely overlook the polar patterns and bleed. The bleed on those mics can sound really odd, especially once you start processing it, and the lack of polar patterns can make them a poor choice for certain applications. These mics are also really annoying if you want to use any outboard HW while you record - you have to go in and out the computer and also lose the benefits of the modelling.

The Townshend mic is excellent because you can control the polar pattern and bleed.

Overall though, I’d rather deal with the mic choice and placement first and then process. Leaving so many options open just gives more headaches and possibilities for things to go wrong or change after the fact.

A great mic and preamp chain goes a long way - I think if you already have those and want an option for other situations then the Townshend is a great choice.
I print the mic and unison pre models these days. My life goes a lot easier this way.
 
my main issue with the more basic mic modelling (like Slate) is they completely overlook the polar patterns and bleed. The bleed on those mics can sound really odd, especially once you start processing it, and the lack of polar patterns can make them a poor choice for certain applications. These mics are also really annoying if you want to use any outboard HW while you record - you have to go in and out the computer and also lose the benefits of the modelling.

The Townshend mic is excellent because you can control the polar pattern and bleed.

Overall though, I’d rather deal with the mic choice and placement first and then process. Leaving so many options open just gives more headaches and possibilities for things to go wrong or change after the fact.

A great mic and preamp chain goes a long way - I think if you already have those and want an option for other situations then the Townshend is a great choice.
I send the Townsend tracks out all the time to the BLA Bluey, and 2A or 3A style compression. Works great, as would any other. Compresssing going in I use UAD but only for monitoring in Console.
 
my main issue with the more basic mic modelling (like Slate) is they completely overlook the polar patterns and bleed. The bleed on those mics can sound really odd, especially once you start processing it, and the lack of polar patterns can make them a poor choice for certain applications.
This is one of the main things I took away from the 2017 SOS article I linked.
 
I’ve got zero experience with this but am definitely at the point where I’ve got enough faith in modeling to trust it and would most likely go in this direction before investing the same money/more money into really nice mics.
I just hope they have my favorite specific mic of modeled :)
 
I send the Townsend tracks out all the time to the BLA Bluey, and 2A or 3A style compression. Works great, as would any other. Compresssing going in I use UAD but only for monitoring in Console.

This sounds like the stuff that puts me off modelling mics - going backwards and forwards and adding extra to steps to things. I get the appeal of the options, but I also think its so valuable to be able to commit and move forwards. Using it in UAD's Console makes sense as far as having a full chain that you can record through and commit to. but if you already have nice preamps and maybe want to drive the mics through those and then run them into some compression, and then sum with other mics before recording just the blend, it becomes a bit of a process.
 
This sounds like the stuff that puts me off modelling mics - going backwards and forwards and adding extra to steps to things. I get the appeal of the options, but I also think its so valuable to be able to commit and move forwards. Using it in UAD's Console makes sense as far as having a full chain that you can record through and commit to. but if you already have nice preamps and maybe want to drive the mics through those and then run them into some compression, and then sum with other mics before recording just the blend, it becomes a bit of a process.
You can make it as simple or convoluted as you like though. That’s just the way I DO IT. Nothing stopping me from printing right out of console either and not going outboard after. I run every single vocal thru Bluey because I’m in love/lust with that compressor. It takes about an hour for a dense tracks with lots of backing vocals but that’s just my process and can definitely hear the value. I’d do this if I had a real U47 here just the same way.
 
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