Townsend Labs Sphere L22 Microphone Modeling System
The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 is a microphone modeling system capable of emulating some of the most iconic studio microphones of all time with unparalleled accuracy and realism. The high-resolution, dual-channel L22 large-diaphragm condenser microphone captures crystal-clear recordings, while the included Sphere plug-in lets you change mic type, polar pattern, placement and more, before ad after tracking. With the current 1.4 version of Sphere users have access to over 30 individual models. Version 1.4 of the Sphere plug-in is available in all major native plug-in formats, as well as Universal Audio’s UAD-2/Apollo and Avid’s AAX DSP platforms.
The Sphere L22 is a precision dual-capsule microphone that utilizes groundbreaking three-dimensional modeling technology to accurately recreate the exact character of countless classic microphones—down the proximity effect and off-axis frequency response.
Unlike traditional modeling microphones that simply apply EQ to emulate other microphones, the Sphere L22 uses two channels to completely capture the entire soundfield. By utilizing two channels, the Sphere L22 is able to capture stereo recordings with stunning depth. Simply rotate the Sphere L22 90-degrees and capture separate channels from each capsule. You can even use different mic models on the left and right channels using the Sphere 180 plug-in.
SPHERE L22 MICROPHONE
Not only is the Sphere L22 able to capture the sound of classic microphones—it actually improves them. With a self-noise level of just 7 dB-A SPL, Sphere L22 is whisper-quiet in comparison to most vintage mics. And with a maximum SPL of 140 dB, you can place Sphere L22 inside kick drums, against the grill of guitar amps and more without worrying about damaging the capsule. Plus, Sphere L22 has a rugged, durable frame that stands up to the most demanding studio sessions so you don’t have to worry about accidentally destroying a vintage ribbon.
The Sphere L22 Microphone system works with any interface with at least two inputs. For extremely low latency performance, use the Sphere L22 microphone system with Universal Audio Apollo or Avid HDX systems. The Sphere plug-in is compatible with UAD, AAX DSP, AAX Native, VST, AU formats, enabling use with most DAWs.
Sphere – How It Works
Using a dual-capsule microphone with dual-outputs makes it possible to more completely capture the soundfield—including the directional and distance information otherwise lost with a conventional single-channel microphone. This allows the Sphere system to precisely reconstruct how different microphones respond to the soundfield. In contrast, other microphone modeling technologies apply EQ to filter the sound from what is essentially a conventional microphone. This is fundamentally no different from using EQ to process a recorded track.
The Sphere L22 microphone modeling system comprises this precision dual-channel microphone, plus an audio plug-in for your DAW. The software plug-in does all of the DSP processing used to create the microphone models. Using a plug-in, instead of DSP processing built into the mic, has the major advantage of allowing the user to change all of the modeling settings, such as mic type and polar pattern, after the audio is recorded.
Sphere L22 Microphone – high precision, dual-capsule, large-diaphragm condenser studio microphone, which can be used with or without modeling. Includes:
- 10 Foot (3 Meter) Breakout Cable
- Shock Mount
- Hard Mount
- Hard Carrying Case
- Plush Dust Cover
- Sphere DSP algorithms – accurately models a wide range of the most sought-after microphones in the world
- Re-Mic technology – allows the user to change the mic type and polar pattern even after tracking
- New patented features – including Off-Axis Correction, which can produce more accurate polar patterns for reduced bleed, room coloration, and feedback
- Supports a wide range of plug-in formats – including UAD, VST2, VST3, Audio Unit, and AAX DSP or AAX Native on Mac and Windows
- LD-563 (New in version 1.4): based on a classic German bottle microphone with interchangeable microphone capsule heads. The different polar patterns in the Sphere plug-in are based on three different capsules, M7, M8, and M55k. For many, the 563 with the M7 cardioid capsule is a favorite for recording vocalists.
- LD-017T (New in version 1.4): a commissioned model of a current production Soyuz 017 TUBE large diaphragm microphone, created in partnership with Soyuz. It’s a modern classic that is 100% hand-built in Tula, Russia. Popular uses include vocals and acoustic instruments.
- DN-409N and DN-409U (New in version 1.4): based on two different variants of the classic German 409 dynamic microphone, which is a favorite for rock vocals and guitar amplifiers. The older N-version is slightly more colored whereas the U-version from the 1980s has a nice, smooth top-end.
- DN-421N, DN-421S, and DN-421B (New in version 1.4): based on three different variants of the iconic German 421 microphone—a large-diaphragm dynamic, popular for bass and guitar amps, kick drums and toms, horns, and vocals. The N-version is based on a classic beige 421 from the 1960s and has a slightly warmer sound than the 421B, which is based on a current production black 421 and faithfully captures its slightly brighter character. The 421S is the oldest version of the three, with a script logo and a more colored sound.
- DN-12A and DN-12E (New in version 1.4): based on Austrian dynamic microphones - a go-to choice for kick drum and bass instruments. The DN-12A is based on the original version from the 1950s and has a more colored sound. The DN-12E is based on a later version with a slightly more "modern" sound.
- SD-416 (New in version 1.4): based on an industry-standard shotgun microphone, commonly used in the studio for voice-over and ADR duties. It is the go-to mic for that big voice-over sound in Hollywood-produced movie trailers we’re all so familiar with.
- LD-47: For many the 47 is the ultimate vocal mic. Rumor has it that Frank Sinatra would not sing without his. The specimen Townsend modeled is an original 47 with a fully brass K47 capsule with a mylar diaphragm and a VF-14 tube.
- LD-12: Released in 1953 the C12 is another iconic mic which has a gorgeous high-end sheen and sparkle, due to the uniquely designed CK12 capsule. It's a great choice for lush, breathy vocals, without overly accentuating sibilance.
- LD-67: The 67 is a very unique and wonderful mic that tends toward warm, yet without sounding dull. Townsend modeled a mid 1960s version. It really shines on distorted guitar amps where it can cut some of harshness, while maintaining detail.
- LD-49K: Although the M49 used the same capsules as the U47, it has a number of “enhancements” which give it its iconic and distinctive sound. The center position on the pattern knob is approximately cardioid, but often the pattern was dialed in a little more exactly to get the best cardioid pattern possible. The model uses this “best” cardioid position.
- Sphere Linear: The Sphere Linear model provides ruler flat frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, as well as an extremely smooth and well controlled off-axis response. A first of its kind, for a directional microphone.
Other Microphone Models:
- Breakthrough Microphone Modeling Technology: Sphere’s three-dimensional approach captures the spatial nuances, proximity effect and off-axis frequency response of a wide range of microphones, which until now was not possible with any other product
- Dream Collection: Access some of the most prized microphones of all time,
- including a 47 (with VF14 tube), a 67, an M49, and a C12
- Sphere L22 Microphone: The Sphere system employs the high-resolution, dual-channel L22 large-diaphragm condenser microphone, custom designed to capture the three-dimensional soundfield with exacting detail - manufactured to extremely tight tolerances, the L22 ensures that modeling is consistent and accurate
- Realtime UAD Processing: With Universal Audio Apollo, achieve extremely low latency (approx 1.6 ms round trip at 96 kHz) for guaranteed real-time performance. Also supports native AAX, VST and AU
- Polar Pattern Modeling: Because Sphere captures the three-dimensional response of target microphones, it precisely emulates the polar patterns and other off-axis characteristics of vintage microphones which are essential to their unique sound
- Re-Mic Sphere Tracks: Select mic type, polar pattern and other settings both before and after tracking.
- Adjustable Proximity Effect: No need to move a microphone solely because of too little or too much bass due to proximity effect - great for punching in a vocal where distance from the mic varies from take to take
- Dual Mic Models: Dual Mode in the Sphere plug-in makes possible phase-coherent mixing of multiple virtual mic models from the same physical microphone, before or after tracking - it's also possible to adjust the relative phase alignment of the two mics with the Align control
- Record In Stereo (With One Mic): With just one Sphere L22 mic it’s possible to make coincident stereo recordings, and even have different mic models on the left and right channels, using the Sphere 180 plug-in
- Off-Axis Correction: Virtually rotate the axis of the mic to give a more off-axis sound before or after tracking
- Axis Shift: Create more accurate polar patterns to reduce bleed, room coloration, and susceptibility of feedback before or after tracking
- Polar Meter: The Sphere plug-in features a visually informative (and very cool) Polar Meter that dynamically displays the direction and level of sound being picked up by the microphone, as well as the currently selected polar pattern
- Low Noise: The microphone hardware has a self-noise level of 7 dB-A SPL, well below most vintage microphones and comparable to many of the best modern microphones
- High SPL Handling: The L22 can handle in excess of 140 dB SPL before clipping and is remarkably rugged - it won’t be damaged by high SPLs or air blasts as some vintage microphones can be
- Equivalent Noise Level: 7 dB-A
- Max SPL at 0.5% THD: 140 dB (with -20 dB pad engaged)
- Pad Attenuation: -10 db and -20 dB
- Sensitivity: 22 mV/Pa
- Output Connector: 5-pin male XLR
- Breakout Cable: 10’ (3m) 5-pin female XLR to dual 3-pin male XLR
- Weight (mic only): 1.7 lb (770 grams)
- Dimensions (mic only): 8.9" x 2.5" (225 mm x 63 mm)
- Output Impedance: 200 Ohms
- Recommended Load Impedance: >1000 Ohms
- Phantom Power
- Voltage: 44 to 52 V per channel
- Current: 5 mA per channel typical, 8 mA at max SPL
- Supported Plug-in Formats: UAD, AAX Native, VST2, VST3, Audio Units (Mac only)
- Supported Operating Systems: Mac OSX 10.8.5 and above, Windows 7 and above / Apollo Interfaces and UAD-2 hardware (AAX, VST, AU, and RTAS) Mac OSX 10.9.5 and above, Windows 7 and above
- 4 GB of RAM
- 200 MB free disk space
- 1024 x 768 display resolution
- Internet connection to download software
- Two microphone preamplifiers with phantom power
- Compatible plug-in host application (DAW) software supporting AAX, VST2, VST3, AU or UAD.
|Unit Weight||1.7 lb|
|Tube or Solid State||Solid State|
|Number of Microphones||Single Microphone|
|input_pad||-10 db / -20 dB|
|Sensitivity||-33.2 dBV/Pa (22 mV)|
|Max. SPL||140 dB|
Definitely worth it! The price point is unbeatable for the level of quality that you’re able to achieve with this microphone!
Changed the game. Even the natural sound before modeling, is great. It’s forward, easy to mix, low noise and versatile. It does need two channels to be recorded at its best. This was slightly challenging for me personally because I wanted this mic but had JUST bought a 500 series single channel pre. isn’t that how it goes sometimes ! So some more investment might need to be made before using it to its full potential at my studio. I’ve connected it to an Apollo twin for the last few weeks at another location and those two work well together. It’s an inevitable next addition for most lean studio set ups in the future for sure.
The Sphere L22 is a complete no-brainer purchase and worth every penny of their asking price. I own two of them, and they've proved to be major workhorses in the studio. One thing that differentiates the mic from all others in my mic locker (I own over fifty) is that they instill more confidence when placing them in front of a performer, knowing that you have relatively so many more options in post.
If you're wondering how close they come to the models they mimic, it's close enough, as many of the originals the L22 models can differ as much between each other of the same type. And nobody is going to tell that you used a Sphere on your recordings; they are rather going to curiously ask what mic you used instead, if they mention anything.
Finally, the mic on its own with no models applied is very good and highly useful. My personal favorite model often is the Sphere Diffuse model, which doesn't mimic any other known mic. A great and highly versatile mic!
Truly stunning all-in one microphone package that features emulations of the worlds most sought after microphones, but also includes a ton of studio workhorses so you are covered no matter what you need to record. I'm currently waiting for my second microphone system from Townsend Labs... its just that good i've sold all my other microphones.
the mic modeling is great. The stereo imaging is like no other mic. You won’t be disappointed!
I have been having excellent results with the Sphere L2 recording grand piano single mic in stereo and a variety of acoustic guitars also single mic in stereo for a recent documentary film score project. Given the variety of colours with the Sphere mic collections to sculpt the finer details is astounding, especially in post-production. Every mic sounds great, thank you! BobD Vancouver, BC.
Love the versatility this thing offers. Couldn't really ask for more from one single mic. Totally worth the money.
When microphone modeling technology first started appearing, I was skeptical. Granted, so many great models of hardware have been coming out and getting so close to the originals that it shouldn’t really surprise me that similar advances are being made with microphone modeling. I wasn’t fully sold on some of the first products like this to hit the market, but I was pretty blown away by the demos of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22. As I a producer, I do a bit of traveling to work with artists in different locations, so I have a portable rig that I can take on flights as carry on. Having a single microphone that acts as many microphones is quite a help to keep my traveling gear to a minimum. The Sphere also pairs perfectly with the UA Apollo Twin I take as my interface. To work with the modeling software, the microphone requires 2 channels, and the ability to link the 2 channels of the Apollo makes controlling the input levels a snap—no thinking about perfectly matching levels of 2 preamps. (it is the 2 capsules in the Sphere that give it the ability to more accurately model microphones than other similar products)
I don’t have the microphones that the Sphere models, but I’ve used many of them in other studios, so while I can’t do an A/B comparison in my studio, I can say that the models certainly give me the same flavor of the microphones they emulate, and the quality of sound is what I’d expect from a super high end vintage mic.
So just the functionality in terms of convenience, sound quality, and saving space makes it an amazing tool, but for me, much more of the magic happens after the recording. You can choose a model and record that model directly, which I’m sure many will do, but what I prefer to do is to record the direct signal and then choose my microphone later. (You can read how to do this on the Townsend Labs web site, or in the manual of course) Since I most often mix the people I record, I choose to do this, as I find sometimes the microphone that sounds best early on is not the one that works best during mix down. Having the ability to switch out mic later in the game should one run into issues like sibilance, or a sound that is feeling too wooly or lost in a mix is great—sometimes it’s a better solution than trying to EQ(or any other method you may employ) your way out of a problem.
Though I’ll always love cool vintage and boutique microphones, the Sphere has become a very important tool in my studio…Often, it’s the only mic set up a majority of the time. That is the sign of a very useful tool.
I’ve been pretty blown away by the versitility of this mic on vocals/ acoustic guitar/ and room drum mics. I was able to a/b this mic against all the others in the store we absolutely loved what this mic did for my voice. Pretty shocking actually. Thanks Josh!
Game changing. I still can’t believe what this Mic is capable of sometimes...!
Amazing flexibility and sound!
Incredibly Versatile - Top Notch build quality. 5 Stars!
The only reason I didn't give this a 5 star rating is something as simple as the shock mount. It doesnt hold very well. You have to really crank that thing to get it to stay and sometimes, that's not enough. Other than that, this things an alien from the future. Love it
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