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Discussion Starter #1
Is there anyone here who has used the Townsend Lab Sphere L22 for recording? I've been hearing and reading a lot of great things about it and am very tempted to buy one.
 

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It certainly looks very impressive in terms of characteristics, flexibility and innovation.
I guess it depends on the way you plan to use it and the acoustic treatment of your room.
If you have a good room and want to record only saxophone, for the money you can also find other good choices, perhaps better ones. On paper the Townsend looks fine and very powerful in terms of sound sculpting, but can its generic sound match the competition?
Best to try at your place before you buy.
Dont forget you need two channels for the Townsend, and a computer to run the plug-in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It certainly looks very impressive in terms of characteristics, flexibility and innovation.
I guess it depends on the way you plan to use it and the acoustic treatment of your room.
If you have a good room and want to record only saxophone, for the money you can also find other good choices, perhaps better ones. On paper the Townsend looks fine and very powerful in terms of sound sculpting, but can its generic sound match the competition?
Best to try at your place before you buy.
Dont forget you need two channels for the Townsend, and a computer to run the plug-in.
Reviews have been really good and the general consensus is the sound comes pretty close to the mics being modeled (the differences are very minimal and would probably be indistinguishable in the mix). Most of the mics it models (U47, U67, AKG C12, etc., there are 3 different sets of collections available as of now) are definitely way beyond my price range. Basically, I can have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mics for less than $2,000 (including the cost of the plugin collections). Plus, the ability to "change" the mic and its characteristic even post tracking seems to be very useful).

I do have an Apollo X6, which would go perfectly with the mic. I got sucked into the UA world a couple of months ago (already sold my hardware).
 

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I havent tried before a virtual mic but i have compared synths and outboard and every time the real machines had a quality to the sound that is more organic, vibrant an alive to me.
Of course most times the plug-ins are just fine and in many cases the real machines are impossible to find or afford, plus all the other advantages the plug ins offer.
In the price range of the Townsend there are other very good mics to compare it with.
No matter how good the plug in is it can only work with the sound the capsule captures. With a traditional mic at that price range the money goes mainly to the capsule and electronics, ...plus the brand. With Townsend i dont know how they distribute the money.
If you have a clear concept of the sound in your head better try other mics too, but if flexibility is what you are after then the Townsend is one of the best options according to the reviews at least.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I havent tried before a virtual mic but i have compared synths and outboard and every time the real machines had a quality to the sound that is more organic, vibrant an alive to me.
Of course most times the plug-ins are just fine and in many cases the real machines are impossible to find or afford, plus all the other advantages the plug ins offer.
In the price range of the Townsend there are other very good mics to compare it with.
No matter how good the plug in is it can only work with the sound the capsule captures. With a traditional mic at that price range the money goes mainly to the capsule and electronics, ...plus the brand. With Townsend i dont know how they distribute the money.
If you have a clear concept of the sound in your head better try other mics too, but if flexibility is what you are after then the Townsend is one of the best options according to the reviews at least.
I do own and have owned mics in the same price range (U87, 4038, R-122, etc.) but I don't think my conscience would ever let me buy a U-67 or C12 or the other mics modeled by the L22. I do agree that the actual hardware will probably still be better sonically, but value for value, plugins in my opinion are a better option, especially with how far the technology has come.
 

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I do own and have owned mics in the same price range (U87, 4038, R-122, etc.) but I don't think my conscience would ever let me buy a U-67 or C12 or the other mics modeled by the L22. I do agree that the actual hardware will probably still be better sonically, but value for value, plugins in my opinion are a better option, especially with how far the technology has come.
I totally agree. As im not a purist i also try to use the best of both words according to what i can afford.
It will be very nice to see a plug-in with the power and flexibility of the Townsend but with the ability to accept a big range of other microphones. Perhaps it already exists but im not aware of.
 

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Don't waste your money on any of the virtual microphones or modeling mics out there. They're snake oil.

For $1,500 you can buy several of a variety of different mics to cover most of your home recording and live gigging needs.
 

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It will be very nice to see a plug-in with the power and flexibility of the Townsend but with the ability to accept a big range of other microphones. Perhaps it already exists but im not aware of.
Slate VMS. But again, it's mostly snake oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Slate VMS. But again, it's mostly snake oil.
JC, I do respect your opinions here and have benefited from your recommendations in the past. Gotta ask, though, have you actually tried the Sphere? It really has gotten great reviews from sound engineers and producers (gearslutz, uadforum) who actually use it in their studios, as well as respected publications like Sound on Sound. One criticism it has gotten is that it's not quite as "3D" as the mics it models. However, sitting in the mix, the differences are virtually indistinguishable.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/townsend-labs-sphere-l22

What's your basis for saying this particular mic is nothing more than snake oil? Also, the Slate VMS is widely regarded as inferior to the sphere. I'm seriously considering buying one (as I wrote earlier, I already have or had a lot of other mics in the same price range but this seems like it would be a great addition to the locker as I don't think I could ever make myself spend the money on a U67 or C12) and was hoping I could get input from people who have actually used it for horn recording (I will be recording horn, vocal and keyboard, primarily).
 

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I haven't used it. But I have used other modeling systems in the past. Sure they change the sound, but it's never the same as the original microphone that it's supposed to be replicating.

As a classical recording guy it's just not something that I would ever count on as part of my recording rig. For $1,500 there's at least a half dozen other mics I would rather spend my money on, and I could probably get a pair of several of them for that much.
 

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My main concern with the Townsend would be the microphone quality itself. For that price range the competition offers high quality capsules and advance designs. Can the Townsend microphone itself compete with the rest or is the money going for the plug-in. All though the plug-ins and computer power have gone really far it is still impossible to model the complexities of the capsules and sound arriving off-axis and its interaction with the on-axis sound.
But just because the model can not compete with the real thing doesn't mean it is not useful by itself to give the option of providing different colours and different uses, something especially useful in a home studio with a limited budget.
Isn't that the reason we have different plug-ins of eqs , compressors, etc?
Sure it is not for everyone, the same way a tube mic pre that colours the sound would be out of place in a classical recording but more for pop, rock , jazz etc
Even some of the real mics the Townsend models would not be appropriate for classical recording.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I suggest you both do more specific research on the Sphere. It is specifically the ability of the mic to model even the on axis/off axis traits of the mics it models that make it a significant cut above the rest (and more than that, it has the ability to implement off axis correction). The article I linked to would be a good starting place, but also google the gearslutz and UAD forums where studio engineers who actually use it talk about it.

Here's the white paper put out by the inventor explaining the technical specs:

https://townsendlabs.com/sphere-whitepaper/

My main concern really are the "not as 3D as the original mics" feedback given by some users I noted above, but then that is the same criticism given of plugins that emulate analogue preamps, EQ's, compressors and the like, but my experience with those in the past several months have been great.

It's a fair question RE: whether the mic itself sounds good. Feedback has been that it is good standing on its own, but I haven't really looked into how good in comparison to other mics in the same price range.

Finally, there are over 30 high end mics modeled by the Sphere, so I'd be hard pressed to believe one wouldn't be able to find at least 1 that's suitable for recording any particular type of music. That's really the allure of the mic to me. I certainly don't have the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on those high end mics.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I found a virtually new one someone was selling on CL for 2/3 of the retail price... so far, it has lived up to the hype. My favorites so far are the RCA 44 for horns and U-67 for vocals.

I'm going to A/B the model against my U-87 over the weekend, as well as record "dry" with it to hear how it sounds without the plugins.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Really digging the on-axis and off-axis correction features, particularly the latter. Essentially, I can make all the mics (including ribbons, which are great for horns!) truly hypercardioid (to reduce bleed and room pickup... even mics with cardioid/hypercardioid patterns only maintain such patterns up to a certain frequency).
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've now sold off all of my other mics (U87, Coles 4038, C414). This mic is just that great. I've held on to my MD441 for now, but if they emulate that as well I'll sell it, too. Really love being able to change and/or mix and match mics (it has 2 capsules which allows for stereo recording with either the same or different mic models on each side -- I would usually match a LDC with a ribbon) and changing attributes (on- and off-axis behavior, pattern, proximity effect) after tracking. Sounds great as a standalone mic and great with the emulations as well.

The hype appears to be well-founded.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Problem with digital anything is that it gets superseded by the next upgrade.
True, but it's still substantially more cost efficient to go digital regardless, particularly with how accurate current emulations are. For instance, a Neve preamp would cost me over $2,000 to buy used. With coupons and promos, it cost me less than $100 to buy a plug-in from Universal Audio, and it will cost me $50-$100 to buy each upgrade when it happens every few years (with other companies, upgrades are free, but UA plug-ins are the best). It would take over a decade, maybe 2, before I even approach the cost of buying the hardware. Plus, hardware takes up a lot of physical space. On that note, I've already sold my Daking Preamp/EQ and am in the process of selling my Daking FET Compressor. Everything will be in the box for me from now on.
 

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Probably no one will notice, even you once the track is mixed and mastered.
I was just playing devil's advocate.
 
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