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Townsend Labs Sphere L22

Townsend Labs Sphere L22  ·  Source: townsendlabs.com

Townsend Labs Sphere L22

Townsend Labs Sphere L22  ·  Source: townsendlabs.com

Townsend Labs Polar pattern plugin select

Townsend Labs Polar pattern plugin select  ·  Source: townsendlabs.com

Update: The first review of the L22 is out, see the video below!

Update on July 29th: Pricing has been announced at $1799 retail, US MAP $1499 and Indiegogo exclusive $1199.

Last week we picked up on this exciting new technology that’s apparently coming from a new company called Townsend Labs. Read my previous story here and thankfully you’ll see my predictions are coming true! This is very exciting tech that could have a significant impact on the recording industry.

Modelling hardware

As I mentioned last time, I’m typically not a huge fan of modelling hardware solutions, but there are some well thought through design ideas being presented here. When Slate released their Virtual Microphone System (VMS) we were all impressed, and it has gone on to be a great product. However, there are some missing pieces to the jigsaw. For example it doesn’t account for varying polar patterns or relevant proximity effects, you are stuck with whatever their mic gives you.

The Sphere L22 from Townsend Labs is attempting to take mic modelling further and is, as I thought, going to have two large diaphragms. This would be the only way to measure and process such illusive characteristics as polar pattern and proximity effect. ‘Cardioid’ for example, is actually a very general term as the pick-up pattern round each mic can vary hugely. This adds to the character, especially of some of the older ‘vintage’ mics which we adore so much. Having two diaphragms would also be the only way in which distance can be determined and apparently processed.

Yes, that’s right I said processed. According to the new site, the plugin for the L22 will allow for both ‘Polar Pattern Modelling’ and ‘Off-axis Correction’. It appears this can be done whilst tracking and in post production. Imagine being able to move the source closer or further away from the mic in post production! I wonder if one day we will be able to track a source’s location so the software can maintain a constant distance?!

There’s some exciting new info too. The plugin will offer a ‘Simultaneous Mic’ mode so that two models of mics can be emulated and blended together, phase coherent from the same mic. This too can be during or after recording. If being able to ‘change’ the mic to something else after the tracking session wasn’t intriguing enough.

The accompanying plugin with the Sphere L22 looks great too. Check out the third picture above where you can visually see and select different polar patterns – I don’t think I’ve ever done that with a mouse before! The plugin will apparently run as an AAX, AU or VST plugin, but most significantly there will be a UAD version.

The UAD processing via an Apollo interface will of course deliver virtually zero latency when tracking which is the key to this product. Many will argue this is the downfall of the Sphere L22 as a UAD interface could be considered as the a necessary element to the system. The Slate VMS comes with it’s own pre-amp, so that the pre-amp characteristics are at least known, but it still depends on computer hosted processing.

Looking through the FAQ’s on the new site, you can find a list of mics that Townsend Labs are already able to emulate with the Sphere L22:

  • U47
  • M49
  • U67
  • U87
  • C12
  • C451EB
  • 4038
  • SM57

Presumably this will increase in the future as they work on additional models, but I think this is a very good list for an initial release.

Price

This is still un-known, but in the last Townsend Labs newsletter it read:

“We’ll have an announcement shortly about pricing, which we think you’ll find very exciting!”

Well I am certainly excited. There is a lot on offer here and if Townsend Labs have got it right, this could be one of the most significant product releases this year.

Townsend Labs website live!

See the new website here: townsendlabs.com

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