We kinda liked the original Studio de la Flèche iZotope. The portable recording device connected to the mobile was certainly a unique proposition with an unusual design. As a reminder, the Spire is a “studio” for musicians on the go, offering two combi-XLR ports for microphones and instruments as well as a companion app for editing and mixing. There’s also a built-in mic and storage space to keep your recordings on the fly safe until you return to the home studio.
Overall, it’s a curious, but oddly compelling, proposition. He also recently suffered an update which increased on-board storage from four to eight hours of recording (iZotope doesn’t mention gigabytes, only “time”). The preamps have also been revised, with the company claiming that the new ones offer better interference rejection and higher gain (volume). Unfortunately, one update I was hoping to see that isn’t here is the ability to connect it to a computer via USB. the Second generation spire has WiFi and Bluetooth but these are for connecting to your phone. It looks like the company really wants to keep this as a purely “mobile” experience.
Either way, after spending some time with the revised model, it’s easy to see why the Spire might be popular with amateurs and professionals alike. It’s simple to use, but makes you feel like it performs a lot better than the modest premise suggests.
In use, nothing could be simpler. Plug in a mic or instrument, press the “Soundcheck” button and the Spire will listen as you play or sing along and automatically adjust the gain for you to an optimal level. Hit save and, well, let’s go. Once done, you can overlay new parts of a track by one. If you are a multi-instrumentalist or even just a singer / guitarist, this means that you can focus on each “track” one by one while building a complete song.
I admit that the built-in microphone is not my favorite, if only because it is quite sensitive. In general, that would be a good thing, but if you’re in a less acoustically optimal location (which might be the case if you’re not at home), it can pick up a lot of what’s around you. Not entirely unintentional on the part of iZotope given that it is an omnidirectional capacitor, so designed for that. But when you’re not jamming with other musicians and it’s just you, something to keep in mind.
Fortunately, the iZoptope companion software is pretty (no, very) good. This should come as no surprise given that the company is best known for its mixing and mastering software that is popular with professionals. To that end, Noise Reduction did a good job of removing some of the outside traffic noise and general “room” sound in the hard-walled office I tested it in.
The app itself is one of the most user-friendly I’ve tried when it comes to the intricacies of editing and mixing audio on a phone. Three tabs make it easy: Record, Edit, Mix. Each has a clear workspace with easy access to all options, such as effects or mute controls. From there, saving and exporting for sharing with the world (or your desktop) is just as easy. If your music is instrumental and “four track” type, you really don’t need much more. If you’re looking to create a complex EDM banger with fills and edits etc., you’ll want to use it more to get ideas and pick them up later on a PC.
What about these new preamps? This is more difficult to determine without having the original for comparison. What is clear is that they definitely seem to have improved gain even when driving high volume vocals without distortion. I also did not detect any noticeable quirks in the signal, even when recording near many other electronic devices, including a phone that received calls during this time.
Overall, iZotope has improved on an already good thing in several important ways. It’s a shame the company didn’t go all out to create a Spire 2 with maybe more inputs, desktop compatibility with USB, or whatever else fun, but the Spire is now better where it counts and what. is never a bad thing. What could be a little overwhelming is the premium you will have to pay for these modest upgrades. The original sold for $ 350, but the revised version will waste your time $ 499. That’s quite a jump for some general upgrades.
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