In the realm of professional audio gear, Universal Audio stands as a revered name synonymous with uncompromising quality, cutting-edge technology, and timeless craftsmanship. Renowned for their exceptional audio interfaces, outboard equipment, and plugins, UA has also made a significant impact in the world of microphones as of late. With a commitment to capturing the true essence of sound and delivering unparalleled sonic excellence, Universal Audio has crafted a range of microphones that embody their dedication to sonic excellence. In reviewing the UA Sphere DLX, we found a mic that combines impressive technology, both physical and digital, at an attractive price.
What Is a Modeling Mic?
The term “modeling microphone” typically refers to a type of microphone that incorporates digital modeling technology to emulate the characteristics of various vintage or classic microphones. Instead of being a physical replica of a specific microphone, a modeling microphone utilizes digital signal processing (DSP) to simulate the tonal qualities, frequency response, and other characteristics of different microphone models.
- RELATED: The Different Kinds of Microphones & Their Applications
- RELATED: The 5 Best Shotgun Mics for Your Home Studio
Modeling microphones are often designed to offer versatility and convenience by providing a wide range of emulations within a single device. They allow users to switch between different microphone models and alter their characteristics before, during, or after recording.
When Would You Want a Modeling Mic?
Modeling mics like the UA Sphere DLX can be incredibly useful. They provide the flexibility to experiment with different sounds and emulate the characteristics of renowned vintage microphones — many of which would be otherwise unobtainable for the average user. This allows engineers and producers to tailor the microphone selection to suit the specific instrument or vocal being recorded. Moreover, a modeling mic eliminates the need to own a large collection of physical microphones, making it cost-effective and space-saving.
UA Sphere DLX Review
Key Specs & Technical Details
Physically, the Sphere DLX is a dual-capsule, dual-output condenser microphone. This gives users the option of stereo recording or blending two mono signals, which provides incredible versatility.
Beyond the plugin and its modeling capabilities, the Sphere DLX is just a solid large-diaphragm condenser all the way around. UA used gold-sputtered diaphragms to lower self-noise to the absolute minimum, and the system screams quality out of the box. Also included are a shockmount, 25′ XLR, and carrying case.
Advanced Modeling Technology
The Sphere DLX offers users access to 38 legendary microphones. These include each class of mic, so you can take advantage of the sonic characteristics of various condensers, dynamics, and ribbons. Models by Neumann, Telefunken, AKG, Sony, and more are all part of the equation.
Change polar patterns, engage filters, and even customize proximity effect or axis — the plugin is substantial. What’s more is the IsoSphere feature which can go so far as to reduce the room tone in a recording. It does this by modeling popular reflection filters and isolation booths, so you can work with a clean signal regardless of the original recording environment.
Versatile Recording Options
As previously mentioned, the Sphere DLX contains two capsules and outputs. This lets engineers easily capture instruments like piano, acoustic guitar, or strings in stereo, with the ability to audition and alter microphone selection before, during, or after recording.
You can also record dual mono and create blends of the two signals later on. That’s useful for things like electric guitar, where it’s common to mic up a cabinet and craft a complete tone using multiple mics.
Real-Time Monitoring and Processing
Paired with an Apollo interface, everything with the Sphere and the plugin happens in real-time with virtually zero latency. While a vocalist or instrumentalist warms up, you can quickly run through the 38 mic models to find the right one. It all happens so fast, the performer would be none the wiser.
Who Is the UA Sphere DLX Built For?
The UA Sphere DLX is built for anyone who wants practically unlimited flexibility in a single microphone. Many of us would love to own vintage classics, but don’t have the funds. A modeling microphone like the Sphere is a possible solution, leveraging the power and affordability of software technologies to make sonic versatility accessible.
If you’re accustomed to mixing in-the-box with hardware emulations, there’s little difference in using something like the Sphere DLX, at least philosophically. We spend money on plugins all the time. For a comparable amount of cash, you can own software emulations of 38 iconic microphones.
Our Take: UA Makes a Bold Statement with the Sphere DLX
While not the first or only of its kind, Universal Audio entering the modeling mic game says a lot about the current market and demands. With the popularity of UAD plugins and Apollo interfaces, it only makes sense that they’d develop a modeling mic eventually. And they’ve truly outdone themselves as a company, showcasing the best of current technology and pointing toward future developments.
The UA Sphere DLX is pretty amazing overall. One purchase could easily revolutionize the home studio enthusiast’s recording and mixing capabilities, for a price that most can afford.