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Old 09-02-2020, 12:53 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Minneapolis, MN
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Well I just got a little over a hour with my new/used Spire Studio. My original goal was to have something small that I could loan off to a keyboard player/singer that I collaborated with for 40 years so that he could add parts over tracks I've recorded, or record basic tracks (probably to a click or drum track) that I could add bass/guitar/synth etc to. I could loan/give him an older Mac Mini/interface/DAW/mic that would do all that, but he's not particularly interested in technology, and he writes on upright piano, not a in a studio with a place to set up a computer even if he had interest in that.

I'm a DAW user myself. I do all the mixing and editing, and when we used to get together pre-Covid, I "engineered" the recordings. The small size of the Spire, the promise of simple operation seemed promising. I was warned in a post in the Part 1 of this thread that the Spire really needs a tablet/phone (he has neither, nor any interest in one).

My first impressions: I hate too simple user interfaces, and the Spire App may one of those. How do you save something to say OneDrive? It's there, but you'll need to know a magic gesture. Where do you find export all tracks rather than a mix? It's there, but I had a time finding it. Even the whole idea of using WiFi to link the tablet/phone to the device (which has its value, much faster and less laggy that Bluetooth) is clumsy because some things require your tablet to be linked to the Internet and some things require it to be linked to the Spire.

Of course this is all first two hours stuff. If I can figure out a simple workflow for my keys/singer friend I can write a procedure.

So I got it up and running with my iPad, and did the automated "soundcheck," which is a pretty good idea, assuming someone can be consistent with their volume--given how much headroom you can leave in modern digital recording, I'd almost want a preference to set "peaky singer, set extra headroom when doing soundcheck." Started playing a part on an acoustic guitar using the internal mic, then hit record again and played a 2nd part. The default seems to be to add a little something (Izotope Neutron technology) to the track, but the AI guess wasn't extreme and the resulting two tracks sounded very good, considering I'd done nothing to optimize mic location. I have an early Zoom handheld, this sounded better with the tracks right off the machine (how much of this is due to hardware and how much of this is the Izotope software AI secret sauce?)

The little touch screen graphical mixer in the Spire app is cool on a tablet (similar to a feature available in Izotope Neutron software too), Of course this feature is not something I need.

Like I said, I figured out how to save a rough mix, and more importantly, individual tracks in the remainder of the two hours. Many of the tutorials show older versions of the Spire app which have different screens, which is frustrating, but just like a puzzle game, eventually how it does things can be solved (at least until another app update). I can see how this device can do half of what I want it to do, and just maybe it can do the rest. I have an old iPad that I could send with it, but it can't run the Spire software.

Summary of first impressions: very nice hardware, not a fan of the app, but once one figures it out, it seems to have an useful feature set. I can see how folks could do very presentable work with it. The use of the tablet for an user interface is a mixed bag: better than a little dim screen, but the user interface design is frustrating for someone who wants to break out of "wizard" mode and do simple things. The need to switch Wifi on the tablet from Spire to Internet back and forth seems particularly galling to simplicity of operation. Can it be that Izotope doesn't even have a downloadable PDF manual that shows simple workflow suggestions with the current software?

Ideally Izotope would create a wizard/"expert" two-mode app, similar to how much of their software works on computers. I may have to wait until I can gather funds to send a tablet with it to my longtime collaborator.
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