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Old 09-02-2020, 09:26 AM
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Acousticado Acousticado is offline
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Default Enjoying the Spire Studio (Part II)

Part I. Please carry on discussion.
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My original songs

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Old 09-02-2020, 12:53 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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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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Old 09-02-2020, 09:11 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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I have to say that my "first two hour experience" was considerably different... I think I recorded a vocal, a harmony vocal, guitar, drums, and bass with the Spire Studio. I do switch from using the Spire's wifi connection to my iPad to an internet connection... when I am done recording in that session. I haven't found that to be an issue.

If you have a singer/player who isn't consistent with the Spire, they will likely be inconsistent with a DAW, as well. Or even worse: with something like an H4n Pro.

No, I don't think the Spire is a replacement for a DAW, but it is a good companion, and easily portable. For my use, it has been all I need (after a "flirtation" with Logic Pro X).

The features are relatively basic, but that is in line with the use. I am able to punch in if needed, trim a count-in, see graphically how I am doing with the volume while recording, and have some limited effects that iZotope does well. The preamps are decent (Grace Design) and the onboard condenser mic is handy, or you can use your own preference with dynamic or condenser mics.

I don't mean to sound like I am "selling you" on the Spire; after a couple years with it, I appreciate it even more than when I first got it.
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Old 09-03-2020, 01:04 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Jim View Post
I have to say that my "first two hour experience" was considerably different... I think I recorded a vocal, a harmony vocal, guitar, drums, and bass with the Spire Studio. I do switch from using the Spire's wifi connection to my iPad to an internet connection... when I am done recording in that session. I haven't found that to be an issue.

If you have a singer/player who isn't consistent with the Spire, they will likely be inconsistent with a DAW, as well. Or even worse: with something like an H4n Pro.

No, I don't think the Spire is a replacement for a DAW, but it is a good companion, and easily portable. For my use, it has been all I need (after a "flirtation" with Logic Pro X).
My concern with the setting is that I worry that an inconsistent vocalist may "soundcheck" at a lower level and then in the heat of singing a take go into the digital red. When I record this vocalist I always give him lots of headroom. Whatever I may loose in terms of ultimate quality or SN ratio is minimal compared to digital overs. I did record him once on a Zoom handheld, and there I made sure the level gave him room, which is just a knob setting on the Zoom.

There may be a way to manually set a recording level on the Spire, but I don't recall seeing it offhand. I wonder if Izotope uses a limiter to minimize the damage from digital overs? I should try to purposely overload it and see what happens.

The Spire's one-button "magic" level setting is a great idea for those uninterested in recording as process. I admire Isotope for trying something novel there. This is also consistent with their computer software: automated "wizards" are offered to offer ballpark setting for complex effects--but with their software they also offer considerable control for those who want to do something manually or modify the suggestions.

I may be "hampered" by having used multiple DAWs and more than one "portastudio" standalone device over the years. I'm used to a certain metaphor and workflow that I think has core commonalities that the Spire dispenses with or hides as possible confusions. Your point about ease of use is valid! I don't think a DAW and associated computer system/interface is likely easier to use to get nice multitrack recordings of guitars and voice--far from it--and for someone not interesting in the flexibility of a DAW, this thing has promise and has already delivered for you and some others here.

I wasted the largest chunk of time in my short time-availability just trying to export the raw tracks, something I know the Spire can do from their marketing material, and a core need for my use, but not anything that it seemed to have as a menu choice hidden or otherwise, nor could I find it in Izotope's online only FAQ.

What I was eventually able to stumble into was sharing it to Izotope's 7 day duration cloud storage with an Email link and then opening that link on my computer's email which in turn opens a web page interface which allowed me to download the track files (stems) as a zip archive. I can live with that! But why was it so hard to discover?

This, or my previous post is not a rant. Nor am I disputing your experience or desire to be informative to other readers of this product. The Spire is very slick in how it does some things. I've used Izotope's software for years, and like it plenty. I like that they are trying something different with the Spire. I have a need I'm still hoping it may fill, and if it doesn't work for that, it may replace my Zoom handheld for "location" recording.

And any readers of what I wrote: don't take it as some definitive review of this product. I just wanted to let others know that the Spire is different. Some of that difference will please many, even if I'll need to work a bit harder to see how to use it in my scenario. And a lot of what I'm confused about or not always liking is down to the app software, which could be changed if Izotope continues development.

If I wasn't too busy I'd buckle down and write something like "The Missing Manual" series on how the Spire works. Am I right that Izotope hasn't done that: produced a downloadable manual?
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'00 Guild JF30-12, '01 Martin 00-15, '07 Parkwood PW510
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Old 09-16-2020, 09:45 AM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Here's the latest Mark & Jim music video, that started with recording tracks on our Spire Studios...



Mark wrote the lyrics and played guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards; working from our motorhome, I did the guitar and vocal tracks. Mark did move the tracks from the Spire Studio to Logic Pro X for the final music production. I did the video production from the dinette in the motorhome.

Here are the lyrics, if you want to sing along...

Vaccine

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Please go ahead and stick your needle in.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Only you can take us back to when.

Far too many have no clue
So we must all rely on you
Cause wearin’ masks is hard to do, vaccine.

We haven’t learned to stay away
Cause it’s more fun to drink and play.
We’re dying to get out and make the scene.

There’s some who’ll claim that you are flawed,
But we trust science, we’re in awe
Of all your lovely antigens, vaccine.

Maybe you’re M-R-N-A
Or made the old fashioned way,
You’re gonna kick that COVID it its genes.

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Please go ahead and stick your needle in.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Only you can take us back to when.

The race is on, we need you fast,
But your effect has got to last,
Or, there’s no point in taking you, vaccine.

We probably won’t be virus-free,
But maybe herd immunity
Will free us all from this quarantine.

So jam that needle in my arm.
Fauci says you’ll do no harm.
I’m all yours to immunize, vaccine.

Now, it could take an extra dose,
Like Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
But, we’ll do anything it takes, vaccine.

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Please go ahead and stick your needle in.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Only you can take us back to when.

We hope that Dolly doesn’t mind,
We went ahead and changed her rhymes,
Cause your truth is hard to find, vaccine

And last, we thank the brilliant minds
Who work nonstop to save our kind,
Cause we’re running out of time, vaccine.

Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Please go ahead and stick your needle in.
Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine
Only you can take us back to when.

Only you can take us back to when.

Please go ahead and stick your needle in.

Only you can take us back to when.

Only you can take us back to when.

---------

Feel free to comment and share.
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  #6  
Old 09-27-2020, 07:09 PM
benjamin1884 benjamin1884 is offline
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Default Beautiful Sound

Oh well I sure love my Spire Studio! Here’s a sweet tune by the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. Beautiful Sound. Do hope you enjoy
Rick
https://www.facebook.com/1552067488/...2776537352660/
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Old 09-27-2020, 09:02 PM
Gordon Currie Gordon Currie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
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?
This is pretty much aligned with what I found as well. I think the Spire is awesome for someone who wants to build nice demos without using a DAW.

For me, it sits in a place between DAW and a Zoom-style mini recorder. Unfortunately, I found that place to be useless for *my* needs.
If I want quick I'll use my Zoom H2. If I want overdubs I'll fire up a DAW.

The only device I can use with it is my iPhone; my 3 iPads are all too old.

I think someone like Capt Jim, being very mobile, brings an additional factor: the Spire is everything you need while on the road and NOTHING more.
If I was traveling I might give that aspect greater weight.
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:15 AM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benjamin1884 View Post
Oh well I sure love my Spire Studio! Here’s a sweet tune by the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. Beautiful Sound. Do hope you enjoy
Rick
https://www.facebook.com/1552067488/...2776537352660/
Very nice!
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:25 AM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Since Gordon mentioned our wandering lifestyle, thought I'd mention that I use the Spire even more in my music room when we're home. It was the solution for me the past three months while we've been out and about (heading towards home currently), but it will get more use when we're home.

I find the Zoom H4n Pro I have to be clumsy and slow and Logic Pro X to be more complicated than I care to mess with. (To be fair, my music partner loves Logic Pro X.) The Spire Studio doesn't just fit between those two, it replaces my use for either. For my recording, 8 tracks is plenty, and the Spire app on the iPad makes the workflow slick. When recording something with my partner, we found that we occasionally needed more than 8 tracks, so he imports the Spire files to Logic Pro X (and uses some of iZotope's plug-ins).

I have been having fun recording some of the music I've been playing for decades - I haven't found anything as easy and intuitive as the Spire... but, I haven't looked for anything different since getting it.
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Old 09-28-2020, 07:03 AM
benjamin1884 benjamin1884 is offline
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Captain Jim I have been using my Spire Studio for close to 2 years now. Absolutely love it. If it broke I’d immediately replace it with a new one. Ultra user friendly, compact, transports easily. Exceptional quality as well. I too do not need more than 8 tracks. I even recorded a complete album with the darn thing.
Wonderful device
Rick Benjamin
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:26 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benjamin1884 View Post
Captain Jim I have been using my Spire Studio for close to 2 years now. Absolutely love it. If it broke I’d immediately replace it with a new one. Ultra user friendly, compact, transports easily. Exceptional quality as well. I too do not need more than 8 tracks. I even recorded a complete album with the darn thing.
Wonderful device
Rick Benjamin
Well, I have to second your second, Rick. The form factor on the Spire may have some people thinking it is too simplistic, but the technology in it combined with the functional app makes it intuitive and functional. Of course, I don't have to tell you that.

Recording with the Spire allows me to have fun recording rather than fiddling with equipment.
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Old 09-28-2020, 06:40 PM
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I love it too, even though portability is not a factor for me. There are a couple of things it doesn't do that I'd like if it did (foot switch to punch in and out, and some sort of dynamic mixing capability rather than just set one mix for the whole tune), but I'm willing to forego those features for the simplicity of use, the lack of having to fiddle with levels and mics and whatnot. I just use the built in mic for any acoustic guitar and/or voice and I use a direct line in for electric guitar. Simplest multi-track recording I've ever done. It produces as good a recording as I've ever gotten with a fraction of the effort... Anything higher end would be totally wasted on my meager musical skills anyway and if I was a better musician, it would come through fine on the Spire - I've heard some of the folks around here who use it and have produced some great stuff on it.

-Ray
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Old 09-30-2020, 02:25 PM
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A slower and mellower version of my favorite Dead song. Mix of acoustic and electric. As always, pardon the vocals...

-Ray

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Old 12-14-2020, 02:12 PM
Captain Jim Captain Jim is offline
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It has been a while since anyone posted here. The Spire Studio is still the centerpiece of my recording. I recorded my tracks on the Spire, then sent them to my music partner. He did some of his tracks on the Spire and a couple of them direct into Logic Pro X. Final mix in Logic, with 13 tracks...

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Old 12-15-2020, 11:14 AM
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I don't own a Spire or use on or plan to (so no experience )
But I completely understand how they are great little units for some people . And no doubt already having the mic' onboard and connected is a genuine time saving work flow plus

That said it interesting different people perceive things differently .

While I completely understand the attraction of mobility and or have a single unit to get music recorded with out have to fire up a computer
I admit I am a DAW user and advocate (I suppose one reason being it was my first venture into Digital Recording in 2003)

But in more general sense (not specifically anyone posting here) and also (not meaning to distract the notion implied in the title of this thread )

And I think it has perspective in the broader context of this thread
I think there are some commonly held misconceptions about full featured DAW's in general
#1 that because they have a vast amount of features and ability they must inherently be complicated and complex to use.
But the reality is for simple recording of audio they really are not all that much more complicated to use than standalone units.

So here I think is what appears to a fairly objective of the feature benefits and pros' and con's Curious what the current users think of this Review ?

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews...e-spire-studio
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Last edited by KevWind; 12-15-2020 at 01:00 PM.
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