The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > RECORD

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 02-12-2020, 01:33 PM
Doug Young's Avatar
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Mountain View, CA
Posts: 7,117
Default Townsend L22 mic for acoustic guitar

I had a chance to take this mic for a test drive, and review it for Acoustic Guitar from the perspective of recording guitar. Haven't seen much discussion of it there, tho I found one older thread on it. I found it to be quite a bit more interesting and useful than I expected.

The written review's online (freely available, I think)

https://acousticguitar.com/gear-revi...deling-system/

and video demo:

__________________
Doug Young
----------------
Music on Pandora
You Tube Channel
website: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com
Fingerstyle Christmas Tunes: A DADGAD Christmas
Hymns Book: Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar
CDs: Closing Time, Laurel Mill, Duets (With Teja Gerken)
Pickup tests: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-12-2020, 02:13 PM
Frostie Frostie is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: TX
Posts: 117
Default

Really interesting Doug, thanks.
__________________
I am here to learn.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-12-2020, 03:38 PM
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Texas
Posts: 506
Default

Thanks. Excellent review.

The mic/plugins seem to get pretty glowing reviews on the e-tail sites I looked at briefly. One thing that wasn't clear was whether there's some special UAD tie-in, i.e., does it work better on that hardware, or, maybe is the monitoring ability limited (latency-wise) when using the plugins in a non-UAD interface+DAW setup?
__________________
"I know in the morning that it's gonna be good, when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen
Home Recordings on SoundCloud - Home Recordings on YouTube
Martin GPCPA3, "homemade" (1980) hog-OM
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-12-2020, 03:52 PM
Doug Young's Avatar
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Mountain View, CA
Posts: 7,117
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
Thanks. Excellent review.

The mic/plugins seem to get pretty glowing reviews on the e-tail sites I looked at briefly. One thing that wasn't clear was whether there's some special UAD tie-in, i.e., does it work better on that hardware, or, maybe is the monitoring ability limited (latency-wise) when using the plugins in a non-UAD interface+DAW setup?
I didn't want to get into the UAD connection in the review, kind of too vendor-specific and complicated for an AG audience, but the answer is that there's a tie-in if you want it, but not necessary. The standard plugins are available free from Townsend (you can actually download them+pre-recorded sample tracks, so you can check it all out without buying the mic!), and there's also a UAD version of the standard plugin. The mic comes with a code you can enter to get the UAD version free as well. Then in addition, UAD sells several other plugins, that are essentially the same thing, but loaded with models for different mics, from "Bill Putman's private collection", etc. So if you want a certain vintage mic that only UAD supports, one of those add-on plugins might be interesting.

As best I can tell, the standard UAD and VST plugins are identical on all respects - I'm not even sure right now which one I demo'd in the video. The main difference of course is that the UAD version runs on the UAD DSP, and could be included for low latency monitoring in the UAD console.

The whole thing with the mic, tho, is that the need for real time monitoring at that level of detail (polar pattern, proximity, etc) is somewhat reduced, since you can change it all later in the mix, and the raw mic sounds quite good without the plugin even in the path.
__________________
Doug Young
----------------
Music on Pandora
You Tube Channel
website: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com
Fingerstyle Christmas Tunes: A DADGAD Christmas
Hymns Book: Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar
CDs: Closing Time, Laurel Mill, Duets (With Teja Gerken)
Pickup tests: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:04 PM
Cocobolo Kid's Avatar
Cocobolo Kid Cocobolo Kid is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Posts: 815
Default

Thanks Doug. Very interesting article, and thorough as usual.
__________________
John
Tucson, AZ

2020 Kraut 00, Swiss/Brazilian, build
2018 Eady EG Pro Electric, Redwood/Mahogany
2013 Baranik Meridian, Blue Spruce/Cocobolo, build
2009 Beneteau Concert Standard, Englemann/Brazilian
2008 Baranik CX, Blue Spruce/African Blackwood
2008 Breedlove A20 Masterclass 12-string, Adi/IRW
2003 Thames classical, Euro/Brazilian
Fodera Standard 4 Fretless bass, figured walnut
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:03 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,791
Default

Nice review, Doug.

Coincidentally, I commented about this mic system recently in Pro Tools Expert thread on FB. I got some pushback from people who own it but I think I made some good points about it.

Mic modeling has it's place but I'm leery of any software dependent hardware because it's very likely that at some point the software will become unsupported and then you're just left with a mic that isn't worth the money you paid for it.

I think there are two main reasons for using mic modeling:
1. You have no idea what flavor of microphone works for you.
2. Building a mic locker is economically out of reach.
(Those aren't knocks on anyone. We've all been in those places.)

But in either case, I think there's a better long-term option than the Townsend Labs system and the similar Slate VMS. For the same $1500 one would spend on the Sphere, one could buy the Antares Mic Mod software and spend the leftover $1300 on a quality used mic that works on the front end of that software. I say this is a better long-term option because at some point most people are going to outgrow the modeling and want microphones that are not software dependent. When that happens, if you'd gone the Townsend or Slate route, you are going to take a beating when you try to sell it on the used market. But if you go the Antares route along with a quality used mic, you're really only going to lose the cost of the software and you're still going to have that quality used mic in your locker.
__________________
Jim
FOR SALE: 2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


SoundCloud link
Spotify
YouTube
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-12-2020, 10:53 PM
Doug Young's Avatar
Doug Young Doug Young is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Mountain View, CA
Posts: 7,117
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1960 View Post
Nice review, Doug.

Coincidentally, I commented about this mic system recently in Pro Tools Expert thread on FB. I got some pushback from people who own it but I think I made some good points about it.

Mic modeling has it's place but I'm leery of any software dependent hardware because it's very likely that at some point the software will become unsupported and then you're just left with a mic that isn't worth the money you paid for it.

I think there are two main reasons for using mic modeling:
1. You have no idea what flavor of microphone works for you.
2. Building a mic locker is economically out of reach.
(Those aren't knocks on anyone. We've all been in those places.)

But in either case, I think there's a better long-term option than the Townsend Labs system and the similar Slate VMS. For the same $1500 one would spend on the Sphere, one could buy the Antares Mic Mod software and spend the leftover $1300 on a quality used mic that works on the front end of that software. I say this is a better long-term option because at some point most people are going to outgrow the modeling and want microphones that are not software dependent. When that happens, if you'd gone the Townsend or Slate route, you are going to take a beating when you try to sell it on the used market. But if you go the Antares route along with a quality used mic, you're really only going to lose the cost of the software and you're still going to have that quality used mic in your locker.
I think those are valid points, it kind of depends on your budget sensitivity and needs. I believe I made the points in the article (been a while since I wrote it) that 1) I found the mic to sound very good even without the software, so if the company disappeared you'd still have a good sounding mic, just maybe not with some of the features you bought it for. (Tho with UAD making plugins for it, I don't expect UAD to disappear any time soon) and 2) it's definitely a difficult decision - do I buy 1 or 2 solid mics that perform well, or do I bet on a modeling thing that promises to emulate lots of mics? I could come down on either side, for sure, if you had to make a choice one way or the other on what single mic you buy? It's about the same as any modeling system - in the electric world, do you just buy a Marshall or Boogie, or do you get a Helix? There's a lot to be said for having "the real thing", but people are flocking to Helix in droves as best I can tell. Convenience and flexibility vs authenticity, which wins?

By the way, I'd say there's a whole other reason to get this mic, and I think I touched on it a bit in the article (kind of related to your point 1, tho). It's incredibly educational. Quite amazing to record something and then be able to sit there and learn what different polar patterns sound like, or how proximity affects the sound, etc. Might be expensive for a "lesson" to an individual, but it offers some flexibility and feedback that you can't get as easily with the actual mics that are modeled. I could imagine a recording school with one of these, being used to teach people about the impact of patterns, off-axis response, etc, etc, and once they've played with the emulation, the teacher hands them a real, say, U87, and says "now go replicate what you just heard thru physical mic placement".


BTW, my expectations for the mic were kind of low, even given the raves I'd read about it. I changed my mind after using it a bit :-) I have some good mics, but I'd be happy using this mic (preferably a pair) to record.
__________________
Doug Young
----------------
Music on Pandora
You Tube Channel
website: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com
Fingerstyle Christmas Tunes: A DADGAD Christmas
Hymns Book: Hymns for Fingerstyle Guitar
CDs: Closing Time, Laurel Mill, Duets (With Teja Gerken)
Pickup tests: http://www.dougyoungguitar.com/pickuptests/
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-13-2020, 07:50 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,587
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1960 View Post

But in either case, I think there's a better long-term option than the Townsend Labs system and the similar Slate VMS. For the same $1500 one would spend on the Sphere, one could buy the Antares Mic Mod software and spend the leftover $1300 on a quality used mic that works on the front end of that software. [/I]
I've used the Antares Mic Modeler and it's quite different from the Townsend and Slate mic/software packages. The Antares Modeler is basically a specialized EQ.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-13-2020, 10:11 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,791
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I found the mic to sound very good even without the software, so if the company disappeared you'd still have a good sounding mic, just maybe not with some of the features you bought it for.
I've heard the mic without emulations and thought it sounded kind of sterile. Not bad but nothing for which I'd pay $1500.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
By the way, I'd say there's a whole other reason to get this mic, and I think I touched on it a bit in the article (kind of related to your point 1, tho). It's incredibly educational. Quite amazing to record something and then be able to sit there and learn what different polar patterns sound like, or how proximity affects the sound, etc.
I was less articulate than you were there, but that's what I was alluding to when I listed, "You have no idea what flavor of microphone works for you," as a good reason to get some kind of emulation software, although I'll admit your classroom application hadn't occurred to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
I've used the Antares Mic Modeler and it's quite different from the Townsend and Slate mic/software packages. The Antares Modeler is basically a specialized EQ.
True, but all emulations are EQs at heart. However, I think the long-term educational (as Doug put it) benefit is the same, or at least close enough that it will point the user in a direction. Antares, just like the Sphere, is going to give you a taste of various microphones. Neither is going to actually replicate the classic mics they're trying to emulate to such a degree that a person with some familiarity with those mics won't be able to tell them apart. I've heard enough shoot-outs with the Sphere (and the Antares and the Slave VMS which is in the same vein) to know it won't be making me rush to sell my Flea 47, which comes as close to the sound of a vintage U47 as anything I've ever heard. If someone already owns the Antares software, I don't think the Sphere is the correct next step up. I'd encourage that person to start exploring non-emulation options in the mic family of the emulation he/she likes best.

That shouldn't be interpreted as meaning a person cannot make good recordings with a Sphere. No doubt that can be done.
But can it duplicate the sonic excellence of, for example, a U47, a U67, or a C12? No. Something is always going to be missing. But something is going to be missing on nearly every mic that purports to be a clone of those classics. Heck, the Telefunken U47 sells for $9k and listening to it next to a vintage 47 left me disappointed in the microphone.

But as I said, I think there are valid reasons for someone to go the emulation route, whether it be the Sphere, the Slate, or the Antares. I also think it's important to consider where any of those leave you when you decide to move on from them. I think the Slate is the worst of the three options. The emulations aren't very good and the hardware isn't very good either. Slate has some quality control issues that make it a poor choice. The Sphere has the best emulations but it also has the biggest price tag. The mic is okay without the emulations but once a person builds up even a modest mic locker, I can't see them reaching for the Sphere very often. I think the Antares emulations are at least as good as the Slate but you can get the software for about $160. That's your entire loss on the back end when you decide to move on and it's pretty minimal. Having spent too many years playing the game of small-stepping myself towards quality, I may be over-sensitive to the how much money can be squandered pursuing this hobby, so minimizing losses is something I emphasize when offering advice.

PS... I owned the Antares software at one point and it's worth pointing out that the mic you use with it does impact the quality of the emulations. So if you use let's say a 414 as your input, you'll hear better results than if you use an SM58.
__________________
Jim
FOR SALE: 2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


SoundCloud link
Spotify
YouTube
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-13-2020, 02:10 PM
runamuck runamuck is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1,587
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1960 View Post
True, but all emulations are EQs at heart. .
With the Sphere, there's more going on than just EQ. There's phase relationships that change depending on the setting and there's nothing in the Antares plugin that corresponds to that - at least the plugin I tried some years back. The fact that the Sphere has dual capsules and apparently can behave as if it were two mics, differentiates it from the Antares plugin in a significant way.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-13-2020, 04:17 PM
jim1960 jim1960 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 2,791
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by runamuck View Post
With the Sphere, there's more going on than just EQ. There's phase relationships that change depending on the setting and there's nothing in the Antares plugin that corresponds to that - at least the plugin I tried some years back. The fact that the Sphere has dual capsules and apparently can behave as if it were two mics, differentiates it from the Antares plugin in a significant way.
Yes, there is more going on with the Sphere. For $1500, I'd expect there to be and I did say that the Sphere has the better emulations. I haven't heard every emulation it does but based on the ones I have heard, the emulations do fall short of the mics they're trying to copy ...at least for the high end mics that seems pretty apparent.

However, as I said, it has to start with an eq curve just as all emulations do. How necessary and useful all those Sphere software adjustments are is certainly debatable. For the newbie, I'd argue all those knobs create opportunities to get lost in the weeds, plus I'd bet that many people will put less effort in creating better tracks on the way in, tracks that need less work during the mix phase, simply because they have all those virtual knobs to twist. I think most veteran engineers will tell you that it's better to get it right on the way in than to figure out how to get it right afterwards.

Emulations are what they are. I'm not knocking the idea of emulations but I've yet to hear any that nail it. For a lot of people that doesn't matter, and that's fine. I have no beef with anyone who loves their Sphere, their Slate, or their Antares. I just think these products need some perspective because there seems to be quite a bit of hype coming from the manufacturers, and judging by the things I read in other places, a lot of people are buying into the hype in a very big way.

The industry certainly has noticed people are interested. I could be wrong but I think Antares were the ones to get the ball moving on the idea of pairing software with specific hardware to emulate something else. The Mic Mod software requires the user to specify the input mic so the eq curve can be adjusted to create the output emulation. Focusrite came out with the Liquid Channel and then a few other outboard emulators in the Liquid series. Then came the UAD Unison plugins, the Slate VMS and the Sphere all within a short period of time. And now Antelope seems to be copying the UAD model. I expect we'll see a lot more of this over the next decade.

However, I don't think emulations are the future of the industry. I think the primary target consumer for all these products has always been the home studio owner (obviously, not everyone who buys these things fits that category) and there was a time when these kinds of things appealed to me and, quite honestly, I'm grateful they were around because products like these really did help me sort out what I like and what I don't like. They also planted seeds. For example, I liked the UAD LA2A plugins and that made me want to see if outboard units did a better job. I picked up a couple of clones from Audio-Scape and they really are a step up from the plugins. But that doesn't happen if I never had the plugins. But at some point shoot-outs became a more useful source of learning information about gear for me. I sought those out and my interest in emulations waned.

As in anything artistic, whether it be visual or audio, there are many paths, and if emulations are someone else's thing, that's fine. I don't judge a song based on the gear used to record it. I don't know anyone who does. I'm pretty sure Doug Young could play through a Mr. Microphone and still sound good. The recording aesthetics of a Mr. Microphone may not be very good, but that wouldn't stop the talent from shining through. But my point is people should do and use what inspires them.
__________________
Jim
FOR SALE: 2002 Taylor 814ce Limited cocobolo/sitka spruce
2017 Circle Strings 00 bastogne walnut/sinker redwood
2015 Circle Strings Parlor shedua/western red cedar
2009 Bamburg JSB Signature Baritone macassar ebony/carpathian spruce
2004 Taylor XXX-RS indian rosewood/sitka spruce
1988 Martin D-16 mahogany/sitka spruce


SoundCloud link
Spotify
YouTube
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > RECORD

Thread Tools



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:52 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=