iZotope Spire Studio
Not that long ago – before the world went digital – musicians would need to spend the equivalent of a month’s wage on a four-track Tascam or Fostex Portstudio that used cassette tape and required lots of fiddly knobs and panning of signals. They were clunky, could only run with a power outlet nearby and they mostly sounded crap. But they were still a Godsend for song writers and bands just starting out and de rigeur for demo making.
Of course, it’s an altogether different kettle of fish today. Now you can record remotely with your laptop, a decent mic, an audio interface and a good DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like Logic Pro, Digital Performer, Pro Tools, Cubase, Reaper or even Apple’s free Garageband. But what if you wanted most of this in a single all-in-one package small enough to fit in shoulder bag? Well it’s here and it’s called the iZotope Spire Studio.
This circular lump of weighty splendour will record eight multi-tracks one after another with a few simple button presses and, what’s more it’ll work on both mains and battery power. The Spire comes with its own good quality built-in omnidirectional microphone for acoustic instruments and vocals, two headphone inputs for monitoring and two XLR inputs (with phantom power) on the rear for electric guitars, keyboards, high-quality mics and drum machines.
It works best when used in cahoots with the free iPhone or iPad app (Android is also supported but not quite as comprehensively) but it can also be used in basic form without the app. To use, simply launch the app, fire up the Spire, select one of several great effects in the app (several room reverbs, amp models and delays), hit the Spire’s ‘soundcheck’ button and play a few chords near the mic so it can work out the peak level. Now hit the big record button on the Spire’ listen for the count-in and strum away. That’s track one done. For tracks two and onwards simply tap the record button in turn and each track is recorded without any further tweaking. The finished song can then be edited to some degree and mixed using a fabulously easy pictorial interface before it’s shared in full-fat WAV form to your main DAW for further editing and extra instruments or vocals.
This is a brilliant time-saving tool for songwriters and bands; in fact anyone who wants to produce very decent multitrack demos on the fly. Simplicity is key with demo recording because the last thing you want when a new song is going round the head is to faff about with complex recording equipment. It only takes one distraction for that possible hit song to evaporate from the mind as quickly as it came.
In this respect, the Spire Studio is nothing short of a Holy Grail for songwriters and the most groundbreaking and affordable multi-track recording device currently on planet Earth. Right, must dash, got this stonking riff going round the brain and I have just the thing to bring it to fruition. Instantly.