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Townsend Labs Sphere L22

Test & Review

Are you looking for a professional studio microphone that offers you a wide choice of polar patterns? Know that there is a microphone that can reproduce the sound characters of multiple microphones. You can choose the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 to enjoy more specific options than other microphones. It is a modeling microphone that converts the recorded signal into a digital signal. This large diaphragm condenser microphone has exceptional design quality. It has a pattern button on its plugin which allows you to choose up to 5 directivities. Discover through this test guide everything you need to know about this microphone from Townsend Labs.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone test and review

🎤 by Kevin Jung

Summary of the Test 👇

Reproduce tones from different microphones with a single mic. Yes, it's entirely possible with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 and its plugin. This modeling microphone offers emulation of several legendary microphones, to name only the Sonny C800G, the Telefunken Elam 251, the Neumann U87 and the Neumann U647. Want more details? Discover the full review of the Sphere L22 from Townsend Labs.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 Microphone Overview

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 is a model belonging to the modeling microphone . This type of microphone converts the recorded signal into a digital signal. The latter will then be sent, then modified on (Computer Assisted Music) studio software With this tool, you can easily reproduce the sound characters of multiple microphones.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 plugin interface
Picture from Slickaudio.com

Here are some examples of sound emulations offered by the Townsend Labs Sphere L22:

  • Neumann U47
  • Neumann U87
  • Neumann U67
  • Telefunken Elam 251
  • AKG C12
  • AKG C451
  • AKG C414
  • Sennheiser MKH 416
  • Shure SM57
  • Shure SM7B
  • Electro Voice RE20
  • Coles 4038

To use this all-in-one mic, you will need a digitally controlled preamp. The manufacturer recommends using the Apogee Quartet or the Universal Audio Apollo .

Furthermore, make sure that your system meets the plugin requirements to be able to install it (the list of system requirements is detailed a little further down in this article).

Before you start playing with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 mic, you need to connect it to your preamp. To do this, simply plug the 5-pin cable into the mic and the two 3-pin cables into the preamp inputs.

What about the build quality of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22? Well, know that this modeling microphone benefits from exceptional design quality . Among other things, it has an all-metal body. Added to this is its metal mesh grille.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22
Picture from Lunchboxaudio.com

On the back of the microphone, there is an attenuation pad with 3 adjustment levels: 0 dB, -10 dB and -20 dB . The latter is used in particular when capturing a powerful sound source such as a guitar amp or drums for example.

On this side, there is also a CAL/ON switch . This will come in handy when you want to calibrate the input channels on your analog mic preamp with continuous gain adjustment.

Focus on the features of the Sphere plugin

Here are the elements that you will have at your disposal once on the Sphere plugin interface:

  • PATTERN
  • FILTER
  • AXIS
  • PROXIMITY

The Pattern command

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 offers a wide choice of directivities accessible via the Pattern button of its plugin:

  • Cardioid polar pattern to pick up sounds coming from the front of the mic
  • Supercardioid polar pattern (a variation of the cardioid polar pattern, but this one has a smaller forward pickup area)
  • Hypercardioid polar pattern (another variation of the cardioid polar pattern, with an even narrower forward pickup field and higher rearward sensitivity)
  • Bi-directional polar pattern (or figure 8) to capture sound sources from the front and back of the mic
  • Omnidirectional polar pattern to make the mic equally sensitive across a 360° angle (the polar pattern to choose for recording the ambiance of a room)
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Townsend Labs Sphere L22

AT THE LOWEST PRICE 👇

Note also that there are intermediate levels between these main polar patterns.

These options are very practical since you can select a polar pattern that is not available on the original microphone. For example, the Neumann U47 only displays two types of polar patterns, namely, cardioid and omnidirectional. However, thanks to this tool, you can choose hypercardioid and supercardioid .

The Filter command

This button allows you to select the activation frequency of the low-cut filter in 3 levels. You have the choice between 60 Hz , 100 Hz and 200 Hz . You can therefore activate this filter even if the original microphone does not have one. Enough to effectively eliminate unwanted noise in low frequencies.

The Axis command

This button allows you to virtually move the source off-axis . For example, by setting this knob to 45°, the on-axis frequency response matches that of the mic modeled as if it were rotated 45°. This feature helps you correct off-axis sound and reduce bleeding .

The Proximity command

Low frequency response becomes more pronounced the closer the source is to the mic. We then speak of the proximity effect . This is where the Proximity command . This allows you to increase or decrease the amount of response of the microphone emulator to bass sounds.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 review
Picture from Audioshopdubai.com

In addition to these main commands, you will also have the following at your disposal:

  • An OUTPUT button to increase or decrease the emulator's output
  • A graph that displays where the sound is coming from
  • A phase inversion button
  • A Dual mode to allow you to mix two microphones simultaneously.

Accessories included with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 comes in a beautiful black storage box adorned with the brand's logo. In addition to this microphone, there are also the following accessories:

  • A spider-type shock absorber with some additional elastic bands
  • A 3m XLR cable
  • A microphone clip
  • A dust cover

The shock mount has a 5/8 inch to 3/8 inch adapter . This device protects the microphone from unwanted vibrations and handling noise. As for the clip, this will be useful for securely attaching the microphone to a microphone stand.

Townsend-Labs-Sphere-L22-purchase
Townsend Labs Sphere L22

AT THE LOWEST PRICE 👇

One end of the cable is a 5-pin XLR that connects to the microphone. The other end has a dual 3-pin male XLR for the front and rear capsules .

As its name suggests, the dust cover protects the microphone against possible dust.

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 capsule is surrounded by LEDs to indicate whether phantom power is activated or not.

Quick note : You can also check out our complete AKG D5 microphone review . This test guide presents the overview of the AKG D5 microphone, its sound reproduction, its optimal noise rejection for pure reproduction, its design, its specificities and functionalities, its technical characteristics, as well as our opinion on its sound quality.

Areas of application for the Townsend Labs Sphere L22

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 is a versatile microphone . It is in fact used for various applications. Here are some examples:

  • Voice recording
  • Capture of an acoustic guitar
  • Recording two or more sound sources at the same time (activate omnidirectional mode)
  • Stereo recording with two mics (XY, ORTF, Blumlein, Mid-Side, etc.)
  • Podcast
  • Gaming
Record Violin with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22
Picture from Lunchboxaudio.com

In addition, you have the choice between a mono mode and a stereo mode depending on your needs. For mono sound recording, simply orient the microphone so that the source is facing the Townsend logo. If you want to record in stereo, position the microphone so that the double circle icon points towards the source.

To give you an idea, here's how to set up the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 when recording vocals:

  • Select your microphone model via the plugin (prefer a vintage microphone for vocals)
  • Enable off-axis correction
  • Set the polar pattern to hypercardioid or supercardioid mode

Note that you can also modify the directional characteristics of the microphone even after recording.

Focus on the sound quality of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22

To test the Townsend Labs Sphere, we will use the Universal Audio Appolo X8 . We use inputs 1 and 2, since we need 2 XLR ports for the front and rear capsules. Additionally, we will install the Sphere plugin and set the gain to 34 dB .

For our first test, we will use the Neumann U87 Ai emulation and select the cardioid mode. As for the axis correction, the proximity adjustment and the high-pass filter, we are not going to modify anything. Result: the sound reproduction of the Townsend Labs Sphere (with U87 emulation) is quite similar to that of the original Neumann U87 Ai.

Townsend-Labs-Sphere-L22-purchase
Townsend Labs Sphere L22

AT THE LOWEST PRICE 👇

Used to capture the sound of an acoustic guitar , Telefunken 251 emulation delivers exceptional sound quality. Among other things, the sound is both clear and precise.

If you want to record a singer, you will certainly find what you are looking for using the U67, U47 and U87 emulations. These vintage microphones indeed give warmth to the sound.

With its sound pressure level of 140 dB , this microphone can handle loud sound sources without clipping or distortion problems. Among other things, it can handle a bass drum, the voice of a singer screaming or even a guitar amp.

Technical specifications of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22

The characteristics of the Sphere L22 microphone:

  • Microphone type: large diaphragm condenser microphone
  • Directivity type: cardioid
  • Own noise level: 7 dB-A
  • Output impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Recommended load impedance: 1000 Ohms
  • Attenuation options: -10 dB and -20 dB
  • Maximum SPL (THD 0.5%): 140 dB -20 dB attenuator pad activated)
  • Sensitivity: 22 mV/Pa
  • Power supply type: phantom power ( 44 V – 52 V )
  • Output connector: 5-pin XLR
  • Dimensions: 225mm x 63mm
  • Weight: 770g
  • Accessories Included: Breakout Cable, Shock Mount, Microphone Clip, Storage Pouch, Carrying Case
Townsend Labs Sphere L22 packaging
Picture from Townsendlabs.com

Sphere DSP plugin specifications:

  • Operating systems compatible with Native (AAX, VST, AU): from Windows 7; Mac OSX 10.8.5 or higher
  • Operating system compatible with Apollo and UAD-2 hardware interfaces (AAX, AU, VST, RTAS): Windows 7 and above; Mac OSX 10.9.5 and above
  • Microphone Models: DN-57, Sphere Linear, SD-451, LD-47, LD-49, LD-67, LD-87, LD-12, RB-4038
  • Supported plugin formats: Audio Units (Mac only), VST2, VST3, UAD, AAX Native

System requirements:

  • Available hard disk space: 200 MB
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Minimum display resolution: 1024 x 768
  • Internet connection to download the software
  • 2 microphone preamps with phantom power
  • DAW extension compatible software that supports AU, VST2, VST3, AUD or AAX formats
Townsend Labs Sphere L22 condenser microphone
Picture from Avidblogs.com
Townsend-Labs-Sphere-L22-purchase
Our Overall Opinion

Overall Sound Quality

4,9 /5
4.9/5

Value for money

4,7 /5
4.7/5

Global mark

4,8 /5
4.8/5

Our opinion on the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 is a modeling microphone that is capable of reproducing the sonic characters of over 30 microphones.

Obviously, you shouldn't expect to obtain a sound quite similar to that produced by the original microphone either. Nevertheless, the Sphere L22 delivers a sound performance that is close to that of the original. This is particularly the case for the Neumann U87 emulation. Note that the price of the original of this legendary microphone is almost double that of the Sphere L22. So, finding this emulation microphone is clearly the business of the century.

Note, however, that the Townsend Labs Sphere is not able to faithfully reproduce the sonic character of certain types of microphones. This is particularly the case for the emulation of Sennheiser's MKH 416. This may be because the latter's original is a shotgun mic while the Sphere L22 is a large diaphragm condenser mic.

This microphone also stands out for its versatility. It can be used on almost everything: voice, acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar, drums, stereo sound recording and many other applications.

In addition, thanks to the multiple choices of directivities, it is possible to select a polar pattern that is not available on the original model. For example, you can change the sensitivity of the Neumann U47 in hypercardioid mode.

Another advantage of the Sphere L22: the possibility of recording two different microphones simultaneously.

In summary, here are the benefits of the Townsend Labs Sphere L22:

  • Access to high-end microphones (U47, U67, U87, Elam 251)
  • Wide selection of fleece patterns
  • Quality spider pendant
  • Plugin offering multiple features to optimize the quality of recordings
  • Ability to record two different microphones simultaneously

Our verdict on the Townsend Labs Sphere L22: It's a mic we recommend to all audio enthusiasts and professionals.

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 Demo

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