Spire Studio Audio Interface Review

The new Spire Studio from iZotope is a mobile recording studio for the iOS generation. Read our full review below…

It’s tough to get into recording without plunking down some cashola. A computer, a DAW, software, cables. Never mind the learning curve of getting all of that to work together. Even with small format systems, it’s still a bit ungainly. Spire is as simple as its name to get into.

Size-wise it’s not much bigger than one of those home integration devices, with just a back panel with XLR combo connectors and headphone outputs on the back, as well as the front.

An integrated mic is also on the front, and the angled top has LEDs that not only act as a display but are touch sensitive and a finger swipe easily adjusts levels. Now while the physical device has minimalist controls, the iOS app (iPhone & iPad), really opens things up. It connects through Wi-Fi, and since the iOS device is just a control and display, there’s no worry about latency. The recording and processing is all done on the Spire itself. It can also be used with the included power supply or it can charge the internal battery for four hours of use.

With the dual inputs, two tracks can be done at a time, and the maximum tracks it can do on a song tops out at 8. There are some interesting features in the app, like three amp simulations, and “spaces” that add ambience. The preamps are nice and work well with instruments, as well. The overall sound quality is surprisingly great, and the ease of being able to set up and start recording without plug-ins and external devices is quite amazing. It’s reminiscent of the days of the cassette tape porta studios, before DAWs and interfaces, but with far greater sound quality and flexibility.

Now the bummer on devices that are usually unique like this, is the ability to make the content accessible to others, and to other systems. Thankfully this isn’t the case here. The app has an export section, meaning recordings can be shared by text or email. Sharing to Facebook, with your own album art, as well as to Soundcloud, is a simple export. Individual files can also be transferred out, meaning the Spire’s stems can be imported into a session in a traditional DAW. So, turning a demo into a finished polished recording is super easy with no issues in transfer or sound quality. This can also be reversed, where files can be transferred back into the Spire. This is a great idea for creating ideas and collaborating with others, without having to make the investment of a DAW or having to spend time and money in a studio.

We’ve reviewed some small form recording devices and interfaces that are lightweight, and one twist or pull on a cable while plugged in, means it goes skittering across the desk. With the Spire’s weighty metal construction, it’s anchored down, meaning when all the cables are connected, dragging it across the workspace while trying to grab that guitar pick off of the floor, isn’t going to happen. The only downside is that the app is only for iOS.

So, with the ability to record anywhere, with great sound quality, without power, with minimal cables, the ability to share and export the material, makes this a fantastic little powerhouse. Podcasters alone should look into one of these as a simple solution. It’s an excellent sounding portable alternative to a DAW, and really redefines what it is to be a recording studio.

PROS:

Great sound quality, very simple and easy to use.

CONS:

iOS only, no Android support yet.

STREET PRICE:

$349 [click to buy now]

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