Townsend Labs and the band Mighty Oaks invite you to have an exclusive look at their production and recording process in the studio. At the center of it all: The Sphere L22 microphone. The video below is an in-depth peek at how Mighty Oaks are making and recording music these days. Learn how the band records acoustic guitars, vocals, and piano with the Sphere L22 and how their creative process has benefited from the mic's post-production capabilities and sonic options. To make this even more valuable for you, the band has provided artist presets of their go-to settings.
Recording "Mexico" in a home studio
Mighty Oaks is a folk band from Berlin, Germany, comprised of Ian Hooper (US), Claudio Donzelli (Italy), and Craig Saunders (UK). Having enjoyed major-label success with their 2014 debut album "Howl," they've undergone an evolution of recording themselves and being recorded by other people over time. For their fourth album "Mexico" to be released in 2021, they decided to go primarily DIY and write and record the album at Ian Hooper's basement studio. To expedite the process, they enlisted the help of the producer Nikolai Potthoff towards the second half of the work on the album.
"In the end, we realized that technology is so much more advanced these days that you can do so much at home or in a small studio." - Ian Hooper
The microphone to make it all possible
At first, finding the right workhorse microphone that the band could rely on was the main challenge. Would it even be possible to get great recordings worthy of the Mighty Oaks name in the basement studio? For lead singer Ian Hooper, the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 proved to be the ideal microphone for all kinds of recording situations.
"The Sphere L22 is good on everything. It's exactly what I need to make music"! - Ian Hooper
From lead vocals to acoustic guitar, from stereo piano to drums and percussion. The Sphere L22 captures it all beautifully and with great ease. The ability to choose between a mono recording and a true stereo capture is a powerful feature that Mighty Oaks love and use every day.
Moving quickly and staying creative
Making creative decisions quickly and capturing those magic moments is critical for Mighty Oaks. Often times, technology can get in the way of creativity. In the songwriting and recording process, the band tries to get ideas down quickly and not get hung up on the technical aspects. Sphere's capability to capture the raw signal and control all parameters later allows them to stay creative throughout the process.
While committing to decisions is often a good idea, the band loves to explore all of the sonic options that the Sphere L22 offers. Moreover, it introduces an element of chance that often inspires them to try something new beyond the beaten path.
"Sometimes you accidentally stumble upon you may not have thought of doing. With this mic, it doesn't cost you anything to try something new". - Craig Saunders
Mighty Oaks' recording process with the Universal Audio Apollo
Ian Hooper's home studio is centered around an Apple Mac Mini with a Universal Audio Apollo 8p audio interface. The band combines Univeral Audio's Unison preamp modeling technology with Sphere's exacting microphone emulations. As a result, they find that they can reliably capture great sounds without any digital harshness.
Mighty Oaks track everything live into Logic Pro X via UA's Console app, where they commit to the Unison preamps. However, they predominantly track in Monitor Mode without printing the Sphere plug-in. This keeps all the options open and allows them to apply the Sphere plug-in in the DAW.
In their recording process, it's crucial for Mighty Oaks to hear inspiring sounds without excessive latency.
"Getting the sound of the mic in your ears with all the processing makes it a lot easier and inspiring to record. It's great!" - Ian Hooper
Hear the Sphere L22 on "Mexico"
Mighty Oaks' new album "Mexico" extensively features the Sphere L22 microphone. To our knowledge, the band recorded all vocals, acoustic guitars, pianos, and drums & percussion with the described signal path.
Download the Mighty Oaks artist preset package
Ian, Claudio, and Craig have graciously agreed to share some of their go-to Sphere settings. Download the ZIP file below to get their presets for lead vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, and drums. In addition, we have included several channel strip presets for UA's Console app.