Why Grammy Winners put artist monitoring first blog post key art 1200px

Recording latency is one of those invisible issues that can be difficult to pin down. Yet, it can absolutely make or break a session. In talking to seasoned, award-winning producers and engineers on our live stream Q&As and interviews here at Townsend Labs, there’s been one common thread: Because excessive latency can be so irritating, Grammy®-winners such as Joe Chiccarelli, Billy Bush, and Cassidy Turbin always put low-latency artist monitoring first. Fortunately, DSP-accelerated plug-ins allow us to minimize latency and hear the processing in real-time. And a wide range of pro audio products ranging from compact Universal Audio Apollo and Avid Pro Tools Carbon interfaces up to multi-card Avid HDX systems facilitate a fully integrated DSP-based workflow that professional producers and artists can trust.

Getting inspired performances with processing

For most types of music production (except for orchestral and some jazz recording), we apply at least some kind of processing to shape the sounds according to our sonic vision. This processing has a direct impact on the artists’ performance. Imagine an indie track without vocal delays or reverb. Or a modern rap vocal performance without pitch correction?

Grammy®-nominated producers like Billy Bush (Garbage, Dolly Parton, Paul McCartney) always aim to record with the final record in mind rather than postponing crucial sonic decisions until it’s time to mix. They do so to speed up the creative process and inspire the performers to give their absolute best based on what they hear in their headphones.

For Grammy®-winner Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes), low-latency monitoring is an absolute must. Running DSP-accelerated plug-ins on Pro Tools HDX systems gives him the power to sculpt the sounds he envisions while removing any worries about excessive latency.

Start at the top of the signal chain: the microphone

When it comes to capturing inspired performances, the process starts at the top of the signal chain. Microphone choice is an essential tool for the creative engineering process. Despite having access to mic lockers with prized classic mics, many pro producers now choose a modeling microphone like the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone for speed, sonic variety, and post-production capabilities via the Sphere plug-in. Rather than tiring out a vocalist with a microphone shootout, you can find the perfect match to a voice after the fact. For the first time, you can even control essential microphone parameters dynamically during the mix. With support for both Universal Audio’s UAD-2 and Avid’s AAX DSP platforms (at no additional cost), Sphere fits perfectly into an artist-centric, lowest-latency workflow with any DAW

“The Sphere plug-in becomes like an EQ or compressor: It’s a mixing tool.” - Joe Chiccarelli

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Latency: A drummer’s worst nightmare

Drummers and percussionists are particularly sensitive to minute timing relationships. Consequently, their threshold for acceptable latency is considerably lower than other musicians. The ability to access a vast virtual microphone locker in real-time and not have to worry about latency is the reason why the award-winning producer and multi-instrumentalist Cassidy Turbin (Beck, Keyon Harrold) loves the Sphere L22 so much. The microphone combined with the Sphere AAX DSP plug-in has become his go-to workhorse microphone. It stays up on a stand at all times and is always ready to record.

Want to experience what Sphere can do in Pro Tools for yourself? You can try the FREE, fully-featured Sphere plug-in on your system (AAX Native and AAX DSP) via our downloads page. And you can download pre-recorded audio files so you can hear Sphere in action without owning the microphone. If you’re a Universal Audio Apollo customer, simply activate the trial of the plug-in straight from your UA Control Panel.

With Sphere you now can:

  • Record with the sound of microphones many have only dreamt about
  • Change mic type, polar pattern, and other microphone characteristics, even after tracking!
  • Audition the sound of different microphones without tiring the vocalist
  • Reduce bleed, undesirable room coloration, and other common issues using Off-Axis Correction™
  • Record in stereo from a single microphone


Grammy is a trademark of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision are registered trademarks or trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. All third party product names are trademarks of their respective owners, which are in no way associated or affiliated with Townsend Labs Inc. These product names and descriptions are provided for the sole purpose of identifying the specific products that can be used with Sphere and the IsoSphere feature.