Review: Spire Studio Portable Recorder

Spire recording unit

Songwriters have to find ways to keep track of their musical ideas and try out lyrics and melodies because you never know when great ideas are going to strike you. Recording to your cell phone works in a pinch but the audio quality can be rough. Portable recording rigs work much better, but can be awkward to carry around and set up when those ideas hit. The Spire Studio offers a very portable, high-quality recording ability backed by software and network smarts that make creating a studio-quality (48 kHz/24-bit) recording just about as easy as using a cell phone app.

I had never seen the Spire Studio and admit to being a bit confused at its appearance, a single round unit about four inches tall and three inches deep. The unit feels solid, but weighs only a pound and a half. It’s small, but my first trial of it with a small acoustic ensemble showed me that it contains all the hardware you need to make true studio quality recording.

Even being totally new to the Spire–and looking only briefly at the start up instructions–I was able to download the mixer app to an IOS phone and check levels on the built-in mic that rendered our voices beautifully. I used one of the two XLR/TS combo inputs to plug in my acoustic guitar and jacked some earbuds into one of the two headphone 1/8″ outputs to check our levels. The Spire has Grace Design preamps that were impressive with everything I recorded. We didn’t need it for our session, but the unit can also power a condenser mic with 48V phantom power.

You control your recording from the onboard LED touchscreen and buttons, but the Spire app is simple to use and provides an eight track with which to do some serious pre production work on your songs. There are studio-quality effects to sweeten your project such as reverbs, delays, and amp models that help you get the sound you are looking for. And, it’s easy to go back and add tracks to fill out your recordings.

The main feature for us, besides the great sound quality, was that the unit is completely portable with its own built in wi-fi and a rechargeable lithium ion battery that the manufacturer says will provide four hours of continuous use. We recorded a complete song with several voices, guitar and percussion using only one cable for the guitar with no issues. The internal memory will support six hours of music recording time.

When you have a recording you want to continue to work on or share, you can easily export the high-quality Spire tracks to your PC as .wav files or share songs directly on social media, via email/text, or upload straight to Soundcloud.com. The price tag on the Spire Studio is much less than the cost of professional mic, recording software, interface and storage. Plus, the way the Spire Studio is engineered, you can use right out of the box to get professional results fast and take it with you to record your songs just about anywhere.

Street price: $349.

www.spire.live