iZotope Spire Studio Review

With automatic level setting, an omnidirectional condenser, and a pair of phantom-powered XLR inputs, iZotope's latest puts a lot of recording power into your iOS device.

It just ... works. Very good mic. Easy to setup.

App is iOS only.

$299

iZotope Spire Studio (2nd generation)
izotope.com

4
4
5
4

Since COVID upended the world, nearly every serious musician I know has become at least slightly better at recording. And that uptick in engineering interest may make iZotope's second iteration of the Spire Studio portable multitrack recorder worth checking out for those looking to strike fast when they're inspired. I was up and tracking less than three minutes after unboxing the unit.


Simply plug in your headphones, hit the soundcheck button, strum a few chords, and Spire automatically sets your recording level. The onboard omnidirectional condenser mic sounded impressively clear with my acoustic guitar, but you can also go direct or use your own mics via two XLR/1/4" combo jacks—which even feature 48V phantom power.

Tracking multiple parts was a breeze, as was editing, overdubbing, and mixing them right from the app.

But the real magic is in the free mobile app, which lets you control the unit from an iOS device. Tracking multiple parts was a breeze, as was editing, overdubbing, and mixing them right from the app. The visual mixer is an extremely nice touch. It allows you to control panning and volume by simply sliding around icons that represent each track. What's more, you can seamlessly export either a mix or stems that work in just about any DAW imaginable. All in all, while Spire might not be your go-to method for creating a final mix for the masses, it's a fast, intuitive, convenient way to capture and shape fairly sophisticated musical ideas before they fade from memory.

Test Gear: Cordobá DC-9, Neural DSP Quad Cortex


Flexible filtering options and a vicious fuzz distinguish the Tool bass master’s signature fuzz-wah.

Great quality filters that sound good independently or combined. Retains low end through the filter spectrum. Ability to control wah and switch on fuzz simultaneously. Very solid construction.

Fairly heavy. A bit expensive.

$299

Dunlop JCT95 Justin Chancellor Cry Baby Wah
jimdunlop.com

4.5
4
4
4

Options for self-expression through pedals are almost endless these days. It’s almost hard to imagine a sonic void that can’t be filled by a single pedal or some combination of them. But when I told bass-playing colleagues about the new Dunlop Justin Chancellor Cry Baby—which combines wah and fuzz tuned specifically for bass—the reaction was universal curiosity and marvel. It seems Dunlop is scratching an itch bass players have been feeling for quite some time.

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Intermediate

Beginner

  • Develop a better sense of subdivisions.
  • Understand how to play "over the bar line."
  • Learn to target chord tones in a 12-bar blues.
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Playing in the pocket is the most important thing in music. Just think about how we talk about great music: It's "grooving" or "swinging" or "rocking." Nobody ever says, "I really enjoyed their use of inverted suspended triads," or "their application of large-interval pentatonic sequences was fascinating." So, whether you're playing live or recording, time is everyone's responsibility, and you must develop your ability to play in the pocket.

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