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Record, Enhance, Release: Songwriting Simplified with Spire Studio

by Matt Hines, Senior Product Manager March 21, 2019

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Songwriting is a vulnerable process.

Think about the last time you wrote a song, recorded it, and released it—it’s likely you’ll recall a certain amount of frustration.

iZotope’s Spire app (for iOS and Android) and recording hardware are, together, the ultimate songwriting machine. It won’t write your song for you, but its clever use of technology helps to eliminate the frustration usually associated with recording high quality, professional-sounding song.

Below are three real-world scenarios that use different aspects of the technology included in Spire Studio—Soundcheck, recording effects, and the new Enhance feature—to help you record and release your song ideas with ease. 

Soundcheck | Recording | Enhance

Spire Studio soundcheck feature

1. Soundcheck simplifies recording

Why is it needed?

Recording engineers spend time adjusting microphone position and input volume calibrations, to ensure that the sound of your recording has well-balanced dynamics and tonal balance.

  • Dynamic balance is important because if a sound is too loud, the recording will be clipped and distorted. Too quiet, and the background noise is louder, which can distract the listener and sounds unprofessional.
  • Tonal balance is important in ensuring the sound isn’t overloaded in the low, mid, or high frequencies. It should sound well balanced from the get-go.

Getting this right requires many pieces of equipment, technical knowledge, and is the last thing you want to have to deal with when you have a song idea you’re inspired to capture. In a nutshell, Spire Studio’s Soundcheck is like having a recording engineer on your coffee table, listening and calibrating your recording equipment. It’s an intelligent way to automatically make your recordings sound as good as possible.

How does it work?

Simply press the Soundcheck button, and Spire Studio listens to your singing/playing and analyzes it for what’s called signal-to-noise ratio, or SNR for short. The signal is what’s desirable (your singing and playing), and inversely the noise behind it is what’s undesirable. In doing so, with the touch of a button and 10 seconds of your time, we’re able to ensure the dynamics of your recording are optimally balanced.

Note: since people ask—we are not performing any compression during this step, merely calibrating the input gain staging, so we’re still preserving the artistic life of the performance.

Calibrating the SNR is important because it also helps ensure good tonal balance. Spire Studio’s mic and inputs have some technology from the Dynamic EQ in iZotope’s Ozone. This transparently adjusts any frequency imbalances to be less bad, and because it reacts dynamically, it works better when Soundcheck ensures a good input level.

In summary, Soundcheck helps someone with a song idea record it instantly, at the same quality level of a proper studio setup, without any of the frustrating and confusing setup.

A selection of recording effects in the Spire app

2. Recording effects and cool stereo magic!

Why is it needed?

A lot of recording engineers try to get a sound that feels wide and nuanced, or inversely very intimate and present–or both. There’s no right answer, so it’s really hard to know what to do and how to do it. But futzing with hard to use technology is the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to record a song.

How does it work?

Spire record sounds in mono. This means the same sound is present in both channels (left and right).

However, in Spire’s visual mixer, there’s a button labeled Mono/Stereo. Press it, and voila! Your recording now sounds wide and expansive. It’s using technology from Ozone Imager algorithms to apply treatments a mixing engineer might apply that help bring your song from demo to professional sounding.

Pro tip: if you record voice and guitar, leave voice in Mono, but press the button into Stereo on the guitar track. Now, the voice will sound very powerful and intimate, while the guitar will fill the space around it.

Enhance feature on the Spire app

3. Enhance makes final exports sound professional

Why is it needed?

Soundcheck helps avoid the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” or as my people say, “You can’t polish a turd.”

However, it’s not the full story. A professional sounding song also needs mixing and mastering to ensure that when layers (e.g. vocals, guitars, drums etc) fit together, with a good sense of space and emotional impact.

How does it work?

When you pair the Spire app with Spire Studio, you also unlock the Enhance feature, which analyzes your audio and intelligently improves clarity and loudness.

Below is a beat recorded using a Korg Gadget, a Yamaha Reface CS synth and a drum machine. The three tracks were mixed in visual mixer, and then exported with and without enhance assistant on.  The difference in clarity and loudness is easy to spot.

Drip Beat – Before Enhance

Drip Beat – After Enhance

Enhance applies some intelligent analysis and processing to your song as you share it. You can adjust the amount of the processing to taste, with the end goal being that your song should sound professional with minimal effort. The Enhance feature intelligently searches the frequency range, low to high, hunting for any unpleasant characteristics in the signal. For instance, the algorithm will understand if a voice is too eSSSy (technical term), or if the overall song sounds a bit too muddy (lots of low sounds might cause this).

Then, Enhance calibrates a special Dynamic EQ that combines technology from iZotope’s award-winning Neutron mixing and Ozone mastering tools. It chooses the right filter, frequency, Q, attack, release, gain and threshold settings to improve the overall sound quality of your song by making corrections of the same size and shape as the audio problems themselves.

After this, Enhance detects the loudest parts of your song, and uses those to help calibrate a loudness boost using iZotope’s Ozone Maximizer, which has several IRC algorithms. IRC stands for Intelligent Release Control. This algorithm analyzes the audio signal and continually adjusts the behavior of the limiting, so that you’re left with a smoother, more present and powerful sounding song that’s both loud, and preserves the dynamics of your recording.

So, in summary, Enhance helps someone with recorded song idea share it at the same quality level of a properly produced song, without any of the frustrating and confusing setup.

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