If you’re a musician, there are plenty of ways to get recordings into your iPhone or iPad. Almost everyone uses either the Voice Notes or Music Memos to capture ideas, and there is a small universe of music apps for iOS, along with hardware to connect your instruments or high-quality microphones. But the Spire Studio hopes to make things easier by combining new hardware with an app, to make capturing audio super-simple.
Spire consists of two parts. A hardware puck with a built-in microphone, and an iPhone app which connects to the puck via Wi-Fi. You can record up to eight tracks, and you can also add effects to those tracks.
Some of you will have heard the dreaded word, Wi-Fi, and dismissed the Spire. That’s because any kind of digital wireless connection — Wi-Fi or Bluetooth — introduces latency. That is, there’s a delay introduced, which doesn’t matter when you’re listening to music , but matters a whole lot when you’re recording — notes sound after you play them, and it’s impossible to play in sync with existing tracks.
Spire only uses Wi-Fi for transferring files. That is, the base unit does the recording, and then transfers the files to your iPhone app for editing. If you don’t have your iPhone available, then you can make the transfer later (there is six hours’ worth of storage). If you don’t have a Spire, you can record direct into the iPhone. The Wi-Fi connection is a direct ad-hoc connection, so you can use it without a network.
In addition to a built-in mic, the Spire has two inputs for instruments and mics (2x combo jack/XLR inputs, for those who want to know), so you can hook up a microphone and/or a guitar. there’s also Phantom Power. There are also two headphone jacks, plus a rechargeable battery to power it all for around four hours.
The idea is fantastic, but all hinges on the reliability of the hardware-software combination. Thankfully, Spire existed as an app before the puck came along, so it isn’t the kind of afterthought junk ware that usually accompanies hardware. In fact, the app is pretty great on its own, and works well on the small iPhone screen. My favorite part is that you can share the separate tracks all in one go, saving them or opening them in another app for further editing. This alone makes the Spire hardware and app worthwhile, because it’s so easy to capture audio for use wherever you like.