Three ways to change the sound characteristics of your microphone without a DSP-capable audio interface

In the past, we have tested and reviewed an sE Electronics V7 dynamic vocal microphone, an sE2200a large-diaphragm condenser and a RØDE NT1 condenser mic. We found the clarity and flat tone response of the V7 and the NT1 great, but they lack the warmth of the sE2200a. So, after reviewing the Universal Audio DSP-capable Arrow interface, which allows you to use a near-zero-latency Unison plug-in as a preamp that can dramatically change the sound characteristics of the mic you’re using, we wondered if it would be possible to change the sound recorded with the V7 and NT1 in such ways that they would sound more like the sE2200a without losing their own unique qualities. In other words, we wanted to know if you can make your audio sound as if it were recorded with a Universal Audio Unison tube preamp UA 610-B.

The answer is you more or less can, although it will never be as easy or workflow-efficient as with the Universal Audio Arrow and you’re not getting any headphones cue functionality, so the performing artist will not hear the result in their headphones. But for home studio recorders who already have an audio interface and who don’t want to buy an Arrow or an Apollo only for making microphones sound warmer or give them more clarity, there are three methods that come close.

What you’ll need is a vintage EQ plug-in. I used the iZotope Ozone 8 Vintage EQ, which is one of the best, if not the best, to buy. I used my Apogee Duet iOS/macOS and tried three recording apps:

Audio Hijack came closest to mimicking the real thing, but with an audible latency, which was not so disturbing as to make the solution unusable. Audio Hijack on its own will do you no good, though, as you’ll end up with two separate recordings, most probably each recorded in stereo. The trick, then, is to ingest those two recordings in a sound editor like Sound Forge Pro, kill the left and right channel respectively, and copy/paste the left-over channel of the one recording to the empty channel of the other.

You’ll end up with a perfectly aligned, full stereo recording of both mics with – in this case – one of them improved using the iZotope Vintage EQ. You can see all of that in the video. And yes, it takes a lot more time than with Universal Audio gear, has latency and requires more effort, but if you’re on a low budget or just don’t want to have yet another audio interface, then this is a solution.

You’ll find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wNT63h0kNQ

With Logic Pro X, you can record to two microphones simultaneously as well, but you cannot place any effects in-between the mic and the application while recording, so you can’t really create a setup that more or less resembles the Universal Audio DSP system. Instead, it’s all done in post-production.

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