Campbell, California, May 26, 2020. Last Friday, the US rap superstar Gunna released his highly anticipated new album ‘WUNNA’. It features an A-list line-up of producers and guests such as Wheezy, Turbo, and Young Thug. A significant portion of the LP’s vocals were tracked by Angad ‘Bainz’ Bains and Flo Ongonga using the Sphere L22. In addition to the microphone’s outstanding sound quality, Gunna’s album also stars Sphere’s cutting-edge features that go far beyond modeling.
Creative retreat meets recording studio
The majority of the writing and production effort did not take place in traditional studios, but during a three-week retreat in Jamaica. The entire crew, producers, and engineering team all teamed up in a villa to get creative. At the helm of the recording process were Angad ‘Bainz’ Bains and Flo Ongonga, two veteran rap tracking engineers who have worked with Young Thug, Future, Travis Scott, and many more. Together, they maintained the highest level of professional recording despite improvised and, at times, challenging circumstances. At the center of their minimalist setup were the Townend Labs Sphere L22 Modeling Microphone and a Universal Audio Apollo Twin audio interface.
How Sphere’s cutting-edge features saved the day
Exceptional sonic performance is a must for demanding rappers like Gunna. Sphere’s core models like the LD-800 and LD-251 once again delivered without falter. But the more advanced features like Sphere’s proximity and pattern control made the L22 microphone rise above traditional alternatives.
As Ongonga describes: “Gunna gets in the zone with his eyes closed, and he may not always be aware of his distance to the mic. The proximity control allows us to tailor the sound perfectly without having to move the mic or ask him to change his position.”
“The crickets in Jamaica can be extremely loud and annoying. Having full control of the polar pattern empowered us to maximize the rejection and still get a perfectly usable recording,” adds Bainz.
To facilitate a speedy, low-latency workflow, Bainz and Flo used a Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface as the front-end for the recording. Doing so allowed committing to the Sphere UAD plug-in and additional effects on the way into Pro Tools. In addition to the Sphere’s core models, the engineers selected the BP-251A model from the UAD Bill Putnam Mic Collection (sold separately) for some of the songs.
A transformative listening experience
Produced by Wheezy, Turbo, Taurus, and Aviator Keyz, ‘WUNNA’ is a warm-sounding, soothing record that perfectly captures the chill vibe in Jamaica. The Rolling Stone magazine has praised the album for its “superb production” and has concluded that it’s a “transportive listening experience” that “brings out the best in Gunna.” The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone and its models were right at the front line and can be heard on singles such as ‘WUNNA,’ ‘SKYBOX,’ and ‘GIMMICK.’
Meet the engineers
Join us for an exclusive live Q&A session with Bainz and Flo this Monday, May 25th, at 1pm (PDT) as we talk about how they used the Sphere L22 on WUNNA. Link here.
Since its debut in 2016, the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 has established itself as the best microphone modeling solution. Its pioneering multi-dimensional modeling technology and unique dual-channel design take microphone modeling far beyond merely mimicking the static on-axis response of the original microphones.
The Sphere L22 system consists of a dedicated, dual-channel microphone and its software counterpart, the Sphere plug-in. The exacting models incorporate transient response, harmonics, proximity effect, and multi-dimensional polar response. Thanks to Townsend Labs’ exhaustive and curated study of classic microphones, the Sphere system currently brings the soul of 30 of the world’s most revered microphones to life. The striking accuracy and sonic results have convinced owners from home recordists to seasoned industry veterans, such as Joe Chiccarelli, Billy Bush, and Allen Sides.
About Townsend Labs
Following more than three years of technical development, Townsend Labs was founded in 2015 by thirteen-year Avid alum and DSP architect Chris Townsend, together with Erik Papp, previously CEO of Summit Audio Inc. Townsend Labs Inc. is a professional audio company in the San Francisco Bay Area region of California. In July 2016, Townsend Labs announced their world-class patented microphone modeling technology, Sphere. Sphere’s analog hardware directly captures spatial and distance information in the sound field. This allows for unprecedented control and multi-dimensional modeling of vintage microphones from within the Sphere plug-in.