What are the best microphone modeling plugins? This Icon Picks roundup features ten microphone emulation tools that model the most revered mics in the music industry.
What is Microphone Modeling?
A microphone is an essential tool for achieving excellent sounding recordings, whether it be vocals, instruments, or other sounds. The type of microphone you use can make or break the sound quality of any recording.
Each microphone has its own unique and colorful character that contributes to the tone of a recording. This is why recording studios around the world have a range of microphones that suit any situation. However, not everyone has access to the revered microphones used by professional studios. Also, sought after classic microphones are expensive and hard to find.
Fortunately, the ongoing developments in microphone modeling have provided more affordable and accessible choices. With a single hardware microphone and mic emulation plugins, you can access a dream virtual microphone collection inside your computer. You can now transform the sonic character of any recording using authentic emulations of the world’s most renowned microphones. Why pay $16,000 for an AKG C12 microphone when you can have dozens of high-end mics at your fingertips for far less?
Microphone Modeling Benefits
Microphone modeling plugins also have several benefits. For example:
Cost: Affordability is the main reason for using a modeled microphone instead of the original hardware. It’s extensive to build a personal mic collection that meets the needs of your projects. Also, most vintage mics are costly and hard to find.
Convenience: Microphone emulation plugins allow you to audition multiple mics quickly, even after recording. Imagine recording a track with one mic and then realize later another may have been a better choice. With modeled mic plugins, you can switch a preset to hear a new sound without hassle. Moreover, you can use mic modeling plugins in a live performance to get the sound of a high-end mic you would never consider bringing on the road.
Flexibility: Plugins can offer more options and capabilities than hardware microphones. For example, some mic modeling plugins allow you to change the mic type, polar pattern, and other microphone characteristics, even after recording!
Reliability: Microphone modeling systems don’t require maintenance like many vintage microphones. A new mic model system is also less delicate and easy to replace if damaged than a vintage vacuum tube microphone.
1. Townsend Labs | The Sphere L22 Microphone System
The Sphere L22 microphone system from Townsend Labs accurately models the characteristics of the most sought-after large-diaphragm condenser microphones. Access over 30 authentic emulations of the most revered microphones of all time.
The Sphere system consists of a high-resolution, dual-channel microphone, and the included Sphere Precision Microphone plugin by UAD. Together, they accurately model the response of each mic model, including transient response, harmonics, proximity effect, and three-dimensional polar response. You can also change the mic type, polar pattern, placement, and other microphone characteristics, before and after tracking.
2. Slate Digital | Virtual Microphone System
The VMS Virtual Microphone System by Slate Digital is a hybrid microphone and preamp modeling system. The system includes the ML-1 microphone, two vintage preamp emulations, and the VMS microphone/preamp modeling software. You can mix and match precise models of sought-after microphones and preamps to find your flavor.
Moreover, the VMS offers an extensive selection of iconic microphone models ranging from coveted tube classics to a modern ultra-fidelity condenser. There are also expansion packs available that offer even more sought-after mic emulations.
3. Antelope Audio | Edge Modeling Microphones
Antelope’s unique microphone modeling starts with the Edge microphones. These mics deliver the characteristic sound of some of the most sought-after microphones. Pair them with the included mic emulation plugin, and you’ll have the ultimate virtual mic locker.
The Edge Family consists of four high-quality large-diaphragm condensers:
- Edge Go: The first bus-powered microphone to feature microphone modeling. Capture the personality and characteristics of rare and expensive classic condenser microphones. The Edge Go also comes with 11 vintage mic models and 20 high-quality effects to treat your recordings.
- Edge Solo: Recreates the authentic sound of legendary cardioid microphones. Combined with the mic modeling plugin, it allows users to emulate some of the world’s most iconic microphones.
- Edge Duo: Captures vocals and instruments with pristine clarity, depth, and detail. Independent outputs from the capsule’s dual membranes allow next-level modeling and complete control over pickup patterns, even after recording. It’s the perfect starting point for emulating a plethora of timeless studio microphones.
- Edge Quadro: The most advanced modeling microphone by Antelope Audio. This stereo mic features two large dual-membrane capsules and a rotating head. It also delivers four channels of independent processing. This allows for stereo techniques like M/S, X/Y, Blumlein, and even 3D sound.
The Edge Family also boasts an ever-growing library of stunning vintage mic emulations. Expand your dream mic locker as new emulations release.
4. Antelope Audio | Verge Modeling Microphone
The Verge modeling microphone allows you to access some of the most revered small diaphragm condenser microphones. Its transparent response and high SPL handling excel at capturing brass, drums, piano, strings, and acoustic guitar.
However, when combined with the included mic emulation plugin, the Verge takes on the character of some of the finest small diaphragm mics in existence. Each mic emulation also delivers stunning detail and realism with no additional hardware required.
5. Gauge | ECM 87 Virtual Mic Locker
The ECM-87 Virtual Mic Locker emulates the tone, frequency response, and character of iconic vintage microphones. This microphone modeling system uses a cardioid condenser microphone and included Mic Clone plugin to emulate eight mics from Neumann, AKG, and Sony.
Moreover, Gauge Precision Instruments offers two versions of their ECM-87 microphone bundles: the ECM-87 Classic Virtual Mic Locker and the ECM-87 Stealth Virtual Mic Locker. These kits come with either the ECM-87 or ECM-87 Stealth cardioid condenser microphone and the Mic Clone plugin that emulates the vintage microphones.
6. UAD | Ocean Way Microphone Collection
The Ocean Way Microphone Collection plugin expands the capabilities of the acclaimed Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone system. This microphone modeling suite gives you access to Grammy-winning engineer/producer Allen Sides’ renowned microphone collection. Capture the authentic sound of 12 vintage mics with ultra-precise emulations from Neumann, Sony, RCA, AKG, and more.
The Ocean Way Microphone Collection plugin also requires the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 condenser microphone (sold separately).
7. UAD | The Bill Putnam Mic Collection
The Bill Putnam Mic Collection plugin also works with the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone. This microphone modeling plugin adds nine vintage mic emulations of Bill Putnam Sr.’s renowned collection. Access iconic mics from Neumann, RCA, AKG, and more.
Moreover, these mic emulations nail the classic timbres of iconic mics used by Bill Putnam to track Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and more. They also faithfully model the transient response, harmonics, proximity effect, and three-dimensional polar response of the original mics.
8. UAD | Townsend Labs Sphere
The Townsend Labs Sphere Precision Microphone plugins give you access to over 30 emulations of the most prized microphones in recording history. This microphone modeling suite accurately captures the rich detail of revered microphones from Neumann, Telefunken, AKG, and more.
The Townsend Labs Sphere plugin requires the Townsend Labs Sphere L22 condenser microphone (sold separately). Together, this microphone modeling suite delivers impressive accuracy and sound quality. It even accurately models the response of each mic, including transient response, harmonics, proximity effect, and three-dimensional polar response.
9. IK Multimedia | Mic Room
Mic Room is a microphone modeling tool for IK Multimedia’s T-RackS. The plugin puts a world-class collection of over 20 classic and contemporary microphones at your fingertips. Access a range of dynamic, condenser, and ribbon microphone models. There are also a few unconventional and highly creative models.
This microphone modeling module also allows you to “re-mike” your physical microphones to sound and perform like some of the most coveted mic models. In addition, Mic Room offers a selection of tone sculpting tools designed to enhance your recordings.
10. Antares | Mic Mod EFX
Mic Mod EFX is the microphone modeling tool that models over 100 legendary microphones. Liven your recordings with emulations of vintage mics from Neumann, Coles, and others plus modern boutique microphones. Simply tell Mic Mod EFX what microphone you’re using and what microphone you want it to emulate. Mic Mod EFX will then reproduce the subtle sonic characteristics that make each microphone unique.
Mic Mod EFX also gives you control over the specific options of each microphone emulation. Each option results in the same sonic effect produced by the actual hardware microphone. The plugin also features tube saturation control to add that final touch of perfection.