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Acustica Audio Sienna Sphere Live

Remote Collaboration Service By John Walden
Published August 2024

The web portal provides access to all the offline and (as shown here) online collaboration features of Sienna Sphere Live.The web portal provides access to all the offline and (as shown here) online collaboration features of Sienna Sphere Live.

Do you tend to find remote collaboration projects disorganised and chaotic? This subscription‑based service aims to provide a neat solution.

Different musicians might want a remote collaboration system to meet different needs. For non‑real‑time tasks, project management features such as organised file exchange might be a key element; while for real‑time interaction, high‑quality, low‑latency audio is important, and a video link might be too. Mainstream products such as Dropbox and Zoom can help, but some would prefer a more integrated approach. Accordingly, there are now several products specifically targeted at musicians, including Elk Live, which we reviewed in SOS July 2023.

In The Round

The subject of this review is Acustica Audio’s Sienna Sphere Live, which aims to provide a ‘project management’ platform for remote collaboration. A subscription‑based product, it includes a web interface that’s designed to allow the subscriber to share projects both offline and online with collaborators. The host needs a subscription but, sensibly, invited collaborators don’t. In live sessions, video chat is supported and so is screen sharing, so that collaborators can see exactly what’s going on in a DAW session. For offline tasks, you can upload audio files into a ‘project’ that is stored either in Acustica’s cloud or on Dropbox/Google Drive. This allows collaborators to audition files on their own system and add time‑stamped comments that other members of the group can respond to.

Perhaps the only qualifier to note is that although you can audition audio live, you can’t (yet — though I’m told the platform will continue to be developed) record a performance from a remotely‑based collaborator. Having said that, though, the offline features allow you to move audio files back and forth in an organised way, and that could easily be used to facilitate remotely recorded overdubs.

Sienna Sphere Live is currently available in two different subscription options: Basic and Premium. Basic allows the subscription holder to invite one guest (at any one time) to a live session; in Premium you can invite up to 12. Premium subscribers also get to preview new features as they’re added to the platform. Once your subscription is active, the installer puts both a System Wide app/driver and VST/AU/AAX plug‑ins on your system. If you plan to use the service only to share audio from your DAW, you can install just the plug‑ins, but the System Wide option allows you to share any audio from your OS (with or without your DAW).

Projects let collaborators upload, audition and comment upon audio files and their revisions in a structured fashion.Projects let collaborators upload, audition and comment upon audio files and their revisions in a structured fashion.

In addition, there’s the Sienna Sphere web portal, and for many musicians this might be reason enough to consider subscribing. It provides the toolset to manage projects, create groups of collaborators, and customise live sessions. Projects lie at the heart of the offline side of the collaboration process, and are very intuitive. They provide a structured way for anyone with access to upload and audition audio files and, most usefully, to add time‑stamped comments — as anyone with experience of remote collaboration will know, it can be very easy for extended conversations between multiple people about multiple file versions to become fragmented and disorganised, and this helps prevent that by preserving full conversations about your files, including multiple versions and revisions, as work progresses.

Going Live

Inserting the plug‑in on your DAW’s master bus makes it simple to initiate a live session. Hit the Go To Sienna Live button, and the web portal opens a Live Room for the session. A Room Link option lets you send to your collaborator (via email or a messaging service), so they can join the Room. Hit play in your DAW, and anyone connected to the Room will hear the audio streamed from the plug‑in.

Each participant appears in their own mini video window, so you can have a face‑to‑face chat with everyone involved while the host manages playback from the DAW. The host can also share their screen with those in the Room and everyone can toggle on/off their own mic and webcam. An Options menu lets you see Stats For Nerds, should you want to see numbers relating to the data transfers taking place. It would be useful to have some documentation for this feature, though — that could prove helpful if data throughput ever becomes an issue.

During a live session, each member of the Room can toggle on/off their own mic and video feed, while the host can choose between a number of different audio quality options.During a live session, each member of the Room can toggle on/off their own mic and video feed, while the host can choose between a number of different audio quality options.

Other options include buttons to add an emoji or raise your hand (if the host requests feedback on a question put to a multi‑person audience, say), but the chat button is particularly useful. This opens a separate panel where Room members can type comments, much as on many general‑purpose streaming platforms. Again, this avoids multiple attendees speaking over each other (always a risk in a video conference!).

A drop‑down menu allows the host to access five audio quality options for the DAW feed. I assume these change the audio data requirements (again, more documentation would be useful), and in my test sessions my collaborators commented that the Ultra setting added an extra touch of fidelity. During testing, I hosted multiple live sessions from a macOS‑based system and was able to connect with multiple collaborators (both macOS and Windows based). This included some who were very close by (another computer in the same building), and others who were geographically distant (in a different country, about 750km away). All participants were using fibre‑based Internet with Ethernet rather than WiFi connections.

Performance was similar in all cases, with very reliable connections and smooth video performance, and the latency was similar to that exhibited by typical mainstream video conferencing systems. The only issue we encountered was that we heard occasional minor artefacts in the audio being streamed from my DAW. I contacted Acustica to report and hopefully resolve the issue, and was impressed by their prompt and helpful response. Not only did they quickly track down the source of the problem (it related to how the plug‑in behaved in my specific host) but they also provided an update that fixed it. Of course, if you were seeking feedback on very specific mix details, the offline file‑sharing process might in any case be the preferred approach for critical listening (and note making).

My only other comment is that I initially found the System Wide option a little tricky to configure. If you’ve ever tried to live stream using multiple audio sources from any computer, you’ll know that the virtual routing can be a bit of a headache. Having scratched my head for a while, it worked well but, again, I suspect inexperienced users would welcome the availability of more guidance.

Almost any musician who works remotely with others could benefit from its toolset...

Collaboration Choices

So, who is Sienna Sphere for? I suspect it could prove most useful for the busy music producer or media composer with multiple remote clients. Whether offline or live, it would provide a very structured, efficient way to get multiple versions of music projects/cues heard (and hopefully approved) by multiple people — without those people needing a subscription. But I’d say that almost any musician who works remotely with others could benefit from its toolset, and it could appeal to educators too.

Sienna Sphere Live is entering an emerging market with considerable potential to expand, but there’s already established competition. I’ve already mentioned Elk Live, though that has a hardware element. Perhaps the strongest software‑only competitor currently is Audiomovers’ Listento. The two products have similar subscription‑based prices, but there are differences in the feature sets and, at this stage at least, these might make it easy for potential users to choose.

In contrast to Sienna Sphere Live, Listento is more focused on the live audio side of the collaboration process. It doesn’t provide the ‘project management’ features, though, nor video support (you must use your video conference platform of choice alongside it, where required). However, Listento does support streaming of MIDI data and remote audio recording/overdubbing via its Receiver plug‑in. Thankfully, like Sienna Sphere Live, Listento also offers a free trial — so potential users have the chance to make a direct comparison between them on their own system before purchasing.

While you should absolutely try before you buy, there is undeniably very strong potential here. If your musical world involves lots of remote collaboration, Sienna Sphere Live could be a massive time saver and ensure that complex, evolving projects with multiple clients run in a smooth, organised fashion.


  • A very practical toolkit to organise remote collaboration projects.
  • Combination of offline and live options makes it flexible.
  • Can stream audio and video live.
  • Very handy comment facilities.


  • Doesn’t (yet?) support live remote recording.
  • Better technical documentation would be nice.


As a tool for keeping their workflow organised and structured, Sienna Sphere Live will appeal to busy music producers and composers working remotely with multiple clients and multiple projects.


Premium €14.90 per month. Basic €7.90 per month.

Premium €14.90 (About $15) per month; Basic €7.90 (About $8) per month.