I’ve been waiting for the near-ubiquitous ExpressCard slot on laptops to see some audio goodness, so one of the more welcome announcements of NAMM is that there’s now finally an ExpressCard-enabled version of the Universal Audio platform. The UAD is a DSP platform for computers, with an emphasis on high-quality, boutique mastering and effects plug-ins, including some recent, familiar emulations of classic Roland and Moog gear. UA’s stuff really does sound great, and host support has been improving (look for the key words “latency compensation” in your host of choice). So it’s about time that laptop users get in on some of the fun the desktop users have had.

The surprise is, the UAD-2 SOLO doesn’t cost that much – $500 includes the card plus the “1176SE Compressor/Limiter, Pultec EQP-1A Equalizer, RealVerb Pro Room Modeler, and CS-1 Channel Strip.” That’s a premium over native plug-ins, but then you have access to other UA plugs later on. In other news, Antares and Manley Labs signed onto UA’s platform, so more stuff is coming.

And by the way, while the forums rip into the choice of DAW, this stuff will work everywhere – even, via RTAS, Pro Tools.

Universal’s stuff isn’t for everyone, but I’m pleased that laptop users are getting something more out of a slot on their machine. (You’ll find ExpressCard on most PCs and the MacBook Pro, as well.) I hope this is the first of more hardware to come.


Mastering – spoiled for choice? This means in mastering choices, you’ve got the UAD, IK’s T-RackS 3 announced at the end of last year, and iZotope’s Ozone 4 announced at NAMM. I’ll be talking to some folks in New York who know something about mastering (i.e., are not me). (One of them is a big Cubase fan, so I expect he’ll also be all over Cubase 5 – and he makes records that make real money, whereas I make records that go nicely with experimental modern dance.)

Each of these products goes a different direction, but the honest truth is almost any DAW will start you out with a pretty great selection of effects tools, and for a small chunk of change, you can add on with something like the UAD, T-RackS, and iZotope. None of this changes your actual skill level or the quality of your ears, but it does help keep your wallet from being the major barrier.

  • No link or article on UAD's site? Looks like you guys got the first info on this up.

    I want it!

  • UAD should write DSP software synths for this.

  • Good stuff! I have been contemplating the PCIe version of this for a while…. any sound designers here who use it (as opposed to "real" studios, who this seems to be geared at….)

  • stk

    TRacks, Ozone… Mastering people I've ever met/worked with are stuck on 'Tools and Waves, and a few spendy outboard items.
    Just saying, is all (I stay well clear of mastering).

  • petal

    If you are interested in this, and if you are looking for a solution that does synths (and a lot of other things as well) this upcomming product, which was also shown at NAMM, might be of your interest – Sonic Core's XITE-1: http://www.sonic-core.net/en/products/xite-1.html

    It does it all: Mixing, Mastering, Synths, Effects and advanced Routing. It has high quality mic's and loads of I/O. It's a dedicated DSP platform that will hook up with any host. There really isn't any comparison to this deal out there.

  • petal

    not mic's – it should read high quality mic-in's.

  • cosmonaut

    and the virus will be released on that when ? XD

  • uncle_tom

    hmmmm…only SOLO or anyone heard about plans for more potent versions?

  • petal

    A virus clone was released in 2007 😉


    and the platform has John Bowen (Prophet 5) devolping for the platform as well, Solaris is he's latest creation both as a plugin and as a hardware synth:


    XITE-1/SCOPE is a complete virtual studio environment with 0 latency, nobody else can offer this.

  • Yep, and there are some synths on TC's PowerCore platform, too. The problem I always had with that was just that there's so much you can do with synthesis on a CPU – and while a DSP-powered synth would be nice, then I think people start to just gravitate to conventional synth *hardware* if that's what they want.

    SCOPE looks amazing. I wish there were a "lite" version that was a little easier to afford / throw in a backpack, but you know that's my bias.

  • @Roland Reinke

    I've been using the UAD platform in general for sound design for films and electronic music production with great results. I can't live without it and the plugs now.

  • petal

    I think that 19inch/1U rackmount unit is as portable as any laptop. Price tag is higher, but then again it gives you a complete portable virtual studio environment, with enough DSP power that can run all the plugins you could wish for.

    How many plugins is the UAD2-solo able to run at the same time?

  • desmond

    > No link or article on UAD’s site? Looks like you guys got the first info on this up.

    Actually, there is an article about it in the UA Webzine, released on the first day of NAMM. And a press release sent out on the same day that a number of sites published.

    There isn't a general web page on it yet because it's not shipping for a few months yet.

  • justin

    i just got my UAD Xpander (the previous version to this) and I love it. if you get the Xpander, it comes with a 1000 voucher for purchase of effects at their site. so while i paid 800 for my card, i can get more plugins "for free." so no buyers remorse.

    however, mine came with a box about the size of an external harddrive that houses the processor; the card simply acts as a port. if the UAD2-Solo is just that card, then theyve done a helluva job shrinking it down.

  • Alex

    I looking forward to this laptop UAD2. I hear everytime that DSP-Plugins are sounding so much better than native … can't belive it, but I like to test this UAD-Card…

    I saw the sonic core on Frankfurt Musikmesse last year … its a great thing but nothing happens since then … and its about 3000 Euro … puh!

  • Lolsdaka

    > uncle_tom

    I think expressCard slot wouldn't allow anything else than a Solo version : the bandwidth is limited …

    I've been waiting for this because the Xpander DSP was already outdated when they released it.

  • were can i go to buy one of these…i need one badly!! write to me at my myspace or my email


  • Steven

    Hey Guys,
    Just picked up one of these from Westend DJ,
    Spoke to a guy called Sol who seemed to be pretty clued up on these cards.
    I was rather suprised as I thought it was just a DJ shop but they have keyboards and studio equipment.
    Just installing now ill keep ya posted!!

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