Universal Audio has been a name in recreations of classic studio gear for some time. But now, here’s something that will appeal directly to producers. Included in a slew of updates today, you get crunchy, wild 8-bit effects (emulating the now-discontinued boutique OTO BISCUIT hardware), Moog multimode filters paired with powerful modulation and filters, and a subharmonic synth from the disco age you can use to add booty-shaking low end to tracks.
In other words, it’s like Christmas for producers with UAD, with a whole bunch of delicious stuff you might want.
This isn’t a review, yet – will follow back up with that. But here’s a quick look at what’s in store.
And, look, I’m heavily biased in that this is exactly the sort of stuff I love to use, personally.
The OTO BISCUIT is one of the most unique bits of hardware to come out in recent years, a gorgeous boutique 8-bit effect processor packed with options. The problem is, this limited run French hardware is very difficult to find. The developer simply ran out of chips.
While “8-bit” may evoke thoughts of chip music, really this is about creating something sonically rich in the contemporary digital world. And while it may sound strange to think of a digital effect as rare and requiring specific modeling, the particularities of certain chips have actually made instruments and effects built on integrated circuits some of the most endangered among sound tools.
The Biscuit for its part was a digital/analog hybrid, finding unique elements of each technique. On the digital side, it’s an 8-bit bitcrusher with bit-by-bit control. On the analog side, there’s a nice-sounding stereo multimode filter.
In this version recreated by Softube, you get everything – even emulation of the diode clipping on input that gives the original its character. There’s Waveshaper, Delay, Pitch-Shift, and Step-Filter.
Have a listen:
See our original story on this hardware’s unveiling:
The only thing missing, actually, is a later synth firmware for the Biscuit. But I might have to dig up a friend’s unit and combine that synth with this modeled effects unit for some real good times.
This also seems ideal for live use, too, coupled with UA’s hardware.
Moog Multimode Filter Collection
The Moog ladder filter is one of the most versatile out there, just in terms of breadth of applications. To be honest, sometimes in a synthesizer I think the ladder filter can feel a little boring – and we hear it a lot. So some synths actually benefit from something more specific and individual. But the point is its smoothness across the frequency range means that you can do a lot with it.
The cleverness of what Universal Audio have done here with the Multimode Filter Collection is to give you a complete set of tools. It’s not just a multimode filter loaded up with options – it’s also a multi-lane step sequencer, which can use to modulate each parameter. So endless Tangerine Dream-style sounds are very, very possible here – and you get a lot of the modular filter benefits without having to do anything. Paired with their hardware, I can even see this getting some live use – like routing outboard instruments and synths into a computer onstage for modulated effects.
And, oh yeah, this with something like Reaktor Blocks and/or Softube Modular mean your computer are an affordable, portable alternative (or complement) to Eurorack modular setups.
It sounds terrific:
Price: US$249 ($99 upgrade from the legacy Moog Multimode version from UA)
Sometimes it’s hard to describe the addictive appeal of Universal Audio’s platform. And, frankly, out of the huge range of tools they offer, for a lot of producers I talk to (and myself) it’s about coming back to a very small handful of tools and applications that you then use over and over.
So, Subsynth – made in collaboration with Brainworx, who have also done some of the nicest processor development lately in software – seems to be another in that category. It’s intended to solve a simple problem: how do you really bang the low end, without producing distortion or screwing up the track and mix?
It’s hard to describe, in that this leads to a lot of different, equally fun applications: saturation, adding bass, beefing up kicks, and so on.
But it does it in a way that’s really clever – by building on the classic dbx 120XP’s waveform modeling approach to synthesize additional subharmonic content. And Brainworx have added some thoughtful additions, in the form of an additional band and M/S processing. This will definitely need a review and … well, I live in the vicinity of the world’s favorite club sound systems where we can check it out definitely.
It’s one of those magical mastering tools that’s just lovely to have. I can’t wait to try this one out … even if I’m afraid I may never leave the studio once I do.
Here’s the original, in case you’re interested (discontinued, but often rented for this very purpose):
Then again, this is easier to get at US$149:
Note that this is the one plug-in here that’s non-exclusive. I hope to get my hands on the native version, too, to compare. But I think there is some advantage for live and live tracking use to having DSP hardware integration.
Plus more updates and additions
There are, as usual, other OS/firmware/plug-in updates and offerings bundled into today’s release.
Mac users get fully-qualified macOS Sierra support, plus a new console for multi-unit FireWire. And Windows 10 continues to look better, with support for Thunderbolt chaining (up to 4 audio devices, up to 6 DSP devices) for adding extra horsepower and up to 64×64 I/O.
On the plug-in side:
The SSL 4000 E is arguably the signature channel strip among UA’s offerings, one modeled on a classic original. The key here is it gets a ground-up rewrite and support for Unison, which integrates the channel strip behavior with the hardware. That’s a pretty big deal for hardware owners looking to fully exploit Unison in their recordings:
So, that’s the no-latency, hardware-integrated channel strip. For guitarists and instrumentalists, look to the new model of the Fuchs Overdrive Amp, a boutique amplifier: