Universal Audio’s Latest Audio Hardware, Software Comes of Age Nicely

For me, Apollo is what changed the value equation and appeal of Universal Audio. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about buying hardware just to run some nice effects – which, good as those effects were, limited the audience for the UAD. With Apollo, the hardware splurge made sense. It was simply one of the better audio interfaces you could buy for production work, even before instantiating a single plug-in. And then you could add the UAD plug-ins. For anyone who said that they weren’t interested in running effects on dedicated DSP hardware, the Apollo is an answer. Fine. Here’s a reason …


Here’s What’s New in Universal Audio’s DSP Software and Hardware System

The line between pain and ecstasy on a computer for music making can often boil down to some key elements. One commonly on that short list is getting the sound you might from a studio. Another is making all your inputs and outputs work in your interface. Universal Audio is one of a handful of vendors that aims to bridge both of those gaps in a single product, with devices that are audio interfaces as well as DSP platforms for hosting high-quality effects. And UA are starting out 2015 with a fairly big benchmark for the company in that software/hardware …


3 Approaches to Accessorizing the Studio: SPL, Softube, UA at Musikmesse

How can hardware make the computer-based studio more productive? Each trade show invariably brings new offerings that seek to answer that problem as vendors hawk their wares. At Frankfurt’s Musikmesse, steps from one another, three well-known names each each offered their own take. It comes at a time when the industry is re-imagining the role of our machines. It used to be that big, metal boxes said “pro” – and the studio was no exception. (Cue flashbacks trying to set up Digidesign expansion racks in the late 90s. Okay, now putting that out of my mind.) That’s still true in …


Apollo: UA Adds Low-Latency Effects in Audio Interface, Proves FireWire, Thunderbolt are Cool

Universal Audio has long had a successful business selling hardware DSP effects, many of them carefully-modeling classic analog gear. These products use dedicated DSP hardware for number-crunching, requiring that you connect an extra box to your computer. UA has certainly had their loyalists, and for fans of the products, the dedicated gear is simply a convenient way to get all of these sound-processing goodies. But it’s fair to ask the question, as many producers have who read this site, what’s the advantage? Why not simply use native processing on your computer? Apollo, UA’s new hardware, answers that question more emphatically. …


Hands-on: Universal Audio’s UAD-2 Satellite, a DSP Box for Macs and MacBook Pros

With all the horsepower computers are now packing, you might be surprised at the idea of adding on dedicated hardware for sound processing. Or, you can look at it another way: with computers more powerful than ever, with digital processing sounding more convincing both as emulation of traditional gear and in imagining never-before-possible sounds, the digital studio in a backpack is even closer. Into that picture, enter the Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite. Enclosed in a metal housing about the size of a large-ish external hard drive, the Satellite could absolutely fit into the side pocket of a computer backpack or …


Mixing and Audio Interface, in the $450 MOTU Audio Express

The competition for your audio interface dollar is pretty heated these days, but MOTU’s latest – the Audio Express – packs a pretty impressive feature set for something costing US$449 list. It’s both a 6×6 audio interface and a mixer, with standalone mixer functionality so you can mix signals from the front-panel knobs without a computer attached. It also has connectivity features generally seen only in pricier, physically-larger boxes. MOTU tells CDM the quality is equal to their higher-end offerings, and other rivals in the $500-800 range. MOTU winds up on my short list as far as hardware that makes …


FireWire800, ExpressCard Survive MacBook Pro Revision, So You Can Relax; Thunderbolt Audio Hardware Coming

Photo courtesy of Apple. Those of you in the market for a new MacBook Pro are no doubt already tuned into the product news. So let’s talk about what isn’t changed on the new MacBook line, because it’s a good thing. You still get FireWire 800 ports on all models, including the entry-level 13″ machine. ExpressCard is still standard on the 17″ MacBook Pro. Your dongles for video adapters still work. I’m researching implications for audio of the new Thunderbolt connection. My guess is it’s a little too early to say; 10 GBps storage sounds fantastic, but it’s far beyond …


DSP Goodies on New Macs, as Universal Audio Does Firewire

It’s difficult to describe Universal Audio’s plug-ins until you’ve tried them. It’s a bit like having chocolate sauce at your disposal, sonically speaking. Whatever your higher-level brain may have to say, somewhere deep in your mammalian brain, you hear only … mmmmmm. Chocolate. It’s the word I get from UA users, and I’ll also have an interview with UA to post next week in which we get deep into the philosophy of sound, software design, and modeling, a conversation that transcends any one product. They’re not for everyone – they demand a price premium, to be sure, versus rival CPU-native …


28 Ins, 30 Outs, Loads of Features, as MOTU’s 828 Meets Firewire and USB2

FireWire may be getting rare these days, but new hardware proves that doesn’t mean serious external audio interfaces are in any danger. In the latest iteration of its tried-and-true 828 line, MOTU combines both Firewire and USB 2.0 for Mac or PC, and a wide range of features. The MOTU 828mk3 “Hybrid” in a nutshell: 28 inputs, 30 outputs. Combo jacks for 1/4″ guitar in, XLR mic. Phantom power, of course. Balanced/unbalanced 1/4″ analog ins and outs running at 24-bit/192kHz. Separate main XLR outs with dedicated volume controls on the front panel. (Quick, turn that down!) Two headphone jacks with …


Obsessive Windows 7 Under-the-Hood Guide for Music; Can You Finally Dump XP?

Windows 7 running on a laptop, as photographed by / (CC) Luke Roberts. Windows 7 makes far subtler changes than Vista did, which gives it an opportunity to refine features by the ship date. And it’s been tested unusually widely, by testers like Luke. Windows matters. It’s what roughly half of CDM readers use, and – for all the attention Apple gets – it’s a big part of the computer music world. Windows today also faces many of the same under-the-hood challenges that other operating systems do, so even if you’re a die-hard Linux or Mac user, you may want …