Universal Audio's UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins.By Christopher Walsh
London (August 29, 2008)--Universal Audio announced today its UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins and PCIe DSP Accelerator Card for DAWs, as well as Version 5.0 software. The products were unveiled to the press last week at an August 22 preview event, held at Broken Radio studio in San Francisco, where UA president Matt Ward told guests that the UAD-2 launch is "a milestone event" that will be seen as "a turning point, when we became a different kind of company."
UAD-2 is the successor to the UAD-1 Powered Plug-Ins & DSP Card Platform, offering scalable DSP power via three different levels of cards (Solo, Duo or Quad) which can be mixed or matched in any combination up to four cards. Each UAD-2 is powered by the same Analog Devices 21369 SHARC floating-point DSP in single and multi-chip configurations.
"The UAD-2 is set to shake up the audio industry even more radically than UAD-1 did," Mike Barnes, VP of Marketing for Universal Audio, said in a statement. "We listened hard to the power, feature and plug-in requests from our loyal UAD-1 user base. Then we designed the new potent UAD-2 DSP platform for DAWs to be 'the one' that delivers all the sound and channel counts of large-format analog consoles plus all the authentic tone of classic outboard FX inside the box. You can track, mix and master to the next power."
Universal Audio specs the UAD-2 as offering 2.5 (Solo), 5 (Duo) and 10 (Quad) times the power of UAD-1. Presently, UAD-2 offers VST and AU support, with RTAS support to follow in a future software release. UAD-2 is available in three "families" for a total of nine different hardware/software bundles: the "Base" Solo, Duo and Quad cards, each including a $50 UAD plug-in voucher; the "Flexi" tier, including a $500 UAD plug-in voucher allowing the user to create a customized software bundle; and the Neve 88RS console bundle known as "Nevana" 32, 64, and 128. Each Nevana package includes a $100 UAD plug-in voucher.
Universal Audio expects that users will use the UAD-2 to build their own virtual mixing console, mastering console, mix sidecar or inboard effects rack. A UAD-2 Quad Nevana, for example, supports 128 channels of Neve 88RS at 44.1 kHz; four UAD-2 Quad cards offer power equal to 40 UAD-1 cards.
Bill Putnam, Jr., UA founder and CEO, said in a statement, "What makes UAD-2 truly unique is that it not only sounds stellar due to our proprietary UAi modeling technology, but it's deliberately priced to be accessible to all types of studios, from bedroom to project to full pro facility. From the basic UAD-2 Solo/Duo/Quad to the Flexi (make your own bundle) and Nevana 32/64/128 (exclusive Neve console bundles), the UAD-2 is one of those rare products which brings UA's superior sonic quality and legacy of professional recording know-how within the reach of everyone."
Each UAD-2 comes with seven "Mix Essentials" plug-ins, comprised of the 1176SE compressor, Pultec EQP-1A, Program Equalizer, Realverb Pro Room Simulator, CS-1 Channel Strip, EX-1 EQ/Compressor, RS-1 Reflection Engine and DM-1 Delay. Version 5.0 software includes driver enhancements and a new unified meter and control panel. Version 5.0 also features UA's L.O.D.E. (Live Optimizing DSP Engine).
Existing UA plug-in partners such as Neve, Roland, SPL, Valley People and Empirical Labs will soon be joined in the UAD-2 realm by new partners, including Harrison (4032C EQ), Moog (Multimode Filter) and Little Labs (IBP), according to the manufacturer.
Universal Audio is not offering physical trade-in for UAD-1 devices; instead, hardware crossgrade promotions apply when customers upgrade to UAD-2. UAD-1 owners receive a $100 voucher for purchase of UAD-2 Solo; $150 for Duo; and $250 for Quad. Software crossgrades are free through the end of 2008; starting in 2009, each plug-in costs $25 to crossgrade to UAD-2, to a maximum of $250.
The UAD-2 product family is currently shipping. Retail prices are as follows: the Base UAD-2 Solo, $649; UAD-2 Duo, $1,149, and UAD-2 Quad, $1,899. In the Flexi tier, UAD-2 Solo is $999; UAD-2 Duo; $1,499; and UAD-2 Quad, $2,249. UAD-2 Nevana 32 is $899; Nevana 64 is $1,899 and Nevana 128 is $2,499. Each comes with aforementioned vouchers.