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Founded in 1958 by Bill Putnam Sr., Universal Audio has been synonymous with innovative recording products since its inception. A favorite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, the late Bill Putnam Sr. was a passionate innovator who is widely regarded as the father of modern recording — with many of his legendary studio and equipment designs still in use today.

Specifically, Putnam was the inventor of the modern recording console, the multi-band audio equalizer, and the vocal booth, and he was the first engineer to use artificial reverberation in commercial recording. Alongside his friend Les Paul, Putnam was also involved in the early development of stereophonic recording.

Putnam, a natural entrepreneur, started three audio product companies during his long career: Universal Audio, Studio Electronics, and UREI. All three companies built equipment that remains widely used decades after their introduction, including the ubiquitous LA-2A and 1176 compressors, and the 610 tube recording console. The 610 console in particular stands as one of the most beloved designs in audio history, used to record everyone from Sinatra to the Beach Boys to Van Halen's eponymous debut.

Re-founded in 1999.

Universal Audio was re-founded in 1999 by Bill's sons, James Putnam and Bill Putnam Jr., with two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analog recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analog technology. To that end, Universal Audio employs the world's brightest DSP engineers and digital modeling authorities to develop our award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform. Featuring the most authentic analog emulation plug-ins in the industry, our DSP gurus work with the original hardware manufacturers — using their exact schematics, golden units, and experienced ears — to give UAD plug-ins warmth and harmonics in all the right places, just like analog.

Nothing better represents the merging of our analog heritage and groundbreaking digital designs than the award-winning Apollo audio interface. Introduced in 2012, Apollo has become the new worldwide standard for professional music production, and has been used to record breakthrough albums by artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, Dr. Dre, Brad Paisley, and many more.

With more than 200 employees, and offices in Los Angeles, Colorado, and Amsterdam, Universal Audio is headquartered near Silicon Valley in Scotts Valley, California. A few miles away in Santa Cruz is the Universal Audio Custom Shop, where our classic analog gear is still hand-built, one unit at a time.

Software or hardware, every Universal Audio product is backed by a decades long legacy of innovation, superlative quality, and technical passion.

Products by Universal Audio

Latest reviews of Universal Audio products

UAD Chandler GAV19T
Reviewed By Faydit
September 20th, 2023

A lot of amp(s).

Very interesting and sonically flexible, but in some aspects different amp plugin, as this amp is especially built to producea lot of different characters of (British) (phase inverter and) power amp saturation, while the preamp is a very simple, not very much adjustable one.

Due to the numerous tweaking options this in some way are a lot of different amps in a single box.

Also due the all the options not every setting automatically sounds great, but if you know what to do, you can get a lot of different, excellent tones out of it.

The basic are several vintage British amps, which can be tweaked by several boost and power amp behavior adjustments. Works nice, sounds nice. Really clean sounds you hardly get, but this anyway was not the intention of this amp, instead a large varietiy of crunch to overdrive sounds, which you hardly get from a lot of other amps or amp plugins.

The only disadvantage, which I have found, is, that switching from Normal to Intense mode works for my taste a little too intense, as it results in some, sometimes already a little too scratchy if not distorted sounding treble. Some fine adjustment control would have been helpful or also some update, to balance things out a little more. What helps a little is, if you use Intense mode only with the Low input or reduce boost level.

Otherwise a very cool, also sonically very flexible, unique amp, especially for power amp saturation and vintage sound fans.

The plugin also offers a very wide selection of top-notch cabinet IR's, but also allows deactivation and the use of some own external IR's instead. The fx-section/channel strip is the typical Brainworx quality.

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UAD Marshall Plexi Super Lead 1959
Reviewed By Faydit
October 18th, 2022

One of the very few really convincingly sounding Plexi plugins, which I know.

Most of them simply do not at all nail this unique tone, especially concerning the low end and even more treble and harmonics. The amp simulation itself is excellent, although my favorite Plexi plugin nevertheless is another one, one advantage of the Softube version is the simulation of all possible channel bridging variations.
The look with the defect Middle control and the sticker is not really my taste, to be honest, but also does not affect the sound.

What - unfortunately - affects the sound is the channel strip, which precisely means, the cabinet/speaker/microphones section. In principle also not bad, Softube relied on the experience of a Mr. Tony Platt, who - even if has produced some AC/DC and Foreigner albums - seems to have a really strange taste if it comes to microphoning a 412 Marshall cabinet.

My main complaint is, that you have to choose between dynamic, FET or tube microphones only but cannot combine them, at least a SM57 and an U87 are existing, but unfortunately no ribbon R121, which in my opinion is essential for capturing a Marshall 412 cabinet, a SM57 for me basic tone plus some additional R121 for some more bottom is for me more or less the industrial standard, so I do not really understand, why this combination is missing here.

The bigger 1960BHW cabinet in principle also is a good choice, the G12H30's do a good job, but they will not match everybody's taste, I think. Some people would have preferred some G12M's, others maybe some Blackbacks or even some EVM 12L's.

I personally mostly prefer deactivating the channel strip and use a separate IR section with some other speakers/cabinets instead, which works well or use only the SM57 alone plus maybe a little U87 room character.

Nevertheless and despite of Mr. Pratt's strange taste a really convincing Plexi SLP simulation. My favorite Softube Marshall amp plugin, while the 2203 (which also is a JCM, not a JMP in my opinion) and the Kerry King do not convince me so much, due to the much too scratchy treble, the Silver Jubilee at least sounds much better and more pleasing to me than my real one from 1987.

The 1959 sounds to me, like a 1959 should sound, but some deep edition would be appreciated, eg. being able to choose between different tubes, Mullards, RFT's. EI's, ... or also between some additional speaker options.

Despite of my complaints five stars, as I only know one or two other, comparably good and authentically sounding Plexi plugins.

Nevertheless a directly recorded real Plexi still is a completely different pair of shoes....

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Nobody does classic reverbs better than UA. Another emulation grand slam that does not sound like a plugin.

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Precision Multiband
Reviewed By mt3
December 28th, 2015

Huge latency makes it unusable for real-time use. Unfortunately, this is the only multiband compressor available for the UAD platform.

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There seem to be a lot of tape emulation plugins appearing these days - this one is actually Universal Audio's second machine (their previous one being a spot-on emulation of the Studer A800 multitrack machine) and is one of those rare plugins that literally nobody should be without. You hear the expression "game changer" an awful lot around the various forums but in this case it is thoroughly well deserved. I mean it too - even if you do not have a UAD2 DSP card, it is worth buiying one just to run this plugin - of course, the problem there is that you will end up hooked on what is essentially the audio plugin equivalent of crack cocaine, but that is a problem that I can live with.

Getting back to the ATR-102 though, what you get here is actually much,. much more than you might at first think. There are 3 different tape head sizes to choose from (1/4", 1/2" & 1") at 4 speeds (3.75IPS, 7.5IPS, 15IPS & 30IPS) and no fewer than 7 different tape compounds, although not all compounds are available at all sizes and speeds. If that were not enough, you also have the option for both european & US emphasis EQ and 4 different calibration levels for allowing accurate unity gain from inout to output dependent on the magnetic flux of each tape compound and the ability to tweak Hi & Low shelving EQ as well as reproduction head EQ (on a channel basis, so controls for both left & right) as well as the levels of tape hiss, hum, wow & flutter (plus the ability to turn them off altogether) and even crosstalk between channels and even a built-in equivalent of MRL alignment test tapes to set everything up with!

If all this control seems intimidating, don;t panic as there is an auto calibration feature that sets manufacturer recommended levels for each tape compound and a plethora of presets to get you started - plus a very interesting set of UltraLinear presets for each compound & speed created by Mastering Engineer Stephen Smith so you can get the flattest & widest response on each formulation.

This is a truly superb tool and even though I have had it for a couple of months now I am not only still learning how to get the best from it but the usual "glow" from a new toy has not yet worn off either - and that is a great sign as I often get the "wow" factor on initial use of a tool but usually it subsides after a couple of weeks and can be assessed honestly. This has not happened here, and I honestly cannot recommend this highly enough. Yes, it will mean buying a UAD2 card - but that will leave you open to all the rest of the UAD world, and you will also - on any new card - get their excellent 1176LN, LA2A and Pultec EQ right out of the box as well as their channel strip which although it is not an emulation of any beloved gear is still very usable.

What are you waiting for?

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