Universal Audio UAD-2 Solo/Laptop Card Review

Jan 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Brandon Hickey

PORTABLE PCIe INTERFACES RUNS EXCELLENT PROCESSOR EMULATIONS

Polls


Mix Regional

The Mix Regional section for Mix's September 2014 issue focuses on Miami. Send us your studio news: updates, sessions, new rooms, plus club performances and installations. Let the Mix audience know what is going on! Send photos and descriptions to mixeditorial@nbmedia.com.

UA Laptop Summary

Select summary to visit site.

However, this made more sense when I tallied my plug-in count. I maxed out at four 88RSs, two 1176 SEs, two Pultec EQs, an LA-2A, a Moog Filter, an SSL Bus Compressor, a Plate 140, a UA RealVerb Pro and a Cooper Time Cube — a tall stack with 14 instantiations of the heartier plug-ins. That said, it would be nice if you could run additional UAD-2 plug-ins in RTAS or VST versions when the SHARC chip is used up while still necessitating the device itself for authorization. My quad-core internal processor had significant CPU headroom, and considering the fact that the MacBook Pro is the only laptop in the Mac family with the ExpressCard slot needed for this device, it seems that this might often be the case.

My only other issue was the considerable latency introduced by many of the UAD-2 plug-ins. Logic compensates automatically, but when trying to track a vocal overdub or a MIDI keyboard feeding a Logic instrument, I had to bypass some plug-ins for the sake of performance. Pro Tools M-Powered suffered the most because there is no automatic delay compensation, but UA offers a solution. Bundled with the UAD-2 Solo/Laptop is a third-party RTAS plug-in from Mellowmuse called ATA (Automatic Time Adjustment). You start by putting an instance of the plug-in on each track and the master fader. It compensates by playing a pulse through each track and measuring the round-trip delay. This certainly helped when using dynamic processors and it tightened up the Pro Tools/UAD-2 relationship overall, but when it came to time-based processors, the results were more unpredictable. Naturally, when you are deliberately inducing some amount of delay as an effect, the ATA has no way of knowing what you're trying to do. I found that upping the dry output of the plug-in during pinging, and then switching back to 100 percent wet afterward seemed to help, though it was less convenient.

Is It Top Gear?

Altogether, I am pleased with the UAD-2 Solo/Laptop experience. It's a valuable tool, particularly when access to high-end outboard gear is limited due to budget or the need for portability. The models offered provide excellent processing, and as far as plug-ins go are certainly among the most valuable tools I have encountered. Trying to run these powerful plugs would certainly take a toll on a native system, so the additional DSP is certainly welcome and now more portable than ever. There are no cables and no power supply, and the card sits neatly inside the machine with only a small protrusion. With only minor complaints and plenty of praise, it seems that Universal Audio has created a product that will fit into a variety of production environments.


Brandon Hickey is an engineer, educator and post-production consultant.






Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95

Newsletters

MixLine

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.