Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

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Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by chachithefonz »

Something to consider:

UAD makes excellent products and you must pay premium price for them. Many folks happily pay that premium to get the gear and plugins. But what happens if their hardware fails or there is a customer service issue? How eager do you think they will be to keep you as a customer when they know you have invested $$ in their software? Not very eager at all in my experience (and others from what I’ve read). I requested a coupon or voucher when my interface onpletely stopped working after 4 years. After some respectful back and forth, the service rep literally suggested I may be better off using another company. They don’t have to provide top tier customer service because they know they have you and you’ll be back for more. I’m sure their market research bears this out. You’re too invested in their ecosystem to quit them. I’m not saying don’t buy UAD. Just something to consider when deciding how to use your $$.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

chachithefonz wrote:But what happens if their hardware fails...

I can understand your frustration but, to be fair, no hardware lasts for ever. Okay, so four years is a little disappointing, but there may be lots of different reasons for the failure. Unfortunate and annoying, of course, but these things happen in the real world.

By way of balance, my own UAD card has been functioning flawlessly for eight or nine years now, so I reckon you have just been particularly unlucky.

On the upside, at least you haven't lost all your purchased plugins, you just need to transfer them to a new card -- it means an outlay, but it's not like you have to start again from scratch, and it's not the big financial hit that losing some critical and obsolete component in a classic vintage hardware processor would have potentially cost! Silver linings and all that! ;-)

As for a goodwill gesture from UAD, that's always going to be a difficult call for a business. They want to be as supportive as possible, but if they give freebies away all the time the workers don't get paid... So some line has to be drawn and those that land on the wrong side will always feel aggrieved. At the end of the day, a warranty period is a warranty period and once you go beyond that you're in the lap of the gods over hardware longevity.

Good that UAD were reachable and entered into a dialogue, though, and that it was respectful -- compared to some companies that's another bonus to be appreciated, even if it didn't deliver the results you were hoping for.

As for the suggestion of taking your business elsewhere, well, I wasn't party to the conversation, but what else could the representative suggest if you couldn't be satisfied once he'd exhausted the options available to him?

I’m not saying don’t buy UAD. Just something to consider when deciding how to use your $$.

Fair enough. There was a time when UAD's plugins stood out well above most native plugins in terms of quality and accuracy. However, there are a lot of really superb native plugins available now, and so there are credible alternatives to the UAD platform.

H
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by chachithefonz »

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate your perspective.

I can only offer my perspective as a consumer and home hobbyist. I do understand the concept of obsolescence of computers/electronics over time. I’ve owned a lot of gear. But, I’ve never once had a piece of gear die as if it was struck by a sniper’s bullet. Working flawlessly one moment, dead the next.

I believe it could happen occasionally, but I don’t believe it should happen frequently. As for the warranty, I think it’s interesting that a product could (figuratively) erupt into flames after 12 months and the consumer is “in the lap of the gods” as you so eloquently put it. Such a short time frame seems more protective of the company than the consumer.

I do understand your point on their policy. They have a business to run and good for them. Having said that, a small concession on their part would’ve eased my frustration and kept me a UA customer for life. Seems worth it, no? So, now I will wait for my gear to be rescucitated then will live happily with it until it is time to wheel it over to the old folks home for obsolete gear (that could be any day know from what I hear). After that, I will vote with my wallet!

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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by James Perrett »

chachithefonz wrote: I think it’s interesting that a product could (figuratively) erupt into flames after 12 months and the consumer is “in the lap of the gods” as you so eloquently put it.

If you are in the UK it might be worth looking at

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/per ... right.html
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by CS70 »

Yeah it's the same in Norway. The manufacturer warranty is often one or two years, but the shop must guarantee the purchase for five years. So if the UAD is kaputt, you should go back where you bought it - often you're asked a proof of purchase but your bank sould be able to fish the transaction if you're used a card.. if you used cash, you need the receipt.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by chachithefonz »

Sadly, no. I live in the US. Thank you very much for passing along the article. Interesting.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

chachithefonz wrote:I’ve never once had a piece of gear die as if it was struck by a sniper’s bullet. Working flawlessly one moment, dead the next.

Yes, it's unusual, but it does happen, and it's almost certainly for a reason completely outside the control of UAD. It could have been a power supply spike in the computer, or an overheating issue, or any of a dozen other things related to the installation or use, rather than the original manufacture or individual component creation.

I don’t believe it should happen frequently.

Of course... but I don't think it does. As I said, my own UAD card has been solid for a long time now, and I can't off-hand think of anyone else I know using UAD cards that have had failures. Of course there could well be some with similar experiences -- it would be interesting to hear of them if so, just to get some sense of perspective.

I think it’s interesting that a product could (figuratively) erupt into flames after 12 months and the consumer is “in the lap of the gods” as you so eloquently put it. Such a short time frame seems more protective of the company than the consumer.

It's based on the idea of the 'bath-tub' effect. If you draw a graph of the failure rate of electronic products (vertically) against time (horizontally), you end up with something that looks like the cross section of a bath. At a lot of boards fail at time of manufacture, so the graph starts quite high at the build point, but then falls very rapidly to a very low level and stays there for a long time until boards start to fail because of the age of the components.

So, the principle is that if the device is going to fail, it's most likely to do so within the first twelve months (usually less, in reality). Hence most warranties only covering that period...

They have a business to run and good for them. Having said that, a small concession on their part would’ve eased my frustration and kept me a UA customer for life. Seems worth it, no?

It's a good point. Personally, I agree with you. In a world where there is so much choice, and it's so easy to suffer lasting damage to corporate reputations from word of mouth over the Interweb it seems a no-brainer to me that companies really need to manage customer relations carefully, and take the most flexible approach to maintaining customer satisfacton. And there are many companies that really do go the extra mile to achieve that. Needless to say... there are also many that do not.

Which is why I think it is entirely fair to allow you to voice your views here in such a calm and balanced way. I can't guarantee that UAD will read or react positively to it... but other companies have in the past.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Wonks »

What UAD interface was it?
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by chachithefonz »

Wonks wrote:What UAD interface was it?


It is an Apollo Twin Solo
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by OneWorld »

chachithefonz wrote: I’ve owned a lot of gear. But, I’ve never once had a piece of gear die as if it was struck by a sniper’s bullet. Working flawlessly one moment, dead the next.

I have, an EMU XL1 (power supply) EMU 2500 - just dropped dead, Behringer ADA8000, again just dropped dead.

I do use UAD and (crossed fingers) the unit has performed flawless over about 5 years now, but I do sort of 'share your pain' this reliance on such equipment can leave you floundering if it goes wrong and for me, it's not so much just the replacing of it, it is getting the replacement and in some cases the convoluted process of getting it set up again - in the case of UAD, the plethora of demo plugins that insist on loading even though you never use them, it too me hours to work through each and stuff them away in another folder, I'd hate to go through all that again.

Not so long ago I had an issue with the Steinberg eLicenser, it just stopped working and I literally had to trawl the web trying to get a fix, I did get one, it was an easy fix, but I had to wait about 3 weeks to get that fix from Steinberg, and it seemed it was not such an uncommon problem, I cannot understand why they didn't post out a round robin informing customers of the issue.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by OneWorld »

Hugh Robjohns wrote: In a world where there is so much choice, and it's so easy to suffer lasting damage to corporate reputations from word of mouth over the Interweb it seems a no-brainer to me that companies really need to manage customer relations carefully, and take the most flexible approach to maintaining customer satisfaction.

About a month ago I bought a little bit of kit, only £30.00 but the sort of handy gizmo that one buys by way of a speculative purchase. It arrived and what arrived was not what I ordered, so I went straight to the company website and sure enough there was an 'easy streamlined returns process' So I followed the instructions and posted the item back next day recorded delivery - 3 weeks later, 23 emails and 5 phone calls later, nothing but excuses. I Can imagine many people just abandon the effort at trying to get a refund/exchange given the amount of time and effort it requires.

With a little bit of digging (Companies House/Web Hosting Company) I managed to get the managing director's email/phone and so got in touch with him by way of an email sent with a read receipt etc and mentioning in my email "Have you heard of FaceBook, YouTube etc? and how many £30.00's are there in your bank account, that should have been returned to your customers, are you aware of the legislation covered by the Distance Selling Regulations?

Within an hour I got an email back saying the money had been refunded to my bank, together with an extra £10.00 for the inconvenience plus the cost of post I incurred. That being said, I don't know how I would have gone on had it been a company outwith the UK
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Glenn Bucci »

The next computer I purchased I won't be able to fit my UAD cards in the slots of a computer as most computers don't have those slots available unless you buy a custom computer.

I love UAD plug ins and I spend a lot of money on many of them. Could I get by without them, Yes I could, and to be honest the plug ins I purchased from Waves, Lexicon, Softube, and Plug in Alliance could provide me with all the plug ins I need as well as the bread and butter plugs in in Cubase.

With that being said, I will most likely look at buying a Octo box from UA in the future as I invested so much money with UAD plug ins. In addition, there are some plug ins like the Manley Massive Passive, Manley Vari Mu, and several others that are only available with their platform. But for right now, I am safe using their plug ins with my 4 year old computer. When I need to upgrade, I will be purchasing a Dell computer with Thunderbolt 3 capability. My old RME 96/52 card will probably have to go by the way side, and I will need to update my converters as I will no longer use ADAT and SPDIF. The UA Apollo converters will probably be on top of my list but who knows what else will be available at that time.

With recording studio equipment, we will always need to update our gear over the years. The good news our microphones, pre's, and outboard gear will never get outdated.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by tridelica »

It seems that the evolution of computer audio will be toward more native processing, and less proprietary hardware-based processing. This sounds cliched, but the end listener does not care which flavor of virtual Neve preamp is coloring the song they are listening to, especially if it is a busy pop or rock mix. In fact, some modern songs sound big on pasted-on color, and small on authenticity.

Tracking through effects like UAD seems to defeat the purpose of software plugins, which is to avoid making tracking mistakes that cannot be undone. No matter how great a plugin sounds during tracking - even if it emulates a holy grail, unobtanium, once-in-a-lifetime audio contraption from yesteryear - it often doesn't sound so good come mixdown time.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by bluedot »

I wanted to love the UAD ecosystem. I was using an Apogee Element, and heard so many good things about tracking through the UAD plugins - I picked up an Apollo 8 and an octocore processor. I am on Mac, using thunderbolt.

I compose for film, and when not - I have this pesky habit of making complex electronica with 40+ tracks. I work in Ableton Live - and only use Pro Tools for deliveries when I must.

There I was, mixing away - and CRASH. A cryptic UAD error. I couldn't figure out what plugin to turn off as the error didn't tell me which one was in bork mode. It dropped everything. Locked up. Not just the plugin, not just the octobox - but the whole system. To pour some salt in my wounds, it mangled the Ableton Live file (First time in 10+ years!). I couldn't even reopen it.

After a couple reboots - I unplugged the UAD Apollo and octobrick - plugged my Apogee back in, and I was able to load the file.

The Apollo was back in the box that night - and the Octobrick for sale on Reverb.

I'm using a Motu 828es currently. I love its software, but I miss the bullet proof stability of the Apogee. I think I will go back soon.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Arpangel »

bluedot wrote: I'm using a Motu 828es currently. I love its software, but I miss the bullet proof stability of the Apogee. I think I will go back soon.


I’m using an 828, been using it for years, rock solid, never crashed, just gets on with it.
Quality is fine, more than good enough for any application, I’ve never had a reason to think about buying anything else, more to the point, it’s also very reasonably priced.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by bluedot »

Arpangel wrote: I’m using an 828, been using it for years, rock solid, never crashed, just gets on with it.
Quality is fine, more than good enough for any application, I’ve never had a reason to think about buying anything else, more to the point, it’s also very reasonably priced.

Is it the es thunderbolt version? Mine goes out of sync occasionally and sometimes gets crackly. A quick reboot solves it. About once a week it occurs, but for $900 - what a deal. It sounds as good as the Apogee did to me. I appreciate having the MIDI. I had used a couple 828 MKII for a decade until FW800 got flakey with adapters from the new macs.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by dbfs »

I have no problems with uad, I have tried with a quad, sold it. Then bought an octo, tried it and sold it. recently tried an octo again and returned it. Im fine with native. To me I could there somerhing I did not like with uad sound. It actuallt annoys me slightly that I can't see why some many love the uad plugins.

I must say though that the uad plugins never gave me any problems.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by MOF »

I’ve been using a secondhand UAD Silver face Apollo Core2 duo (for a number of years), originally on Firewire, then Thunderbolt (when I upgraded my iMac) and I’ve been very pleased with it, no issues. I recently upgraded to the X4.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by ets »

I have a first generation firewire Apollo. I got it when it first came out several years ago and have never had any issues at all. That said, I have assiduously resisted the sales and come ons for buying their plugs, with a few exceptions. TBH, my plug ins are not the weak link in my music production chain, and I have a problem seeing past their wildly skeuomorphic interfaces to the actual sound of the plug. Its better for my listening not to have a faux aged set of dials or spinning tape machine and pseudo VU meters, and just to listen. So when the time comes to replace the UA, I will look more at the quality of the A/D and preamps, and probably save myself several hundred bucks by not buying a UAD.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Arpangel »

bluedot wrote:
Arpangel wrote: I’m using an 828, been using it for years, rock solid, never crashed, just gets on with it.
Quality is fine, more than good enough for any application, I’ve never had a reason to think about buying anything else, more to the point, it’s also very reasonably priced.

Is it the es thunderbolt version? Mine goes out of sync occasionally and sometimes gets crackly. A quick reboot solves it. About once a week it occurs, but for $900 - what a deal. It sounds as good as the Apogee did to me. I appreciate having the MIDI. I had used a couple 828 MKII for a decade until FW800 got flakey with adapters from the new macs.

Mine is a bog satandard 828 MK11, I’m running it connected through a FireWire to Thunderbolt lead, it’s always worked fine, not one issue so far, touch wood!
I only got it because it was given to me free of charge, free things always sound better anyway!

:)
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by ConcertinaChap »

bluedot wrote:After a couple reboots - I unplugged the UAD Apollo and octobrick - plugged my Apogee back in, and I was able to load the file.

Interesting the way these things work. Personally I'm very happy with my UAD gear but wouldn't touch Apogee with an unusually long barge pole. Reason being the way they dropped support for the Apogee Ensemble like a red hot steel ingot when Apple dropped support for Firewire thus cutting the resale value of my unit in half overnight.

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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by uselessoldman »

I think people must be COMPLETELY BONKERS to buy into their products. They remind me so much of the Apple marketing model, you buy our stuff cos we are who we are and we know u love us. To say you FORCED to pay a premium price for both their hardware and software is a massive UNDERSTATEMENT, its not exactly unique, but I use the word forced specifically cos as I said you have to be bonkers !!
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by muzines »

No one is FORCING anyone to buy anything. :roll:

If you don't like a product, or can't justify paying the price the manufacturer is asking, you don't buy it. UA are not going to send the boys round and break a few legs because you didn't buy their latest plugin.

If *no one* buys the product, then maybe it's not an appealing product, or the price is too high - and the manufacturer will adjust accordingly or go out of business. Because UA *haven't* needed to do that, and are investing heavily into their UAD product line (for years), it would suggest business is good, and plenty of people are finding enough value in their products to buy them.

The good news is that these days, there are plenty of alternatives for most of them at a variety of more palatable price points (especially with all the sales).
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by resistorman »

Back when computers were weak and add on processing cards made sense I bought a couple of Mackie UAD cards. I also bought the Focusrite Liquid Mix devices. They sounded great! But when machines and native plugins evolved and it was faster to render natively I felt trapped and cut my losses. I couldn't take any of those great sounding plugins with me... I got good work from them so only mild regrets. But I'd never invest in a closed system now... it's a golden age of algorithmic alchemists utilizing increasingly powerful native systems at shockingly good prices.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by forumuser934245 »

I have an Apollo Firewire QUAD has been working great for quite sometime. I use the plug-ins included with the interface and have purchased 1 or 2 afterwards. All my other plugins are from 3rd parties and are not tied to the Apollo.
Their plugins are nice, but there are a lot of developers that offer better plugins in my opinion. Besides, a lot of the plugins that have been integrated in the UAD market are also available on Plugin Alliance for cheaper and not tied to the Apollo. So if I want to dump the interface on eBay I can and sell it and my UAD Plug-ins and be done with UAD (if I choose to do so).
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by CS70 »

uselessoldman wrote:I think people must be COMPLETELY BONKERS to buy into their products. They remind me so much of the Apple marketing model, you buy our stuff cos we are who we are and we know u love us. To say you FORCED to pay a premium price for both their hardware and software is a massive UNDERSTATEMENT, its not exactly unique, but I use the word forced specifically cos as I said you have to be bonkers !!

Well, yes and no. For UAD , the UAD brand carries a bit of premium, no doubt... but it does because its products are still uniquely very good, not the other way around.

The reasons are simple: for one, UAD is very close, obviously to, UA. UA is damn good at what they do and has been good at it for a very long time. The changes in analogue audio happen at a far lower pace than in software (heck, we're still looking at kit from the 1950s as holy grails) so UA is still very much at the top of its game.

That has several consequences: one, when doing the software you have people available who has designed the analogue circuit; or, you have people that can understand it pretty well; when you have designed something, you have available people that can tell you very quickly how it compares to the "real thing"; you have available a number of "real things", or the financial muscle and connections to get or loan more (if I as a small company were to make a Fairchild plugin today, just getting hold of a real Fairchild for testing would require considerable funding and work).

Two, reproducing analogue behavior in software is not a trivial skill. Reproducing is so that it mimics the actual analogue hardware, it's much worse - because (unlike computing) the specific hardware platform makes a significant difference to the result of the "computation" - i.e. the processing of the signal.

It takes years for a group of people to get good at it, and the head start that the fellas at UAD have by now, give them an incredible advantage (same goes for Line6, for example and others). The combination of all that makes so that UAD plugin sound as they sound - for reproducing classic hardware, there's very other companies that have the same edge.

The analogy with Apple is not totally appropriate: computers, in the end of the day, do all exactly the same thing. Also then skills are fairly translatable. It's not _harder_ or different to code something on an Apple platform than it is anywhere else (it was way harder on, say, an Atari 2600.. but I digress). A Turing-equivalent computation is a computation and it really matters not which specific hardware is running it, so long the hardware is not faulty.

Thingsd like the looks, and how thin the machine is, suddenly get attention and are more important, because it's hard to differentiate on the computation (you can, a little, on speed, but again, it's largely a non-problem for most users these days). And of course the specific system software, and the various ios and macos have their fans, as it should be. And the amount of software running on the system.

Finally, branding and exclusivity (including artificially higher prices, that give an aura of wealth to people carrying them) play also a huge role.

With UAD, not so. The proprietary hardware, even if useful, these days is really just a protection dongle... but what you pay, you pay for as accurate a reproduction of an analogue item as it can be done nowadays by anybody.

Then of course, there's always the guy whos finds it very hard to buy large amounts of money for stuff that can't be touched.. and that's ok.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Favedave »

I understand the OP's frustration. I've been using UAD stuff from PCI slot days to my current Thunderbolt 3 setup with 2 Octos and an Apollo Twin.

I had about 20 plugins, but was a casual user. This past year with lockdown, I was spending a LOT of time increasing my mixing/recording skills. I have a high end Mac (iMac Pro, 10 core, 764 gigs RAM), so I thought I could go big with the Native Plugins. I tried with all the stock Logic plugins (some are good), and many others. Bit I found I kept going back to my basic UAD plugins for mixes -- the LA 2A, the Neve 88RS Channel Strip, 1176, etc. Over time, it seemed like these were best for me, that they warmed up all my VI tracks. I had always planned to keep the plugins limited, but as I tried more and more of them -- and watched the 5 minute tutorials -- the more I realized I could get results on them that I couldn't get otherwise. Is it because they're just better or they simply fit my style or I just learned to use them better than others? I dunno.

So I went all in. Another reason was because even my high end Mac choked on certain demanding Native plugins. I went from an Apollo Twin to adding two Octos and going up to 95 UAD plugins. When I added all the money I spent and divided by the number of plugins, each plugin cost $52! That's cheap! Of course, I used their sales periods and bundles and Octo extras. But it wasn't any effort. If you include the cost of the hardware, it comes to around $85 per plugin.

I'm very happy with the results and I mix better and faster now. Now my workflow is writing and tracking on Logic, then exporting stems to mix on Luna -- which gets an amazing creamy analog sound not available without external analog processors. (Because of the Summing and Channel extensions in Luna.)

I think that wanting something for a 4 year old piece of hardware is just unreasonable. 4 years old is a long time in computer years. Perhaps there was a voltage spike in your area or brownouts or other uncontrollable factors. UA cannot be responsible for 4 year old hardware -- they would soon be out of business.

Are there frustrations with UA? Sure. But few companies have such pristine processing and delightful results. My other go to plugins are Altiverb, Revoice Pro, Melodyne, and Speakerphone. All of those together cost around $1600. But they do what no other plugins do. And they save me time and money. I value time the most.
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by MOF »

I found a noticeable difference in sound quality between the silver core duo and the X4. I love UAD plugins, I have a lot of them now.
I also like PA’s Focusrite Console and a few of the Waves plugins such as Abbey Road ADT. I paid to upgrade them to version 12, not exactly cheap, a little over a year ago and now find that the second licences won’t work on my laptop, whereas the UAD plugins work with any computer because the interface and/or satellite acts as the dongle.
When I started out on this home studio journey I paid hundreds of pounds for one piece of outboard, so I consider the ability to have all this high-end virtual gear a major plus.
MOF
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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Rene Asologuitar »

chachithefonz wrote: Wed Mar 06, 2019 4:14 pm Something to consider:

I recently bought the UAD Volt 2/76 interface, and very happy with the product.

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Re: Universal Audio (think twice before investing)

Post by Arpangel »

My 828 has long gone, new OS, driver issues, would not work with my new Mac.
I was talking to a chap who I trust, about UAD interfaces, he has an Apollo, and loves the sound, also, a lot of people who’s music I like use them too, not that that has much to do with anything, but it’s interesting.
So I’m thinking about getting an Apollo too, just wondering about peoples experiences, regarding sound quality, let’s leave out the plug-in's for now, did you notice a substantial difference in sound quality, if you moved from using something else?
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