Universal Audio
Buyers Guide

If you want sharp, sheen, polished recording results, you’re in the right place.

Universal Audio are all about pro grade quality, whether you’re using a simple desktop recording setup or an expansive rack system. Here’s our in-depth guide to the Universal Audio line-up.

Who are Universal Audio?

Universal Audio pride themselves on making highly advanced audio interfaces, DSP processing units and an extensive world-class plug-in (VST, AU & AAX) library emulating classic studio equipment. They are without doubt one of the most innovative recording gear companies in the industry.

Even in this bloated age of musical equipment, Universal Audio - who were first founded in 1958 and then relaunched in 1999 - have proven themselves as frontrunners. Credit is certainly due to their extraordinary heritage. Founder and modern recording console inventor Bill Putnam Sr. was the engineer of choice for Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ray Charles.

Nowadays, their impressive product range can be found at the heart of iconic contemporary releases from Kendrick Lamar, Coldplay, Brad Paisley, Post Malone and plenty more. That’s down to offering the best in D/A conversion, impeccable Unison preamps and an incredible plug-in selection.

Universal Audio Plug-ins

As well as making exceptional hardware like their Apollo and Arrow interfaces, Universal Audio have put together a glorious library of plug-ins for engineers, producers and musicians.

They’ve worked with big brands such as Marshall, AKG, Neve and Ampeg to create controllable, highly detailed sounds. Customise your instrument or vocal tracks using compressors, preamps, EQ, mic modelling, guitar amps, pedals, delay, reverb and more to get the exact tone you want.

With every hardware purchase, you get a selection of included of virtual amps and effects to go along with it; all the essentials you could possibly need to make songs of the highest production value in one package, and of course you can add more from the extensive library of over 150 plug-ins.

Better yet, UAD plug-ins work with all major DAWs. No matter whether you’re a fan of Ableton, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase or any other top alternative, they’ll fit seamlessly into your existing setup.

Universal Audio Range

Choosing Universal Audio interfaces is your first step in future-proofing your recording setup. Whether you need a rack mount centerpiece for a huge project studio or a compact interface to fit on your desktop, you’re getting the latest in elite class AD/DA conversion, near-zero latency performance and impressive processing power built to last.

The flagship Universal Audio range. Apollo X audio interfaces offer high-end analogue-to-digital conversion for the cleanest of recordings. Their Unison preamps are built to simulate a number of legendary mic preamps, pedals and guitar amps, so you’re never limited to just the one basic input sound.

The Apollo X is available in either rackmount or desktop devices with the ability to expand as you need. The latest Apollo X range consists of super-fast Thunderbolt 3 devices; the Twin X is the smallest of the lot, with two mic preamps and the option to run instruments in direct if you’re using modelling software alone. Slightly larger in size is the x4, which contains four mic inputs. Two headphone outputs allow for two sets of ears to listen in at the same time – great for collaboration.

Next up are the rackmount interfaces, either in x6, x8, x8p and x16 configurations. If you’ve got an expansive hole in your large studio, this is the best way to fill it. They’ll perform admirably in providing power to run loads of plug-ins thanks to HEXA Core processing. The switchable +24 and +20 dBu headroom will serve you well in matching older studio gear. Apollo X rackmounts also support up to 7.1 surround sound for the very best monitor playback.

Every Apollo X contains a talkback feature to integrate smooth communication into your recording process, as well as those crystal clear 24-bit/192 kHz AD/DA converters.

Universal Audio’s baby-sized interface. The Arrow is the best way to transition into professional recording quality without breaking the bank, offering specs not too distant from those of the Apollo.

Although you wouldn’t class the Arrow as truly “affordable”, it is unrivalled in sound quality in its class for the size and onboard features. And along with Unison preamps and UAD plug-ins, you’re getting far greater value for money in creative realms. Also, Arrow is the only Thunderbolt 3 bus-powered UA offering, so if being truly portable matters to you - this is the unit to choose for recording, editing and mixing on the plane or train!

Moving out of interfaces and into the world of load boxes and attenuators, the OX Amp Top Box serves an important role in any sophisticated set-up. Flexible in either practice, live or recording situations, the OX lets you safely plug your tube amp in to reproduce its cranked tones at lower volumes – a hurdle you’ll often encounter in both home and pro studios.

You can bask in the sonic glory of dynamic speaker and room modeling, controllable by app over Wifi for iPad, Mac OS or Windows 10. In the app you can alter virtual microphone placement and record your amp in UA’s own Studio 610, using one of the 22 provided cabinet models and blend 2 close mics. It’s also fully kitted out with UA’s world class EQ, compression, delay and reverb effects allowing for deep experimentation. Since v1.2 you also have footswitch control of post-FX for more flexibility live or in the studio.

Plug the OX into a mixing desk or an audio interface depending on your needs, either to practice, play or record – it’s that simple. The OX is both a creative addition to expand your potential sounds and a key utility tool.

UAD plug-ins are world-class, used by most pro’s and on 80% of all Grammy winning records in 2018. They either run on the DSP in your UA interface, or you can use UAD-2 DSP Accelerators available as FireWire, PCIe or Thunderbolt.

Their function is very simple – the on-board DSP powers all UAD plug-ins, freeing your native CPU to give you the quickest program runtimes and sharpest recording latency and response. UAD-2 DSP Accelerators provide either Quad or Octo Sharc DSP processors to boost your processing horsepower.

Like most UA products, the latest additions run on uber quick Thunderbolt 3 and have the ability to chain other Thunderbolt peripherals. With access to over 150 plug-ins including the Analog Classics bundle which features Pultec and Fairchild recreations, you’ll certainly love having access to a curated collection of desirable studio gear!

The 710 Twin-Finity is a departure for Universal Audio and offers something slightly different to the Unison preamps in their audio interfaces. These standalone analogue preamps (in both a single and a four-channel configuration) combine the best of classic tube warmth and solid state transients thanks to the dual-path 285-Volt class-A tube and transimpedance solid-state preamps.

If versatility is a big deal for your music, you’ll be happy with the amount of choices you get to make in setup. You’re able to dial in everything from a super clean signal to warm and fuzzy. With the blending option you get a balance of everything in between, too. What's more, you get classic 1176-style compression, as well as digital I/Os on the 4-710d to expand your setup, making it the perfect addition to an Apollo Twin or Rack for more inputs.

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