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UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

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UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby I'd Rather Play » Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:10 pm

Just saw the price of a UAD 2 satellite quad at 800 quid, which seems a great deal to me. I had always thought of them as being much more expensive than this.

As of now is this a good deal or would I be buying into a technology in its twilight days (SHARK processors vs 12 core Xeon, Firewire vs Thunderbolt 2 etc)?
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:28 pm

Well here's the thing...Regardless of whether it's old technology or not (and yes the idea that instances are rationed seems slightly outdated now that you seem to be able run millions of plug ins) this is the only way to run their software. And that's unlikely to change. So it's just a question of whether you want access to that software, and are willing to pay a premium in the form of the DSP to enable that functionality. I bought an omni card because I felt quite strongly that it was worth it. And while on the one hand it does feel like a dated buy, I'm very pleased that I did.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:26 pm

If you want UAD plug-ins -- and they are extremely good -- then you need a card, satellite, or interface. There is no indication that UAD will move away from this hardware dongle concept in the foreseeable future. And that's the way to view the hardware -- the DSP technology is antiquated and under-powered -- but it's retained basically to guard against piracy. Sad but true.

As for the cost, bear in mind that while the hardware comes with a default set of plug-ins, anything additional costs extra, and while the company is always offering various discount deals, it remains an expensive platform.

Whether it is a cost-effective solution is a personal decision, but I think it is significant that the majority of pros use it and rate it highly... and I do myself.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby johnny h » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:55 am

Its a matter of opinion of course, but DSP technology is increasingly redundant with the advances in processor performance in recent years.

As for the plugin quality, UAD have a high standard, but its not night and day above any native plugins. The SPL plugins are available in native, the Lexicon plugins are native and the recently released U-he Satin tape emulation is way ahead of anything UAD can offer, and at a fraction of the price.

So, tread carefully.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Trebor Flow » Mon Sep 30, 2013 8:43 am

If you want UAD plugins .... you have no choice .... and you're gonna want UAD plugins .... so you have no choice
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:25 am

They do have lots of offers too. I got a $50 voucher from them because I'd not bought anything from them in a couple of years, plus the $25 voucher for filling out their survey made my last purchase half the price it would have been normally.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Sep 30, 2013 10:10 am

Whatever you decide, do not forget the lesson of the TC Powercore.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:01 am

ConcertinaChap wrote:Whatever you decide, do not forget the lesson of the TC Powercore.

CC

Hmmm, the lesson being they had a poor business model compared to UAD?

It all been said (apart from the last post). UAD dsp is adequate, not impressive, but it's really a security dongle. If you want UAD plugs (and you you know you do), there is no other choice.

Couldn't work without mine.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby BJG145 » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:17 am

If the hardware is basically copy protection, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they release a native version.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:29 am

BJG145 wrote:If the hardware is basically copy protection, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they release a native version.

There's been endless discussion about this for years, but I doubt it'll happen.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:57 am

BJG145 wrote:If the hardware is basically copy protection, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they release a native version.

You mean in just the way TC didn't?

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Sep 30, 2013 12:10 pm

At the end of the day the main difference is that UAD are widely considered to be top of the game. There are few mainstream mixers without one of their devices. The demise of the powercore came at a time when the market felt that it didn't have enough to offer. It's as simple as that. Now, if somebody else began to outclass UAD in the native realm then they'd be looking at the same problem. But as things stand they seem to have a pretty good handle on what they're doing.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby johnny h » Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:10 pm

One of the problems with UAD is that its very backward looking. Most of their plugins are just emulations of very old gear. Good gear, no doubt, but I think it shows a real lack of ambition. I mean does the Fairchild sound good, really? I had it for ages and it was just really average and crap, but because the hardware version apparently cost a squillion quid its somehow accepted as being a useful product.

At one time investment was made in new ideas, not just the recreation of old hardware boxes.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Jack Ruston » Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:16 pm

I agree entirely with that...not all the models are good, and the concept of modelling is by it's nature, backwards looking. Agree. And I have various plug ins which I use which fully take advantage of their digital design to do things that analogue could never do. But it's hard to escape the fact that certain units have a sound to them that's very desirable. It speaks to the listener. And that's still valuable. In some of their plug ins, particularly some of the compressors, UAD have really captured this pretty well, in a way that others have missed, and that makes it all worthwhile.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:37 pm

johnny h wrote:One of the problems with UAD is that its very backward looking.

I don't see that as a problem at all; it's just the marketing approach they have decided to follow -- and it's clearly working very well for them.

I think the UAD market has two basic components: There's the inexperienced wannabe bedroom producer who likes the idea of having 'classic' processing devices and probably loves the retro on-screen graphics more than the sonic abilities.

And then there's the experienced pro who wants the familiarity and effectiveness of those plug-in tools in a DAW environment. The majority of the UAD plugs are very faithful to the character of the original hardware devices -- at least to my ears. So it gets the job done.

I agree with you about the Fairchild, though. Not something that I got to use during my beeb career, but when I did get my hands on one subsequently I was rather underwhelmed and preferred more familiar and vastly less costly and rarefied products. I don't use that UAD plug now, either.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:43 pm

One reason I like the UAD 'retro' graphics, is the lack of a read out received by tweaking a (virtual) Bakelite knob! In other words I use my ears to set stuff up.

Also I'm not the sort of person who likes to spend endless hours surfing the web, demoing new plug ins. I rely on UADs reputation (rightly or wrongly) to deliver the goods. In fact they are the only plug ins I use apart from Logic's Spacedesigner and Melodyne.

Oh and I do like the Fairchild and often use it on the master buss for light adhesive duties, especially good on acoustic music, but then, you do need to learn how it works

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby johnny h » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:29 pm

Bob Bickerton wrote:One reason I like the UAD 'retro' graphics, is the lack of a read out received by tweaking a (virtual) Bakelite knob! In other words I use my ears to set stuff up.

Also I'm not the sort of person who likes to spend endless hours surfing the web, demoing new plug ins. I rely on UADs reputation (rightly or wrongly) to deliver the goods. In fact they are the only plug ins I use apart from Logic's Spacedesigner and Melodyne.

Oh and I do like the Fairchild and often use it on the master buss for light adhesive duties, especially good on acoustic music, but then, you do need to learn how it works
Yep, I've found the secret to making it sound ok. Its called 'bypass'.

In all seriousness though, the above demonstrates the quite clear fanboy appeal of the UAD. Personally I don't wholly trust them for many reasons which I've explained before. If they work for people, great, and I know very good producers who love them. For someone who hasn't yet invested in their antiquated DSP technology I'd say trust your ears and ignore the hype.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:18 am

johnny h wrote:
Bob Bickerton wrote:One reason I like the UAD 'retro' graphics, is the lack of a read out received by tweaking a (virtual) Bakelite knob! In other words I use my ears to set stuff up.

Also I'm not the sort of person who likes to spend endless hours surfing the web, demoing new plug ins. I rely on UADs reputation (rightly or wrongly) to deliver the goods. In fact they are the only plug ins I use apart from Logic's Spacedesigner and Melodyne.

Oh and I do like the Fairchild and often use it on the master buss for light adhesive duties, especially good on acoustic music, but then, you do need to learn how it works
Yep, I've found the secret to making it sound ok. Its called 'bypass'.

In all seriousness though, the above demonstrates the quite clear fanboy appeal of the UAD. Personally I don't wholly trust them for many reasons which I've explained before. If they work for people, great, and I know very good producers who love them. For someone who hasn't yet invested in their antiquated DSP technology I'd say trust your ears and ignore the hype.

Thanks for the fanboy compliment, it would appear I'm in good company!

I'm sure the many top producers who use UAD are, in fact, trusting their ears and are uninfluenced by the hype. They could after all, afford to use pretty much anything.

Unfortunately for UAD, it's impossible to audition their plug ins until you've bought into the system, so one has to rely on reputation (or hype as you say) to get started.

I'm not saying there aren't viable alternatives, but the UAD range works very well for me.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Jack Ruston » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:37 am

johnny h wrote:
I'd say trust your ears and ignore the hype.

...and that's great advice.

I actually actively avoided UAD for a long time. I'd already moved from TDM to HD Native, and the UAD stuff isn't officially supported on PT even though everyone uses it. My attitude was that plug ins were plug ins and I wasn't going to be tempted into yet another hardware tied system. But when I was one day forced to use it for something I couldn't escape the depressing reality that I was going to have to put my hand in my pocket. The reverbs alone are frankly jaw dropping and when you consider the cost of the equivalent alternatives it was really a no brainer for me.

I think KMR have a demo card if you want to try it.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby The_BPP » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:40 pm

BJG145 wrote:If the hardware is basically copy protection, I reckon it's only a matter of time before they release a native version.

If they released a native version, what would that mean for people who bought an expensive Quad card, for example? They wouldn't experience any better performance than those with Duo, or Solo.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:17 am

I have the Quad. I managed to max it out a few days ago. In spite of this in the end my mixes do sound better, and not just to my aged ears. As for it being expensive? Only in relation to how much money you have to spend. I could never afford the hardware equivalents. So to spend this amount of money to get better mixes is a no-brainer.
btw -
Most humourous Comment Of The Year Award should go to the chap who made the bypass comment. I'm still chuckling at how funny this is on so many levels. void(0)
cheers
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby CPU toast » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:50 am

For the 'non-professional' computer-based musician, I cannot recommend hardware-tethered platforms such as UAD. In fact, digital audio hardware is generally a dangerous proposition, because of the rapid obsolescence of digital-processing devices. My first computer was a Macintosh SE, priced, in 1988 dollars, obscenely high. The computer was basically a toy. Never again have i respected Steve Jobs or bought an Apple.
Digital hardware, like the UAD, might be good for the hardworking professional, because of its supposed 'quality,' but it is a twilight platform, to say the least. Plug-ins, in general, are an iffy investment. The vast majority of plug-ins are not crucial to one's happiness, and sometimes don't even sound all that great (especially for the price). Nothing obliterates a mix like a million instances of some BS plug in.
And modelling older equipment is kind of a joke; subtleties tend to get lost in the mixing process anyway (and loudness maximizing destroys everything anyway -LOL).
One needs practical tools that are convenient and native-based.
Avoid hardware bloat (including offerings by Line 6 and Axe FX).
A 'professional' might not think twice about buying a $2000 digital contraption that is obsolete in nine months, but us normal people cannot play with that nonsense.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Richie Royale » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:27 am

Another bonus of being a UAD customer, they have now offered me the SSL Buss compressor for $25, down from $299. They do treat their customers to discounts every month, but this is a particularly good offer!
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby The Red Bladder » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:40 am

All technology is twilight technology.

The question is, when does night fall?

AMD has announced DSP in its CPUs and both CPU manufacturers are working on DSP and GSP integration, so I would give these hybrid boxes about 24 months of life.

Plugs are now worthless, since Cockos started giving the excellent Reaper plugs away, no strings attached.

As for the idea that this or that plug-in reverb is jaw-dropping, I have never heard a good digital reverb yet, plug-in or hardware. And I own a Lexicon 960L. If you want a genuinely jaw-dropping reverb, build a plate or build, or go to a reverb-rich room.

If you want cheap and effective low-latency effects, buy some second-hand hardware.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Jack Ruston » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:05 am

Well...Ok. I like real plates too. And I like real springs. And I like great rooms. And I like some digital reverbs. And I personally find it jaw dropping how good the emulations of some of those things are in UAD vs pretty much everything else.

Build a plate? Where are most people going to put it?

Use good rooms? For mixing? Sometimes you want something digital.

Buy old hardware as a cost effective solution? It's not cost effective at all. It's mostly quite expensive, provides limited channels, doesn't integrate with an ITB mixer like a plug in does, and can be tricky or worse to repair when it goes wrong.

Clients want low cost, speed and recall.

I'm sorry mate but those solutions are impractical for most people, and not just because of cost.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Mixedup » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:41 am

Well said, Jack. I couldn't have put it better. I still keep my now-past-twilight TC Powercore cards for their reverbs, alongside the UAD offerings.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby johnny h » Wed Oct 02, 2013 9:47 am

ManFromGlass wrote:I have the Quad. I managed to max it out a few days ago. In spite of this in the end my mixes do sound better, and not just to my aged ears. As for it being expensive? Only in relation to how much money you have to spend. I could never afford the hardware equivalents.
Then how do you know if the emulations are in any way accurate? UAD marketing?
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Scramble » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:10 am

Most UAD users don't care if the emulations are accurate, only that they sound good. (Some do care, and are in a position to know, and most of them, although not all, are happy).

I've had the UAD platform for about ten years, and it's served me well in that time, and I think that's pretty good going given the cost. If I was starting off now, though, I don't know if I would go for UAD. The extra DSP used to really help, but now, not so much unless you can afford an Octo card or two, but then you're starting to talk a lot of money, and given that a lot of good plugin companies have started selling stuff really cheap in the last year you have to wonder whether it's worth it.

But don't be put off by the people who say 'Oh, I maxed out my Quad Core straight away'. That's because they're using the giant, resource-hungry plugins. There are tons of useful UAD plugins which take up very little space and you can run loads and loads of them on a UAD-2 card. I used to run lots even on the old UAD1 card.
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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Bob Bickerton » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:43 am

johnny h wrote:
ManFromGlass wrote:I have the Quad. I managed to max it out a few days ago. In spite of this in the end my mixes do sound better, and not just to my aged ears. As for it being expensive? Only in relation to how much money you have to spend. I could never afford the hardware equivalents.

Then how do you know if the emulations are in any way accurate? UAD marketing?


Actually a number of respected reviewers think the emulations are pretty close, but that's not the issue for me, it's whether they sound good and are easy to set up and they do and they are.

Given you're clearly very negative towards the UAD platform, perhaps you'd like to share your personal experience with it.

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Re: UAD- Good buy or 'twilight' technology?

Postby Mixedup » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:57 am

I've compared quite a few UA plug-ins with equivalents from other manufacturers, and with both the original hardware and various hardware clones. As far as software goes, UA consistently seems to be in the top two or three for authenticity (when using its more recent plug-ins... some are showing their age, but fared similarly well in their day).

It's not like the sun shines out of their posterior — I'd much rather they added functionality that didn't compromise the 'authentic' sound (eg wet/dry blend, side-chain filters on compressors etc etc), for example. I don't particularly like that they're tied to a hardware DSP platform, which was a reason I avoided PT for so long. My investment in UAD1s and expansion chassis leave me with redundant hardware... but I got my money's worth.

There are several instances where the hardware itself is inconsistent from one unit to another, which makes it incredibly difficult to make judgements on 'authenticity'. And I can't think of a single analogue-modelling EQ or dynamics plug-in from UA or anyone else where I'd rather use the plug-in than hardware if things like recall weren't an issue. But recall *is* an issue, which means that decent plug-ins are a must — and, love or hate the price (the price of their plug-ins has certainly climbed with the quality in recent years) and the DSP-only policy, UA do consistently sit at or near the top of the pile in terms of quality.
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