Unison is a feature of UAD plug ins which really sets them apart from their native counterparts. Near zero latency can be achieved in other ways, though the guaranteed performance of UAD plug ins is very seductive, especially at the price point of UAD solutions which, while at the premium end of the plug ins market are still much cheaper than accessing AAX DSP plug ins.
Tracking Through Unison
Unison plug ins offer added value at the tracking stage because they change the way the plug ins "feel" to use. When I read about the introduction of Unison I was full of admiration for the execution of the strategy as all owners of Apollo hardware already had Unison equipped preamps, the hardware had been quietly implemented for some time, a ready, fully equipped user base was already in place. I thought this was a marketing masterstroke.
With the announcement of the new Universal Apollo Twin comes a new technology called Unison, in the words of Universal Audio “More than three years in the making, Unison is an exclusive analog/digital integration system that gives the user continuous, realtime, bi-directional control and interplay between Apollo’s physical hardware and UAD software mic preamp models. With Unison, the Apollo mic preamp’s analog impedance, gain stage sweet spots, and component-level circuit behaviors are adjusted in real time prior to analog-to-digital conversion to accurately emulate the target mic preamp model.”
Mic Preamps And Instrument Inputs
My first experience of a Unison enabled plug in was the Raw Distortion pedal - The Unison features can be accessed through the mic preamps or the instrument input. The experience of using Unison enabled plug ins is hard to describe without sounding very subjective but guitar plug ins feel responsive and "alive" in a very noticeable way. I won't try to describe it further - if you have an Apollo you'll have experienced it, if you don't then find your nearest friend with an Apollo and try it for yourself.
If you weren't sure about the Unison™ technology from UAD and how it would impact guitar amp simulation plug-ins then check out this video from Universal Audio.
This video covers the Marshall 1962 Bluesbreaker plug-in, which is the first emulation of the iconic 2x12 combo used on the landmark 1966 album, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton.