Universal Audio provide an impressive range of hardware solutions for the demands of today’s digital audio recording studio. These include a number of powerful DSP audio interfaces, DSP accelerator cards and an ever growing collection of UAD DSP powered plug-ins capable of harnessing every drop of DSP in UA’s popular hardware platforms. Quite a few of the UAD plug-ins are exclusive to their platform but did you know a number of them have since been re-released as native plug-ins for use outside of UA’s ecosystem?
If you don’t own or use any Universal Audio hardware in your studio you could be missing out as their plug-ins are extremely good. Lucky for us, there are a great many plug-ins for UAD that are also available to buy in VST, AU and AAX native formats. Some plug-ins for UAD were introduced as multi platform plug-ins, being non-exclusive to Universal Audio but included support for the UAD platform. There were others which started life exclusively on UAD and have over time been relaunched as multi format plug-ins.
In this article we list several cool plug-ins that were once only available on the UAD platform but have since relaunched for use as VST, AU and AAX plug-ins. Some of the following plug-ins are also available as AAX DSP providing users with the choice to still use these in a DSP system outside of UAD being Pro Tools HDX.
Softube’s ChandlerLimited Curve Bender Mastering EQ
The Chandler Limited Curve Bender Master EQ emulation was introduced as a UAD only plug-in back in 2016 in Universal Audio’s release of UAD v8.6. It was developed by Softube and endorsed by the founder of Chandler Limited Wade Goeke. Softube created as an exact digital recreation of this ultra-boutique inductor-based EQ and it is based on the vintage EMI TG12345 desk from Abbey Road Studios which is the same one used to record Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Beatles' Abbey Road.
Chandler Limited’s Curve Bender Mastering EQ takes the warm, legendary sonics of the vintage EMI unit and expands it into a powerful EQ plug-in which is extremely capable for mastering applications.
Softube’s Eden WT800 Bass Amplifier
The Eden WT800 Bass Amplifier was first introduced as a UAD only plug-in back in 2017 and was also developed by the masters of tone Softube. This is a feature rich amp sim that includes compression 5 band EQ, easy bi-amping and a special Enhance dial that be used to quickly scoop the mid frequencies. Two cabs are on offer being a 4x10 and 1x15 but if you wish you can use both together and blending the tones to taste. You can also split the two cabs with the bi-amp mode sending highs to the 4x10 and lows to the 1x15. Of course, no bass amp sim would be complete without microphone models, of which this provides 4 for quick and easy access to getting the perfect bass tone.
Watch our free video tutorial below that shows you how to use the Eden WT800 plug-in to dial in quick and easy bass tones that can give your mixes a good solid foundation.
Brainworx Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor
The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor was launched as a UAD plug-in back in 2012 and went on to be an overnight success in the UAD lineup. It recreates the performance and sound of the original hardware device in exacting detail. Brainworx didn’t just set out to recreate the hardware, they also included a Parallel Mix control, Sidechain Filter and an External Sidechain option. Apart from the beautiful ways that this compressor can finalise a mix, the plug-in only Sidechain filter is a nice addition as it can be dialled in to prevent frequencies below a certain point from triggering compression which helps to reduce pumping effects.
Eventide’s H910 Harmonizer
The H910 Harmonizer plug-in first debuted on the UAD platform back in 2015 and was a year later available natively from Eventide. For those who don’t know this plug-in recreates a very special piece of mixing history as the original hardware unit was the world’s first digital effects processor. It combined pitch shifting, modulation and delay and was used heavily by artists such as David Bowie, AC/DC and Frank Zappa. The pitch modulation in this has the power to produce distinct sounding intervals as well as aid stereo width and fatten the sound of drum hits. It’s a very cool old-school effects unit that produces very vibey, old-school sounds.
Other UAD Plug-ins Released As Native Plug-ins
There have been many plug-ins released for both UAD and other native plug-in formats including VST, AU and AAX. These typically launched around the same time and include popular plug-ins from the following developers. Below are a number of plug-ins we can recommend from the UAD plug-in catalogue that can be purchased in any plug-in format.
Antares - Auto-Tune Real-Time Advanced
Despite the name, this version of Auto-Tune in terms of features isn’t different from Antares Auto-Tune Artist. The only difference between the two is that Auto-Tune Real-Time is the only Antares plug-in capable of working in a DSP environment, being the UAD platform. Both UAD Auto-Tune and Antares Auto-Tune Artist cost the same price of $299.
Earlier we highlighted one brainworx plug-in but there are plenty more that they’ve produced for both UAD and native plug-in formats including AAX DSP for Pro Tools HDX systems which range EQs to guitar amp sims, dynamics to saturators, all-in-one mastering consoles and more. Visit Plugin Alliance to see their full catalog.
Maag - EQ4
This is a favourite amongst the Production Expert Team as its sweetening abilities sound perfect at just about any track you throw at it. Available to buy for £229 from Plugin Alliance natively and for AAX DSP and for UAD from Universal Audio.
Sonnox - Dynamic EQ, Envolution, EQ, Limiter v2, Inflator
There are currently a number of plug-ins from the Sonnox catalogue available for UAD. These plug-ins are exactly the same as their native counterparts that are available to buy direct from the Sonnox website, though some of the prices are considerably lower for Native versions in the Sonnox web store compared to UAD. Sonnox also provide AAX DSP support for most of their plug-ins, including the ones in the UAD lineup.
SPL - Transient Designer
This a simple yet powerful little transient shaper that works rather well on drum tracks. Small amounts can really help to bring focus and attention to percussive sounding tracks that feel a bit lost in busy mixes. This version of SPL’s Transient Designer is only available as a UAD plug-in as it was recently updated to SPL Transient Designer Pro which brings a handful of new controls. The pro version is both native and AAX DSP and available from Plugin Alliance for $199.
Softube - Tonelux Tilt EQ, Tube-Tech CL 1B MKII
As we’ve shown already in this article Softube have developed a number of plug-ins for UAD but not all of them were exclusive to the platform before being released as native plug-ins. A number of the guitar amp plug-in including the Marshall Bluesbreaker was produced for UAD by Softube, of which these are still only available as UAD however a number of EQ and Dynamics plug-ins including the Tube-Tech emulations are available natively from Softube and Universal Audio.
Townsend Labs Sphere
The Townsend labs plug-in which is only compatible with Townsend’s L22 Sphere microphone was initially released on UAD2 at the same time as VST, AU and AAX native. The UAD version of this was once the only DSP version up until very recently when Townsend Labs released an AAX DSP version for Pro Tools HDX systems which now gives Townsend Labs users the choice of either DSP platform for recording at near zero latency with their Sphere mic. Read more about Townsend Lab’s AAX DSP support Townsend Labs Sphere L22 Now Supports For AAX DSP - Great News For Pro Tools HDX Users
Which UAD Plug-in Would You Like To See Available As A Native Plug-in Next?
While it’s highly unlikely that we will ever see a UAD developed plug-in released as a native plug-in, we can at least speculate what the next plug-in will be that was produced by another developer for UAD.
Which UAD plug-in would you like to see get the native treatment next? Let us know in the comments below