August 30th, 2008 – Working with plug-ins for your music production software is tricky. On the one hand, the virtual element of your effects and gear allows you a lot of flexibility but at the same time, you have to limit yourself so that you don’t overtax your CPU. One of the hybrid solutions that has been around for a while is a processor add-on card built to take some of the strain off of your CPU.
Universal Audio makes some of the best hardware out there. I’m especially a fan of their 610 and 6176. The warmth of the analog sound makes a big difference when most of your stuff has that digital edge. One of the things that Universal Audio is known for is their UAD-1. The UAD-1 was a set of vintage analog plug-ins for your computer. They weren’t actually analog, but they emulated it. I used them back in school but I never really got a lot of time with them. What I heard of what they could do, though, impressed me. The interesting thing about the plug-in set is that it includes processor cards. The UAD-2 continues this tradition. Depending on how many tracks you want it to handle, you can pay for increasingly powerful add-on cards, even up to supporting 128 tracks of Neve console. Unfortunately, I don’t have a desktop to put these in but they present fantastic value for those who can’t afford tonnes of analog gear.