Tips & Tricks - The UA 610 Tube Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection
Bill Putnam Sr.’s 610 Modular Amplifier gives engineers a tube-driven EQ and mic preamp that doesn't just capture source material with accuracy — it adds something — presence without being brittle, abundant harmonic detail, and musical overtones that can enhance anything tracked through it. It’s no wonder that the 610 was used on some of the biggest records ever made. It just sounds right.
The UA 610 Tube Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection, gives you the classic 610-A and its modern variant, the 610-B, allowing you to track through it with an Apollo Twin, DUO, or QUAD, using UA’s groundbreaking Unison technology. Learn more about Unison technology here. UAD-2 and Apollo 16 owners can also make use of the 610 Collection, using it for mixing and adding color and saturation to any source, without ever going outside the box.
The 610-A is modeled on a channel from the storied Wally Heider "Green Board," used to record Neil Young, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix, and offers simple 10 kHz high-shelf and 100 Hz low-shelf EQ. The 610-B offers selectable input impedance, adjustable high- and low-shelf EQ, and expanded gain range.
With these tips, I’ve included Unison and non-Unison examples below of the 610 Collection in action. Let’s see what it can do for your tracks!
Add Presence to Acoustic Guitar
The 610-B’s selectable input impedance — 500 Ω and 2.0 k Ω — not only shows off Unison technology, it affords you more tonal options as it changes the interaction between the preamp and the mic for varying textures.
Here is the part with only the stock Apollo preamps:
And here is the same part tracked with the 610-B’s impedance set to 500 Ω:
You can hear the nice presence it adds, while the overall size got bigger, and the top end became rounder. It also helped the acoustic to cut through against a forceful sounding main electric guitar, without making itself the center of attention.
Just for fun, here’s a variation on the previous example, with some slight EQ tweaks:
In this case, I wanted to “stretch” the bass and treble a bit more with the EQ, so the acoustic would be a bit more apparent, letting it “stand taller” in relation to the other elements in the track.
Give Depth and Dimension to Lead Vocals
For a lead vocal, I asked a great singer named Angelica Rahe to come by and put down a few passes for me.
Here’s vocal dry, through the Apollo mic preamps:
And here’s a pass using the 610-B with the 500 Ω impedance setting:
I wanted just a little more presence, and I was able to get it by just changing the impedance setting. It helps to bring the voice forward and thus the listener’s attention along with it.
For comparison, here’s the lead Vocal driven a bit, so it is at the edge of distorting:
This is a cool approach if you want that kind of retro (or neo-retro) sound. Of course, if you’re afraid to commit to a gritty vocal on the way in, you can track it cleaner and scuff it up later with the 610- A or B on a channel insert.
Fattening up the Bass
Here’s a Bass DI pass that I did with the 610-A. For this example I’m using a P Bass with the tone dialed back quite a bit.
Here’s the dry bass track:
And here’s the bass running through the 610-A:
Notice how the bass takes on a compressed-like quality when run through the 610-A at this setting. I’ve added some EQ because it gave me a combination of weight on the bottom and little more clarity on top. Using the 610-A’s EQ also drives the last gain stage a little harder as well.
Smooth-out Background Vocals
As an additional vocal example, I asked Angelica Rahe to do a simple two-part harmony.
Here are the harmonies dry, through the Apollo preamps:
And here’s the part through the 610-B plug-in:
I wanted to take advantage of the tone of the 500 Ω setting for the impedance, which definitely skews the mic brighter and gave me a small level boost. I added some EQ for good measure as well. This treatment works well when tracking background vocals by keeping them a little more buoyant than the lead vocal.
Enhance Overheads with Tube Overdrive
Here I used the 610-A on an existing mono drum overhead track to bring out some character. I left the 610-A in Line mode, selected the input gain to Low, and raised the output gain to a point where the signal is almost compressing, and on the verge of distorting.
Here is the overhead track dry:
And here it is with the 610-A on the channel insert:
You can hear how the 610-A brings out the ‘”roominess” of the mic, without going into full on compression or distortion.
Pushing the Piano
Here’s an example with the 610-A on the channel insert of an upright piano track.
First, the piano dry:
And here’s the track after processing it through the 610-A:
I like how the 610-A reacts when setting the input gain to Low, and then driving the Level a bit harder. The tone gets big, round, and compressed. For me, it animated the piano a little bit more, even though the part is not that complicated.
— John Paterno