<![CDATA[Blog - Universal Audio]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/ Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:16:24 +0000 Zend_Feed http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss <![CDATA[5-Minute UAD Tips: Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/5-minute-uad-fairchild-limiter-collection/ The Fairchild Tube Limiter Collection for UAD-2 and Apollo interfaces imparts the same silky warmth heard on hundreds of hit records, from the Beatles and Pink Floyd, to Miles Davis and countless Motown classics. Get the most out of the Fairchild Tube Limiter Plug-In Collection with this 5-Minute UAD Tips video and learn how to add classic Fairchild character and dimension to your mix.

Learn how to:

  • •   Use the Fairchild 670 to lightly compress or absolutely crush tracks
  • •   Get fat, musical distortion with the Fairchild 660
  • •   Dial-in compression to enhance rhythmic elements
  • •   Put the finishing touches on full mixes
Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:37:29 +0000
<![CDATA[Setting Up Apollo Interfaces w/ Pro Tools]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/pro-tools-apollo-setup/ In this short video, UA's Gannon Kashiwa demonstrates the basic setup procedure for using Apollo within Pro Tools. Topics covered include: Loading The Driver, Setting The I/O Buffer, Using The Console Recall Plug-In, and more.

Check out the Apollo Support section of the Blog for more videos.

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:25:28 +0000
<![CDATA[Setting Up Apollo Interfaces w/ Logic Pro]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/logic-pro-apollo-setup/ In this short video, UA's Gannon Kashiwa demonstrates the basic setup procedure for Apollo Interfaces within Logic Pro. Topics covered include: Loading The Driver, Setting The I/O Buffer, Using The Console Recall Plug-In, and more.

Check out the Apollo Support section of the Blog for more videos.

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:24:20 +0000
<![CDATA[Setting Up Apollo Interfaces w/ Cubase]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/cubase-apollo-setup/ In this short video, UA's Gannon Kashiwa demonstrates the basic setup procedure for Apollo Interfaces within Cubase. Topics covered include: Loading The Driver, Setting The I/O Buffer, Using The Console Recall Plug-In, and more.

Check out the Apollo Support section of the Blog for more videos.

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:23:40 +0000
<![CDATA[Setting Up Apollo Interfaces w/ Ableton Live]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/ableton-live-apollo-setup/ In this short video, UA's Gannon Kashiwa demonstrates the basic setup procedure for using Apollo within Ableton Live. Topics covered include: Loading The Driver, Setting The I/O Buffer, Using The Console Recall Plug-In, and more.


Check out the Apollo Support section of the Blog for more videos.

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:22:56 +0000
<![CDATA[5-Minute UAD Tips: API Vision Channel Strip]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/5-minute-uad-tips-api-vcs/ API Vision Channel Strip for UAD-2 devices and Apollo Interfaces 
with this 5-Minute UAD Tips video and learn how to add classic API punch, character, and dimension to sampled drums.]]>
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:45:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Joel Hamilton on Mixing Pretty Lights’ "A Color Map of the Sun" with UAD Plug-Ins]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/artist-interview-joel-hamilton/


By any measure, 2013 was a banner year for Derek Vincent Smith, better known by his stage moniker as Pretty Lights. A Color Map of the Sun, Pretty Lights’ fourth release, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Dance/Electronica Album category and grabbed listeners’ attention with its ambitious textural grooves and soundscapes.

What listeners might not have known is that, the album is the result of a monumentally laborious, ambitious, borderline obsessive-compulsive process. A self-professed “sample collage” artist whose previous efforts relied on chopping up and layering samples into his own form of glitchy, electro, hip-hop, vintage funk, and soul-infused music, Smith decided it was time to shake up his creative process.

To that end, he set out to create his own source material, which meant a two-year journey of tracking his very own breakbeat sources, using real musicians and real instruments — and real analog tape — before being cut to vinyl.

To achieve his sonic ideal, as well as assemble and mix the ensuing album, Smith tapped long-time engineering pal and owner of Brooklyn’s legendary Studio G, Joel Hamilton. Smith and Hamilton’s workflow consisted of tracking on Hamilton’s Neve 5316 board, and then ping-ponging digital files in a collaborative assembly process. Finally, Hamilton sat down to mix, using hefty amounts of UAD Powered Plug-Ins on his way out of the DAW and into his SSL 8048 G+ console. Here, Hamilton details how he and Smith crafted A Color Map of the Sun with the help of UAD.

A Color Map of the Sun was quite an undertaking. Can you explain the workflow?
At the beginning, while recording the “vinyl sessions” for the sampling source material, it was all about tracking with analog. Then there were digital stems generated by Derek in Ableton Live that he’d send back to me to mix.

I used Pro Tools like a really smart tape machine that I can sort of apply a curve influence on, or compression to with plug-ins, and then it comes out of a physical channel on the SSL console.

Explain the process of getting those initial sessions recorded. Were you mainly concerned with getting a vintage sound, leaving the artistic direction up to Derek later?
Sort of, except that there was so much that I was involved with musically in the front-end as well. We did all the initial stuff tracked and mixed to analog quarter-inch 2-track, for that true old-school vibe.

I was more like one of the musicians, in the sense that it was “improv tracking,” where the drums start doing something and then I’m playing this old Neve just like another instrument, tweaking everything on the fly to capture what’s being played and flatter them on the way to tape.

Really, I was playing the entire control room with Derek. I’d put him on a filter where I didn’t have enough hands to get on it, and say, “okay man, this is what this does, this is what that does." Remember, this was live to 2-track — no timecode, no automation, no mistakes.

This project was way beyond just engineering then.
Oh yeah. Working this way made engineering a part of the musical experience, rather than just watching levels. You have to be able to transcend that whether you’re in-the-box, or not, but in this case it was definitely transcending the EQ points and just diving in for what I needed and making it happen. It’s much the same way that you don’t count the number of frets in the middle of doing a guitar solo, you just have to know where it is on the fretboard and you start speaking through your instrument. And in that case, I got to “speak” through a console and bunch of outboard gear.

“When Joel told me about UAD plug-ins, I was beyond blown away by his opinion. He insisted that they were actually true emulations of the [analog] gear he is so familiar with. I couldn't believe my ears. I immediately went and bought every UAD plug-in and a Thunderbolt chassis for three OCTO cards. I don't use any other plug-ins now.”

Derek Vincent Smith/Pretty Lights

You’re known for your work with more rock-oriented acts such as Sparkelhorse, Plastic Ono Band, and Blakroc. How did those projects prepare you for working with the funk, soul, hip-hop feel of Pretty Lights?
I was always the one armed with the Syl Johnson tape for the late-night drive, and not Metallica, you know what I’m saying?

I grew up being super aware of New Orleans music. My father was a huge fan. He would do entire vinyl buys back in the day at the Salvation Army down in the Ninth Ward. He would buy the entire crate and then come back and sort through them with me. We would wind up just listening to, a Meters 45-rpm that’s a drilled (promo) copy of “Hey Pocky A-Way” with an instrumental on the B-side that was released just to radio stations in New Orleans. So I got a sense of the textures that were coming out of the R&B and funk scene and I was like, “Man these guys are more daring than anybody.”

Do you think modern R&B/funk/hip-hop still has that cutting edge?
I do! I think that hip-hop production today is more daring than anything else going on. Meanwhile, rock is quantizing and triggering with everyone sounding like everyone else. I mean, there’s like 27 rock bands that sound exactly alike out there! Yet, every hip-hop song sounds different, never mind every hip-hop record. There’s just amazing variation in R&B and there’s very little in modern rock, so it’s amazing the rock that everybody thinks I hold dear, I actually have a lot of contempt for! (laughs)

How did you get introduced to UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins?
My very good friend Michael Brauer was always texting me about the stuff and that I should check it out. So, yeah — I’m going to listen when Brauer tells me that UAD is great!

"The very fabric of the way this album
comes out of the speakers is
directly attributable to UAD-2."

Had you used other plug-ins?
You know, I’d tried plug-ins from other companies for years and years and years, and was never satisfied. I just learned to feel that it was this kind of necessary evil of the whole modern engineering process. I always found myself removing plug-ins, or just using them as a placeholder during basic tracking and then using my actual hardware equivalent when it came time to really mix the thing.

Why do you think that was?
Aside from a very small few, I always felt that software plug-ins just crapped out when you pushed them past where they wanted to be.
UAD has given me the freedom to explore without fear of hitting walls or going out of bounds! With other plug-ins, they distorted the same way and they failed the same way, because it was always a set of parameters that the designer decided for me — the punk-rock kid in me hated that. You had to always play within the lines.

Then, all of a sudden, Universal Audio comes along and makes a really intelligent set of decisions. You guys are using the platform for all it’s good for, which is to capture the spirit, not only the sound, of a particular piece of gear, and often times give it even more flexibility.

So it’s never a question of analog versus digital for you?
To be honest, I don’t give a crap about comparing the sonic fingerprint of a plug-in it to the original hardware — all I need to know is that it’s a useful tool in my arsenal. It’s funny. What drives me crazy is when people argue over analog and digital as though they have a theological attachment to one over the other. I mean, we are all pursuing results here — we’re going for a sound, right? That’s all that matters

From where the computer sits in my studio that houses my UAD-2 QUAD card, the physical input on my real-life EMT 140 is about four arm lengths away, yet I use the UAD-2 version nine times out of ten.

It’s noiseless when I want it to be, it stays with the session, and quite often, we’ll have the plug-in up during tracking and play into the sound. It’s not like it’s laid on later.

So you’ll print UAD-2 plug-ins?
Oh yeah — even while a person’s singing. Often, a singer will make timbre decisions based on what they are hearing. So to pull that rug out from under them, so to speak, at the mixing stage, doesn’t always work.

So UAD-2 enhances your creativity?
Yes. It increases my sonic palette massively.

For example, working on the Pretty Lights record, all of Derek’s files came back to me at 88.2kHz — and I decided not to reduce that sample rate. So there were a gazillion channels at 88.2kHz — most of them stereo. But with UAD, I’m able to throw a stereo Neve 1073 across a bunch of these tracks. That just wasn’t available before. I would need three entire Neve 80-series consoles!

"Play to the strengths of each piece of gear —
in the box and out!"

What UAD-2 hardware do you own now?
I have a UAD-2 Satellite as well as the PCIe QUAD card. I also have an Apollo 16 and an original Apollo, so I’m all-in.  

I just did a live recording and 5.1 mix for Puss N Boots, a group with Sasha Dobson, Norah Jones, and Catherine Popper and I used the Apollo 16 for that. It has plenty of inputs so that I could track everything live and be able to have a plug-in active on the way in. I didn’t have to carry four LA-2As with me!

What are your go-to UAD-2 plug-ins?
The Neve® 1073 / 1073SE Classic Console EQ Plug-Ins is a big one. If I’m stemming out a bunch of things, like, ten guitar overdubs and they’re coming out a pair or quad of channels on the SSL, I’ll have an aux in Pro Tools that most likely has the Teletronix LA-3A and a Neve 1073 on it, just to get the right “tilt” to the sound so that the SSL’s input stage doesn’t even have to deal with it.

I also use the new Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection a lot and the Bob Katz Precision K-Stereo Ambience Recovery. That thing just rules. I can’t help but picture Bob in a Hawaiian T-shirt somewhere, just laboring over whatever algorithms went into that plug-in but man, it really works.

The bass on A Color Map of the Sun is huge. How did you get that massive power, yet keep it under control?
Anybody who mixes records knows that it’s a delicate balance of actual amounts of voltage coming out of the DAW and the illusion of massive amounts of voltage coming out. Managing gain-staging and overall frequencies with EQ and compression in the box, on the way out to the console, is how you do it. On A Color Map of the Sun that was 100 % the job of UAD-2 plug-ins.

You know, a friend of mine who mixed a lot of really great records once said, “mixing is really easy if you forsake the low-end.” I refuse to forsake the low-end. In this case, the whole spirit of the Pretty Lights' sound is the “drop,” just like all of the drum-n-bass stuff that I loved in the ’90s from Optical and Dillinja and guys like that. Those guys knew all about saving headroom for the drop.

A lot of people view the midrange as the defining aspect of a mix.
Yeah, people always say, “It’s all about the mids,” but I feel that is misleading. Sure, the mids define the character of the mix, and you tend to judge everything from the snare/vocal relationship, but with something like Pretty Lights, there’s actually quite a bit of midrange in the bass. And again, the warmth just comes from selective EQ and manipulation in the box, and then gain staging outside of it and really starting to feel it push into the parallel buses and feeling it push into the compressors. That’s crucial. Then everything starts moving together.

Photos: Juan Patino

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 20:56:00 +0000
<![CDATA[Tips & Tricks - The UA 610 Tube Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection ]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/610-collection-tips-and-tricks/

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:

Acoustic Guitar - Dry

And here is the same part tracked with the 610-B’s impedance set to 500 Ω:

Acoustic Guitar - 610B 500Ω

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:

Acoustic Guitar - 610B EQ

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.

The 610-B with some slight EQ adjustments.


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:

Lead Vocal - Dry

And here’s a pass using the 610-B with the 500 Ω impedance setting:

Lead Vocal - 610B 500Ω

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:

Lead Vocal 610-B Driven

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.

The 610-B’s settings for
adding some grit to a vocal.


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:

Bass DI - Dry

And here’s the bass running through the 610-A:

Bass DI - 610A

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.

Settings to fatten up a bass track.


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:

Background Vocals - Dry

And here’s the part through the 610-B plug-in:

Background Vocals - 610-B 500

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.

The 500 Ω setting gives the
backgrounds a touch more “lift.”


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:

OH - Dry

And here it is with the 610-A on the channel insert:

OH with 610-A

You can hear how the 610-A brings out the ‘”roominess” of the mic, without going into full on compression or distortion.

Settings for the drum
overhead track.


Pushing the Piano

Here’s an example with the 610-A on the channel insert of an upright piano track.

First, the piano dry:

Upright Piano - Dry

And here’s the track after processing it through the 610-A:

Upright Piano 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.

Running the 610-A on
a piano’s channel insert.


Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:23:21 +0000
<![CDATA[Using Unison Technology with Apollo Interfaces]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/using-unison/

With the release of UAD Software v7.5, Universal Audio’s Unison™ technology has been unleashed to Apollo Twin, Apollo DUO, and Apollo QUAD users the world over. Three years in the making, Unison is an audio processing breakthrough that starts right at the source — the input stage — allowing Apollo’s mic preamps to sound and behave like the world’s most sought-after tube and solid state preamps — capturing their all-important impedance, gain stage “sweet spots,” and component-level circuit behaviors.

But what’s going on under the hood? The simple version is this — Unison turns your Apollo’s onboard mic preamps into a spot-on emulation of whichever Unison-enabled preamp plug-in you place in Apollo Console’s PREAMP insert slot.

For example, if you insert the new 610-A from the just-released UA 610 Tube Preamp & EQ Collection, your Apollo’s front-panel controls are, in essence, transformed into the classic 610-A’s control set, complete with its unique gain stage behaviors.
The same goes for the API Vision Channel Strip plug-in and its 212L preamp module.

What’s actually going on with Unison is a bit more involved. As background, Apollo’s digitally controlled mic preamps are designed for high resolution, ultra-transparent translation from microphone to converter. This clean preamp design is the foundation for adding software color with Unison-enabled UAD plug-in processing.

Specifically, Unison-enabled UAD preamp plug-ins reconfigure the physical input impedance, gain staging response, and other parameters of Apollo’s mic preamp hardware to match the emulated preamp’s design characteristics.

Because the hardware and software are integrated, Unison provides continuous, realtime, bi-directional control and interplay between Apollo’s physical mic preamp controls and the software settings in the Unison-enabled UAD plug-in interface.

Here is a video of UA’s Gannon Kashiwa showing Unison in action.
Thu, 27 Feb 2014 21:21:02 +0000
<![CDATA[Producing Baby Queens' "Red Light" as Heard in the Apollo Twin Commercial]]> http://www.uaudio.com/blog/producers-corner-cian-ciaran/
“I look at a mix like a rainbow,” says Cian Ciarán.
“When everything clicks into place and finds a home,
you have this complete, colorful creation.” 

Songwriter, keyboardist, vocalist, and producer Cian Ciarán is one fifth and founding member of the legendary alternative rock/pop band Super Furry Animals. For 20 groundbreaking years, Super Furry Animals have been credited with re-establishing not just Welsh, but British music’s credibility.

As well as writing and recording under his own name, Ciarán has produced electronic music-orientated projects under the name Acid Casuals and remixed, guest recorded, and produced with artists including Paul McCartney, Mogwai, Manic Street Preachers, and Kaiser Chiefs. 

Strangetown Records was set up as an outlet for members of Super Furry Animals’ own music. But lately, I have mixed and produced more and more bands, and Baby Queens are one of the latest to come through my door. At Strangetown Records, we have limited resources, so I mix everything in the box — a near impossible task in my opinion without UAD on board! 

“Red Light” is one of the sparsest tracks I've worked on — which has its pros and cons — nothing to hide behind but a lot of space to occupy.

Here is the final mix of the track:

Red - Light


Transcendent Reverbs and Echoes

Often times reverb and echo are used in a subtle way to sit an instrument in a mix. However, a track like “Red Light” allowed me to use reverb and echo in a way where you can hear very clearly how they are used — almost as instruments in their own right.

I've owned many a hardware version of the Roland Space Echo, all of which are gone. So when UA released the Roland RE-201 Space Echo plug-in, I instantly fell in love again! It is integral to this track and it wouldn’t have nearly the same vibe without it. I also coupled the Space Echo with the EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator plug-in.

Here is the drum groove dry:

Drums no fx

And here is the drum groove with the Space Echo and EMT 140:

Drums w fx

Together, both plug-ins perform a dance, answering one another, which makes the drums drift effortlessly through the track, taking you on a dream-like journey.


Vintage Guitar

The guitar was recorded direct and UAD came to the rescue with the help of the Softube Vintage Amp Room plug-in. I love this plug in for the visual presentation alone! I opted for the “Fender”-like amp model.

Here is the DI guitar track dry:

Gibson no amp

And here is the guitar with the Softube Vintage Amp Room:

Gibson W amp

I got the clean, vibey tone I was looking for, and some cool tremolo to add a nice rippling texture as well.


Shaping the Lead Vocal

With so much room to play with in the overall mix, the vocal could have been manipulated in various ways. Instead, I opted for a dryer sound, which I believe gives the vocal and the track a more intimate feel.

I used the Studer A800 Multi-Channel Tape Recorder plug-in as the first insert on the vocal chain as an EQ. It's such a versatile plug-in. I can use it to effect in different ways —overdrive signals, compression and saturation, or as an EQ for low-end warmth or high-frequency sparkle.

I also used an 1176LN leveler from the 1176 Classic Limiter Plug-In Collection, a Neve 1081 Classic Console EQ plug-in, and Precision Multiband and De-esser plug-ins.

Here is the vocal dry:

Vocal Dry

And here it is with UAD plug-ins:

Vocal W Amp

You can hear how the Studer plug-in really opens up the sound and gives it room to breathe.

Check out Baby Queens' "Red Light" on iTunes.
See the Apollo Twin commercial featuring "Red Light" here.

Studio shot - Emyr Young

Portrait - Warren Orchard.


Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:00:00 +0000