UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins Basics & FAQ
So, what exactly is the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins platform, anyway?
The UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins Platform is a range of very high-quality audio plug-ins, powered by dedicated hardware DSP accelerators (either PCIe format or Firewire 400/800 format). UAD-2 plug-ins can be used in any VST, AU, or RTAS compatible audio software on Mac and PC — including Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, Live, Digital Performer, GarageBand, Sonar and Bias to name a few.
I can already run VST / AU / RTAS plug-ins on my computer. Why should I buy a UAD-2?
For starters, UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins offer warm sonic qualities and character not found in other VST / AU / RTAS plug-ins. Our software engineering group includes some of the world’s leading DSP authorities — including PhD-level scientists from Stanford, MIT, and Cambridge — who undertake thorough physical modeling of classic audio hardware. This process means that we essentially “rebuild” classic analog gear in the digital world. It’s a much more difficult and time-consuming process than using signal modeling (like many other “emulation” plug-ins). But it means that UAD-2 plug-ins not only sound like the original vintage hardware; they behave like the original devices, at even the most extreme settings.
The quality and accuracy of UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins can also be attributed to the relationships UA has with our plug-in partners. We go right to the source of the hardware — whether it’s Roland, Neve, Manley, Studer, SSL, Lexicon, Empirical Labs, EMT, Trident, etc. — using original manufacturer’s schematics and “golden” units, working side-by-side with the original designers throughout the development process. This ensures that UAD-2 plug-in emulations are as close to their analog counterparts as possible. Of course, ultimately “hearing is believing,” and we are confident you’ll be more than pleased with the sound.
What does UAD-2 “DSP Accelerators” mean, exactly?
You may have experienced, on occasion, that your computer lacks sufficient power to run the number of plug-ins that you desire. With UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins, the actual plug-in processing is offloaded to UAD-2 hardware with Analog Devices SHARC processor(s); this frees up your computer to do other things, like mixing audio, running samplers, or soft synths. The end result is that you can run more professional mixes on your system, and can add substantial power to your studio.
Why don’t I just buy a more powerful computer?
Well, that depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you need to bolster the overall power and performance of your system, then a new computer is certainly a good solution. However, if you’re specifically looking to maximize your music productions, adding a UAD-2 DSP Accelerator will help in two major ways.
First, the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins Platform offers an integrated solution — the software and hardware are specifically tailored for one another to provide optimum performance and reliability for audio plug-ins. Secondly, because of their high-quality design, UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins are very demanding in terms of processing power. Some of our newest, most complex plug-ins, would drag a typical host computer to its knees after only a handful of instances. So, if more dedicated audio power and higher audio quality is your primary goal, you should definitely look into the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins platform.
Do UAD-2 DSP Accelerators and UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins work better on Mac or PC? And what DAW software works best?
UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins, and all of our PCIe / ExpressCard UAD-2 DSP Accelerators, are equally compatible with both Mac and PC. The UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins library will run well in all major VST/RTAS/AU-compatible audio software including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, Nuendo, Digital Performer, Live, and more, whether on Mac or PC.
Can I run multiple UAD-2 DSP Accelerator hardware devices (including Satellites and PCIe card models) simultaneously?
Absolutely. You can combine up to (4) UAD-2 DSP Accelerators within the same system, depending on your available PCIe and/or FireWire ports / bandwidth. Doing so will let you run even more UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins at the same time.
What UAD-2 hardware / software packages are available, and what do they include?
Yes. All UAD-2 Powered Plug-ins packages come with free 14-day demos of ALL currently available plug-ins, so that you can evaluate any of them in your own studio before purchasing. Also, every time you purchase a UAD-2 plug-in from our online store, we reset all of your 14-day demo periods on the un-purchased plug-ins.
Which type of UAD-2 hardware should I choose: PCIe or FireWire?
That really depends on your needs, and your system’s connections. If you’re running a desktop “tower” with available PCIe slots, and plan to use that as your primary system, then our PCIe-based UAD-2 DSP Accelerator cards are your best options.
If you’re working on a newer, Intel-based iMac or MacBook Pro, the UAD-2 Satellite DUOs and QUADs offer portable “plug-and-play” FireWire 800/400 solutions. Beyond iMacs and MacBook Pros, the UAD-2 Satellites are for anyone who has filled their existing PCIe card slots, and/or wants a portable UAD-2 solution.
Note that UAD-2 Satellites can be “linked” to existing UAD-2 systems, and you can combine up to four UAD cards/devices in a single system. So the UAD-2 Powered Plug-In Platform lets you mix and match a selection of dedicated UAD-2 DSP Accelerators to meet your needs.
How does the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins Platform compare with other DSP devices and plug-in libraries?
In our admittedly biased opinion, we believe there is no comparison. While there are many good plug-ins on the market, if you want the best sounding, and most accurate software emulations of professional analog recording hardware — to make your computer-based productions sound like classic, “real” studio recordings — the UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins platform stands alone.
How many UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins can I expect to run?
For a complete breakdown of UAD Powered Plug-Ins instance counts for each UAD-2 DSP Accelerator, check out the UAD Instance Chart.
I notice that the DSP chips look different on the UAD-2 OCTO. What is the difference between the silver chips on the SOLO/DUO/QUAD and the black chips on the OCTO?
The UAD-2 OCTO, along with UAD-2 Satellite and Apollo, use SHARC 21469 processor chips while PCIe-based UAD-2 SOLO/DUO/QUAD cards use the SHARC 21369. The newer 21469 chips are smaller and consume less power than the 21369, allowing 8 processors on a "short" PCIe card for the OCTO. There are no compatibility issues between the chips; you can freely mix and match all UAD-2 products. The algorithms and sound quality of UAD Powered Plug-Ins are exactly the same for all UAD-2 products.
— Universal Audio