UA Universe - This Month at Universal Audio

Hi, welcome to “UA Universe”. This is a monthly roundup of Universal Audio News including comments from reviews, forums, emails, and calls we receive from both our loyal UA users and people new to UA. You will also still find our Employee Feature here so you can get to know the folks at UA a little better. If you don't have time to keep on top of the media overload, this column is the fast track to what's being said on the street.

Jim Wintermyre, UA’s UAD-1 Mac Guru

Jim as “Joe Rocker” on Halloween – Slash would be proud. Would you let this man take the “Kernel Panic” out of your daughter’s G5?
Q: What do you do at UA?
A: I'm the Mac software project leader. I'm responsible for making sure the UAD-1 rocks on the Mac.

Q: What's your background? What other audio companies have you worked for?
A: I've had a long interest in both music and the Mac. I've been playing music since I can remember. I got into electric guitar in high school, which got me interested in the whole electronics side of things. I had absolutely no interest in computers at that time. Then the Mac came out. The first time I used one it felt so natural. I felt like I was just able to be creative and not worry about how to actually use the thing. From that point, I was hooked on the Mac. I started using Master Tracks Pro, and MOTU's Performer (way before there was a *Digital* Performer). In college, I had an epiphany when I realized that despite how much I hated my Computer Science class, I could actually use that information to program the Mac. Suddenly my CS grades got a lot better.

“This is a product that would be a staple in my studio, even if I had no affiliation with UA. To be part of the team that creates that product is amazing.”

After college, I was in the Air Force for a while, paying back my debt to Uncle Sam (since he graciously paid for my education!). If I told you what I did there, I'd have to kill you. [laughter] Suffice it to say, it was not nearly as interesting to me as music and the Mac. I did have one very unique and rewarding opportunity though while I was in the Air Force, and that was when I was selected to be a part of the touring group "Tops In Blue". We toured around the world for about 9 months, performing what is kind of the Air Force's "family show". It was a very large production. I leaned quite a bit about audio for large-scale shows, and got quite an appreciation for everything that goes into producing a show for a big act.

After the Air Force, I was looking for a way to combine my main interests of music and Mac development. A college friend helped me land a job at E-mu Systems. I was there for a few years working on a very cool but ill-fated digital mixer. Then I worked at Liquid Audio for a while on the Mac version of their music player. We were basically trying to do what Apple is doing now with iTunes and the Apple music store. After a while I became disenchanted with working on consumer audio products (and more importantly, the commute!), so I came back to E-mu to work on more pro audio gear. As times got tough, I found myself "downsized", but E-mu's loss was UA's gain! It could not be a more perfect match for what I wanted to do.

Q: What instrument do you play, what musical activities are you into (writing, recording, performing) what kind of music are you into?
A: My main instrument is guitar, though I do play keyboards just enough to be dangerous. I dabble in many styles, including jazz, rock, fusion, classical, and fingerstyle acoustic. I try to keep my performance and recording chops up, which also helps me at work because I am constantly *using* the product. Lately though I haven't had as much time for these activities as I'd like, since pressures at work have been high (for things like, oh, OS X support!).

One gig that I have been doing for the last several years has been playing in the pit band for the Air Force talent contest, where the cast for the aforementioned Tops In Blue group is selected. This gig really keeps my chops in shape, and keeps me in touch with the performance side of the business. We learn something like 70 tunes in about a week! The styles include pop, country, gospel, rock, broadway show tunes, and everything in between. It really keeps me on my toes.

Q: What inspires you, what do you like about the Mac, engineering and life at UA? (sorry there's nothing to dislike... is there?! )
A: It inspires me to know all the people here at UA, and to see the passion that everyone, myself included, puts into their work. I feel that with the UAD-1, we are providing a truly incredible product that ultimately helps more people make better music. That's what it's all about. This is a product that would be a staple in my studio, even if I had no affiliation with UA. To be part of the team that creates that product is amazing.

Q: What else do you do in your free time (other than music and UA!)
A: I like to hurl myself down mountains with a snowboard or mountain bike attached to my feet. The climb up is also rewarding, especially if you're out in the middle of nowhere in some mountain range with no sign of humans as far as the eye can see. That helps to put the daily grind into perspective.


V3.3 Features:

  • AU, VST, MAS & DX plug ins
  • Core Audio
  • G5 PCI & PCI-X support
  • OSX, Panther, OS9, Win XP, 2K, ME
  • UA Fairchild 670 Compressor
    ( 14-day demo ) $149
  • Fixes for host-load issues found on some PCs
Work is progressing well for the OSX release previewed at the AES New York show last month. Version 3.3 for UAD1 featuring Core Audio, AU, Panther & G5 support for OSX has now moved from alpha to beta, with the UA beta group now aggressively testing all the major host applications. Also, after a long wait, UA’s brand new G5’s have finally entered the building to the joy of Rey and Jim, our Mac software engineers (so we’ll be expecting those compiles to be flying out even faster guys!). The PUBLIC beta will be made available this month (not long now people) to the UAD/Mac community at large and final release will follow in December.

We will of course be continuing to support VST for the non-AU hosts under OSX, and MAS support will remain for OS9 only since Digital Performer 4 now fully supports AU. The UA Fairchild 670 compressor will also be available in the OS9 build for those Mac Users that wish to continue to use OS9 until all components of their DAW are fully OSX compatible. The UA Fairchild 670 included in the v3.3 final release will run in fully-functional 14-day demo mode and will retail for $149.


Mike Barnes (UA 's Director of Marketing) presents Jay Newland (Grammy winning engineer for Norah Jones) with the first 2-1176
Joe Bryan, UA VP Of Engineering proudly displaying the 6176 TEC Award around the Marriot Marquis, NY
AES Round-Up
The 115th AES Convention in New York saw UA taking home the honors at the annual TEC Awards – which is really considered to be the ‘Grammy’s” for equipment manufacturers. At a splashy event at the Marriot Marquis, the 6176 was awarded the 2003 TEC Award in the Mic-Preamp category and founder, Bill Putnam went up to receive the award on behalf of all the UA staff. After much jubilation, celebration including closing down the Paramount Hotel Whiskey Bar, the following morning, UA was also presented with a surprise PAR Excellence Award for the 2192 Master Audio Interface.

Other notable events at AES, were the presentation of the first 2-1176 off the production line to Jay Newland, Grammy Winning Engineer For Norah Jones. UA also presented Elliot Mazer with the first 4 units of 2192 for his highly regarded surround work.

Jim Cogan & William Clark, authors of the essential book
“Temples Of Sound” dropped by to do a book signing and help us with the daily AES UA product drawing.

We had a long list of VIP visitors who found time to stop at the UA booth including Geoff Emerick (the Beatles) who dropped by to check out the new UA Fairchild 670, Jimmy Douglas (Destinys Child, Ludacris, Missy Elliot), and members of the band LIVE to name a few.

The UA AES Giveaway drew large crowds everyday when we did a FREE draw for UA Swag ( T-Shirts, Baseball caps & Fleece ) & most importantly UA Gear every day at 3.15pm. Prizes included UAD1 DSP Cards and the grand prize of a 2-1176 which went to Melanie from Studio 3I, all the way from Middlesex in the UK.

More AES Pictures


The UA Boss as Dilbert's "The Boss", Jupiter played Dogbert, but despite peer pressure Joe Bryan, VP of Engineering could not be made to wear the Dilbert outfit!
UA Halloween
Halloween is taken very seriously in Santa Cruz and although a work day at UA, the UA staff costumed-up and we all celebrated the announcement of end of month sales figures which turned out to be one of our best months in UA history.

UA President, Matt ward came as a frighteningly realistic “The Boss’ from the Dilbert cartoon – we checked the authorative definition of “The Boss” character and can neither confirm nor deny the truth of the following.

“He's every employee's worst nightmare. He wasn't born mean and unscrupulous, he worked hard at it. And succeeded. As for stupidity, well, some things are inborn.

His top priorities are the bottom line and looking good in front of his subordinates and superiors (not necessarily in that order). Of absolutely no concern to him is the professional or personal well-being of his employees. The Boss is technologically challenged but he stays current on all the latest business trends, even though he rarely understands them.”
Scott Adams, Dilbert Creator

More UA Halloween Pictures


This month we decided to take the unusual step of reprinting a customer letter in full (unedited) [But I couldn't resist bolding a couple choice quotes -ed] since ultimately, the best reviews of all are those that come from you, the users. We really appreciate those of you who write in and let us know how you feel, especially when everyone at UA works very hard and often long hours to make the most musical products we can, as fast as we can. We truly aim to satisfy all of you who part with hard cash for UA gear and hope to genuinely help realize your audio ambitions.

UA Team:
I'm sure you get your fair share of complaint mail, [What's he talking about?-ed] so I wanted to make sure you also get your deserved share of praise for your superior products and customer relations. In brief: I am an ecstatic UAD-1 user. About 6 months ago, I faced a choice between 3 options to boost the abilities of my old but stable DAW: 1) UAD-1, 2) TC Powercore, or 3) New computer and Waves Gold bundle. I had a well-configured, extremely stable Win2k PC running Cubase SX, Wavelab 4.0 and lots of plug-ins. Though the machine ran well and had plenty of memory and disk, it was short on CPU (850MHz Celeron), so I didn't have the horsepower I needed to mixdown audio tracks with high quality compressors and reverb plug-ins. After researching my options thoroughly for several weeks (on the UAD-1 forum, Cubase forum and elsewhere), I picked up the UAD-1 primarily based on all the positive comments about the compressors and Pultec EQ.
The $600 UAD-1 allowed me to become much more productive with my aging computer and to avoid having to rebuild my stable system. More importantly, over the last 6 months, the sound quality of my mixes has improved dramatically. I have gotten to the point where I am using UAD-1 plug-ins for 80% of all inserts and bus effects. I'm already trying to figure out how to free up an IRQ for a 2nd card! At $600, this card is a really amazing deal -- I can't imagine any other way of spending that sum and getting as much benefit as the UAD-1 offers. I come from a technology consulting background (previously working for a software development firm), so I appreciate how challenging the software industry can be. I try to pick my vendors carefully for fear that software piracy and the current harsh business client will leave me with orphaned products -- it's happened to me many times before (Passport, SAW, Sequential Circuits, etc.). I think Universal Audio has the business model right: a high quality mix of products, both "drool-worthy" analog and software-based tools across the entire price spectrum. I'm also pleased to see that the UAD-1 is fundamentally impervious to the piracy problems that have plagued so many software vendors (and I hope it's not a big problem for your native plugs) -- I worry that Steinberg might not make it to Cubase SX 3.0.... Best of all, the desire for and reputation of your analog products feeds sales of your DSP cards and native plug-ins -- every other company only does analog or digital, but no one else does both like UA. Lastly, your commitment to continually improving your products and communicating with your customers is greatly appreciated. The new Dreamverb sounds great (especially considering your free promotion) and I can't wait to buy the Fairchild when it comes out. I really enjoy reading Will Shanks' and others' articles in the monthly newsletter and it's inspiring to see your company's regular participation on the UAD-1 forum. This is the kind of interaction that builds a long-term customer relationship and keeps people like me acting as informal product evangelists in the music and pro audio community. Thanks and keep up the great work. When I win the proverbial lottery, I'll be ordering 2 (aw hell, make it 8) of each your analog products! ;-)

Bradley Cain
Pasadena, CA

P.S. My UAD-1 Wish List: Emulation of a classic analog chorus device (maybe Dimension D), classic analog/tape delay and a dedicated mastering plug-in (that would be *really* useful, though I know the LA-2A and Cambridge can be used together for mastering). Also, I hope you guys can jump on the firewire bandwagon some time soon.


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