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UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins Basics & FAQ

UAD Plug-Ins Basics & FAQ

Powered by UAD-2 DSP Accelerator hardware — the same DSP found in our award‑winning Apollo interfaces — UAD plug‑ins give you stunning analog studio sound that would be difficult or impossible to achieve with native recording systems.

Here, we explain what exactly a UAD Accelerator is, and answer many common questions from system compatibility to how UAD Accelerators work with Apollo, and more

What does UAD-2 “DSP Accelerators” mean?

When mixing, you may have experienced that your computer lacks sufficient power to run the number of plug-ins that you desire. With UAD-2 plug-ins, the actual plug-in processing is offloaded to UAD-2 hardware. 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.

DSPs in Apollo interfaces are also used to enable realtime UAD-2 processes, meaning you can use plug-ins with virtually no latency while recording. In addition, the realtime DSP processes can be recorded to disk or monitored through without recording and that’s available on a track-by-track basis. That means you can print some tracks with processing and others can be ‘dry’, and all of this occurs on the hardware outside your computer, so no matter how complex your input channel is, there is no additional load placed on the hosts computer.

I can already run VST / AU / AAX plug-ins on my computer. Why should I buy a UAD‑2?

For starters, UAD-2 plug-ins offer the true sound of analog, full of warmth, character, and tone — qualities not found in other 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 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 Neve, Manley, Studer, SSL, Lexicon, Empirical Labs, EMT, Fender, and more — using the 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.

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 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.

Will a UAD Accelerator work with my computer?

UAD-2 Accelerators work with Mac or Windows systems and are available in Thunderbolt, USB, PCIe, or FireWire format. Plus, UAD plug-ins can be used in any VST, AU, or AAX-compatible DAW, including UA's LUNA Recording System, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, Ableton Live, and others.

Can I run multiple UAD-2 DSP Accelerator hardware devices (including Apollo, Satellites and PCIe card models) simultaneously?

Absolutely. You can combine up to six UAD-2 DSP Accelerators within the same system, depending on your available Thunderbolt/FireWire/USB ports and/or PCIe slots bandwidth. Doing so will let you run even more UAD‑2 Powered Plug‑Ins at the same time.

How many UAD plug‑ins can I expect to run?

For a complete breakdown of DSP usage for each UAD plug-in, check out the UAD-2 DSP Chart.

What UAD-2 hardware/software packages are available, and what do they include?

Apollo Interfaces and UAD Accelerators both come with included plug-ins. You can find a list of included plug‑ins on all of the Apollo and UAD Accelerator product pages.

Also, 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.

Plus, 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.

I have an Apollo audio interface. Why do I need a UAD‑2 DSP Accelerator?

Most new users to the UAD platform come via Apollo audio interfaces. But you may want to add more DSP power for larger professional mixes with a UAD‑2 Accelerator.

Thankfully, UAD-2 Accelerators can be “linked” to existing UAD-2 systems, and you can combine up to six UAD cards/devices in a single system. So the UAD Powered Plug-In Platform lets you mix and match a selection of dedicated UAD-2 DSP Accelerators/Apollo interfaces to meet your needs.

Which type of UAD-2 hardware should I choose: PCIe, Thunderbolt, FireWire, or USB?

That really depends on your needs, and your system’s connections.

If you’re working on a Mac or PC with Thunderbolt ports, our UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt is your best option. If you're on a Windows machine without Thunderbolt, our UAD-2 Satellite USB is perfect.

If you’re using a desktop “tower” computer with available PCIe slots, then our PCIe-based UAD-2 DSP Accelerator cards are excellent options. Older computers with available FireWire ports can also use our UAD‑2 Satellite FireWire.

How does the UAD 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” analog studio recordings — the UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform stands alone.

— Universal Audio

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