Review: Universal Audio UAD 8.3 Update

With three brand new plug-ins and new presets for Precision Mix Rack Collection, the new update for UAD 8.3 is focused entirely on sound. Matt Vanacoro puts the three plug-ins to the test.  

The 8.3 update of the UAD software from Universal Audio brought 3 new plugins and a bunch of new artist presets for the Precision Mix Rack Collection. I had the opportunity to test all of them out straight away and here is what I thought!

AKG BX20 Spring Reverb

AKG BX20 Spring Reverb

AKG BX20 Spring Reverb

The BX20 is the plugin getting the most real estate in UA’s marketing materials for sure, so I was excited to check it out. Having never used the hardware unit before, I was excited to approach this with fresh ears. The BX20 is a darker spring reverb that definitely has a specific character that is almost instantly recognizable. I fell in love with this plugin instantly, and I’m going to have to really restrain myself from overuse from this point on. I was truly amazed at how much character I could give an otherwise dull track simply by adding the BX20. It almost negated the need for some EQ in a couple of instances during the mix I tested it on.

The BX20 has a stereo option that allows you to modify the configuration and achieve a different sound in each channel. The plugin is lovingly simple to use and is one of those emulations that falls into the ‘must have’ category for any UAD owner. It’s a truly creative tool that allows you to craft a beautiful atmosphere.

Ampeg SVT Bass Amplifier Plugin Bundle

Ampeg SVT Bass Amplifier Plugin Bundle

Ampeg SVT Bass Amplifier Plugin Bundle

The Ampeg SVT couldn’t have come out at a better time, for me. I was in the midst of mixing an album where the performer/songwriter is the bass player, so giving the bass track a little extra love was definitely warranted. I took a direct in from an Avalon U5 from his bass and ran it through the SVT-VR and was pleased with the sound. Then I switched it over to the SVT Pro and the bassist was absolutely blown away.

The SVT-VR had a real vintage feel to it and I liked it, but the SVT-3 Pro was just wonderful. It had a tightness to it that accentuated the detail in the faster passages without sacrificing the low end punch of the bass itself. The SVT-3 is incredibly customizable, with a 9-band graphic EQ as well as a five position midrange selector. You get a real ‘tube’ sound out of this emulation, and it worked on everything from a standard bass track to a distorted bass lead. Two thumbs up for sure!

Tube-Tech EQ Plugin Collection

Tube-Tech EQ Plugin Collection

Tube-Tech EQ Plugin Collection

The Tube-Tech EQ plugin collection will look familiar to anyone who has used the Pultec plugins in the past. The interface is quite similar, although the sound is different in a subtle way. UA describes the Tube Tech EQ to have a more modern sound rather than the vintage touch of the legacy Pultec plugs. On the Low/Hi variant, the Tube Tech gives you quite a bit more room on the high end, allowing you to select frequencies as low as 1k (as opposed to a 3k start point on the Pultec legacy).

I found the TTEQ to be quite musical and a very pleasant EQ to use. But then again, I find the Pultec to be the same way, so it really wasn’t that much of a surprise!

Conclusion

The 8.3 update is a welcome one. The new plugins are quite good, with the BX20 in particular standing out in a major way. With UA’s generous demo policy, these plugins are definitely all worth a try.

Find out more about UAD platform here.

Learn more about UAD in the Academy Video Tutorials here.

Matt Vanacoro is one of New York’s premier musicans. Matt has collaborated as a keyboardist in studio and on stage with artists such as Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Mark Wood (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel Band), Aaron Carter, Amy Regan, Jay Azzolina, Marcus Ratzenboeck (Tantric), KeKe Palmer, C-Note, Jordan Knig... Read More

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