Review: Universal Audio UAD 9.3 Software Update

UAD brings yet more goodies to the table with its latest 9.3 software update. Matt Vanacoro tests it out and lets you know how he got on with these new and varied plug-ins.  

Another day, another massive plug-in drop from Universal Audio! Those of us lucky enough to be caught up in the UAD plug-in whirlwind were just treaded to 6 new offerings. As usual, I installed them without delay (or with delay, haha… sorry, that’s a dad joke) to check them all out for you. Here’s the lowdown on the new offerings!

Sonnox Oxford Dynamic EQ

Not to get too nerdy here, but I just love alternate takes on multi-band compression. I’m actually a big fan of UAD’s Precision Multiband, so I was very excited to check out Sonnox’s dynamic EQ and see if this alternative would dethrone one of my current favorites.

I’m happy to report, I’ve got a new favorite for sure. The Oxford Dynamic EQ offers the best of both worlds - falling perfectly between a standard EQ and a multiband compressor, the Oxford DEQ allows you to have EQ that’s only applied when certain frequencies specifically trigger it. The frequency bands also allow for overlap, avoiding the distortion that can come from a ‘hard cut off’ between bands when using a multiband compressor. I just love this EQ so much. It works amazingly well for precision sculpting, and after using ODEQ like a surgeon, a traditional EQ starts to feel like a sledgehammer.

Korg SD-3000 Digital Delay

This one’s my next favorite in the bunch. I’m a sucker for the U2 80’s guitar tone, and the SDD feels like that tone was boxed up and handed to me on a plate. The modulation and filter options allow for some really creative patches, and this plug-in goes way beyond the ‘traditional’ delay/echo. You can really create some supercool ambient tones, and it even utilizes the Unison technology in an Apollo interface to match the original impedance and gain staging of the hardware unit. I was able to use the hold function and turn my guitar into a synth patch, and it was fun the whole time. Honestly, it’s a little tough to get back to work after pulling this guy up - it’s just so fun!!

Engl Savage 120

I’m a fan of the ENGL series, and the Savage 120 is a nice addition. It closes a bit of a hole that existed in the UAD guitar modeling ecosystem, and now you can get some crushing metal tones right on the inputs of your Apollo utilizing the Unison slot. If you’re familiar with the other ENGL models, you’ll be familiar with how this one works. It’s the same interface, but with a much louder and punishing algorithm. I’m wondering how long before this one gets dropped into the ENGL amp bundle…

Dytronics Cyclosonic Panner

This was a quirky one! I was not aware of the hardware unit, so I can’t attest to how closely it relates - but it’s pretty cool. In terms of automatic panning, it’s definitely faster than trying to automate, and since it syncs to DAW tempo it can be very handy. You can also gate-trigger pans, so you don’t have to worry about it going ‘off sync’ when your sound isn’t playing.

AMS RMX16 Expanded

The RMX16 expanded builds upon the already widely popular RMX16 plug-in and adds 9 rare custom programs that were only available with an aftermarket bar code reader system. I tested out some of the new patches and they definitely add more flavor to this already-diverse plug-in. It’s going to be tough to dethrone the BX20 as my favorite reverb available on the UAD system, especially considering this one eats up a whopping 40% of a single DSP just for a single instance! I guess I’ll just break it out for the ‘special’ clients…

Conclusion

I’ve reviewed this in order of my favorites. I was a huge fan of the Oxford Dynamic EQ, and the Korg SD-3000 is a landmark plug-in. I’m so happy to see Korg working with UAD, and I can only imagine what they’ll do together down the road!

Price: Ranges depending on the plug-in

Pros: Sonnox Oxford Dynamic EQ and Korg SD-3000 are true standouts. The Engl Savage adds some great metal tones into the UAD lineup. 

Cons: The AMS eats up a lot of DSP - but oh, is it worth it!

Web: www.uaudio.com

 Learn more about UAD software in the AskAudio Academy 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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