UAD recommendations?

Hi all,

I had a UAD1 system back in the day, sold it when they wanted me to buy all 4 of my cards all over again. I’m going back now but a lot has been added since then that I have yet to demo.

My immediate move is getting a Duo-Flexi ($1200 USD) and adding another $200 - $300. So, with the voucher approx $800 in plugs.

I have such rosy memories of the Precision EQ that I figure that’s on my list. I’m only after EQs and Comps at the moment although in time I plan on adding the Roland bundle. I’m curious about the follow in particular:

Manley Passive EQ
All elements of the Neve bundle, but mainly the 33609
DBX 160
Harrison EQ

Right now, the Waves API bundle is looking the most attractive to me in terms of channel EQ. Is there anything in the UAD line that you think would be a suitable substitute? I’m not a fan of the Waves Neve plugs. Even actual Neve hardware EQs held limited appeal for me. The W-API EQs really hit the perfect balance for me in terms of color vs clarity. If I can’t find a UAD EQ to cover that ground I’ll just pony up for the Waves, but that bundle is expensive. Regarding SSL, same as Neve but less so :slight_smile:. I like SSL EQ for certain things. Generally more aggressive music. It’s just not what I want as a go-to, default channel EQ even though I’m sure UADs emulation is spot-on.

Thank you in advance for sharing your opinions.


Hi right back.

I also had a 4-card UAD-1 setup and after a lot of waiting around for everything to be stable, I went for a Quad.
Your proposed setup with the Duo will give you approximately the equivalent of 5 UAD-1 cards, and this might not be sufficient, but I guess you know all about how addictive this stuff is.

Re your list.
The MMP is awesome, and really is so different to the P-EQ. This really is a “must have” EQ.
The Neve stuff. What can I say except “My name is Neil and I am a Neve addict” :laughing:
The 33609 is the best 2-buss compressor since, oh, forever in my opinion. An SSD Virtual Mix Buss set to Neve, then an EQuality for the (minimum) 20Hz HPF, a 33609, an MMP-Mastering followed by a P-Limiter and I am in heaven.
The 1081 is very nice indeed as a group EQ, but for a channel the 1073 or the 31102 (based on the 8068 console) are perhaps the ultimate - especially into an LA-2A for vocals or a DBX-160 for bass/drums/percussion. Yum!
The Harrison is perhaps the EQ I am least familiar with, but I do have it - I just prefer the Neve’s more often than anything else, although the Trident A-series is getting more use all the time and if you want character, the Helios type 69 has bags of it to spare.

The FATSO is incredibly good fun. I find it works best not as an insert, but as a send instead - slap it on a group track, and use an FX send to route the drums to it, bringing the processed version up under the original - gently. Whoo - a whole new take on parallel compression right there, and I have used it like this in mastering final mixes too. Just bring up the fader until you can clearly hear what it is doing , then back it off a dB or so. Joy!

Cannot say enough nice things about the Lexicon 224 either - there have been a lot of unfavourable comments about the price (it’s not expensive really when you consider what you get) and the sound not being the same as the hardware which is nonsense as it is the same algorithms and control processor code as the original hardware.
I suspect the nay-sayers are trying to compare to a 224XL whereas this is the 224 with the v4.4 firmware.

I cannot comment on the SSL, as I don’t have them. I do have the SSL Duende native equivalents, and simply do not like them at all.

Well, here are my 2 cents:

All elements of the Neve bundle, but mainly the 33609:

I love Neve gear. I have 3 hardware 33609’s and they are simply awesome. They’re not appropriate on everything but they’re fantastic when they are. They have a very “forward” sound to them, just like the 1073 EQ. If you want something to sit “in your face” in the mix then those can safely be your go-to plugs. I also have the 88RS which I like quite a lot. You were asking about a possible substitute for the Waves API and the 88RS could possibly be it. I’m not sure about the actual functionality, but I’m guessing this Neve is closer in sound to API gear than the “older” Neve stuff is (1073/33609).

Also, I did a shootout between hardware 33609 and UAD 33609. At moderate compression people couldn’t tell the difference!

Fatso: Fun stuff. I’ve only demoed it. But fun.

DBX 160: Love it. Has a different type of aggressiveness to it. Love it on bass actually. I’m not sure if this is “correct” but it sounds more “punk” to me.

Harrison EQ: I demoed this plug and I think it sounds great. Ultimately though I found out that I didn’t need it. Think “Thriller”. Nice, smooth and wide open. As much “air” as you want (I know, these words are really overused…:slight_smile:

“Even actual Neve hardware EQs held limited appeal for me. The W-API EQs really hit the perfect balance for me in terms of color vs clarity.”

As I said, perhaps between the 88RS and the Harrison you can cover the ground that the W-API would have. I’ve found the 88RS to be a quite capable go-to channel strip.

If time permits I can run some samples through it if you want. Just PM me.

Hope the above helped…


Hello, …
Don’t forget to demo the Fairchild 670. For me, it is one of the best Plugs of UA.
MMP is extremely usable and has just today fixed a nasty sound problem, here. Only very slow when rendering…
Fatso is not used often, here, but that is probably a matter of personal taste. I will try it on a send, though, as Neil suggested.
The Harrison is a very decent and forgiving EQ and can be used for a wide range of “normal” material.
The NEVE 33609 is ever so close to the original and a perfect compressor, not only for NEVE addicts :wink:

Thanks so much for the replies! To get a little closer to my tastes, I had the UAD Fairchild and did not like it (heresy I know), however I have been very impressed by the Waves Fairchild.

I have worked on real Neve88Rs and was never a fan so I’m skeptical but that was a while ago, worth a re-listen. I wondered if the 33609 should be on my list. It’s sounding like it should. I only ever had access to a real one once but it was wonderful of course.

I deeply appreciate the offer of making sound samples. I’m not sure it would be much help though. Even when I have a demo in my own studio it often takes me weeks to really decide whether a plug is useful to me. I bought the UAD Fairchild and I think it took me more than 6 months of trying it over and over before I finally decided that although it does what it does well, that it’s not for me.

As for Lexicon, I’m a HUGE Lex fan. I had regular access to a 224XL and 480L in the studio where I trained. I’ve always been pretty forward thinking with Lexicon. The 480L was wonderful but I don’t reach back for the 60, 70, 224 or LXP15 or any of the older models that some people covet. I’ve demo’d the PCM native and was blown away by it. I’ll be saving my pennies for that one. Still, it will be fun to demo the 224 for 2 weeks. You never know :slight_smile:.

As for channel EQs, don’t get me wrong, I loved 1073 EQ (hardware) where it was appropriate. Nothing made a snare smack like that EQ but it’s just so in-your-face and colored. If you’ve ever used the Waves API EQs you know that they don’t carry such a strong signature, but they still have the transformer-warmth and most of all, they stack very well across tracks, as opposed to both Neve and SSL which sound nice in their own right but generally leave you with a big old stamp on your sound. The API stuff just sounds like it was mixed on “an expensive analog console” but with no hint of which one. I’ll demo all the UAD EQs but I’m entering the process biased. There’s a reason why Waves felt at liberty to charge such a high premium for the API suite. It’s really in a different league, certainly than anything else they make.

Interesting that there is not much praise for the Fatso. I have a distressor and love it to death. I saw a demo of Fatso at the last AES in NYC and was impressed but it’s hard to give any weight to trade show demos. Has anyone compared FATSO to a hardware Distressor? I know they aren’t the same thing, but really what I’m looking for is ANY plug-in that can do what a distressor does. Seems like the only EL plug-in available would be the best place to start.

The UAD FairChild is awesome, but needs to be set up right or it can suck up the low end too much, but tweak it properly and it is incredible - I use it just to impart the flavour rather than to actually compress.

I hear you on the 88RS - it’s not a proper “Neve” Neve though, if you know what I mean - not designed by Rupert Neve.
The 33609 is wonderful.

The UAD lexicon is not the XL variant, but the original 224 with the last v4.4 software giving all 9 programmes. It apparently does not sound like the XL, but very good just the same. Totally different to the PCM Native bundle, based as they are on the new rack units. It’s also very different to the LX480, and there is a very nice version of this from ReLab - I am looking forward to the full version from them too.

Try the Slate Digital VCC collection for the warmth of an old Neve without the channel EQ. There’s also an API, an SSL and a Trident there.

Who doesn’t like it then? I love it, and find - as I said - it works better in parallel, underneath the original unprocessed track. It takes a LOT of learning though, so a lot of folks will probably run through a few presets, find they are not tuned right for the track and not return it. It needs a lot of time & effort to get to grips with it - took me almost a month to get to understand it properly.
It’s nothing like a distressor - that is a compressor, FATSO is not - it has compression in it, but this is not really the same thing as what a distressor does. Maybe UAD will do the distressor too. We can only hope.

Well, the 33609 is fairly “Neve” sounding, in that vintage 1073 way I think. So it’s not necessarily “smooth” like some others. It’s also a DSP hog.

As for the 88RS, well, if you’re not digging it, it might not be your cup’o’Joe. As a channel strip I think it’s pretty darn good sounding and useful. No, not a “Rupert Neve”, but a great sounding plug.

You may want to consider a couple of plugs then to do what the API does perhaps. Maybe the Harrison is what you’re looking for, although I know they don’t sound the same. But if the “in-you-face” character is too much for what you’re looking for it could be a good choice. You should definitely check it out.

Sure, it takes time. I was just thinking that if you had no clue at all about how one of these plugs sounded, at least you could get a ballpark idea perhaps. But yeah, demoing is the thing to do, which of course is hard without the card which is why UAD partially sucks…

It’s good that you know that, but it’s really going to be a problem. I suggest you try to audition things in an unbiased way as far as that’s possible…

I’ve only heard the demo which sounded great I think. I just haven’t had the need for one so I haven’t made the purchase… yet…

The Fatso is really great for certain situations - I have a pair of HW distressors and it is very very different to them, they can be much more aggressive and and spank harder :slight_smile: The Fatso can just make things, well, ‘fat’. I love it on electric rhythm gtrs!

I have slate VCC also, and it is great, but of the UAD stuff I find myself going always to Neve 1081, Neve 33609, Harrison, Manley MP, Fatso, DBX, Neve 88rs (mainly for the great gate!), RE-210, Pultec, Fairchild (great on toms!), Studer, Cambridge EQ (for surgery cutting only), Boss Chorus, EMT Plate 140, and very recently for the lexicon 224 (I have the 224XL hardware - which is really a different flavour). Those are the plugs pretty much hardwired into my template.

Other that that I use HW: distressors, 9098 channels, 1176LN’s, Al Smart C2, Cranesong Ibis and a few other bits - the UAD stacks up pretty darn fine alongside those bits :slight_smile:

Thanks guys! I guess I really need to just plan out my 2 weeks of demo time very carefully and basically lock myself in the studio :slight_smile:. As for the Fairchild. I did own it and I feel like I put it through its paces very thoroughly. It really wasn’t for me. If any of you have tried the Waves version, by contrast I love the way that one sounds. The Waves version also gets more of the response that I’ve read about the real thing, although I’ve never used one (I envy anyone who has!)

Shame about the Fatso. I’m sure it’s great at what it does but again, what I would really love is a distressor plug (or simply 4 more distressors! :slight_smile:. I wonder if the DBX might be closer to what I’m after?

One thing that always kills me is the 1176. I’ve used the real thing, many times. I LOVE actual 1176s. I’ve NEVER liked any of the plugs. I know about UA’s shoot outs that they did and I’ve tried the Waves version. I can’t get either one to do what the HW version does. Really a shame.

I think at this point I’m looking at my initial investment being the P-EQ, the MP and I need to settle on a compressor. The 33609 will be interesting to try. My suspicion is that it will be one that I’ll pick up in the near future but not to start with. I need something more utilitarian for channel compression. I love the UAD LA-2A but it isn’t for everything. Again, I need the closest thing I can find to a distressor.

Oh, about my “bias” in terms of EQ, all I meant is that I have the API stuff as an example of what I really like so my guess is that in the end I’m going wind up shelling out for that. But…we’ll see :wink:

Cool about the Slate stuff. I haven’t heard any of it. I’ll have to check it out.

Thanks again!


FWIW, re the UAD Fairchild:

More power to you and what you like-- but having “blindly” shot out UAD’s versus a hardware version we’ve heard on many a recording over the years, we who informally tested came to the conclusion that there are in fact significant differences between the UA and HW versions, which came down to:

  1. Warm up time
  2. Setting stability
  3. Smell of heated vintage electronic components
  4. Weight
  5. Visual dimensionality/surface area

Other than that, in our situation, the “units” were subjectively indistinguishable, both by newbies and fellas who work with it every day.

Not knocking anybody’s comfort zone with Waves. But as far as sounding like the real thing, the UA model of a 670 is ridiculously spot-on.


I dunno. I’ve heard the same thing about 1176 although I’ve never had them both in the same room at the same time. But it’s entirely possible that I would have the same issues with a HW version (I’ll keep the $36,000 thanks!). I’ve never used it. It may be less like the real thing, but I just like the Waves plug more.

This is definitely just a matter of taste, but I know my taste on that particular plug wasn’t formed from the 2 week demo. I owned it and spent a long time REALLY trying to like it because I paid for it. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it btw, more that it was just too specific a color that I rarely had a use for. The Waves version has much less of a specific signature.

I appreciate the insight though and I’m not at all surprised. UA usually does their homework.

Ok, just made a deal for a used Duo including:

UAD (SSL) 4k Buss Compressor
UAD (SSL) 4k Channel Strip
Harrison 32C EQ
Helios Type 69 EQ
Pultec-Pro EQ
Precision EQ
SPL Transient Designer
Precision Maximizer
Precision Enhancer kHz
Precision Multiband
Precision Limiter
1176LN Leveling Amplifier
Fairchild Compressor
Neve 33609 Compressor
DBX 160
EMT 140

I’ll have to add the MP, but it should be a lot of fun.

Thanks again everyone! Looking forward to diving back in and that 2 week demo!

Well when it comes to comparing hardware to software it’s easy to not focus on what’s important. Different hardware units will sound differently, so just because you have one result with one unit doesn’t mean it’ll be the same when comparing the software with a different unit.

To me the only thing that matters in terms of “matching” software to hardware, is to do a double blind test and the listener not being able to tell what’s what. At that point it really doesn’t matter that it’s software, just that one likes the sound.

Well, I wouldn’t have normally bought the fairchild again, but since I’m getting it anyway it should be interesting to give it another try.

Update: wow, I forgot how good these plugs are. Simply fantastic! I’m liking the Harrison EQ and the SSL 4k strip very much. It’s also such a night and day difference from the Waves stuff. You’re right Neil, I will need more power :slight_smile:.

The 33609 is really sweet as well! Such great stuff all around!

Good to hear you’re happy about your investment!

Thanks! VERY happy :slight_smile:. I even came in under budget, although I still need to add, MP, Space Echo…let the UAD addiction begin (again)

Also with HW/SW comparisons, HW deteriorates with age.
Caps dry out if electrolytic type, components wear out and this changes the sound enormously.

What’s interesting is how UA has mainly been releasing vintage or rarified gear and how some of the more workhorse pieces have eluded them. No doubt this is in part due to the HW firms not wanting to put themselves out of business. Still it’s almost funny to me that as I look across my UAD collection what I find myself wishing for is LESS color, or at least more subtle. A distressor, an 8200, API, can’t wait til that deal w/waves runs out so they can make a 2500 that sounds at all like the real thing (if they choose to). Then again, I’m still learning what I’ve got. The Harrison seem quite good w/o too much color.

UA is just so good at this, it’s hard not to daydream about everything else you’d like to see them do. :wink:

I enjoyed reading this as my interest in the UAD system has been spurned. Might be a little while off yet
but some interesting products in the line.