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Gala launch for UA’s next-generation UAD-2

test 9 September 2008

UK: Universal Audio has launched the next generation of its DSP card and powered plug-in platform, writes Phil Ward. UAD-2 was launched at London’s glamorous Soho Hotel at an event held in conjunction with UK distributor (and part of HHB) Source Distribution. It drew delegates from across Europe’s recording and post-production supply chain as UA’s executives masterminded a simultaneous release of the package to retail outlets worldwide.

Even as guests filed into the West End hotel’s private screening room to witness the launch, and capping the frisson of rock chic that infuses the location, REM’s Michael Stipe checked into the hotel for the European leg of the band’s current world tour. It was coincidence, but somehow the moment was suitably elevated.

The excitement about the product within UA is palpable. VP of marketing Mike Barnes considered that: “The UAD-2 is set to shake up the audio industry even more radically than UAD-1 did.”

Statements of this magnitude were backed by generously budgeted AV presentations depicting the company’s West Coast HQ on an all-time high.

UAD-2 builds on detailed analysis of UAD-1 usership combined with thorough exploitation of new chips optimised for audio by UA near-neighbours Analog Devices.

The reach of the device has ambitions to accommodate the full tracking, mixing and mastering scope of large-format consoles and copious outboard effects within its DAW-friendly scale.

Its fulcrum is the UAD-2 PCIe DSP card, based on SHARC 21369 floating-point processing, packaged into Solo, Duo, Quad, Flexi and Nevana formats for scaleable operation. The onboard Powered Plug-Ins Collection draws on UA’s acknowledged expertise in the digital modelling of 50 years of analogue signal processing, and creates a suite of readily accessible tools, including several new licensed emulations.

Company president Matt Ward was confident that UAD-2, despite its unabashed and accelerated encouragement of desktop working methods, would be no less balanced by UA hardware sales than previous generations.

“We’ve had the question many times,” he reflected, “about whether our high-quality software emulations would cannibalise our hardware sales. But if you look at our history, sales of our hardware products have consistently grown even as digital techniques have been adopted more and more. I think that’s because we concentrate on high-end analogue dynamics that are very useful in a digital studio – and we don’t make a standalone EQ, for example. We don’t see that situation changing.”

Following the launch, guests were treated to a lavish dinner in London’s exclusive Holland Park district, concluding one of the most effusive industry events of recent years and emanating real confidence in the product.

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