External DSP-based audio processing has become synonymous with Universal Audio, so we asked our users to tell us which were the UAD virtual tools they couldn't possibly imagine living without and here's the list of their indispensable plugins - displayed in Gearspace's "order of favouritism"!

Universal Audio EMT 140 Classic Plate Reverberator Plug-In

The EMT-140 Plate Reverberator is one of the most distinguished effects of all time and its virtual recreation follows the same glorious path as one of the most loved plugins amongst our users and rightfully claiming the first spot on our list. This plugin brings the three models of the EMT-140 that are installed at the Plant Studios in Sausalito/California, and besides presenting the faithful emulation that made UAD famous it also adds some benefits only found in the plug-in world such as dry/wet mixing, modulation and stereo width/balance controls - not to mention the awesome possibility of instantly swapping from one plate model to the other with a couple of clicks. Although it's acceptable to say that it’s hard to believe that one can fully recreate the sound of those big-heavy metal plates with mere bits of code, it’s also very safe to say that this plugin captured the greatest chunk of reverb magic with amazing authenticity and to the extent that our users consider it an irreplaceable tool. A very deserving first spot and one can only imagine what could happen if Universal Audio decides to do a “MK2” of this plug-in...

Universal Audio Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection

A true studio classic that is easily spotted on many equipment racks since its introduction in the early 1960s, the LA-2A arrives at its second iteration for the UAD-2 platform with a significant “MK2” revision. With more accurate modelling methods it comes with a sound that’s closer than ever to the hardware it emulates. This time Universal Audio brings three distinct variations of the LA-2A, all of them modelled after real historical units and one of them even emulates one of the very first models with the original T4 opto-compression cell. All three units were thoroughly measured in order to recreate the entire analog signal path, bringing not only the compression characteristics but also the sound of all the other electronic components in the input and output stages. Unlike other plug-ins it adds nothing to the original designs, staying totally faithful to the simple yet effective set of controls from the hardware units and it’s arguably the definitive plug-in version of the revered LA-2A.

Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder Plug-In

Perhaps one of the biggest charms of analog recording is the use of magnetic tape - it’s something missed so dearly by many, and the Ampex ATR-102 is one of the best representations of that old love between engineers and tape reels. Universal Audio’s emulation of this mastering-oriented 2-track machine offers all the glory of the hardware with a comprehensive number of controls that include Input/Sync/Repro signal paths, three head sizes, switchable speeds from 7.5 to 30 ips, variable wow & flutter, input calibration for control over headroom/distortion, an emphasis equalizer and also the famous tape delay effect. The ATR-102 is mostly on the clean side of tape machines with a subtle yet decisive coloration that made tonnes of great records through the years, so it’s pretty easy to understand why it’s near the top of our list.

Universal Audio 1176 Classic Limiter Plug-In Collection

The 1176 is kind of a historical companion to the LA-2A. While the opto design of the LA-2A applies a slower (and mostly transparent) kind of compression, the FET-based 1176 is all about fast-action and allows for more tweaking over the compression with dedicated attack/release controls and compression ratio options. The new 1176 Collection brings three revisions of this “limiter”, featuring the famous "blue stripe" version (made by creator Bill Putnam himself), the ubiquitous “black face” low-noise version and also a very rare “Anniversary Edition” with many exclusive modifications done by the experts at Universal Audio. This is a collection that will very likely satisfy those looking for the definitive plug-in incarnation of the 1176.

Universal Audio Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection

The legendary Neve 1073 is possibly the most coveted microphone preamplifier of all time, responsible for many great recordings over the years with its remarkable tone and very effective equalizer. The Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Plug-In Collection comes with the “MK2” treatment, modelling the signal path in its entirety and including the “Unison” preamp simulation technology for latency-free tracking with Apollo interfaces. Universal Audio now captures this world-class preamp and greatly improves the three-band equalizer, resulting in a plug-in that is a lot better sounding and more powerful than ever. A community favourite for very good reasons indeed.

Universal Audio Pultec Passive EQ Collection

Universal Audio gathers all three Pultec modules in the new Pultec Passive EQ Collection, a bundle of plug-ins packing the sought-after EQP1-A with all of its 'push-pull' glory for high and low frequency treatments, the MEQ-5 for mid-frequency adjusts and the super rare and previously unreleased HLF-3C - a very useful unit with a lovely set 12dB per octave HP-LP filters. Both the EQP1-A and MEQ-5 are updated versions and are now made with Universal Audio’s latest emulation technology that goes beyond mere equalization curves to cover all the electronic components inside the analog units. All three units are available as individual plug-ins or they come together in the same bundle for the ultimate Pultec experience 'in the box.'

Universal Audio Fairchild Tube Limiter Plug-In Collection

Possibly the most desirable compressor/limiter ever made, the Fairchild 670 Stereo Tube Limiter is a huge monster with 20 tubes that’s been sitting on top of producer wishlists for over half a century. With very limited production that ceased in the early 1960s these are rare units that are difficult to come across and also very hard to maintain nowadays given their age, but Universal Audio rescued mint-condition reference units of both the 670 and the slightly-less famous 660 (the mono version) of this iconic tube limiter. As with other UAD “MK2” plug-ins, the Fairchild Collection is powered by the latest modelling technology for far more impressive results than the first generation. They even went a bit further to expand the hardware features by adding a sidechain filter, dry/wet controls and a “grit” parameter enables control over headroom and distortion. As with the other “MK2” siblings, this is arguably the closest a plug-in can get to the classic Fairchild sound in 2016.

Universal Audio Neve 88RS Channel Strip Collection

Also powered by Universal Audio’s latest tech developments, the new version of the Neve 88RS console channel strip brings greater than ever accuracy and also enables authentic preamp emulation with their Apollo interfaces. Now this is really a “complete” recreation of a console channel, including not only the four-band parametric EQ, low/high-pass filters and dynamics (compressor/gate) section but also extensive modelling of all the analog components around them. It’s important to say that the Apollo interface owners will get even more bang out of it when tracking through the “Unison” preamps, but anyone looking for a faithful recreation of the famed Neve desk will greatly enjoy this one and if the first iteration of this plug-in was already very good this new version adds more value to this feature-rich channel strip. Keep in mind that this is hungry plug-in and you’ll need a good amount of DSP available in order to make a virtual 88RS console, but we’re pretty sure that it will be a worthy investment, sonically speaking.

Universal Audio Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder Plug-In

If mastering tape is often associated with the Ampex ATR-102, the Studer A800 is the reference machine when it comes to recording and mixing. Loved for its mix of soft compression, a subtle low frequency bump and high-frequency softening, recording with the A800 basically means you’re getting good tone coming in so the mixing process is greatly facilitated. As always, Universal Audio has meticulously modelled all the electronics of this fabulous piece of hardware to offer the definitive emulation of this tape machine, including four different tape formulas, three speeds and good number of possible tweaks under the hood. As with the 88RS and other “MK2” plug-ins, be prepared to have a good number of SHARC chips available if you’re willing to use this one across many channels, but that load will easily be rewarded by the sonic results delivered by this outstanding plug-in.

Universal Audio Ocean Way Studios Plug-In

A reverb plug-in like no other, the Ocean Way Studios verb is a truly unique processor that brings the room sound of this iconic studio to our computers. Universal Audio deployed advanced dynamic room modelling techniques that are much more accurate than traditional methods such as convolution and goes through greater depths to offer a very realistic simulation of the acoustics inside the famed record room. This plug-in offers two room options, eight types of sound sources, three initial positions (near, mid, far) with flexible mic placement, many different mic choices (from some of the most coveted mics ever made!) Most importantly, it offers a rare opportunity to get hands-on with amazing room recording techniques developed over decades at Ocean Way Studios and enables us to have that fantastic room sound on your productions. It’s very easy to see why many of our members thinks this is an indispensable plug-in!

We had quite a close vote on the ten plug-ins above, so since it was only by such a small margin this list came to be we’d like to give honorable mentions to the EP-34, the Moog Filter, API Vision, Massive Passive and AMS RMX-1 plugins for 'almost' making it. Now that we've shown you our list, which UAD plug-ins are indispensable to you? Are you using any of the above? Which ones got overlooked? Please share your favourites!

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