March 3, 2007 - Universal Audio launched the UAD-1 back in January 2004, and it quickly became the DSP system of choice for a staggering amount of music producers. It wasn't the fact the UAD-1 cards took the processing load off the CPU that made the system so essential - it was the Universal Audio plugins, meticulously modelled after vintage compressors and equalisers, that once heard, immediately justify the price tag, and once used in your own mixes, simply cannot be lived without. Obviously tired of seeing so many of their users spending big bucks on a Magma external PCI chassis in order to use their UAD-1 cards on the road, Universal Audio have finally released the UAD-Xpander - an external UAD-1 solution which connects via ExpressCard, the now ubiquitous laptop expansion bus that offers six times the bandwidth of FireWire 400.
Producer Richard Devine, a true master of sonic manipulation, first used a UAD-1 setup on his ASECT:DSECT album, and had this to say about his experience. "Honestly we ended up using primarily just the two UAD cards for most of the track mastering. Mainly because you could open up multiple plug-ins on each track and have top quality EQ, compressing, and limiting at your fingertips. It was amazing, as the UAD sounds incredible, and offers some of the most high quality features that I have seen within any DSP card based mastering suite." (full interview)
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The choice of ExpressCard, while future proof, means those of us still clinging to PowerBooks and other dinosaurs are left out, and stuck with the choice of a Magma chassis, or upgrading their mobile DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) if they want mobile UAD-1 love - which given the price of a Magma, make me think 2007 will be the year of studio upgrades.
The UAD-Xpander is available now, in three flavours: the UAD-Xpander Xpress (includes a UAD$500 voucher), the UAD-Xpander Xpert (with $1000 voucher), and the flagship UAD-Xpander Xtreme, which comes with all available UAD-1 4.5 software; arguably some of the best money one could ever spend on their studio.