The Century Tube Channel strip for the UAD-2 and Apollo is one of Universal Audio’s first products since the Oxide Tape plug-in that is of UA’s own design and not a 1:1 model of any piece of real-world hardware. It does offer strong hints of UA’s 610 preamps and the classic Teletronix LA-2A optocompressor in both sound and function, with an added EQ section.
The Tube Preamp section offers dual levels of input (think 610), a highpass filter, phase flip, pad, mic or line level selection, and a large variable level knob with overload indication. When used with one of the company’s preamp-equipped Apollo interfaces, it takes full advantage of UA’s Unison preamp technology. The preamp can be pushed for lovely buttery-smooth saturation and drive/breakup. Processor load is significant but not crushing: one instance of the plug-in takes up 50% of a UAD-2 SHARC chip in stereo and 27% in mono.
- DECEMBER 2018: IK Multimedia UNO Synth
- NOVEMBER 2018: Softube Tube-Tech CL 1B Mk II Plug-in CL 1B Mk II Plug-in and Lydkraft Tube-Tech CL 1B
- OCTOBER 2018: ADK Zeus
- SEPTEMBER 2018: Focal Shape Twin
- AUGUST 2018: ART RM5 Active Studio Monitor
- JULY 2018: Universal Audio A/DA STD-1
- JUNE 2018: Toontrack EZKeys Dream Machine and Melancholic Pop MIDI Pack
- MAY 2018: Soyuz Microphones SU-013 Small-Diaphragm FET Condensor Mic
- APRIL 2018: RØDE Complete Studio Kit
- MARCH 2018: LaChapell Audio 583s mk2 Tube Preamp and 500TDI Tube DI
- FEBRUARY 2018: RME Babyface Pro
- JANUARY 2018: Arturia DrumBrute
The Equalizer offers ±12 dB cut/boost on high and low shelving bands fixed at 10 kHz and 110 Hz, and on a mid band that’s sweepable from 300 Hz to 7.2 kHz. Like most classic console channel strip EQs, this is more of a broad-stroke EQ for tracking and blending elements in a mix than a surgical fix-it device.
The Opto Leveler (compressor) is a single- knob device, with its own gain reduction meter. The single knob controls threshold/gain reduction, and the final section, Master output level, can act as a makeup gain control; this lets you control the Opto Leveler like an LA-2A would, albeit without a choice of compression or limiting.
Overall the Century Channel Strip is very silky and creamy, a nice vintage tip of the hat without being heavy-handed. It’s great for tracking with a Unison preamp, where you can dial in your sound on the way to “tape”—it sounds amazing on voiceover work, singers, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and bass. I like the preamp and EQ a lot on drums, but the compressor is a tad too slow for my taste here unless it’s just being tickled a little. (Maybe next UA could do a solid-state channel strip that is 1176 or even tube/6176 based someday?) It also works great in line mode in a mix, where it was very nice on vocals and guitars, and could easily be a go-to bass channel strip.
Although it could be perceived as a “lesser” or introductory plug-in in the UAD line, the Century is a bargain with all the power it has to offer. It’s a very welcome addition to the UA line!
More from: Universal Audio, www.uaudio.com