First Look at Universal Audio UAD Spark Opal Morphing Synthesizer

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Opal is a brand new software synthesizer by Universal Audio which comes as part of their UAD Spark native plug-in package. It combines virtual analog and wavetable synthesis and offers plenty of versatility, a very flexible layout, and fits right in aesthetically with UA’s high-end studio plug-ins. But most importantly, it sounds wonderful. 

UA have released several virtual instruments over the last few years, but the UAD Spark platform marks the first time they have been available outside of their LUNA DAW, which requires a UA Thunderbolt Apollo interface to run. 

Spark also introduces UA’s first completely original synthesizer instrument, Opal. Their MiniMoog, acoustic piano, and Hammond Organ instruments all sound fantastic, and I’m pleased to report that Opal is no exception. 

Visually, Opal is reminiscent of UA’s renowned SSL or Neve effect plug-ins with the expected level of premium polish. It also shares the same preset management system found on all Spark plug-ins. 

The interface is flexible and intuitive, to a degree you’d expect from a company who’d been producing original synthesizers for years. Impressive given Opal is UA’s first outing.

Each of the three oscillators can be placed in Analog or Wavetable mode. Analog restricts you to several morphable basic waveshapes (saw, pulse etc.), whilst Wavetable provides dozens of complex, expressive timbres totalling hundreds of unique waveforms.  It’s worth noting that analog mode sounds particularly lively thanks to some natural-sounding oscillator drift, and its sawtooth waves will give even UA’s Moog emulation a run for its money. Add to this variable per-oscillator ensemble, plus oscillator 3’s sub-oscillator, and you’ve got one monstrous virtual analog behemoth. 

Various cross-modulation options can thicken things up further with OSC1 – OSC2 FM and OSC3 – OSC2 AM.  

The filter section also warrants particular attention with a unique infinitely adjustable design which cycles through lowpass, bandpass, highpass and notch, then circling back to lowpass. It’s a cool design that also lends itself to interesting modulation possibilities.  

The variable slope further customizes the filter shape, and in some modes can produce vowel-filter like effects 

Opal is also packed full of well-crafted, ready to use presets covering your classic Van Halen/Vangelis analog poly sounds, evolving layered wavetable pads, and everything in between.  

Opal is exclusive to the UAD Spark platform (currently Mac only), so the only way to access it is via a Spark subscription. There is a free 14-day trial available which I’d encourage anyone interested to try out. 

UAD Spark Subscription page:

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