It felt like we hardly finished the video on the new UAFX Max, Galaxy and Del-Verb pedals when we at Noisegate got word that there were some new new UAFX pedals for us to check out! Like many others, a new release from Universal Audio always piques our interest so it is with great pleasure that we present this sneak peak of the brand-new UAFX Compact Series.
The first release of the UA Compact series contains four pedals: the 1176 compressor, Orion tape delay, Evermore studio reverb and the Heavenly plate reverb. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek of all of them and are pleased to report that, as expected, they all sound amazing. We ran these pedals through not only guitars but also through some drum machines and bassline synths for a bit of an alternative perspective. Of course, anything with a standard instrument sized cable can be plugged into these pedals – synths, keyboards, guitars and basses, drum machines… you name it! Overall, the pedals feature true and buffered bypass modes, simple operation, single mono effects as well as the same control layout/switch stylings.
There is no doubt that the pedals sound incredible, but let’s be honest: pedalboard real estate can be valuable real estate and size definitely matters! With this in mind, UA has released their new Compact series – a smaller form factor and more focused features than their bigger cousins, however with all the same tone from the incredible UA algorithms. Here’s a peek at their features:
As its name clearly suggests, is a perfect recreation of the famous original analog FET studio rack unit of the same name. One of the most famous compressors of all time, the 1176 has been used on everything from vocals to drums and its trademark squish is available in spades in this pedal. The 1176 pedal features a switch for parallel compression mode, switching to a 50/50 mix of dry and compressed signal as well as all the ratio settings of the original unit. It also features a switch for toggling between ‘single’ (a single 1176 compressor), ‘dual’ (two 1176s run into each other and set like amps for a unique overdrive – a nod to Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog guitar sound) and ‘sustain’, two 1176s compressing each other for extra-long sustain – especially good for slide playing, and a nod to Little Feat and Lowell George.
Promises a 1:1 recreation of the famous Echoplex EP-3 tape echo. This great sounding delay includes two very key aspects of the EP-3: the preamp, which is switchable and adds a lovely boosted texture to your original tone and the record level. The latter control on the original dictated how strong the recorded signal was committed to the tape. This affects the presence and the bottom end of the delayed signal – playing with this control gives quite different tones which go from airy and ‘out of the way’ delay sounds through clear and hi-fi, all the way to slightly distorted. There is also a three-position switch to give different tape ages, from a brand-new sounding tape through to heavily worn and modulated tape sounds.
Takes on the famous Lexicon 224 studio reverb, giving the user a room reverb, as well as both a large and a small hall. It features a circuit-correct three-band decay control – a feature I had not seen on other pedals before. This allows for control over different frequencies of the reverb tail opening up the possibilities for unique reverb tones that stay right out of the way, all the way through to over-the-top full-frequency reverbs. There is also a lovely modulation as per the original units.Heavenly
This is UAs tribute to the famous EMT 140 plate reverb and features a bright, dark and modern setting, as well as controls for EQ, pre-delay and modulation as well. This really is a gorgeous sounding reverb and the sort of sound that I would happily get lost in all day – from shorter reflective reverbs through to dense, long-tailed ambient sounds.
There is no doubt that all of these pedals sound amazing – UA has proven themselves time and again in creating some of the most authentic and beautiful recreations of these classic effect units, both in pedal form and of course in plug-in form too. Having said that, it’s only fair to point out a few small gripes I had. The simplicity of these pedals is a huge selling point, but the modern guitarist is now used to hugely versatile units that can offer a myriad delay/reverb tones and might find the one-trick-pony nature of these pedals limiting. I also would have loved a tap tempo input option on the Orion, but it is arguable that the original units didn’t have this feature so these don’t either! Finally, I thought the Evermore having one of its main controls being modulation and relegating pre-delay to a switch on the back of the unit was a bit of a shame as having more control over this pre-delay would have made it even better, in my humble opinion.
With all this being said, UA has once again shown why they are so well respected in the pro audio world not only for their innovation but of course for the undeniably good tones that come out of their pedals, hardware and software. And this new series, while simple and stripped back, leave nothing to be desired in terms of sound quality and overall tone.