If you thought Universal Audio were unusually quiet at this year’s NAMM Show you weren’t alone. Despite the show itself being relegated to an entirely virtual online affair, the string of amusing yet revelatorily sparse 1-minute videos UA released throughout the week were a rather jarring change of pace compared with the literal amusement park they constructed on-site last year to celebrate the launch of their Luna DAW.
Perhaps there was more to this strategy than we suspected as now with the virtual NAMM dust settling nearly a full week later, UA have dropped all the details of their first foray into hardware effect pedals.
The three units announced are the Astra Modulation Machine, Golden Reverberator and Starlight Echo Station. The big takeaway here is that these pedals are glorified DSP equipped UAD accelerators, so you can expect the same industry-standard quality of hardware emulation that UAD users have been enjoying on their desktop for years.,
Just as we saw with UA’s recent OX amp top box, the design doesn’t scream hi-tech or cutting edge so they’re definitely not going to alienate the more traditionalist musicians out there. The pedals’ classy, analog looking enclosures don’t offer too many suggestions that these are probably the most powerful processors ever packed into a stomp box.
All three pedals provide three distinct effect models out of the box with additional models becoming available after registration. They all share the same form-factor/layout with stereo in and out, two footswitches, DC in and USB C however the details to vary from pedal to pedal.
They all feature true stereo / dual mono processing (left and right signals processed independently), true bypass with optional buffered bypass, analog dry through, preset mode and of course, typical UA build quality. Here’s the breakdown of each unit.
Starlight Echo Station:
- Three legendary delay effects, with available tap tempo, subdivisions, and more
- Tape EP-III: Three unique 1960’s tape echo machines, with settings for tape age and preamp color.
- Analog DMM: Vintage analog “bucket brigade” delay textures with enveloping modulation modes and subdivisions.
- Precision: Pristine digital delays with endless delay trails and optional modulation, derived from the UAD plug-in library.
- Bonus Effect: Free Cooper Time Cube delay, downloadable at registration.
- Simple Live+Tap/Preset modes for instant recall of your favourite sound
- Three classic reverb sounds, with available modulation on each effect
- Spring 65: Three “golden unit” spring reverb tanks, pulled from classic 1960’s American guitar amps.
- Plate 140: Three vintage German plate reverbs, captured at the iconic Record Plant studio.
- Hall 224: A trio of perfectly modelled late-1970’s digital reverb algorithms.
- Bonus Effects: Free Vintage digital Plate and Chamber 224 reverbs, downloadable at registration.
Astra Modulation Machine:
- Three timeless modulation effects, with secondary modes and settings
- Chorus Brigade: Classic ‘70s analog bucket brigade chorus with additional Vibrato mode.
- Flanger/DBLR: Studio flanger/doubler tones modeling legendary rack effects units.
- Trem 65: Perfectly-emulated opto tube tremolo derived from iconic blackface amps of the mid-1960’s.
- Bonus Effects: Free Phaser X90 and Dharma Trem 61, downloadable at registration
Whether you’re a live performer, studio musician, guitarist, keys/synth player etc. there’s a lot to get excited about here and we can’t wait to get our hands on them. Stay tuned to Noisegate for full reviews and demos coming soon!
All three pedals are expected to be available in Australia in March with local pricing TBD. US MAP price is $399 USD each.