Buying into the UAD ecosystem

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What do those tFBers who have bought into the UAD way of doing plugins think now they've had some experience?

I'm just starting out, having just bought a forumite's Apollo Twin Duo to attach to my Mac Mini (i7, 16GB). I was about to go for an RME interface (400 or 800 or possibly a UCX). But then the Apollo came along, and it was worth it as an interface, with the included UAD plugins (the usuals, plus Lex 224, Ocean Way Studios, Friedman amps, etc), being a useful bonus. Not sure I really need 5 types of compressor/limiter and 3 EQs, but I won't know until I try, I suppose.

I did the research and was surprised to see that you cannot sell plugins separately, and so you often see the same interfaces with >$5000 worth of plugins. It's a scary thought - to buy so much software and be locked into the UAD ecosystem. On the UAD forum, the inability to sell plugins seems to be the biggest gripe.

Any advice from other UAD users?

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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17822
    edited May 14
    Yes, you cannot sell plugins separately, which is a masterstroke for Universal to keep selling plugins.
    It is also why they can keep investing in plugins and continue to release new stuff whilst a lot of other manufacturers are struggling.

    I'm invested in UAD- I have an Apollo 16, a pair of UAD2 Octo's and an Arrow.
    I own almost all of the plugins too but it isn't actually my main recording system because IMHO the converters are not quite up there with the best of the best.
    I use the UAD still to track some stuff (mostly guitars and bass) with but mostly to process audio plugins before I go to the mix stage, where I go to HDX.
    I understand this is pretty typical, or at least not entirely unknown.

    Basically, either get onboard and understand if you want to get out then you have to sell the system complete, or don't.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 814
    Thanks - yours is a pro workflow compared to mine. I'm just upgrading from a C2D iMac+Saffire to an i7 Mac Mini + Apollo. For now, I'm just hoping that the Apollo has good (if not stellar) conversion that's a significant step up. And I'll get some guitar-based and mic preamp plugins for latency-free tracking. I'm hoping the Lex224 is nice enough to use for mixing, too.

    Looks like I'll just have to exercise some restraint when the inevitable discount promotions come along from UA. :) I'm sure that 'Black Friday' etc sales must get really tempting, and that's how people end up with a £800 unit with £5000 of locked-in software.

    I take your point about UA getting the $$$ in and that driving the development of more and more plugins. I've already started to wonder if/when an Eventide Space/BigSky plugin might appear. (slippery slope, etc)


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17822
    goldtop said:
    Thanks - yours is a pro workflow compared to mine. I'm just upgrading from a C2D iMac+Saffire to an i7 Mac Mini + Apollo. For now, I'm just hoping that the Apollo has good (if not stellar) conversion that's a significant step up. And I'll get some guitar-based and mic preamp plugins for latency-free tracking. I'm hoping the Lex224 is nice enough to use for mixing, too.

    Looks like I'll just have to exercise some restraint when the inevitable discount promotions come along from UA. :) I'm sure that 'Black Friday' etc sales must get really tempting, and that's how people end up with a £800 unit with £5000 of locked-in software.

    I take your point about UA getting the $$$ in and that driving the development of more and more plugins. I've already started to wonder if/when an Eventide Space/BigSky plugin might appear. (slippery slope, etc)

    The Apollo would be fine in terms of conversion- loads of people make records with them.
    I'm just picky when it comes to some things (drums, vocals) and UA don't make a HDX compatible interface and I need to mix in HDX for various technical limitations of native.

    If you don't like the conversion you could get a spendy converter with an optical output and go into the optical input on the Apollo.
    I know someone who does this with a Prism (I think it is a Lyra) and he loves it.

    UA have a couple of yearly sales, definitely time it so you buy when a sale is on.
    I never buy at any other time.

    When you see people with $5k worth of plugins they rarely have actually spend $5k.
    I think I've spend about $2500 all up on plugins- I don't have everything but I do have everything that matters.
    All have been bought using vouchers or with the custom bundles.

    A word on some of them- I see no point in buying the UA versions of the plugins made by Softube or Brainworx.
    You can buy the non-dsp version often a lot cheaper and not have to worry about latency or managing two mixers.

    On Eventide- it might happen but Eventide's native plugins are actually really good too.

    Make sure you check out the Friedman UA plugins- they are insanely brilliant.

    My other 'must haves' are Shadow Hills Mastering Comp, all the SSL plugins, all the API plugins, all the Chandler plugins, Distressor, Fatso, EMT 140, Lexicon 224, Little Labs plugins, Ocean Way, Studer A800, 1176, LA2a, Massive Passive, Vari-Mu, Culture Vulture.

    I'm extremely happy with the UAD plugins- it has allowed me to sell some of the hardware equivalents (API 2500, Massive Passive, 1176) because they are close enough to the hardware, and I've invested in a few pieces of outboard that are currently unavailable in plugins for (for example Crane Song STC8).

    They have also allowed me to get some exposure to things I'd struggle to justify purchasing in hardware (vintage LA2a, Chandler Curve Bender, Zener, Shadow Hills Mastering Comp).

    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 814
    Excellent stuff - thanks for sharing.

    As it happens there are some Softube and Brainworx plugins already included with the incoming Apollo, so I get them 'for free'. The seller's a tFBer, so most of the extra plugins are guitar-oriented. But I also get Lex224 and Ocean Way, which should be fun.

    And I saw the H910 Harmonizer has been ported, so fingers crossed on Eventide.

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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11585
    For what it's worth, my main objection to this kind of lock-in is that the source files for any content you create with the plugins are only usable for as long as you own the device. If you get rid of the UAD device (or, at some point in the far future when the device is no longer supported), all of the projects you created with it are effectively dead unless you want to go back and re-do all the work with different plugins.

    That forces you to stay on their upgrade path for as long as you're going - all they have to do in order to force the "Shall I buy another one?" choice on you is to stop supporting newer operating systems with their drivers for the old device. That doesn't sit well with me.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 2728
    For what it's worth, my main objection to this kind of lock-in is that the source files for any content you create with the plugins are only usable for as long as you own the device. If you get rid of the UAD device (or, at some point in the far future when the device is no longer supported), all of the projects you created with it are effectively dead unless you want to go back and re-do all the work with different plugins.

    That forces you to stay on their upgrade path for as long as you're going - all they have to do in order to force the "Shall I buy another one?" choice on you is to stop supporting newer operating systems with their drivers for the old device. That doesn't sit well with me.
    Same as any software plugins that you sell or don't run on a new system. The plugins are not linked to one hardware piece IIRC so you can upgrade to newer UAD hardware and retain the old plugs (within limitations I'm sure)
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17822
    For what it's worth, my main objection to this kind of lock-in is that the source files for any content you create with the plugins are only usable for as long as you own the device. If you get rid of the UAD device (or, at some point in the far future when the device is no longer supported), all of the projects you created with it are effectively dead unless you want to go back and re-do all the work with different plugins.

    That forces you to stay on their upgrade path for as long as you're going - all they have to do in order to force the "Shall I buy another one?" choice on you is to stop supporting newer operating systems with their drivers for the old device. That doesn't sit well with me.
    Same as any software plugins that you sell or don't run on a new system. The plugins are not linked to one hardware piece IIRC so you can upgrade to newer UAD hardware and retain the old plugs (within limitations I'm sure)
    Not just a limitation of DSP systems- looks at things like Pluggo by Cyclin' 74- they just killed it off one day and left us high and dry.

    Also it is a bit of a non-issue (or at least a managed issue) because it has been part of the workflow to bounce down individual 'finished' tracks.

    Before plugins were as good as they are you would use outboard, on the channels and on the master bus- that all needs to be accounted for when you wind up a project.
    When I am at the end of I project I spend about half a day bouncing out loads of tracks with different plugins or outboard enabled and disabled.
    That all gets packaged up and put on a file server.

    It is rare that anything happens with them, the main thing is I get asked for versions of the tracks without the lead/vocal (or guitar for a shred album).
    Sometimes I get asked for drumless stems.

    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • digitalscreamdigitalscream Frets: 11585
    For what it's worth, my main objection to this kind of lock-in is that the source files for any content you create with the plugins are only usable for as long as you own the device. If you get rid of the UAD device (or, at some point in the far future when the device is no longer supported), all of the projects you created with it are effectively dead unless you want to go back and re-do all the work with different plugins.

    That forces you to stay on their upgrade path for as long as you're going - all they have to do in order to force the "Shall I buy another one?" choice on you is to stop supporting newer operating systems with their drivers for the old device. That doesn't sit well with me.
    Same as any software plugins that you sell or don't run on a new system. The plugins are not linked to one hardware piece IIRC so you can upgrade to newer UAD hardware and retain the old plugs (within limitations I'm sure)
    No, that's not my point - I'm saying that you can't upgrade to anything outside the UAD product range without losing all your plugins.

    Folk in the Apple world will already be used to a similar arrangement (forced upgrades when a point release of the operating system renders half of your software inoperable), but everywhere else...it's considered a bit distasteful.

    octatonic said:

    Not just a limitation of DSP systems- looks at things like Pluggo by Cyclin' 74- they just killed it off one day and left us high and dry.

    Also it is a bit of a non-issue (or at least a managed issue) because it has been part of the workflow to bounce down individual 'finished' tracks.

    Before plugins were as good as they are you would use outboard, on the channels and on the master bus- that all needs to be accounted for when you wind up a project.
    When I am at the end of I project I spend about half a day bouncing out loads of tracks with different plugins or outboard enabled and disabled.
    That all gets packaged up and put on a file server.

    It is rare that anything happens with them, the main thing is I get asked for versions of the tracks without the lead/vocal (or guitar for a shred album).
    Sometimes I get asked for drumless stems.

    True enough; it can be managed (albeit with an inherent loss of productivity if you need to go and make changes to a project, meaning that you end up forced to find alternative plugins), but you shouldn't have to manage it IMO.
    "Mains is ouchy if you get it up you" - Sporky
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17822
    For what it's worth, my main objection to this kind of lock-in is that the source files for any content you create with the plugins are only usable for as long as you own the device. If you get rid of the UAD device (or, at some point in the far future when the device is no longer supported), all of the projects you created with it are effectively dead unless you want to go back and re-do all the work with different plugins.

    That forces you to stay on their upgrade path for as long as you're going - all they have to do in order to force the "Shall I buy another one?" choice on you is to stop supporting newer operating systems with their drivers for the old device. That doesn't sit well with me.
    Same as any software plugins that you sell or don't run on a new system. The plugins are not linked to one hardware piece IIRC so you can upgrade to newer UAD hardware and retain the old plugs (within limitations I'm sure)
    No, that's not my point - I'm saying that you can't upgrade to anything outside the UAD product range without losing all your plugins.

    Folk in the Apple world will already be used to a similar arrangement (forced upgrades when a point release of the operating system renders half of your software inoperable), but everywhere else...it's considered a bit distasteful.

    octatonic said:

    Not just a limitation of DSP systems- looks at things like Pluggo by Cyclin' 74- they just killed it off one day and left us high and dry.

    Also it is a bit of a non-issue (or at least a managed issue) because it has been part of the workflow to bounce down individual 'finished' tracks.

    Before plugins were as good as they are you would use outboard, on the channels and on the master bus- that all needs to be accounted for when you wind up a project.
    When I am at the end of I project I spend about half a day bouncing out loads of tracks with different plugins or outboard enabled and disabled.
    That all gets packaged up and put on a file server.

    It is rare that anything happens with them, the main thing is I get asked for versions of the tracks without the lead/vocal (or guitar for a shred album).
    Sometimes I get asked for drumless stems.

    True enough; it can be managed (albeit with an inherent loss of productivity if you need to go and make changes to a project, meaning that you end up forced to find alternative plugins), but you shouldn't have to manage it IMO.
    Honestly it isn't a problem,
    Given that recalling an analogue console and aligning a tape machine used to take DAAAAYS.
    And getting it exact was never really possible- you got close, so people would leave projects on the desk for days at a time because they were scared to touch it..

    Being able to open a session and mostly get straight to work provided you have the same plugins is fine.
    Even resetting some plugins is fine.
    YMMV of course.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 814
    Seems the UAD ecosystem is tricky!

    FWIW, I'll be keeping this Mac 'frozen' - offline with no OS/Logic/plugin updates until and unless I've consciously decided. We'll see how that goes when the next must-have feature comes along. :-/


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17822
    goldtop said:
    Seems the UAD ecosystem is tricky!

    FWIW, I'll be keeping this Mac 'frozen' - offline with no OS/Logic/plugin updates until and unless I've consciously decided. We'll see how that goes when the next must-have feature comes along. :-/

    I run two systems (was 3 until last week but I sold one).
    The production machine (iMac 27") has only just gone to High Sierra- it is a few iterations of OS behind what is current to give manufacturers time to catch up.

    My portable (MBP 15) is the 'latest everything' so I can see what is working, what is broken etc.

    I don't worry about keeping things offline- a good firewall is all I need.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6898
    True enough; it can be managed (albeit with an inherent loss of productivity if you need to go and make changes to a project, meaning that you end up forced to find alternative plugins), but you shouldn't have to manage it IMO.

    Nothing is guaranteed in software, any company might be gone in 3-5 years time potentially leaving you in the same situation anyway.  But at least the bigger companies like UAD, Waves, Slate etc should be around and stable for the long term.  
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 814
    They (UAD) seem successful enough to continue. Their system seems to lock out piracy (only pirates I've seen are a few people trying to sell/rent out their accounts; can't quite figure out how that works).

    In other news ...  GAS being what it is, within 1 day, the Apollo Twin has already sent me looking for an ADAT expander for more inputs! Honest, I did draw it all out, using my existing 1U 10x stereo mixer, and it all works just fine, in a budget analogue way.

    But it would be so much nicer to use something like an Audient ASP800 and do all of the mixing and routing in the console.

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