April 8, 2022

Universal Audio Spark: UA plug-ins without the interface!

For years, Universal Audio has made hay with proprietary plug-ins that were only usable if you purchased one of the company’s audio interfaces. Said interfaces, such as the Apollo series, feature secondary processors to run the plugins.

UA’s excellent but pricey Apollo Twin X audio interface.

But while these plug-ins have generally garnered rave reviews, both they and the interfaces they run on are expensive. Actually, compared to the hardware that they emulate, the plug-ins are cheap. Compared to the plug-ins you find in most DAWs, not so much.

Now, on the heels of the Company’s promising Luna DAW and affordable Volt interfaces, UA is making a selection of these plug-ins available to users of other interfaces via their Spark service. The cost? $20 a month, or $150 a year. Considering that’s what one or two UA plug-ins tied to UA hardware cost, that’s very affordable.

UA’s mainstream Volt 276 interface.

And yes, this means these instrument and effect plug-ins, ported over for the Luna DAW, run natively on your computer rather than on a UA interface’s processors. For the nonce, on the Mac as both AU and VST3, and this fall (2022), Windows.

What’s on offer

The first batch includes the company’s Opal synth, Ravel piano, Waterfall B3, and Mini-moog instruments.

The first UA virtual instruments to appear in the Spark service. They sound good. Very good.

A host of the company’s famous studio gear emulations are also on hand: 1176 pre-amp, Lexicon 224 Reverb, Studer tape emulation, and many more.

Many of UA’s sterling effect emulations are also available.

It seems Universal Audio is extending its product into the mainstream. Even if you don’t want to rent the plug-ins all year long, the fact that they’re available for particular projects and the like is a boon. UA’s stuff sounds good. Really good.

There’s a free 14-day trial available. Check them out.