Univer­sal Au­dio Ar­row

The lat­est, small­est, most por­ta­ble, most af­ford­able UAD-2 sys­tem ever. Daniel Grif­fiths asks, ‘What’s the catch?’

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

Ar­row is a tiny gun-metal box which slips un­der UA’s uni­ver­sally loved Apol­los at the base of the range. It’s ide­ally suited to power-user mu­sic mak­ers on the move or as the ideal en­try sys­tem for those ‘go­ing pro’ with UA’s plug­ins.

As back­ground, the UA uni­verse is an ever-grow­ing col­lec­tion of world-class plug­ins most of which em­u­late clas­sic bits of stu­dio gear. Th­ese plug­ins are sec­ond to none, but re­quire UA’s UAD-2 DSP hard­ware to take their strain and free up your com­puter for more au­dio and MIDI. It’s a lux­u­ri­ous way to make mu­sic but one that means shelling out for both hard­ware AND soft­ware.

For­tu­nately Ar­row comes com­plete with their Re­al­time Ana­log Clas­sics Bun­dle in­clud­ing hard­ware lu­mi­nar­ies the Teletronix LA-2A, UA’s own 1176, Pul­tec’s EQP-1A and even a stun­ningly on-point Mar­shall Plexi amp em­u­la­tion. The re­sult is that you’ll have hours of fun out of the box be­fore you even think about 14-day try-be­fore-you-buy­ing the Gal­axy Tape Echo, Lex­i­con 224, Studer A800 tape em­u­la­tion or SSL 4000 G Bus Com­pres­sor to name but a few. The Con­sole soft­ware man­ager works like a charm, seam­lessly in­stalling and get­ting you hooked be­fore you part with about £150 per plug or get a ‘pick any ten’ bun­dle for £999. They’re not cheap, but they’re damn good.

Which is partly why Ar­row is such a wel­come ar­rival. While it’s small, por­ta­ble, and their only bus-pow­ered box, it’s also their cheap­est, so now you’ve got spare cash to load her up.

At its most ba­sic level it’s a sim­ple two-in, four-out in­ter­face with two qual­ity mic/line ins on the back and an al­ter­na­tive Hi-Z (gui­tar) in on the front. There’s two jack outs and stereo head­phone out. The in­puts are no­table in that they use UA’s Uni­son tech­nol­ogy to – with an ap­pro­pri­ate plugin in place – ac­cu­rately em­u­late preamps from Neve or Api for ex­am­ple, or the im­ped­ance and gain stag­ing of amps from Fen­der or Gib­son. All nigh-on la­tency free. It’s a real bonus that this sig­na­ture fea­ture has been in­cluded on this base­line box and they sound as great as they do on the big­ger units.

The box it­self is half the size of a Jackie Collins novel, all metal, su­per rugged and a sin­gle Thun­der­bolt 3 lead is all you need to power up and start work. Ar­row is the per­fect por­ta­ble part­ner to Ap­ple’s cur­rent Thun­der­bolt 3 based Mac­Book Pro (or less por­ta­ble) iMac Pro ma­chines. This of course will limit its au­di­ence but given that you don’t even get a Thun­der­bolt 3 lead in the box, it’s just as easy to buy a USB-C to Thun­der­bolt 3 which will at least let you use it on some less up-to-theminute Macs.

Sim­i­larly lim­it­ing is the fact that Ar­row is ‘only’ equipped with a sin­gle ‘Solo’ UAD-2 DSP chip while its big­ger brother Apol­los comes in ‘Duo’ and ‘Quads’ able to run two, or four times as many plug­ins. That means that big projects – think 25 tracks each with a plug or two – will max out this (cur­rently) Solo-only box de­pend­ing on the plug­ins at play.

In all, if you’ve the right com­puter, have sim­ple in­put re­quire­ments and value qual­ity, porta­bil­ity, ease and el­e­gance, Ar­row is un­beat­able – the per­fect gate­way to UA’s world-class plug­ins. Once you’re there, you won’t want to go back. FM VER­DICT 9.0 The por­ta­ble gate­way to UA’s world. Well-built, keenly priced. But com­pat­i­bil­ity and Solo-only power may mean it misses your tar­get

The plug­ins are sec­ond to none but it’s a way of work­ing that re­quires shelling out for hard­ware and soft­ware

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