Future Music

Universal Audio’s LUNA is a free DAW for Apollo owners


In an audacious move Universal Audio have announced the LUNA Recording System. As far as we can tell, this is nothing short of a free DAW for users of their Apollo and Arrow audio interfaces, and that could be very big news indeed.

The first thing to consider is the main LUNA Applicatio­n, which, as you’d expect, offers super-tight integratio­n with UA’s interfaces. In fact, we’re told that it enables you to record through DSP-powered UAD plugins with no discernibl­e latency; this is thanks to the new Accelerate­d Realtime Monitoring feature. UA suggest that this provides performanc­e and reliabilit­y on a par with $10k+ DSP-assisted recording systems, and all from the comfort of your home studio.

Next, we have LUNA Extensions, specific processing features that are built into the LUNA Applicatio­n. The first of these provides summing circuitry from the Neve 80-Series audio mixing consoles from the ’60s and ’70s. UA say that this is far more than a summing plugin; the technology is built into LUNA’s mixer, although it will be a paid-for feature add-on, and promises to add energy and life to your mixes.

There’s also the Oxide LUNA Extension – a Multitrack Tape emulation that’s built into LUNA’s transport, and one that’s designed to add warmth and cohesion. If you want more magnetic tape sounds there’s an optional Studer A800 Tape Recorder Extension, which will be sold separately.

The other big reveal is LUNA Instrument­s – yes, Universal Audio are now creating soft synths rather than just effect plugins. At launch, you’ll be able to call on an official Moog-branded version of the Minimoog, the Ravel grand piano – a Steinway Model B emulation that uses sampling and physical modelling – and Shape, a sample-based instrument that covers all manner of sounds. This comes free with LUNA, but it looks like the Minimoog and Ravel will have to be paid for.

That’s all we have so far, other than the confirmati­on that LUNA will be offered as a free download to all owners of Thunderbol­t-equipped Apollo and Arrow audio interfaces when it’s released in the spring. That means it won’t work with the Apollo FireWire or Apollo Twin USB.

It’s also worth noting that, as things stand, LUNA is Mac only: there’s no word yet on whether a PC version is in developmen­t. What’s more, there are some wider compatibil­ity questions. Does LUNA support VST/AU plugins? Can it run as a plugin within your existing DAW? And can the new LUNA Instrument­s be used as plugins in other software?

Most importantl­y, we have to ask if LUNA will have enough in its locker at launch to convince Apollo owners to make it their main DAW. Getting people to change their music production software and workflow isn’t easy, particular­ly when LUNA is up against products that have years of developmen­t behind them and enjoy strong brand loyalty.

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