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Hands On Review: Universal Audio UAD-2 Satellite

If you’ve been reading SweetNotes for a while, then you know I’m a big fan of the Universal Audio UAD-2 platform. The UAD DSP hardware works great, and I love the plug-ins; I think they’re some of the best on the market. I’ve been using the UAD-2 Quad card in my studio and the UAD-2 Solo/Laptop in my MacBook ever since they became available, and I’d be loath to give them up!

But for portable applications, unless you had an ExpressCard slot in your laptop, you were out of luck as far as the UAD-2 family goes – until now, that is. The UAD-2 Satellite is a portable version of the UAD-2 DSP accelerator. It connects to your Intel-based desktop or laptop Mac via FireWire 400 or FireWire 800. As with the other UAD-2 models, the UAD-2 Satellite offers a variety of bundled plug-in packages. My advice is to get the package with the most plug-ins – you’re going to want them all! I received a UAD-2 Satellite Quad, which has four DSP accelerator chips in it. There is also a Duo version, which includes two DSP accelerator chips.

Getting the UAD-2 Satellite working is easy; just install the software from the included CD-ROM, plug in the Satellite, hook up the power supply, and go.

The Satellite comes with a free 14-day demo of all the available plug-ins, so you can give everything a real try in your own studio. There are so many great plug-ins, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two of the latest: The Studer A800 emulates the sound of an analog tape machine to the nth degree. And the new Lexicon 224 reverb is simply stunning. The Lex 224 is a studio-standard digital reverb, and for good reason. It creates amazing ambiences and ‘verbs – and this plug-in nails them. I spent way too much time trying it in place of my usual reverbs, and I was always happy with the results.

With the UAD-2 Satellite, Universal Audio has taken the UAD-2 platform to a whole new level of portability. If you’re a MacBook user and felt you were missing out because there wasn’t a UAD-2 that was compatible with your machine, then don’t wait another second! The UAD-2 Satellite is simple to install, lightweight, and portable, and it runs an amazing array of top-notch plug-ins. This little box can, with one quick FireWire connection, take your mixes to an entirely new level!

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