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Should I Buy It? – United Plugins Review

In this week’s episode of “Should I Buy It?” Yeuda takes a look at five plugins under the United Plugins umbrella. United Plugins is a cohort oof plugin developers that banded together, they are – FireSonic, Sounddevice Digital, JMG Sound, and MeldaProduction. We’ve covered MeldaProduction’s products in the past on the blog, so this time we’re going at it with a new perspective. Watch the review video below, and read the breakdown below that.

 

 

Breakdowns

Front DAW Rating: 8.5/10

Pros:

– Simple and straight forward plugin

– Sutble (That might be a good thing)

Cons:

– Too subtle (Still might be a good thing)

Get FrontDaw for $53 here.

 

 

The first plugin we’ll break down is FrontDAW by Soundevice Digital. This plugin emulates analog channel strips with the intention being to put it in the FRONT of your effects chain. It adds a subtle saturation to your audio signal, which sounds pretty good.

There are three different saturation models – US, British, German. Each model recreates the classic sounds from each country’s technology. “US stands for legendary punchy American style input. BR represents classic fat British consoles, and switch it to GE for velvet sounding colorful vintage German tube console.” Those are words from the developers, we simply couldn’t say it any better.

Aside from the saturation modes, there are only three other controls in the plugin: Input Gain, High-pass filter, and our favorite – Mojo.

Finally, a very cool feature this plugin uses is the built-in VARM technology. VARM stands for Variable Analogue Random Modeling which means every time you open the plugin, it will work just a bit differently. WHY would you want something like that you may ask? Well, analog gear is always affected by its environment, like temperature and humidity. So, this plugin will introduce similarly ever-changing conditions to its virtual components to give it more of a personality.

Fire Cobra Rating: 8.5/10

Pros:

– Complex sonic processing with a simple interface is always a plus

– The 3 processing engines are audible and enhancing without going to extremes

Cons:

– Oversampling takes too much CPU

– No built-in Gain matching to make sure we don’t think “Louder is Better”

Get your copy here for $143.

 

 

Fire Cobra is up next. With such a badass name hopefully, this plugin can deliver. From what we can tell, it totally does!

Fire Cobra is a sonic enhancer at heart, and its main parameter is the Intensity knob. That will juice up your audio with the flick of your wrist. If that doesn’t do it for you though, the Smack and Analogize knobs are there to lift you up. Both will add harmonic distortion and a bit of saturation.

What’s the secret here? Well, the developers say there is a lot of magic happening in the background. A.I. technology analyzes your input audio in order to compress and expand simultaneously. You’re left with hidden sounds coming to life and overbearing sounds put in their proper place.

It’s always refreshing to have complexity in plugins tucked away and controlled with a few knobs.

Fire Master Rating: 9/10

Pros:

– Can be your secret weapon and extra sauce on for Mastering and Bus Processing

– The Main Depth knob adds body, size, and space in a very musical way.

– Can be used on Master track, groups and individual tracks alike.

Cons:

– No built-in Gain matching to make sure we don’t think “Louder is Better”

– Color sound more spatial then coloring (it’s sounds so cool when automation) might need to be renamed

Get your copy here for $65 (on sale, reg. $110). 

 

 

The Fire Master is the “cherry on top” to the glory of Fire Cobra. It is designed as a finishing tool, and it will add any needed body or polish to your tracks. It sports the exact same looks as Fire Cobra which makes it easy to navigate. The parameters, however, are different from Fire Cobra.

On Fire Master you have Bass, Depth, Air, and Color. Bass and Air are quite typical EQ boosters. They work especially well on buses if you don’t need to be too specific with your frequency spectrum. The real stars are Depth and Color.

Depth increases the effect but also adds a small amount of reverb, almost as if it is putting the audio into a room. It’s a rare and beautiful effect. We thought Color was supposed to be a saturator but the effect is really quite subtle. It seems like it adjusts the size of the delay/reverb space controlled by Depth.

The magic comes in when you automate the Color knob. That introduces a slight pitch-drift into the signal which is just super far-out.

Royal Compressor Rating: 7.5/10

Pros:

– Can add a lot of body as a parallel compressor

Cons:

– Too pumping, soft and thinning for most the application we used it for

– All presets (there are not many) have an extreme difference in volume… auto-gain should be utilized

– Very colorful and has a hard time catching fast transients

Get your copy for $143 today on the United Plugins website.

 

 

Royal Compressor is a Vari-Mu analog emulation, with inspiration taken from the compressors used on many Beatles tracks. All in all, we found the Royal Compressor to be generally unimpressive. It performs Vari-Mu compression alright it just doesn’t stand out any better than the native compressors in Live.

The interface is easy to navigate, and it does look realistic (well-done art team!). All the knobs are straightforward if you are familiar with compression. The main sauce comes from the three compression models to choose from – A, B, and C. A is the slowest and least colorful while C is the quickest and most colorful. Play around with the presets or your own designs and let us know what you thought.

Hyperspace Rating: 9/10

Pros:

– Extremely Versatile and easy to use thanks to the main XY Pads

– Factory Presets doing a great job showcasing the possibilities of the reverb

– Distance, Shimmer, Multiply, Ducking, and Interia (Freezing) are not so common features that works great for this effect

Cons:

– Pre Delay cannot be synced

– Time of Reverb Modulation cannot be changed

– No Tooltips and the Manual seems to be old

Get your copy here for $143.

 

 

The last plugin we checked out was Hyperspace from JMG. Hyperspace is an algorithmic reverb plugin based on a variety of different reverb patterns. JMG described it by saying, “Vintage, Classic, Retro, Modern, Sci-Fi and Cosmic modes let you combine various algorithms with endless possibilities.” Yeuda himself described it as “super dope.”

Hyperspace was easily our favorite plugin in this batch. It’s very flexible and a great reverb all around. The interface is flat but easy enough to follow.

On the left, we have the time/decay controls which much are more than we are used to seeing! Twelve parameters to shape the tails of your reverb, wow. In the middle are the algorithmic modes you can blend between, automate those for some real space-age control. On the right are parameters that will control the delays of the reverb. With so many parameters the plugin allows or an infinite amount of customization.

If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed by all the choice, utilize the randomizers. In the upper right are three dice which will generate random settings for all of the parameters when clicked. We love and appreciate this kind of feature.

Want to Learn More?

Are you new to production, or need a refresher in mastering? Beat Lab Academy’s online production and in-person Ableton courses will give you the skills you need to become tomorrow’s super producer.

 

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