URS Saturation Plug-in 2.0
By Barry Rudolf
Starting with software for RTAS,
AU and VST formats on Mac OSX (PC support and TDM coming soon), the new
Unique Recording Software or URS Saturation plug-in is the most comprehensive
collection of amplifier models ready to exhibit every conceivable mode
and sound of being overdriven or saturated. Saturation 2.0 has nine vintage
analog algorithms with 158 presets. The six vintage mic pre-amp algorithms
cover the sound of "British", "German" and American tube in both Class-A
and FET transistorized units. The presets have variations of transformer
core saturation and mono analog 15/30-i.p.s. tape recorder overloading.
URS even has thought to include
soft clipping--a common occurrence in old recordings made by even the best
engineers when singers and musicians pushed a little harder and gently
overloaded the mics and tape decks.
I installed URS Saturation 2.0 in
my Pro Tools rig and it is head and shoulders better than any of my other
"analog" or saturation plug-ins. It wins by virtual of its complete adjustability
and vast collection of sonic treatments. Distortion is a newfound friend
in my mixing suite. I like the Input Control to adjust the level into the
drive amp; the ability to control the type (odd and even) and the amount
of desired harmonics, saturation and soft clipping; and finally the blend
control to mix the straight signal with the grunge.
Saturation 2.0 use 64-bit floating
point processing and there is a cool plasma meter to show the increase
in apparent loudness even though the VU meter does not. Much more at: www.ursplugins.com
Musician » DSP Software
Quick Pick: Unique Recording
Software Classic Console Strip Pro 1.1 (Mac/Win)
Nov 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Brian
Classic Console Strip Pro ($599;
TDM-RTAS version, $1,199) extends Unique Recording Software's line of emulated
vintage EQs and compressors, and it raises the bar significantly. This
iLok-protected VST, AU, and RTAS plug-in combines an integrated channel
strip (input stage, EQ, and compressor) with a fully modular signal path.
Depending on the section, you'll find from 5 to 60 models that let you
faithfully reproduce an entire vintage signal path, mix and match components
from 1951 through 1980, or go with the uncolored, digital option.
Input and output controls on
the left, compression in the center, and EQ on the right give you many
channel strip options in Classic Console Strip Pro
You choose the input stage from
a drop-down menu presenting 30 model algorithms, including tube stages,
British Class A transformers, and tape machine heads. An intensity slider
determines how much of the chosen color is applied (without affecting the
input volume). A separate knob lets you boost or cut the input by up to
12 dB. Presets (called Starting Points) will configure the input-stage
and compressor modules with logically matched choices. Alternatively, you
can lock your input-stage choices to defeat the interdependence of the
GO WITH THE FLOW
The interactive Signal Flow display
is useful and well implemented, with its labels updating as Pre/Post switches
on various modules are changed. In a welcome touch, the display's buttons
double as bypass switches, eliminating the hunt for each section's bypass.
The compressor section contains
all the controls you expect on a modern compressor, including many that
were not on the original hardware units. You can place the compressor pre-
or post-EQ. Because the 60 available Starting Points model vintage hardware
units among which there was little consistency, changing Starting Points
even within the same algorithm family alters all the other compression
parameters. Although this accomplishes the goal of truly emulating the
hardware, it makes it fairly difficult to make A/B comparisons.
The compressor is fed by a lowpass
and highpass filter module below it that you toggle between the internal
signal and an external source for sidechaining. I found the implementation
of the Threshold knob odd — turning it clockwise increases the amount of
The EQ section has four fully parametric
bands as well as the lowpass and highpass filters just mentioned. You can
configure two of the bands as shelving filters, and each band has its own
bypass button. You get a choice of five algorithms for each parametric
EQ band. That makes Classic Console Strip Pro the EQ to beat for tonal
flexibility (see Web Clips 1, 2, 3> and 4). It's worth noting that like
the hardware it emulates, Classic Console Strip Pro doesn't offer a graphical
Input and output VU meters, along
with a gain reduction meter, round out the control panel. A thoughtful
option lets you choose linear (up and down) or circular mouse control.
Classic Console Strip Pro reports
less than 1 sample of latency (at 44.1 kHz), and, although not a CPU hog,
it does take some power. One stereo instance used about 25 percent of my
aging 1 GHz PowerBook G4. A more limited but excellent-sounding and more
CPU-efficient plug-in, Classic Console Strip, is included.
The documentation is well written
and comprehensive, and it is necessary reading to get the most from this
plug-in. For example, the intensity control on the input stage is a nice
feature, but it isn't labeled, so its function is not immediately apparent.
Mastering the shorthand for the various algorithm names also requires referencing
the listings in the manual. Detailed as the algorithm names are, the actual
names of specific pieces of gear are never used. URS didn't offer an explanation,
but with a little bit of background, one might infer that the 1967 FET
Limiter with the “4,” “8,” “12,” “20,” and “All” choices might be a model
of a UREI 1176, or that the models called “TubeChild” could somehow be
based on the Fairchild 660/670.
Classic Console Strip Pro lives
up to the high goals it has set for itself. With all its algorithms and
controls, you can achieve an almost limitless variety of timbres. Some
of these, such as the various 15 and 30 ips tape input stages, are quite
subtle, whereas others, like the tube stages, add color when driven hard.
This is one of the most useful plug-ins I've seen for recording and mixing
the staple instruments of rock.
Value (1 through 5): 4
Unique Recording Software
URS Classic Console Strip Pro
in SOS March 2008- Sound on Sound
Channel Strip Plug-in [Mac/Windows]
& Buy PDF
Unique Recording Software have
modelled a vast array of vintage compressors and EQs and presented the
results in a single plug-in.
by Sam Inglis
Stand-alone hardware channel strips
became big news in the ’90s as engineers began to migrate to computer-based
systems for recording and mixing. Ditching the big desks and racks of outboard
effects in favour of PCs and plug-ins brought undeniable benefits: automation
got more sophisticated, track counts grew, space was saved. Yet many engineers
felt that something else went by the wayside in the process. Digital audio
workstations might have allowed them to use hundreds of EQs and compressors
on every track, but those EQs and compressors just didn’t sound as good
as their analogue counterparts.
The idea behind the channel strip
was to put back that missing analogue magic, but in a format that lent
itself to the new digital working practices. Thus, a typical rackmounting
channel strip would include a high-quality mic preamp, compressor and equaliser,
in some cases taken bodily from vintage mixer channel strips. Important
signals such as lead vocals could then be processed on the way in to the
computer, to give them the sheen and substance that plug-ins weren’t able
Throughout this decade, plug-in
manufacturers have been working hard to change the prevailing view of their
products as cold, sterile or lifeless, with a good deal of success. Plug-in
recreations of vintage analogue processors have become big business, and
their quality has improved to the extent that companies such as Neve, API
and SSL have allo wed their names to be attached to digital emulations
of their classic hardware. And, perhaps inevitably, things have now come
full circle, and you can buy plug-ins designed to emulate the hardware
that was designed to mean you wouldn’t need to use plug-ins...
All of which brings us to the subject
of this review, URS’s Classic Console Strip Pro. Like many other plug-ins,
its raison d’être is the recreation of vintage analogue processing
in a digital environment. However, Classic Console Strip Pro goes way beyond
the idea of emulating any one vintage channel strip. Instead, it offers
a modular design that makes it one of the most comprehensive and versatile
processing plug-ins on the market. Classic Console Strip Pro is available
in TDM and all major native formats on Mac and PC, and is authorised to
an iLok key. Installation is straightforward, although it’s slightly frustrating
that you need to download and run separate installers for every version
you want to install (VST, RTAS, TDM and so on).
The Classic Console Strip Pro window
is divided into a number of sections. Some of these can be re-ordered using
the Pre and Post switches, with the current order displayed in the Signal
Flow section at the left. This also provides a handy way of bypassing individual
sections, which can lighten CPU load. Presets saved at the host or plug-in
level capture the entire status of the plug-in, but there are also drop-down
menus in the individual sections. These allow you to change the model or
algorithm that section is using, and in the case of the compressor section,
bring up appropriate preset time constants and other settings for that
The one fixed element in the signal
path is the modelled input stage, which, as you’d expect, is always the
first thing your signal encounters. A drop-down menu provides access to
a range of algorithms which model different combinations of transformer
input stages, tape-head bumps, and tape machine or valve electronics. A
gain control lets you choose how hard to drive this algorithm, and an Intensity
slider runs from zero to 200 percent — the halfway point being the most
faithful to the original hardware.
A World Of Dynamics
There are three further sections:
compressor, filter and EQ. These can be arranged in any order, or the filter
section can be placed in the compressor side-chain rather than in the audio
The filter section is the simplest,
and the only one that does not provide a choice of algorithms. Instead,
you get low- and high-pass filters with a fixed slope, both with cutoff
fully variable from 20Hz to 20kHz. If you put it in the audio path, it
does a good job of cleaning up low-end rumbles or high-frequency noise,
but unlike the full-blown EQ section, its sound is transparent rather than
characterful. In use, it seemed to me most valuable switched into the compressor
side-chain; a gentle high-pass helps stop the compressor pumping on low-frequency
sounds like kick drums, while a more aggressive setting can be used to
make the compressor act as a de-esser.
The compressor section seems to
be partially derived from URS’s existing 1970 and 1980 Compressor plug-ins,
but they have extended their remit to cover a huge range of vintage units.
URS told me that they don’t use convolution, and their plug-ins’ relatively
low DSP or CPU loads bear this out; but whatever technique they are using
seems to involve creating several different algorithms for each piece of
hardware, at different ratio settings. So, for instance, there are four
‘Stress’ algorithms (based on the Empirical Labs Distressor?), which default
to ratio settings of 3:1, 6:1, 10:1 and 20:1 respectively, and other hardware
units are similarly represented four or five times each.
Many of the hardware units emulated
here had fixed, stepped or otherwise restricted time constants, so choosing
a compression algorithm from the drop-down list also sets these to appropriate
values, along with the separate Knee dial. However, the plug-in’s interface
is the same whatever model you select, and all the controls remain active
over their full range; so even if, for instance, you select the ‘Stress
3’ algorithm, there’s nothing to stop you moving the Ratio dial to 20:1
or even higher. Likewise, you can happily use super-fast attack times on
models of legendarily slow compressors if you want to. This may displease
some vintage obsessives, but as URS’s Bobby Nathan points out, the ‘original’
feature set is not sacred; it was common for studios to modify classic
hardware to maximise its flexibility, and URS are merely extending the
same principle here.
One thing that initially confused
me about Classic Console Strip Pro’s compressor section is that calling
up a new compressor algorithm also resets the Threshold and Gain Makeup
controls. This means that if you use the Threshold control to manage the
amount of gain reduction, it’s hard to perform A/B comparisons between
different compressor algorithms. However, there is logic behind this approach;
each compressor preset has been designed to deliver the same amount of
gain reduction, so if you want to A/B them, the easiest way is to leave
these controls at the default settings and turn up the plug-in’s input
gain control until you get the desired amount of compression. When you
then switch to a new compressor preset, the output level should remain
unchanged, even if that preset uses radically different ratio and time-constant
settings. The idea, apparently, is that this provides a good way of learning
the differences between the different compressor models; once the user
is more familiar with them, he or she will be more confident about moving
away from the presets and making free with the Threshold and other controls.
It’s an interesting approach, but it takes some getting used to.
By default, an appropriate input
stage model is selected automatically whenever you choose a compressor
model, but during the course of this review URS released an updated version
1.1 of the plug-in that makes it possible to turn this linking off. This
version also introduced authentic auto-release settings for seven of the
Strike Up The Bands
The right-hand half of the Classic
Console Strip Pro window is devoted to the four-band EQ. Each band allows
you to select one of five algorithms; these, again, mimic classic hardware,
but have been given dates instead of names. (I’m not sure why URS have
to be quite so coy about what they are emulating!) Few of the original
hardware units being mimicked here had bandwidth controls, while most had
only a few stepped frequency settings (and in the case of the ‘1951’ EQ,
no boost circuitry at all), but as with the compression section, the plug-in
controls remain freely variable regardless. The Q setting ranges from 3.0
to 0.25, cut and boost run to 15dB in either direction, and the frequency
range covers 1.5kHz to 20kHz (HF band), 220Hz to 7kHz (the two mid-frequency
bands) and 20 to 500 Hz at the bottom end. The two outer bands can be switched
between shelving and peaking operation.
I’ve been a long-term user of URS’s
Classic Console Compressors bundle, and especially their A- and N-series
EQ plug-ins. In terms of sound quality, the compression and EQ sections
of the Classic Console Strip Pro plug-in easily match those earlier products,
as you’d expect. In terms of versatility, moreover, they go way beyond
URS’s previous efforts, although it’s mildly annoying that the two mid
EQ bands can’t be set lower than 220Hz. The compressor algorithms augment
the slightly generic ‘vintage’ feel of the Classic Console Compressors
models with a huge range of distinctive and highly usable hardware emulations,
including valve, optical, FET and VCA designs, as well as tape compression.
I can’t think of any other plug-in that models so many different input
stages, although Cranesong’s Phoenix and Magix’s Analogue Modelling Suite
offer good alternative takes on the idea. Now that a programme-dependent
release option has been added, the only major functional improvement I’d
like to see would be the addition of a separate, dedicated de-esser. You
can turn the compressor into a competent sibilant remover easily enough
by filtering the side-chain, but of course doing so means you can’t also
use it as a compressor. A dedicated de-essing section could also incorporate
more advanced options such as split processing to compress only the offending
From a new user’s point of view,
the inevitable down side to all its flexibility is that Classic Console
Strip Pro is not as immediate as URS’s individual plug-ins. Until you familiarise
yourself with the quirks of the different compressor algorithms, the list
is pretty daunting, and the unconventional design approach behind the compressor
presets takes some getting used to. Likewise, the simplicity of something
like the A-series EQ plug-in is a little lost when you start to introduce
Q controls and freely variable frequency ranges. However, there’s a good
selection of presets that can serve as starting points, and I imagine most
users will quickly build up a library of their own.
It’s the sound that matters most,
though, and if the aim is to create a truly ‘one stop’ processing shop,
Classic Console Strip Pro certainly has the sonic bases covered. Whether
you’re after bright, in-your-face, screwed-down ’80s rock vocals, warm
’70s folksiness, characterful ’60s colour, or whatever, you’ll find it
here. It’s equally at home on other sources, such as acoustic guitar or
bass, and I liked it as a mix-bus processor too; the ‘Tape 15ips’ preset,
for instance, adds a subtle forwardness and bass boost that can really
make a mix sound rounded and complete.
In short, then, there’s very little
to dislike about Classic Console Strip Pro, but prospective buyers might
need to think about how well its ‘one plug-in to rule them all’ philosophy
chimes with them. One of the great benefits of mixing in the box is the
ease with which you can combine different processors from different manufacturers,
and personally, my instinct is often to reach for simpler, single-function
EQ and dynamics plug-ins that I know inside out, even though they may not
offer the same depth or versatility. What URS have set against that here
is the potential to create your own custom ‘analogue’ console by inserting
the same plug-in across multiple DAW tracks, and that will be a mouth-watering
prospect to many. If you like the idea of a comprehensive channel processor
within a single package, and you’re willing to put some time into getting
to know it, you should run, not walk, to URS’s web site and download the
demo of Classic Console Strip Pro.
Buying Classic Console Strip Pro
gets you a free copy of the much more straightforward Classic Console Strip
plug-in, which is also available as a separate product. When you haven’t
the time or the inclination to delve into the complexities of the full
Pro version, this could be very handy. It’s also designed to have a very
low CPU or DSP load (not that the full version is excessive), and to map
easily onto hardware controllers for hands-on adjustment.
The compressor section is based
on the ‘1975 VCA’ model from the Pro version, including an emulated transformer
input stage, and offers basic Threshold, Ratio and Gain Makeup controls,
plus a choice of three preset time-constant settings. It can be switched
pre- or post- the three-band EQ, which features an equally simple feature
set. Low and high filters have switchable turnover points, and the sweepable
mid can be set to Sharp or Wide Q.
The three EQ bands are taken from
different hardware models, but complement one another well, and the streamlined
feature set is well suited to getting good vocal sounds in a hurry. If
the full Pro version is beyond your means or seems over-complex for your
purposes, it’s worth looking at this plug-in (native £97.53,TDM £190.35)
as a product in its own right.
Magazine Tape Simulator Software Showdown
By Craig Anderton
URS Classic Console Strip Pro
+ URS Strip
And now for something completely
different: a channel strip “construction kit” where you can select from
30 input stage algorithms, 60 compressor/limiter algorithms, and 5 selectable
EQ algorithms. Both the input and compressor algorithms include tape emulation
options, so if you want, say, an input strip with a Class A transformer-based
input stage coming from 1/2" 30 ips tape that goes into tape-type compression
with vintage 1951-style EQ, no problem.
If you seek hardcore tape crunching,
or simulations of different types of tape, look elsewhere—this plug-in
is really all about tailoring a channel strip to the sonic qualities you
find most appealing. That might involve, say, choosing the 15ips input
characteristics to pick up a bit of head bump, and balance out some of
the “air” introduced by running the high-band 1951-style EQ. Some differences
are subtle, and some more obvious; going through all the options to find
out what you like is time-consuming, but offers plenty of rewards. With
a plug-in this versatile, it’s very helpful that the documentation is both
clear and comprehensive, especially with respect to figuring out how the
It almost seems incongruous to include
this excellent plug-in in a tape sim roundup, as the tape sim aspect is
just a part of the program’s overall character. But if you’re looking to
pick up some of the vibe of tape without hitting people over the head with
it, whether for an input stage or for compression, this is a lovely plug-in.
Anything I ran through it benefited in some way—and that’s saying a lot.
System requirements: Windows XP,
Mac OSX 10.3.9 or later, Universal Binary
Formats: Windows TDM/RTAS/ VST;
List price: ($1,199.99 TDM/RTAS/
AU/VST, $599.99 without TDM)
Tech Magazine Publish date: 15 October 2007
Why struggle with a pile of EQ and compression plug-ins
when a single channel strip will cover all the bases for you? Mark Cousins
explores the Channel Strip Pro...
The glory days of the big studio
console might well be gone, but its most integral asset – the channel strip
– seems to be going from strength to strength. Indeed, you need only to
look at the wealth of software products directly modelled from leading
console channel strips to see just how much of a driving force they’ve
become behind plug-in development: Waves’ SSL 4000 Collection, Universal
Audio’s recent Neve 88RS, and, of course, SSL’s Channel Strip plug-in (part
of the Duende system). It seems that we can’t get enough of the virtual
console and the powerful, integrated solutions to compression and EQ they
URS Classic Console Strip Pro
Corner - September 6th, 2007
for tips, tricks, and other fun stuff related to ProTools.
Console Strip Pro = “Desert Island Plug”
Do you ever
find yourself having to use all five of Pro Tools insert slots to capture
the sound you’re after? Or waste time clicking through separate
plug-in windows during mixdown? While most plug-ins offer total recall
and tons of sound shaping possibilities, sometimes we miss the classic
console “channel strip” layout and sound, combining
all the processors you need into a simple one stop processing shop. Recently,
many plug-in companies have recognized the ergonomics and efficiency of
this timeless design, offering equalization, dynamics, and a host of other
processors all wrapped into a single plug-in slot. Because I am always
in search of ways to improve the speed and quality of my mixes, I was very
excited to try out the latest in channel strip plug-ins for Pro Tools,
the Classic Console Strip Pro from U.R.S.
What has recently
been referred to as the “desert island plug,” Unique
Recording Software’s Classic Console Strip Pro represents an
entirely new solution for crafting “all in the box”
mixes that stand up against any analog outfit. Available in TDM or RTAS
format, offering EQ and dynamics modeled from vintage analog recording
consoles and outboard gear plus thirty vintage-modeled input stages for
further signal coloration, the channel strip plug-in promises authentic
vintage sounds with supreme flexibility and DSP efficiency. I have been
using the classic console strip the last couple of weeks and I thought
I would share my experiences here at the Corner. (Be sure to check out
the full list of specs here )
channel strip plug-is not a new idea (Wave’s original Renaissance
Channel has been out for years now), U.R.S.’ approach is certainly
unique in offering so much flexibility in a single plug-in. Not only can
you choose from 4 great sounding console EQ’s and 60 compressor
models, but you can also mix and match within. Want a classic 50s sound
for your low-end with a 80s hi-shelf for the top? It’s yours.
Plus you get input coloration from 30 different presets ranging from American
and British input transformers, to tape and tube combos. I normally use
a separate plug-in for tape head or transformer saturation, but with the
console strip I could set up a preset and paste it across all of my drum
tracks, just like using a large format console with channel EQ and dynamics.
Each section of the plug-in can be independently enabled/disabled and because
of its high efficiency I found myself using only specific sections from
time to time.
a tricky science, and can take a variety of different approaches to achieve
an accurate result. Fortunately URS is not new to the modeling game and
has had enjoyed previous success in the process with a number of plug-ins.
Each of the four console models and a vintage tube program EQ are based
on entirely new algorithms, so if you have already used URS’s
current line of vintage EQ models you are in for a treat (the names of
the source models cannot be disclosed for obvious legal reasons, but you
can guess many from the preset names and probably figure the rest out from
message boards). The four bands feature fully sweepable frequency and Q,
a separate low and hi pass filter is also included. I found the different
console models to offer subtle but noticeable differences in color and
found all of the EQ models to be very musical. I really enjoyed being able
to set up my EQ and flip through the 5 model variations on each band discretely
without changing any other parameters, I found it easier to not over think
the models and the time period they represented and just used my ears to
find the best choice for each band. I find that sometimes it is easy to
be lured into a false sense of reality by the preset and parameters names
in many plug-ins, and it is usually best to trust your ears and not worry
about what it may or may not be modeled after.
When I first
heard about the classic console strip I was mainly excited about the idea
of packing all those vintage sounds into a single, easy to use plug-in.
I like a plug-in that I can stripe across my mix and start tweaking immediately,
and since the console strip is fairly DSP efficient I could put it on a
ton of tracks at the beginning of my mix and when I needed to EQ or compress
it was already there waiting for me all in one window. The plug-in comes
with two versions, the full channel strip pro and a lighter, more DSP efficient
channel strip. On my HD|3 Accell, I could run 5 full instances of CSSP
per DSP chip at 24bit/44.1khz and 12 instances of the lighter weight version.
I was happy to see that the strip supports plug-in sharing, so calling
up one or two won’t kill a whole chip of DSP like many TDM plugs.
Native performance in RTAS was also impressive, the URS website has a screen
shot running 48 instances of CSSP on a quad core Mac. I liked to use the
plug-in with a custom user preset as the default to call up a specific
input stage across all of my tracks, helping color and gel my mix like
it was coming off 2” or running through a vintage console. The
ability to control the percent of input stage coloration from 0-200% was
awesome, I found myself cranking it to 200% more then a few times on rock
drums, guitar and bass. There is even a colorless digital input stage for
the audiophile purists out there.
As a bonus,
the plug-in integrated beautifully with my Digidesign control surfaces,
especially the Icon series (D-Command/D-Control), where the dedicated EQ
and Dynamics sections of the console were fully supported. I am a little
annoyed with the lack of break point EQ editing, while mixing with a mouse
it is impossible to tweak EQ frequency, gain and Q simultaneously without
breakpoint/node style EQ (Like the Digirack EQ-III and Wave’s
Renaissance and Q10 EQ). I really wish more plug-in manufacturers recognized
that the mouse is a completely different user interface and came up with
more efficient designs for users that don’t own control surfaces.
On a positive note, the classic console strips lack of EQ frequency graph
forced me to concentrate on the sound rather then lazily using my eyes
to equalize a signal.
plug-in is based on URS’s unified GUI, there is room to add more
input stages, compressors, and EQ algorithms in the future. While it is
unknown when these upgrades will be released or whether or not they will
be free to registered users, it is nice to known that once you learn the
user interface it can continue to grow sonically for years to come.
I found the
classic console strip from U.R.S. to be quite useful in quickly setting
up mixes and getting things to sit, especially across drums and guitars.
I found the presets to be well crafted and useful, and while the colors
from the different models where subtle at times they were ultimately very
musical and worth cycling through. Since the strip ships in TDM, RTAS,
VST and AU formats and supports Windows and Mac (universal binary), it
is ready to go anywhere in almost any DAW. Although I don’t think
I will be giving up some of my other favorite mixing tools and moving to
a desert island any time soon (my converters aren’t sand proof
;-), I do feel that the classic console strip makes a nice addition to
my mix workflow, both from a sonic as well as an efficiency standpoint.
While the price may be a little steep for some ($750msrp for Native and
$1500msrp for TDM), you are getting great EQ, dynamics and tape/tube/transformer
emulation in one package making it competitively priced for the feature
Classic Console Strip Pro Native reiview
September 13th, 2007
by Mikail GrahamURS
is a company that prides it self on recreating vintage hardware emulations
with a classic hardware look and feel while staying true to the original
sound in their plug-in collections. Their classic console Strip Pro follows
that philosophy with an ultra clean and simple interface where the GUI
is divided into clear easy to see sections so that your eyes can follow
the signal path at a glance instead of getting lost in a crazy mix of pretty
colors and graphics that you sometimes find elsewhere in software plug-ins.
In the URS promo they
state “you the engineer create your dream console choosing your
favorite algorithms from the Input Stage, Compressor and EQ selections”.
Well for once this is actual fact rather than marketing hype promo, read
on and see for yourself.
How Doth The Signal
To the left of the
GUI (URS pic 1) we start with the master section where you’ll
find input/output knobs, a signal flow section with bypass and popup menus
to choose one of more than 30 types of emulation including 15ips and 30ips
tape, various input transformer options and a colorless digital mode along
with a 0-200% intensity slider which allows you to adjust the input stage
amount from 0% which adds no change to the signal, 100% (where the sample
was taken), or you can boost it up to 200% for amplifying the overall effect.
There are buttons to bypass the entire plug-in, the filters, compressor
or EQ sections individually, plus a phase reversal switch and thoughtfully
a choice for diagonal or circular style mouse control of all parameters
so you can work the way you like.
To the right of the
master section you’ll find the compressor section including a
long popup with no less than 60 various compressor emulations. The possibilities
are quite impressive to say the least, but one overlooked aspect is that
when using, say, a 15” monitor running at 1042x768, the aforementioned
popup’s contents don’t all fit on the screen and worse
there is no way to get to the bottom 11-12 entries period as the popup
doesn’t scroll* – ouch! Back to the compressor, it
features standard controls such as compression ratio, attack, release,
knee, threshold and gain make up plus a switch to change the EQ signal
flow either pre or post.
*URS informed that
they optimized Strip Pro for Monitors that support 1600X1200 and 1920X1200,
and even better that this issue will be addressed in the next update.
TIP: If you do run
into this problem try clicking the down arrow on the right of the Compressor
drop down menu which will allow you to advance to the next preset down
in the list. Also, holding Shift and then clicking the down arrow on the
right of the drop down will advance to the next preset in the list.
Below the compressor
section live a high and low pass filter with individual on/off and pre/post
switches (of the compressor) or to be used in a sidechain along with a
switch for being keyed via an internal/external input.
Save for the VU and
peak style meters on top, the rest of the GUI on the far right is dedicated
to the EQ section where you’ll find four bands each with independent
gain, Q, frequency and bypass controls. There’s a HF and LF EQ,
both of which you can set to either peak or shelving, plus two midrange
bands that nicely allow for overlapping frequencies when needed. At first
glance the EQ sections appears to be a pretty plain vanilla offering until
you discover the 5 emulations (1951, 1967, 1970, 1972 & 1980) each
of which can be set to a different type for each band, clearly an innovative
feature rarely seen (so far) in most plug-in EQs, though I imagine this
will be changing as more and more people discover what URS are up to.
The Nitty Gritty
& The Sound
I work primarily in
Pro Tools HD, though on occasion I also use my old alma mater Logic or
other times its BIAS Peak for a quick 2 channel edit or Audio Hijack Pro
for example when I need to grab some system audio for a project. All of
these apps support various plug-in formats such as Audio Units, RTAS, TDM
or VST and all of which URS has wisely chosen to support on both the Mac
and the PC platforms. They use the ever present iLok copy protection scheme
that other than having to wait for your authorizations to become available
online, seems to be a pretty solid method of keeping a company’s
intellectual property intact with minimal impact on the user, though I
must tell you I do hate dongles with a passion!
Installation was a
breeze and I was up and running within minutes after receiving my authorization
codes. The bulk of my tests were done on my now vintage Dual 2.0 G5 running
OS X 10.4.9 with Pro Tools HD 7.3.1cs4 and 3.5 gigs of SDRAM running in
44.1/24 bit mode, but I also ran a slew of track count tests on my 17”
MacBook Pro running OS X 10.4.10 with 2 gigs of memory. I should also mention
that URS allows for full 192 kHz support for the TDM, RTAS and AudioSuite
and the Audio Units and VST versions as well.
With many EQ and dynamics
plug-ins you only find only a few presets (if any) to get you going, but
not so with the URS Strip Pro. There are 9 folders full useful starting
points and also 10 basic essential presets of the various emulations. Plus
a great selection of user presets awaits you at the URS Classic Console
Strip Pro Preset Blog where respected engineers like Dave Pensado (Christina
Aguilera, the Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, Missy Elliott, Ice Cube,
Lil' Kim); Brian Malouf (Queen, Madonna, Seal); Phil "Phizzle" Tan (Jermaine
Dupri, Usher, Nelly, Snoop Dog, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson) and many others
have posted their own Strip Pro creations for you to learn from, plus you
can share your own once you get up and running. It’s a simple
idea that connects URS users with one another, plus it’s fun
and offers you a great range of highly useful presets at no extra charge.
If you are wondering
what kind of hit your DSP will take, my HD rig currently has one Core card
and one Accel card, so running Pro Tools with a 48 voice playback engine
I was able to get 48 mono Strip Pro instances along with 1 stereo instance
on the Master fader and still have room for a WAVES Renaissance Reverb
via TDM. Native wise with RTAS I was able to get 22 mono Strip Pro instances
before the dreaded “out of power” alerts started popping
up. However when using the supplied URS Strip which gives you a stripped
down compressor and EQ section (see URS pic 2) without all the emulation
choices I was able to insert 48 mono instances with lots of room to spare.
When trying the same thing natively via RTAS I was also able to get 48
mono channels inserted running albeit a tad bit sluggishly with screen
updates like page flips and window scrolling. Next I ran a track count
test using Logic 7.2.3 on my Intel based MacBook Pro and able to get no
less than 60 mono instances with room for even more. Yes my disk I/O and
cpu usage meters were slammed but nonetheless everything was playing back
just fine with no GUI sluggish at all. A big sigh here as it’s
looking more and more like it’s time to upgrade my main studio
Mac to a Quad processor Intel Mac but geez oh man I sure don’t
look forward to the migration penalties when that day comes.
About now you are probably
wondering, “so how this plug-in sound?” Well I’ll
get to my opinions about that in a moment but why not download a FREE 10
day demo version and find out for yourself. URS do ask you to register
and you will need an available iLok dongle but other than that it won’t
cost you a cent to try out this plug-in in your own studio environment
and see if its really for you.
Back to the sound,
when I first inserted the URS Strip Pro I started by using it on an entire
mix via a Master fader in Pro Tools, this way I could quickly hear the
differences between the various presets and see what they added or took
away from a mix I already knew. Some of the presets added a warm and phat
character to the mix; some added a cool effect such as Telephone which
instantly added a classic telephone-like quality, very nice, boy I do love
that filter section especially when using them via automation as you can
create some very useful sound design FX with just a few mouse clicks. One
thing that eluded me a bit is the tape emulations*, which even at 200%
intensity produced very little change as compared with other tape emulation
plug-ins I have used in the past. Maybe it’s too subtle or maybe
it’s just not a strong point but I was hoping for something a
bit more noticeable with this type of emulation. The compressor presets
are vast and varied and can add a hyped effect full of classic pumping
with ease and also shoot your levels over the top very easily so proceed
with caution. There is a series of Room presets that really showcase some
of Strip Pro’s unique possibilities, such as the Mono Room and
Room 1-4 settings that hype various EQ bands while subtly changing the
compressor and filter settings.
*URS had this to say
about the Strip Pro Tape Input Stages:
strived to make the URS Strip Pro Tape Input Stages and Compression as
close to Analog Tape as possible. Many other Tape emulators sound more
like the type of compression offered from a cassette tape recorder. If
the $50k 2" Analog Tape recorder/reproducers and/ or $20k 1/2" 2 Track
Master Mixdown Tape recorders sounded that bad no professional recording
studio would have ever used them. So yes the effects are subtle. Try listening
with headphones or to a mix with the Strip Pro Tape settings used on every
track. The effect will then be much more apparent.”
I am not yet familiar
with other URS plug-ins (of which there are many!) so I can’t
speak to how the Strip Pro compares to their other compressors and EQs,
but I can say that overall it sounds like they captured the “really
usable presets” of the vintage gear they were modeling as this
plug-in always added a very warm and clear boost or cut wherever needed
so that with a few quick knob twists one can make a dull track or a full
mix sound huge yet you will also find the Strip Pro to be very subtle and
always transparent. To my ears they have captured the really usable attributes
of all the vintage gear they’ve worked so hard to emulate, which
you’ll no doubt hear as well once you start working with your
own ears and not just calling up factory presets.
So what processors
are being emulated here? URS won’t state what gear they used
for various reasons, OK fine, but as someone who has been into the world
of vintage emulation tech for some years now I can safely say that much
of the vintage audio devices used in creating Strip Pro’s algorithms
are quite rare, so much so that many folks will never get to hear the originals
as they are just not available. But having closely read through the specs
(see the URS STRIP PRO SIDEBAR) I’d almost bet money there are
the likes of an Altec 436, Crane Song STC-8, Fairchild 670, possibly a
Gates Sta-Level, the old RCA BA6A, maybe a UA 175, LA2A and or an 1176,
plus I am certain a classic collection of odds and ends are all lurking
within this plug-in’s code. Having said all of that, how does
one then compare a plug-in like Strip Pro against the vintage gear its
claiming to emulate? Not so easy is it, well try this thought on for size.
If you only had one plug-in to use for your EQ and dynamics needs I can
guarantee Strip Pro would do the job and then some. But alas in this day
and age we have access to more plug-in tools than many of us we know what
to do with, and almost every one of them does something cool, its just
that some of them do something even better than being cool –
their a must have tool that works! The URS Strip Pro falls clearly within
this latter category.
The Bottom Line
A little factoid name
dropping here, renown engineer Mike Shipley (Maroon 5, Green Day, Nickelback,
Aerosmith, Shawn Colvin, Tom Petty etc...) was instrumental in helping
with the design of Strip Pro and it shows as this plug-in offers so many
innovative ideas that only a seasoned mastering engineer would know to
ask for making the URS Strip Pro a great addition to any DSP toolkit. But
then again this plug-in is not without its faults as I do wish there were
a graphic popup or some sort of graphic editing at least for the EQ section
as after all this is a software plug-in and not a piece of hardware (great
emulations or not.) It would be nice to have bit more information about
exactly what hardware is being emulated, plus the small screen issues I
mentioned earlier do present a problem for those with a lower rez smaller
screen monitor, but these are things that can be addressed with an update
which is something I have yet to touch on. URS mentions in their promo
that “the URS Classic Console Strip Pro’s unified GUI
allows room to add more Input Stages, Compressor and EQ algorithms as they
are developed.” Hmm, sounds like room to grow to my ears, yep
I like that idea a lot and hope that URS will address some of the issues
above but also keep adding new algorithms so this vintage plug-in processor
will just get better and better.
Setting the minor issues
above aside, when you consider how flexible this plug-in is, that each
band of EQ can be selected from any of the five included 1951-1980 classic
hardware models, add to that 60 compressor presets and you have an almost
limitless (creatively speaking) set of input stage, compressor and EQ combinations
mixed with a an easy to use and reasonably efficient *DSP engine (*the
included Classic Console Strip will help with that if you need it), plus
a massive amount of presets and clearly you’ve got one killer
The bottom line when
buying any new tool that is going to cost you some hard earned money is
simple; you have to ask yourself, “is this what I really need?”
At an MSRP of $1,499.99 for the TDM version and $749.99 for the Native
version the URS Strip Pro is certainly not a cheap investment, but it is
one that I doubt you will ever regret making.
By Barry Rudolph
The Classic Console
Strip Pro TDM version lists for $1499.99 and Native RTAS version lists
for $749.99. Demo available--iLok required. Visit: www.ursplugins.com.
Software or URS has the ultimate in channel strip plug-in with Classic
Console Pro. Available in AudioSuite, RTAS and TDM for MAC only (PC support
by the time you read this!), Classic Console Pro runs in sessions up to
192kHz with near zero latency and full, 48-bit double-precision processing.
Strip Pro breaks a channel strip's signal chain down to its individual
parts each with collections of carefully-coded algorithms that recreate
the: input stage, compressor, equalizer, and side-chain sections.
The input stage
section has 30 algorithms including: console input stage/summing buss,
class A transformer, tube and analog tape head bumps (15ips 2", 30ips 2"
and 30ips half-inch) to color the signal before adding any EQ or compression.
Next are 60 compressor starting points that can match the sound and characteristics
of diode bridge, VCA, FET, opto, tube and tape compression. The compressor
models are based on prized compressors/limiters with 14 console models
and 46 outboard units recreated.
equalizer section has five selectable EQ algorithms for each band. There
are five analog recording console EQs with names and sounds any engineer
will understand immediately. You get: a 1967 American four-band, the 1970
Class A British three-band, also a 1972 Class AB British four-band, plus
a 1980 British four-band and a 1951 vintage program EQ.
Console Strip Pro filters can be assigned either pre/post the compressor
or in the compressor's side-chain. The Filters completely overlap to dial
in problem frequencies accurately and effectively.
I've been using
CCS Pro in my Pro Tools mixes for about two months now and there is nothing
it cannot do. I find the ability to 'mix and match' input stages, EQ and
compressors from across the decades to work beautifully. Sculpting sound
has never had better tools because both the desired and best (or worst)
traits of any desired processor are used in a more exacting way to produce
sound qualities I want. There is no sonic compromise--I can be very picky
about each section's exact contribution to the overall sound.
EQ and BLT EQ Bundle
audiomidi.com review October 11th, 2007
by Preston BoebelIntroduction
Sterile sound; we have all had this
problem at one time or another while using digital EQ. It’s not
that the EQs sound bad; they just don’t add anything other than
EQ. Well, hats off to the team over at URS. They have created an EQ that
not only equalizes well but adds a certain tonal color as well. This has
been accomplished be emulating the Putec EQP-1 and MEQ-5 tube EQs and placing
them in one convenient package. It’s about time.
Installing the Fulltec is a breeze.
Simply “unpack” it and click away. The installer runs
you are on your way. The authorization process on the other hand is left
up to your knowledge of using an iLok key and the iLok website. Authorizations
using this method; can be easy or difficult depending on the day. On this
particular day I had no problems with authorization. The authorization
was deposited into my iLok account and easily transferred on to the iLok
of my choice. In the past I’ve had authorizations frozen in terminal
pending status. However, the remedy is just a quick phone call away to
tech support away.
Fulltec Program EQ
At first glance the controls on this
plug can be a bit daunting; consisting of 17 “knobs”
and 7 switches.
First I will discuss the switches.
Each frequency band on the EQ has it’s own in/out switch. This
comes in handy when trying to diagnose troublesome frequencies. This function
is also great for changing the overall “color” of a
sound throughout different parts of your material. Simply automate certain
frequency peaks or cuts to come in or out to achieve different tonality.
The Fulltec also has a master in/out switch as well. This functions the
same as a bypass switch. The final switch on this EQ is a phase switch.
This is a welcome addition that too few plug-ins feature.
The knobs; even though there are
a lot of them, are easily understood as to what their functions are. URS
has done a good job keeping the labeling simple and easy to read. There
are separate master input and output line trims, high and low shelves with
selectable frequencies, as well as each having a separate boost and cut
control. These functions are similar to the original Pultec. The Middle
area contains separate low, mid, and high sections, each with their own
frequency select, bandwidth, and gain controls. The sections have a good
frequency overlap, with the overlap growing larger towards the higher frequencies.
The knobs may take some getting used to. You cannot click on the knob and
move in a linear fashion. You must move around the knob in a “twisting”
motion. That aside, you can always just click on the frequency of your
choice and the knob will move there. The gain and bandwidth controls can
be edited by clicking on the value and typing in a new one.
The Fulltec EQ changes the tone of
your audio as soon as you put it on a track. It is just as if you have
patched into an old Pultec. Just by running it through the circuit, the
source material gets a nice thickness to it (even if the EQ is flat). This
is something that cannot be said about many digital EQs.
As soon as the knobs are turned you
realize how warm this plug in is, Creating thick round bass tones as well
as a smooth high end. Even when “maxed out” the top
end never gets crispy or overly brittle. This is due to URS’s
use of hi resolution 48 bit “Double Precision” Processing.
The mid programs do exactly what they are supposed to do, without sounding
hollow or piercing.
To put this tool to the test I brought
up a full 36 track session containing a mixed song. This particular song’s
mix had turned out a little sterile and I was interested to see if it could
be salvaged. After doing a quick “save as” I proceeded
to replace all of the EQs I had used with both; the Fulltec and BLT EQs.
I soon realized that these EQs use far less processing power that what
I have been using.
These EQs sounded great on almost
all of the tracks, with my favorites being electric bass guitar and lead
vocals. On some other tracks I was unable to remove undesirable frequencies
due to the fixed frequency selection. For example: on the snare track I
wanted to remove a little 900Hz, but the only frequency choices are 1k
and 700hz. After a short time I was able to come close to recreating my
old mix. The main difference being a new warm and fuzzy feeling I had while
listening to it. The URS EQs had done the trick.
I would recommend the Fulltec and
BLT plug-ins to anyone looking for that good ol’ analog sound
but don’t have the funds to get a rack of the real thing. They
are easy on processing power and sound great
Console Strip Lives Up to Its Name
plugin from URS combines EQ and Compressor
By Frank Moldstad
mixing consoles are often judged by the quality of their equalizers and
compressors, and it's starting to be like that with Digital Audio Workstations.
of course, is that DAWs use plugins to emulate the circuitry of outboard
hardware processors and mixing consoles, in addition to presenting completely
new digital-only designs. But ironically, plugins can be much more versatile
than the hardware they emulate.
A good example
is URS' new Classic Console Strip ($249.99 native, $499.99 TDM), which
features both an EQ section and a compressor in a channel strip configuration.
The three-band EQ digitally recreates the EQ characteristics of three different
analog consoles -- one for each band.
section, meanwhile, is based on the sonic character of a transformer input
and a "feed forward" 1975 VCA gain reduction amplifier. This combination
imparts a steady warmth to the sound that can be driven to aggressiveness
when needed. The Threshold, Ratio and Gain Makeup settings are fully adjustable,
and there are three preset Attack and Release settings.
Console Strip is a great-sounding plugin that is compatible with nearly
any Mac OSX or Window XP DAW application, with VST, Audio Units and Pro
Tools TDM versions. URS has also recently announced Mac-Intel compatibility.
I tried the Classic Console Strip on both a PowerMac G5 using Logic Pro
7 and a Windows XP machine running SONAR 5, with equally good results.
It requires the use of an iLok USB copy protection key ($40), which can
host other plugins as well. The slight hassle of the iLok is worthwhile
because of this plugin's quality and utility.
First of all,
the compressor section can be run pre or post EQ (as on a console) by flipping
a switch on the plugin interface, to make the EQ work on the compressed
signal or the compressed signal on the EQ'd one. Whichever mode you choose,
changes made to either the EQ or the compressor affect how both functions
operate. Second, the Compressor and EQ sections are independent of each
other, so either one can be used in standalone mode if desired. There are
buttons in each section to switch them in or out.
Console Strip's interface is easy to grasp for anyone who's familiar with
compressor and EQ controls. There are 45 presets included in a pulldown
menu, which offer excellent starting points for guitars, basses, drums,
rooms and vocals.
EQ section has low, midrange and high frequency controls. The midrange
has a selectable frequency range from 220 Hz to 7 kHz, plus a Sharp/Wide
Q control for setting how narrowly it affects the selected frequency. The
low and high frequency controls, meanwhile, are each divided into three
frequencies. These are 55 Hz, 110 Hz and 220 Hz for the low end, and 4.5
kHz, 8.5 kHz and 16 kHz for the high end.
The fixed frequencies
for the low and high end are well chosen, and they make quick work out
of setting up a sound. If your track needs more precise adjustment than
these allow, URS also markets some very good standalone graphic and parametric
plugins (see review). As a channel strip, this plugin is designed for overall
tone contours, and its high end and low end presets zero in on the sweet
spots for most any instrumental or vocal source. The sweepable midrange
and its Q control do allow specific frequencies to be targeted, and are
very effective at tasks such as cleaning out midrange mud. The only thing
I missed in the EQ section was dedicated Low Pass and High Pass filters,
but their absence is not a significant factor overall.
And don't forget
that each of the EQ bands is modeled on a different analog console EQ.
The blending of these three tonal variations adds a pleasing harmonic overlay
to the sound.
If this were
just an EQ plugin, it would be a very good one. But with the integration
of a first-rate compressor, it becomes a great plugin. The compressor has
a smooth, round dbx-style presence that is transparent at normal settings.
But as noted previously, it is capable of stepping up when asked to deliver
an in-your-face aggressive character. I tried pushing it on drum overheads
with parallel processing -- copying the L-R tracks, compressing the bejesus
out of them, and then mixing them back with the original track. With a
20:1 compression ratio on the copied tracks, they took on an impressive
trashiness that sat beautifully in the mix when combined back with the
There is a
wide selection of compression ratios, from 1.5:1 all the way up to 100:1,
and three preset Attack and Release settings. The latter are switched by
clicking on one of three LEDs below the Threshold knob, labeled A, B and
C -- representing fast, normal and slow attack and release times.
A Gain Reduction
meter sits at the top of the compressor section, showing gain reduction
for the Limiter and Compressor. It's one of two meters on the interface,
the other being an Input/Output meter. The top bar of this meter shows
input levels and the bottom is for output levels, and a red dot appears
at the ends of these bars to indicate clipping.
the sound, which really should be first consideration. All the features
in the world don't really matter if the sound quality is marginal. But
the Classic Console Strip passes this test with flying colors.
one sound that defines this plugin because of all the different combinations
and parameters, but on any source where I tried it, it was full, balanced
and musical. I particularly liked its ability to bring out presence and
interesting harmonics on vocals, without the fake residue that some plugins
impart. It was also very good on drums, especially overheads and snare.
By going back and forth between the compressor and EQ settings, it's possible
to make fine adjustments to a track that would take much more time with
individual EQs and compressors.
Console Strip is a bread-and-butter plugin designed for everyday use in
buffing tracks to a a highly polished sheen. It's good for both tracking
and mixing, and the ability to use both the EQ and compressor sections
individually makes it all the more versatile. Both sections have excellent
sonics, and separately or together they can make featured tracks pop out
of a mix. Highly recommended.
For more information,
go to www.ursplugins.com.
URS or Unique Recording Software has
one of the most complete and soughtafter equalizer bundles.
|URS or Unique Recording Software
one of the most complete and soughtafter
equalizer bundles. The URS
Everything EQ Bundle ver 5.0 comes
RTAS, VST, AU (called Native) and
versions for Mac OS X or Windows
computers. Ten of the most coveted
classic equalizers are faithfully
here and they sound great! You can
all ten in the Everything Bundle
$1849 for TDM and $924 for the
Native versions or buy them in any
four separate bundles.
The Classic Console bundle ($599
and $399 Native) has four plug-ins:
URS A and URS N series Six band
EQ and the URS A Mix and URS N Mix
EQ--seven-band parametric equalizers.
The URS Everything EQ Bundle ver
5.0 comes in RTAS, VST, AU (called Native) and TDM versions
for Mac OS X or Windows XP computers.
Nine of the most coveted and classic
equalizers are faithfully modeled here and they sound great!
You can buy all ten in the Everything
Bundle for $2,299 for TDM and $1,199 for the Native versions
or buy them in any of four separate
The Classic Console bundle ($899
TDM and $449 Native) has two plug-ins:
the URS A Mix aURS N Mix EQ-seven-band
The S Mix EQ ($499 TDM $249 Native)
has two, the URS S Series and URS S-Mix EQs
that resemble and sound like the
famed British console equalizers.
The Classic Console Graphic EQ Bundle
($899 TDM and $449 Native) has the URS A10 and N12
ten and twelve-band graphics.
Finally, the FullTec Five-Band Program
EQ has two-band URS BLT EQ and five-band FullTec
models based on vintage tube-based
Besides modelling the great sound
of now super expensive and vintage units, these plug-ins also
impart a certain analog "je ne sais
quoi" to any track you have in Pro Tools or any other DAW. I
especially like the A10 graphic
for kick and snare--just like the original, hardware analog model
and the N Series for vocals and
guitar--it is just like the famed Vintage module. I found these plug-ins
to install and work perfectly with
no hitches in my Pro Tools HD rig running 7.1cs and MAC OS X
10.4.5. I use them everyday and
they always elicit complements from my clients. Download a trial
and buy them at www.ursplugins.com.
and Squish Down with the URS Classic Console Compressor
One of the beautiful things about
using software plug-ins is that you can have many different types within
a single song. I tend not to rely on one brand or style, instead opting
for the sonic flavors each provides individually. With compressors, I liken
them to fine wines complimenting a four star meal; sometimes you want that
aggressive Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bordeaux region of France –
sometimes it’ a smooth Shiraz from Southern Australia. The character
of the song, like the meal, will generally dictate which one is necessary.
Unique Recording Software (URS) recently
released their Classic Console Compressor Bundle for Pro Tools TDM and
Native RTAS – a tasty collection of two famous British console
bus compressors sure to liven up any good feast. Aptly called the Compressor
1970 and Compressor 1980, each is available in two versions –
compressor only or compressor/limiter/sidechain. The TDM version includes
TDM, RTAS and AudioSuite with support up to 192 kHz. Native includes RTAS
and AudioSuite, also running up to 192 kHz. Supported formats include Mono,
Stereo and Multi-Mono up to 7.1.
Running at 48-bit processing resolution,
they both feature extra headroom to help avoid that nasty internal clipping
that drives us all nuts. URS founder Bobby Nathan noted that most TDM plug-ins
are only 24- bit, having 144db dynamic range. The 48-bit TDM Classic Console
plug-ins provide 288db of dynamic range - so they don’t overload
as easily as 24-bit versions.
Above: URS 1970 Classic Console
The 1970 Classic Console Compressor
looks like it came right out of a console, and features totally independent
compressor and limiter sections. The compressor only version features Input
Level, Gain Makeup, Compression Ratio and Compression Threshold knobs.
There’s also I/O plasma metering, Gain Reduction metering, a
Compressor ‘In’ button and Attack and Release knobs.
Simple, right to the point, and slamming.
version includes additional sections with a Limiter In/Out button, Attack,
Release and Limit Threshold for the Limiter. The Filter section has HPF
and LPF knobs let you fine tune how narrow or ‘Broad Band”
the compression and they do overlap with eachother. The filters are basically
a set of equalizers that affect the frequency range of the signal being
sent to the Gain Reduction circuit. This lets you ‘tailor’
your compression and provides some nice creative sounds (more on that later).
Above the Filter I/O buttons sit
the Listen Key, which allows you to monitor the signal being sent to that
Gain Reduction circuit. The 1970’s ‘Brick Wall’
Limiter ratio is fixed at 100:1, but the Variable Limiter Attack Time is
1-50ms with the Release Time variable at 50-1500ms. You can select compressor
ratios of 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, 8:1, 10:1, 20:1 and Infinity.
As with all of URS releases, it’s
kind to your DSP. Both the 1970 and 1980 Compressor/Limiter/Sidechain versions
do 9 instances per HD Accel chip, 4 per HD and 2 per Mix chip. With the
Compressor only, it will do 17 per HD Accel, 8 per HD and 4 per Mix chip.
With support up to 192 kHz, they also fully mapped for the ICON center
section Dynamics Panel. Both also work with Win XP, Mac OS9 and OSX on
Pro Tools 7.0.
The 1980 Compressor and Compressor/Limiter/Sidechain
version are exactly like the 1970’s, except for the overall appearance
and square dB meter. While the controls may be the same physically, the
beauty is that each reacts differently in terms of sonics. My first test
was using the 1970 full version on a Joey Kramer drum loop. Playing with
the Threshold and Ratio, I was able to pull some of the room sound out,
and then use Gain Makeup to punch it through the mix. Next I automated
the LPF to provide me a filter effect (Side note: in Pro Tools, hold down
the Command, Option and Control Key on any Knob to quickly enable automation).
Then I played with the Limiter Threshold until I got it to sit just right,
and frankly, I was sold. It delivered me a fat, warm sound that was more
than just compression.
Next I placed the 1980 full version
on a drum track for a project I recently recorded with Jerry Marotta. He
played this massive world kit, with a huge kick drum and toms miked with
just four channels. Again, I went through the process of tweaking the Compression,
then pulled some unneeded 80Hz out of the kick with the Filters, finally
limiting it so it didn’t get too loud. However, I found the 1980
to be a very aggressive sounding compressor, which was perfect for this
application. It was the punchy ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’
I needed, and quite a bit different from the softer 1970 model.
I also like the fact that the Gain
Makeup control is inserted before the final Limiter, allowing you to properly
adjust how hard you hit the ‘Brick Wall’. The 1980’s
version features this style of limiter - which was actually not found on
the original unit. Overall, I ended up using quite a bit of both the 1970
and 1980 in this project – as they were both simple to use and
After extended use, I found my favorite
application for both was as a bus compressor, which was their original
intention back in the day. Alone or in combination with a Waves L3, they
can just ‘grab’ those few notes that stick out and
tuck them in. If you want to get a harder punch, I would go with the 1980.
If you like it smooth and warm (and who doesn’t?), I would go
with the 1970. As usual though, beauty is in the ear of the beholder –
so see what fits you best.
In the Years
Both plug-ins also have a very cool
‘Wheel Function’ that allows you to place your cursor
over the knob you wish to turn, and then dial in settings with your scroll
wheel. I happen to use the ‘Expert Mouse’ Kensington
trackball, and it worked without any setup. It’s kind of like
hardware meets software, and I wish other manufacturers would enable this.
Note that turning the track wheel to the left increases the knobs gain
(or level) to the right. Once you quickly adjust to that, you’re
Above: A graph showing the theoretical
number of mono instances of each compressor plug-in supported on TDM systems.
Make sure to always download the
latest version - in order to keep up with any fixes or updates. To find
out what version you’re running, click on the URS logo in the
upper right hand corner of the plug-in and the number will be displayed.
Simply click again to hide it. URS also noted that Audio Units and VST
versions will be coming soon.
Go ahead and download a free 10-day
demo (iLok needed) at www.ursplugins.com. Then pour yourself a glass of
red, relax, and throw a Classic Console Compressor on your mix. You won’t
From the folks at URS comes this
cool plug that takes all of the Pultec EQs
ever made, the EQP, EQH and the
midrange MEQ-5, and combines them into one
plug-in with all of the parameters
of all three EQs available
simultaneously. This is a bit of
a departure from the normal vintage
modeling approach as it creates
a vintage piece of gear that never actually
For the purpose of this review, Robert
and I compared the Fultec to both our
hardware Pultec EQH as well as Bomb
Factory?s popular Pultec plug-ins that
we?ve favorably reviewed in the
If you?ve used a real Pultec, you?ll
know that just running signal through
it when bypassed has an effect on
the bottom end that sounds great. Neither
plug-in really nailed this but both
were in the ballpark. Neither the Fultec
nor the Bomb Factory emulation completely
nailed the top-end boost of our
real Pultec either, although both
sounded good and came close, with the
Fultec coming the closest to the
real thing. Another common Pultec ‘trick?
is to both cut and boost a frequency
at the same time, and on this
comparison, only the Bomb Factory
really nailed this effect. Where the
Fultec most closely matched the
real Pultec was on the bottom end boost,
here it was very close to the real
thing, closer than the Bomb Factory
The key thing about this plug-in
is that it?s very close to the Pultec sound and the
combo of all three Pultec models
in one plug-in is totally unique and
versatile making this plug-in both
super useful and a good value.
It?s also important to keep in mind
that every Pultec sounds different
and no two sound alike, so comparisons
like these are almost unfair.
My only minor complaint is that
the user interface could have been made to more
closely resemble the old Pultec
EQs. I can only imagine how cool this
behemoth EQ would look. But, this
is a minor quibble. (direct: $499 TDM,
$299 Native, www.ursplugins.com)
EQ Magazine June 2005
You can never
have too many cool EQs in your studio. And the beauty of DAWs and plug-ins
is that you can have lots of different-sounding EQs loaded up and ready
to apply wherever you need them.
The folks at
Unique Recording Software (URS) have made their name by creating plug-ins
that emulate the sound of vintage hardware EQs — in fact, all
the company does are EQ plugs. The URS FullTec EQ is a first for URS in
that it doesn’t strictly model one EQ. Rather, it brings together
the best features of the Pultec EQP-1 and MEQ-5. FullTec is available in
various bundles; the TDM bundle supports TDM, RTAS, and AudioSuite formats,
while the Native bundle supports RTAS and AudioSuite.
a 5-band EQ; the middle three bands are fully parametric peaking designs.
The high and low shelving bands are quite different in that you can both
boost (with a fixed wide bandwidth) and cut (with a fixed narrow bandwidth);
the frequencies of both the high and low bands can be swept. Each band
has its own in/out switch, plus there are bypass, phase invert, and master
input and output gain controls. Plasma meters display input and output
levels. The bands overlap for extra EQ power.
is quite DSP-efficient. On an Accel system you can run 25 instances at
44.1/48k, 12 at 88.2/96k, or six at 186.4/192k. With an HD system, you’ll
get roughly half as many instances. With a Mix rig, you can run six FullTecs.
With native systems the number of instances you can run depends on your
I found FullTec
to be very easy to dial in — the plug-in simply sounds warm and
natural with almost any reasonable setting. The high shelf did a great
job of opening up the top end on dark signals without adding harshness.
Having simultaneous boost and cut for the high and low bands means that
you can boost the entire shelf for broad shaping, then use the narrow-band
cut to shape the curve around the cutoff frequency. The result is effective,
especially on the bottom, where you can shape the curve to prevent unwanted
another winner for URS. It’s easy to dial in, efficient, and
sounds great. And that’s all you could ask from an EQ.
$499.99 Native, $249.99
- Great sound
- Sample rates up
SOS September 2004
URS N, A
& S Series
Classic Console EQ Plug-ins (Pro
Reviews : Software
For all those Pro Tools users who
pine for the sound of analogue EQ, URS have recreated the equalisers from
three classic mixing desks.
the entire review please purchase from Sound On Sound here
There's lots to like about all of
these EQs from URS. In a world where so many digital equalisers sound cold
and sterile, the warmth and colour of the A and N series designs is a breath
of fresh air, whilst S series has all the smoothness and precision you
could want. The DSP loads vary, but are low enough that you can afford
to make these your default channel equalisers — you can load
several URS EQ plug-ins even on a single Mix card DSP — yet their
support for the Multishell architecture means you're not wasting a DSP
chip by only using one instance.
Published in SOS September 2004
EQ Magazine March 2004
URS Classic Console EQ Bundle
Vintage Console Sound comes to Pro Tools
by Mitch Gallagher
Let's see a show of hands: How many
of you would love to have a rack of Vintage EQs in your studio? If you're
a Pro Tools user, Unique Recording Software can get you as close as most
of us are likely to come with their Classic Console EQ plug-ins. The Classic
Console EQ Bundle comprises two plugs: the A Series and N Series. The URS
Classic Console EQs have easy user interfaces ‹ if you've used
the hardware, you'll feel right at home. The original hardware units are
renowned for their "musicality," and the plug-ins mine the same vein.
Feel the need to EQ each and every
track in your productions? Then the URS Classic Console plug-ins are right
up your alley. On a HD Accel card running at 44.1kHz, I was able to run
39 A Series or 30 N Series plugs per chip. On a HD Process card, I could
get 17 A Series or 13 N Series instances per chip.
But things got even juicier when
I switched to the RTAS versions running on a dual-2GHz G5 set for maximum
60% processor usage . . . at 44.1kHz, 114 A Series or 109 N Series instances
could be loaded before Pro Tools complained. For comparison, with RTAS
I could load 95 Focusrite D2 4-bands, 103 Waves Q4, or 91 Waves Renaissance
4-band instances. But, in fairness, the true EQ efficiency champion? Digidesign's
EQII 4-band: 273 RTAS instances! (Yes, I actually loaded that many instances
‹ the things I go through for EQ readers. . . .)
These plugs are easy to learn: To
adjust a band's gain, click the knob and drag your mouse. To change frequency
for a band, click on the little band type icon below the knob; shift-clicking
on the icon moves you through the frequencies counter-clockwise.
In a word, the URS plug-ins sound
great. They're the sort of broad, shaping EQs you'd find on a console (which
makes sense, given their roots). You can get somewhat surgical with the
Hi-Q setting on the N Series, but in general, these aren't the tools for
hyper-tweaking an errant frequency. But that's also their strength ‹
they're easy to dial in, and provide quick results.
If you're used to continuously adjustable
frequencies on your EQs, you may initially find the N and A Series stepped
frequency arrangement restricting. But once you start using these plugs,
you'll realize that the carefully chosen (and vintage-accurate) frequencies
are extremely useful. Getting past the stepped gain controls may be harder
‹ the A Series uses 2dB steps, for example. There are places
where a dB (or even less) may be all you need. Can't do it with these plug-ins.
Both plug-ins are useful for sound-shaping
just about any source. The A Series has overlapping bands, great for certain
applications. The N Series doesn't overlap, but has the advantage of high-
and lowpass filters. Whether I was working on drums, electric bass, guitars,
vocals, or a full mix, the sound was (warning: cliché coming up)
warm and rich.
With their high efficiency, ease
of use, and musical sound, the URS Classic Console EQs should find a welcome
home in most Pro Tools rigs. They're the perfect complement to the "transparent"
EQs many plug-in designers are focusing on these days.
- Authentic, musical sound
- Duplicate original hardware interfaces
- Easy to use
URS S seies
Products Hits of Winter NAMM '04
Jan 29 2004
15 to 18, 2004, as the East Coast was locked in one of the worst cold snaps
in memory, some 74,000 music and audio industry pros made the annual pilgrimage
to Winter NAMM in sunny Anaheim, Calif. With six-plus exhibition halls
of musical instruments and sound technologies and a record 1,340 exhibitors,
there was plenty to see. Here are a few of the hits
At the Digidesign
booth, URS (Unique Recording Software) unveiled their S series 4-band console
Tape Op Magazine
January/February 2004 Review
Classic Console EQs
As digital audio gets more affordable
and more people enter the world of digital recording, more and more people
will never know the world of analog audio and only experience it through
software emulation's of classic gear. Unique Recording Software's Bobby
Nathan comes to the world of software development from a different place.
For over 20 years he's run an analog studio, Unique Recording, in Manhattan
and has owned vintage consoles. As someone who knew the sound of
these consoles, he found himself frustrated with the EQ plug-ins available
in Pro Tools. The URS plug-ins join the Bomb Factory Pultec suite as great
sounding "vintage" digital EQ tools. URS (along with Bomb Factory)
support iLok so the first thing you'll need to do is get an iLok key and
account set up if you don't already have one. Then you can download
a free, fully functional demo and hear these for yourself. (I have
to digress a bit and give kudos to the iLok system. Copy protection
is a necessary evil because not everyone is honest. I've had nothing
but problems with most drive based copy protection schemes, but the iLok
system works great and the web site is very functional allowing you to
administrate your authorizations and keys as well as registering them with
iLok in the event one of your keys is damaged.) In our usage of the
plugs, they sounded great. I used them for several mixing projects,
and they have joined my Sony Oxford, Metric Halo Channel Strip and Bomb
Factory Pultecs, as 'must have' EQ plug-ins. They also seem very
processor efficient which is nice, and they come in both HD/TDM and more
affordable RTAS versions -for those of us who can't spend thousands of
dollars on Digi hardware. I don't have any original hardware EQs,
but we recently ran some tests where we duped some tracks in Pro Tools
and ran one through our original hardware and used the URS N series EQ
on the other. Duplicating EQ settings on the two, we listened to a few
different tracks throughout the EQs. The URS plugs were very, very
similar to the real thing. Only in more extreme high end boosts did
the URS plugs not hold up as well to the original. If you're forced to
mix "in the box" you need good EQ tools more than anything else. I'd highly
recommend these as one of the few worth checking out. ($299 each
for RTAS, $499 each for TDM/HD. $549/$899 for bundles; www.ursplugins.com)
Sound & Recording Magazine
February 2004 ReviewTranslated from
URS A Series
In an A/B test with the actual
hardware, the A Series may be slightly transparent but still produces a
highly pleasing sound. As with the original, the gain steps are a bit wide...
a fine control mode would have been a great additional feature.
- Takehiko Kamata
URS N Series
In an A/B test with actaual hardware,
the plug-ins actually seemed wider in both the high and low end. Although
the hardware sounded only slightly fatter, the N Series added a great vibe
to the signal... of course, all of this comes without the switch noise
and intermittent signal often found in vintage gear! It almost seems strange
that no one had thought of this until now.
- Takehiko Kamata