Universal Audio’s latest plug-in aims to bridge the gap between project studios and professional recording environments.
The Importance of Quality Microphones and Acoustics
The main differences between modern home studios and renowned recording studios are the choice of quality microphones and the acoustics of the recording spaces. Universal Audio has addressed these differences with the development of the Ocean Way Studio room-modelling plug-in for the UAD platform. This plug-in models the sound of LA’s coveted Ocean Way studios and their collection of vintage microphones. It can be applied retrospectively to existing recordings or used in real time with UA’s Apollo interfaces.
Allen Sides, the owner of Ocean Way and an experienced engineer and producer, collaborated on the development of the plug-in. His presets provide a valuable starting point for achieving a classic sound, but users have the option to make their own adjustments.
Dynamic Room Modelling
UA’s dynamic room modelling methodology involved over three years of detailed research. While impulse responses are used to reproduce the direct sound path from source to microphone, the plug-in models the room reflections itself. This approach offers more flexibility compared to convolution techniques, as it allows for virtual room arrangement. UA’s algorithms also consider the dispersal patterns of different sound sources in relation to the room and microphones. This ensures accurate representation of instruments such as drum kits, guitar cabinets, and pianos.
The plug-in’s graphical user interface offers a plan view of the studio, providing access to a selection of Ocean Way’s microphone setups. Allen Sides’ presets are based on tried and tested configurations for each sound source, with near, mid, and far microphone pairs available. Blending their individual contributions is made easy with faders. Additionally, the plug-in offers time-alignment for mic arrays, EQ, and high-cut/low-cut filters. Mic bleed and microphone proximity effect are also simulated for a more realistic sound.
There are two modes of operation: Reverb and Re-Mic. In Reverb mode, the plug-in adds room ambience to a dry sound via an aux send/return path. The direct path component of the modelling is removed to avoid phase problems. In Re-Mic mode, the entire signal is processed, replacing the dry sound with the modelled direct sound component. This mode enables users to place their sound source within the Ocean Way room. The Mix button is locked in Re-Mic mode for a 100 percent wet insert effect.
Users can choose from different source types and adjust the spacing between the source and microphones using the Distance control. Each microphone pair has switchable high-cut and low-cut filters, along with polarity-inversion buttons. Solo and mute options are available for individual mic pairs. The plug-in also includes a stereo balance control, gain control, and a master two-band EQ section. Variable gain, mono option, wet solo button, left/right channel swap, and adjustable pre-delay settings are provided as well.
Back In The Room
Starting with the presets is a great way to explore the plug-in’s capabilities. Experimenting with different microphone combinations, balance adjustments, and mic types allows users to tailor the sound to their liking. In Re-Mic mode, a close mic can be engaged to balance the room sound. In Reverb mode, the dry/wet balance is easily controlled. The plug-in adds depth, perspective, and a smoother tone to recordings, creating a sense of space and realism. It works especially well with piano and drums, but the presets can be used creatively with other instruments or even entire mixes.
Way To Go
As computer CPUs continue to improve, the success of platforms like UAD2 depends on offering unique plug-ins like Ocean Way Studio. Native plug-ins may have similar functionalities, but none directly compare to the features of this plug-in. Ocean Way Studio provides control over position, distance, and microphone choice, allowing for a more customized experience. It adds a new dimension to recordings, enhancing clarity and depth. The plug-in’s DSP demands are reasonable, making it accessible to a wide range of users.
[UA Apollo interfaces]: Universal Audio Apollo interfaces
[DSP]: Digital Signal Processing