It’s fair to say that Universal Audio’s business model has changed pretty dramatically over the past few years. Previously known for releasing higher-end interfaces that contained the DSP required to power the company’s ‘vintage’ effect plugins, UA now also has a range of affordable audio hardware (Volt) and releases its software natively (both as perpetual licences and via he Spark subscription), so that it can be used in any DAW. And, as well as developing those classic effects, it’s also got a nice line in instruments.
Which brings us to the Electra 88 Vintage Keyboard Studio and the Capitol Mastering Compressor, Universal Audio’s two latest releases, which provide further evidence of the company’s new direction. The first is an emulation of a 1974 Rhodes Eighty Eight Suitcase Mark 1 electric piano; the second recreates the CM5511, an in-house hand-built tube mastering compressor designed by Capitol Studios. Both can be used with any audio interface, so no UA hardware is required.
As well as emulating the piano itself, Electra 88 also brings you the sound of vintage mics, a high-powered American 2x12 tube combo amp, 1176 compression, reverbs, modulation, EQ and more. This spec sheet and the overall aesthetic indicate that the instrument will slot nicely into your ‘70s MOR rock productions, but we’re assured that its sound can be tweaked to suit any genre.
The Capitol Mastering Compressor is also bursting with vintage vibes. This is said to be the only “authentic” emulation of the CM5511, which was used on recordings by labels such as Blue Note, Motown, Verve and, of course, Capitol itself. Saturator, Mix and Headroom controls can be used to add flavour, and there are Mono Fold and Mid/Side capabilities, too.
The Electra 88 Vintage Keyboard Studio is available now for the introductory price of $149/£149 (regular price $299), and the Capitol Mastering Compressor can currently be bagged for $174 (regular price $349). Both plugins are also included in the $20-per-month/$150-per-year Spark subscription.