Universal Audio sets course for your pedalboard with a trio of high-end guitar effects

Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station
(Image credit: Universal Audio)

GEAR 2021: Universal Audio has unveiled a premium guitar pedal range that the Californian company promises will offer “sonic authenticity beyond all other stompboxes“.

The UAFX line comprises the Golden Reverberator, Starlight Echo Station, and Astra Modulation Machine, with each featuring a dual-processor UAFX engine and three core sounds. The UAFX pedals have Live and Preset modes for saving tones, you can download more UA-designed effects and choose whether to run your effects in mono or stereo.

NAMM 2021 is cancelled, but we'll be covering all the big January gear announcements right here on MusicRadar.

Universal Audio has a reputation for high-quality gear, with the California-based company's audio interfaces among the best on the market, and its analogue hardware such as its Ox Amp Top Box marrying great design and sound with style. 

As you might expect, the UAFX series looks incredible. The pedals have silent switching and are built to last. But all that doesn't come cheap. The asking price, $399, is a lot of anyone's money for one pedal. 

Let's take a look at what that buys you.

Golden Reverberator

Universal Audio Golden Reverberator

Universal Audio Golden Reverberator (Image credit: Universal Audio)

Like the others in the series, the Golden Reverberator has a classy enclosure with six knobs controlling standard-issue reverb parameters such as decay, pre-delay, mix, and some no-so-standard, such as bass and treble, and modulation.

You can select from Spring 65, Plate 140, and Hall 224 reverbs via toggle switch, with another two toggle switches and second footswitch on hand for setting up your presets.

The Spring 65 reverb emulates vintage tube-driven spring reverbs, the Plate 140 reanimates studio plate reverb, while the Hall 224 has a vintage digital flavour.

Starlight Echo Station

Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station

Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station (Image credit: Universal Audio)

The Starlight Echo Station's three modes of echo and delay were inspired by 60s hardware units and include the Tape EP-III, Analog DMM, and Precision.

Alongside the standard controls for wet/dry, feedback and delay you can adjust preamp color, tape wear and modulation. Again, the type of delay and presets are selected via mini-toggle switches, with the dual-footswitch design accessing preset modes and tap tempo.

Universal Audio analog guitar pedals

The UAFX series can be operated in mono and stereo. (Image credit: Universal Audio)

Astra Modulation Machine

Universal Audio Astra Modulation Machine

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

The Astra Modulation Machine has arguably the coolest logo. It looks like a tie-in with SEGA. Universal Audio describes it as “a complete sonic workstation“ that offers a wide sweep of classic modulation effects.

Here we have got 70s studio flanger tones, bucket-brigade chorus and opto-tube tremolo. The Chorus Brigade, Flanger DBLR, and Trem 65 modes have secondary modes such as vibrato and doubling accessed via a two-position rotary dial. 

The Astra has controls for speed, depth and intensity of the modulation, with Shape and Shade controls presumably on-hand for adjusting the waveform and brightness of the modulated signal.

You can switch between true or buffered bypass on each of the UAFX pedals via the bundled software, while both the Golden and Starlight are equipped with a trails mode.

Expect these to be with retailers in Spring 2021.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.