You'd be forgiven for thinking of Universal Audio as a pro audio/studio recording equipment company: for many a year, they've produced some of the most sought-after, excellent sounding outboard processors and audio interfaces on the market altogether. Their legacy of top-notch recording gear aside, though, it's important to note another long-standing focus: audio processing.
Many of us are familiar with UA's incredible family of audio processing plug-ins—either in the form of native UA Spark plug-ins, or the UAD family of plug-ins, which run on Apollo interfaces or UAD DSP accelerators. These plug-ins accurately re-create the sound and behavior of everything from iconic Neve channel strips, Studer and Ampex tape machines, and Pultec EQs all the way to sought-after effect processors from classic pedal and outboard gear companies. It's this corner of their work that led them to one of their most recent endeavors: the UAFX pedal series.
We've already seen the release of several pedals in this series. The Starlight echo station, Astra modulation machine, and Golden reverberator made a huge splash when initially releeased; and the follow-up Dream '65, Ruby '63, and Woodrow '55 have brought the pristine sound of classic amplifiers to countless guitar pedal boards.
Today, though, they're adding three new members to the family: the Del-Verb ambience companion, the Galaxy '74 tape echo + reverb, and the Max preamp + dual compressor. Each of these three pedals brings something new to the table, all with the same attention to sonic detail and build quality that has kept Universal Audio at the top of the game. Let's take a closer look at each of these new pedals to see what they have to offer.
Del-Verb Ambience Companion is an Ambient Delight
UAFX's Starlight and Golden Reverberator made a serious impression on the music world, freeing their beloved hardware modeling from their studio equipment and making it available in pedal form. But UA now makes it easier to choose, by using their tried-and-true algorithmic knowledge coupled with their penchant for exceptional hardware design to combine their delay and reverb into one effects pedal that is at home on stage or in the studio. The Del-Verb takes all three algorithms from both pedals and combines them into one while keeping each effect running independently for truly luscious sounds.
The award-winning Golden Reverberator gives you a drippy spring, huge plate, and 80's digital reverb that sounds exceptional on anything. All three of these are selectable on the Del-Verb through the three-way switch. Truly, it will give your guitar a huge expanse—or you could reamp your DAW's Bus through this for real time control, or by using the USB-C connection, send MIDI automation to the Del-Verb for an outstanding amount of control.
Reverb is great, but with the delay section opens up a whole new stratosphere of sonic options. Choose from the warmth of a Maestro EP-III tape echo, the playfulness of a Deluxe Memory Man, or get precise with UA's own Precision Delay, the same delays found on the Starlight. Control this, too, via MIDI and with the companion UAFX Control app. Separately available, both the delay and reverbs sound incredible on anything you throw at them.
It doesn't feature all the same hands-on controls as its predecessors—but all in all, Del-Verb is a welcome addition to the UAFX lineup, with all of the most critical parameters available at a moment's notice. And of course, you can use the UAFX Control app for extended control, or for adding even more effect voicings to the pedal.
Housed in a gorgeous pastel blue housing with chocolate brown knobs, the Del-Verb is as beautiful as it sounds. Perfect for the desktop or pedalboard, the sounds that have reverberated through the decades on thousands of recordings are now available at the press of a button. With any combination you can think of and endless tweaking, the most glacial expanses and classic slaps are at your disposal.
Galaxy '74: (Tape) Echos of the Past
A long-time staple of Universal Audio's plugin catalog has been Galaxy: a faithful take on Roland's Space Echo tape delay units, designed in-house by the UAD team. Now, UAFX brings the sounds of Galaxy '74 to pedalboards and studios everywhere. Like their plugin, Galaxy '74 is a complete emulation of everything that makes the Space Echo so charming: tape delay, spring reverb, and a characterful preamp.
As with the original Roland boxes, Galaxy '74's tape delay emulation is built around three playback heads, which may be activated in any combination for scattery, multi-tap sounds. Like classic Space Echos, you can dial in your delay time with the Echo Rate knob, but the Galaxy '74 adds a Tap Tempo switch for easily syncing up with a band. And Galaxy '74 goes the extra mile by doubling the total amount of delay time that the originals could provide, for further possibliities with that Space Echo flavor. The secondary switch may also be used as an Infinite Hold, conjuring up massive recirculating delays and self-oscillating drones.
But delay is only part of the Space Echo story, and UA knows that Galaxy '74 would not be complete without the rest of the package. The Input Volume control allows you to drive the preamp emulation harder, giving guitars or any other instrument some pleasing overdriven tones. Along with this, UA have also modeled a spring reverb with Dwell (decay) and Volume controls, offering an essential component for the sonic signature of the RE-201, considered by many to be the best model of Space Echo. You can then find controls for Treble, Bass, and a very handy Tape Age character setting by using the [Alt] switch to toggle into a secondary parameter layer.
Like all other UAFX pedals, Galaxy '74 offers true stereo operation, so while original Space Echos only operate in mono, you get the experience of using two units together in a much more compact package. But of course, the added convenience of Tap Tempo, configuration via the UAFX Control app, and so much more make Galaxy '74 a much more practical (and maintenance-free) option to bring that Space Echo sound to the stage.
Max: Smash, Squash, and Soulful Sustain
Spacey delay and reverb effects are great and all—but sometimes you just need to squash stuff. That's where the new Max comes in: it's a preamp and dual compressor pedal that you'll find perfect for your guitar, drum machines, synths, or heck...even for reamping from your DAW.
Like the other UAFX pedals, Max makes use of UA's long-running history of top-notch hardware modeling: putting the rich sound of the UA 610 tube preamp and three iconic compressors in the palm of your hand (or, er, the palm of your...foot?). The UA 610 emulation gives you all the warmth and character you'd expect from this fantastic tube preamp/EQ combo; great for dialing in exactly the right amount of grit.
The compressor models include the classic FET-based UA 1176; the tube-based LA-2A; and the classic red-box Dyna Comp for a nastier, funkier compression option. This means you'll get everything from gnarly guitar solo tones to expressive, soulful sustain and coloration previously only available in high-end studio gear.
Of course, one of the strong suits of this pedal is the ability to stack multiple compressors: layering multiple styles of compression for powerful pulsating sonic experiences. By combining two compressors (with any of the three models available for each!), you can create a tremendous number of highly responsive tones: subtle sustain or punchy sonic squash are equally available.
And of course, you can tweak EQ settings, configure your footswitches, control sidechain bass filtering, serial vs. parallel effect routing, and more via the UAFX Control app. If you're looking for a phenomenally flexible true stereo compressor for your guitar, synth, or recording rig, Max is easily one of the most exciting and great-sounding options available.
The Next Generation
This new generation of UAFX pedals is a welcome addition: treading new ground with the Max, combining crowd favorites with the Del-Verb, and bringing one of their most-loved plugins to hardware format with Galaxy.
In combination with their prior offerings, these make it clear that Universal Audio is focusing serious efforts on adapting their research in analog hardware modeling for use in the effect pedal format. That means that some of the highest-quality digital signal processing on the market is available for your pedalboard—and if all goes as well as we think it will, we well may see more in the future.
For now, though—we're excited to see what we can do with Del-Verb, Galaxy, and Max.
More UAFX Pedals
- Universal Audio Starlight Echo Station Delay Pedal
- Universal Audio Astra Modulation Machine Effect Pedal