At the end of the press release for this plugin the developers assure the reader that “We’re sure you’ll like what you hear!”
They are not wrong…. this is a really nice piece of kit, a curious bit of vintage boutique audio brought back to life to provide us with a beautiful tone that so many of us have grown up with and had imparted deep into our subconscious from listening to the countless classic records mastered through these processors…
The U73b started life as a grey metal box, a cassette style module, broadcast gear from Germany and Eastern Europe. TAB Telefunken, Seimens, Neumann and Filtek all had similar looking format modules, compressors, limiters, eq’s, built to meet the exacting standards of pristine audio that broadcast demands… In the UK it was the likes of Neve and Calrec that provided the level of quality required in the broadcasting field, so you can already get the picture that the hardware being modelled here was absolutely top notch…
My good friend Fritz has had some of these modules lurking in his “One day i’ll get these racked up and working” box forever… But the know how, maintenance and patch bay drama is making less and less people use hardware anymore, let alone the rarer more exotic pieces of gear… The times may have changed but the quest for the sound remains..
If you’re reading this then you’ll doubtless already know of the multitude of emulation plugins that offer analogue mojo in the virtual world…
The biggest companies officially license the rights to emulate the original gear, there is evidently enough people desperate to reintroduce analogue texture back into their music that the emulation game is now big business, companies like UAD, Waves and Slate Digital are arguably the big players leading the way, but something very interesting is now starting to happen….
Smaller companies with some very talented coders and builders of algorithms are popping up at indie level and making available some incredible and fascinating emulations of more obscure or rare lesser known personal favourite pieces of equipment, companies such as Boz Labs, Kush, Tritone and Klanghelm deserve an honourable mention.
Audified (I’d never heard of them) developed the first audio effect plugins for Apple’s OSX and some of the first plugins for TC Powercore…So it turns out there is more to this seemingly small company than meets the eye.. They now choose bring us the U73b Classic German Broadcast turned Mastering compressor/limiter as a plugin alongside their other offerings which include some interesting amp and pedal simulations I have not yet had the pleasure of using..
So why model the U73b module?
Artist and Producer Boris Carloff is responsible for the choice, he says:
“My weakness is a pathologic love for vintage german mics and audio and I’m always surprised by sound and craftsmanship of old German broadcast preamps and dynamics or eq. I noticed that not so many people especially in US had possibility to even try these gems and mostly use US made vintage stuff. The U73b is something extraordinary. Everybody knows Fairchild but nobody U73b.. Why? So that’s where the idea was born..”
The emulation offered here models every component of the complete circuit exactly, when I asked about their modelling technique and how it may differ from compeitors lead programmer Jarda Macak had this to say:
“If you consider a faithfull emulation of the circuit, then the basic approach is proper analysis of the whole cicruit and each component resulting in a complete mathematical model which is to be solved in real-time. Of course I don’t know how our competitors solve this model so I can’t really say how much our modelling techniques differs from the others. But our algorithms are based on real scientific research which was done in cooperation with universities.”
This is all very well of course but what is important to us music makers is what meets the ear…. The sound of this U73b plugin does not disappoint, it sounds brilliant, yes it adds a vibe, yes it is quirky and for the limited amount of controls available it takes a minute to get used to… but it oozes quality, it has that vibe Like a piece of real hardware there is a feeling that you have to learn it, find the right way to push it to get what you want from it…. but something about the sound just feels intrinsically right….
As with the hardware there is bass roll off with this plug engaged, broadcast and vinyl mastering compressors would do that and as a faithful recreation this feature is present here, however I have gathered that by the time you will be reading this the update will allow the user to switch this aspect of the behaviour off… allowing a more modern sounding option, this sounds like a good idea and I for one welcome this move… no need to be a die hard accurate model if offering a choice to the user makes it more versatile without compromising the subtle tones imparted. The plugin offers compressor mode, Limiter mode and a bypass option where it doesn’t compress or limit but the audio still passes through the virtual circuit, it also features a side chain option too.. Very cool!
I have tried the U73b on vocals and it really shone, I have used it to make the drum bus sound wonderful, it rolled off a bit of bottom which gave the bass room, the drums however kept their punch and also gained character and body somehow… I have used it on deep bass without the compressor or limiter mode engaged which still gives a saturation and analogue tone to the signal.. subtle but lush and very beneficial in my experience.
This a boutique offering, not everyone will have this, So it has the potential to be like a secret weapon for those in the know, just like having one racked up in the corner of your studio that gets patched in for certain duties… A rare breed and great to have in your arsenal….
The only place i didn’t try yet was strapped on the output across the whole mix bus… Might go do that now… I won’t write anything about that here though because I implore you to go and at least get the demo and try this product for yourself!
It is protected by iLok2 and installed via redeemable license code, worked flawlessly and with zero hassle… I think it’s a must have….
I definitely highly recommend this plugin… Get it from Audified for $149 here: