How Does UAD Unison Technology Work?

how does uad unison technology work? - decibel peak
how does uad unison technology work? - decibel peak
how does uad unison technology work? - decibel peak

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Have you heard of Universal Audio?

If not, then you’re missing out on one of the MOST revolutionary companies in the music industry. Although, I assume that you’ve heard of them since you’ve already asked yourself the question “how does UAD Unison technology work”…

I always found it difficult to understand, especially at first.

That’s why I want to pass on my understanding of Universal Audio’s Unison technology. You’ll learn everything you need to know about this revolutionary technology and how it can increase the production value of anything you create.

Of course, it’ll resonate mostly to music producers.

To be more specific… Electric guitarists and bassists.

It’s all about the gain-staging

The first thing you need to know about Universal Audio is that they make the BEST analog modeled software/hardware. I really mean that though…

Unison technology is just one of the components that makes it possible.

If you’ve already worked with analog preamps (the ones without DACs), then you already understand that the approach to gain-staging is different.

Don’t understand gain-staging? Watch THIS video…

That’s why things like gain-staging AND impedance matching (which is an ENTIRE topic on its own) make a difference when you’re dealing with analog technology…

To be more specific, analog modelling technology (in this case).

So, Unison-enabled preamps essentially bridge the gap between the digital/analog worlds…

Instead of simply modelling the plugins to “behave” like analog equipment, Universal Audio has revolutionized analog modelled HARDWARE.

That’s the difference you won’t experience if you’re using analog modelled plugins from:

  • Steven Slate
  • Waves
  • Etc…

I’m telling you, Universal Audio is the only one doing things in this way.

Now, the way it actually works is slightly more complicated to understand…

  • Your instrument’s output gain is matched to the plugin’s input gain
  • Your instrument’s output impedance is matched to the plugin’s input impedance
  • Unison-enabled preamps emulate the circuitry of Unison-enabled plugins
  • It sounds like playing into an actual vacuum-tube and/or transistor

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell; automatically regulated gain-staging and impedance matching + preamps that “morph” into the plugin you’re using.

One of the things it does is REPLACE DI boxes.

It also replaces THOUSANDS of dollars on analog equipment (that takes up lots of space).

If you’re still not convinced, I promise that you will be by the end of this article.

You’ll just need to keep reading to find out…

Unison-Enabled Preamps vs Plugins

So, you’re starting to understand the connection between preamp and plugin.

That’s where Universal Audio bridges the gap between the analog/digital worlds.

To get started, you’ll need an audio interface equipped with Unison-enabled preamps. As you already know, Universal Audio is the only one that makes them.

Every audio interface UAD currently makes has them.

If you want to be 100% sure though, I’ll dedicate a section listing the UAD devices that are Unison-enabled.

After that, you’ll need to be using Unison-enabled plugins.

Once again, UAD is the only one who makes those as well.

You’ll have a few included with your UAD device, but it’s important to remember that not all of the UAD plugins are Unison-enabled.

I’ll be dedicating a section to listing those as well.

However, you can usually guarantee that things like…

  • Amp Models
  • Compressors
  • Preamps

Will be Unison-enabled (since they deal with GAIN).

List of UAD Unison-enabled audio interfaces

Here’s a list of Unison-enabled audio interfaces (updated regularly):

  • UAD Apollo-series
  • UAD Arrow

To be completely honest, that covers pretty much all of the audio interfaces Universal Audio is making. If you want confirmation for a specific model, leave me a comment!

List of UAD Unison-enabled plugins

Here’s a list of Unison-enabled plugins (updated regularly):

  • Neve 1073
  • Neve 88RS
  • API Vision
  • Manley VOXBOX
  • UA 610
  • UA 610B
  • Fender ’55 Tweed
  • All Ampegs
  • All Marshalls
  • All Friedman
  • Ibanez TS808
  • UA Raw (ProCo Rat)
  • UA Bermuda Triangle (Big Muff Pi)

How do I use Unison-enabled plugins?

If you’re wondering how to use the Unison-enabled version of your plugin…

You’ll need to make sure the plugin is loaded into the Unison-enabled “insert” on your UAD Console software. Here’s what it looks like…

how does uad unison technology work? - unison channel strip

If done correctly, your meters should turn ORANGE.

Also, remember that it’s only possible to load ONE Unison-enabled plugin per preamp. It’ll also be the FIRST plugin in your signal-chain.

For example, you might want to make the DISTORTION PEDAL your Unison-enabled effect and your amplifier the 2nd plugin in your signal-chain.

Unison technology only works at the INPUT STAGE.

In other words, it only matters for the 1st effect in your signal-chain.

What people are saying about Universal Audio’s Unison technology

If you’re still confused about the inner workings of Unison technology, maybe hearing it in the words of others will help you understand. Here are some quotes from other users of UAD devices…

“It allows you to record through UAD plugins, recording the sound of whatever stuff you choose to put in your signal path, just as if you were using the actual hardware.”


The Unison plugins are a unique type of plugin that not only has software that emulates the piece of equipment it’s trying to be, but it also changes it’s internal hardware to match the settings of that piece of equipment (Ohms for one).”


“The unison preamps are loaded onto the actual preamp input itself, and control the analog side of the preamp to emulate the characteristics of the actual hardware. They try to match the impedance and gain structure of the original analog preamps. The big advantage is that you can record with whatever color you want on the way in and not worry about it later.”


I hope that reading these quotes has helped you visualize Unison technology a little better.

Summary: How Does UAD Unison Technology Work?

I hope that your question has been answered…

UAD’s Unison technology auto-regulates your instrument’s gain-staging and impedance matching.

To be more specific, Unison technology “transforms” your preamps to replicate the circuitry of the Unison-enabled plugin you’ve loaded into your UAD device.

In other words, each electric guitar/bass you connect will sound at its BEST.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using active and/or passive electronics. UAD will automatically detect that and set the input-stage to match the output-stage (the plugin’s input).

You’ll get tube-like and/or transistor-like emulation like NEVER BEFORE.

If you have any questions about Universal Audio or simply about Unison technology, leave them down in the comments and I’d be more than happy to clarify for you.

Thanks for reading. I hope that what you’ve learned today keeps you inspired!


Picture of Stefan Chamberland

Stefan Chamberland

Stefan is a highly proficient sound professional who specializes in sound for picture. His journey into sound production began at the young age of 16, where he initially produced music that went on to feature on local television. Today, Stefan utilizes his extensive expertise to record production sound and lead the audio post-production process for a variety of projects in the TV, Film, and New Media industry. Driven by his passion for sound for picture, Stefan founded Decibel Peak, a platform designed to empower and support emerging sound professionals while contributing to the growth of the industry.

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