Universal Audio

The name Universal Audio is pure recording cult. Founded in the late 1950s by recording pioneer Bill Putnam, Universal Audio today stands for high-quality analogue studio components and state-of-the-art audio interfaces with integrated DSP technology. The Thunderbolt / USB interfaces of the Apollo series contain UAD-2 processor boards that bring famous studio standards as plug-ins into today's digital studio world. It doesn't matter what genre of music you play, what instrument you play, or whether you're a PC or Mac user: even the "smaller" audio interfaces like Arrow or the Apollo Twin Duo or Solo deliver outstanding results right out of the box, every time. Thanks to Thunderbolt and USB connectivity, long latency times are a thing of the past, so that recordings of plucked instruments, vocals, drums, etc. can be made with professional quality. Use amp simulations and reverb plug-ins with Apollo Series units, edit your recordings with virtual equalisers like the EQP-1A or compressors, limiters and much more - all without putting any extra load on your computer!

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About Universal Audio

Universal Audio was founded in 1958 by M.T. "Bill" Putnam Sr. The name of the American audio company has stood for innovative recording products for over 50 years. Bill Putnam Sr., who has since passed away, was one of the favourite sound engineers of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and many other artists. He was a passionate innovator and is widely regarded as the father of modern recording. Many of his legendary studio and equipment designs are still in use today. In particular, Putnam was the inventor of the modern mixing console, the equalizer per channel (EQ) and the vocal booth. He was also the first engineer to use artificial reverb in commercial recordings. Alongside his friend Les Paul, he participated in the early development of stereo recording.

Universal Audio, Studio Electronics, UREI, Teletronix ...

Putnam's entrepreneurial talent is innate. He founded a total of three companies for audio products in the course of his long career: Universal Audio, Studio Electronics and UREI. All three companies produced equipment that is still widely used decades after their introduction, including the ubiquitous LA-2A and 1176 compressors and the 610 tube mixer. The 610 mixer, in particular, represents one of the most popular designs in the history of audio, used on recordings by everyone from Sinatra to the Beach Boys to Van Halen. UREI also took over the National Intertel company, which was later named Teletronix.

Recording Studios from Bill Putnam

A lifelong music pioneer, Bill Putnam Sr. founded successful recording studios in Chicago, Hollywood and San Francisco. These studios served as creative breeding grounds for his many inventions and innovations, as well as nurturing a new generation of influential producers and engineers. Of Putnam's extraordinary achievements, his former colleague and famous sound engineer Bruce Swedien (Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson) said:

"Bill Putnam was the forefather of recording as we know it today. The processes and designs we take for granted today - the design of mixing consoles, the way the individual components are arranged and how they work, console design, effects connections, echo returns, multitrack switching - they all sprang from Bill's imagination."

Founding of Universal Audio in 1999

Universal Audio Inc. was founded by Bill's sons James Putnam and Bill Putnam Jr. to reproduce faithful and classic analogue recording equipment in the traditions of their father. They also wanted to create new digital recording products that reflected the sound and soul of vintage analogue technology. The "UAD card" is known to many musicians and producers. Initially designed as a PCI card for installation in audio computers, this DSP system revolutionised the recording world: UAD plug-ins emulated a number of highly sought-after studio devices such as the Fairchild compressor and, of course, the studio classics from Universal Audio. With their excellent sound quality, the UAD plug-ins far surpassed the native VST plug-ins available to date. Today, Universal Audio uses the processors of the current UAD 2 platform in audio interfaces that are used for real-time recording thanks to their UNISON technology.

Bill Jr's narrative of reincarnation "UA, Part Two" suggests that the whole story came about rather by accident.

Bill Jr. and James ("Jim") Putnam grew up in the music industry, so it was clear to both of them from the start that they would end up there professionally as well. Jim, a touring musician and sound engineer, like their shared older brother Scott, a studio designer in Southern California, were the first to follow in Bill Sr.'s footsteps. Bill Jr. took a rather circuitous route, first working for various engineering firms before completing a PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University. At Stanford, Bill Jr. joined the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), where he specialised in signal processing. There he assembled a team of the brightest and best minds in the field, many of whom still drive a large number of Universal Audio's technical experiments today.

The exact moment that led Bill and Jim to re-found or re-invent Universal Audio 1999 came rather unexpectedly. Bill Jr. says that after his father's death in 1989, Jim and he faced the Herculean task of clearing out their father's workshop and storage facilities. While digging through Bill Sr.'s old test equipment, a lot of boxes with various parts, pieces and parts of consoles and mixers as well as 1176 compressors, Jim came across his father's old design notebook. The two then studied his notes all evening and discovered that this notebook was the map to all the technical problems their father solved. At that moment, the sons decide to revive Universal Audio and its classic products.

Ten years later, Universal Audio has almost 80 employees and legions of new customers worldwide. The company is headquartered near Silicon Valley in Scotts Valley, California, where they still manufacture their classic analogue products by hand, one unit at a time. Universal Audio's efforts to produce the exact sound and performance of classic analogue audio equipment are unparalleled. UA's goal is to make modern equipment sound like well preserved equipment from decades ago.