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Universal Audio recycles its classic designs into plugins


Active Member
Feb 24, 2024
Audio technology from an early date had enough money to support innovation because it had a profitable ecosystem. One to many with low distribution cost is a good business model.

Radio broadcast and pop music recording both involved mass distribution. Live performance has probably fluctuated in profitability. Sometimes it has been attached to alcohol sales which are very profitable. That subsidizes the band in a neighborhood bar. Or you can have mega tours and residencies like U2 and Taylor Swift. Casinos can subsidize music from their other profitable cash flows.

Caesar's Palace Casino in Las Vegas was able to commission a custom built live sound console from designer Bill Putnam in 1966. It was listed on Reverb. The Universal Audio of today bought it.

https://reverb.com/item/68718521-19...-mixing-console-caesars-palace-putnam-sinatra (photos)

The custom Caesar's Palace console was probably a maintenance problem as all consoles are.

Screenshot 2024-03-15 at 10.03.48 AM.png

Photo of the amplifier modules of the console neatly labeled with Dymo labels as to function

Audio has many now legendary electronic design engineers who built the audio ecosystem for music production and recording. Bill Putnam was one beginning in 1958. He started designing preamps, then custom recording consoles - many companies started that way, including many by Rupert Neve. Putnam is famous for his compressors. In 1967 his company bought Teletronix for the famous LA-2A tube compressor, and bought Waveforms for their early line of audio test equipment. That may be of interest to ASR readers - the Waveforms test equipment is detailed in the https://www.worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Catalogs/RCA/RCA-Broadcast-Audio-Equipment-1967.pdf pages 132-139. At that time HP, B&K and others were makers of audio test equipment. Universal Audio remained in the test and calibration industry with the Sonipulse series into the 1970s. https://studioelectronics.biz/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/100a.pdf The Sonipulse issued a chirp, a waveform containing the full audio bandwidth when deconvolved by a fourier transform. It was played through the speakers, received by a calibrated microphone, then passed through a 1/3 octave filter, and onto an amplitude meter. It could be used with the company's 1/3 octave graphic equalizers to equalize a room, or an outdoor sound system.

Putnam designed the famous solid state 1176 compressor series. Both the LA-2A and the 1176 are very common in vocals, drums, bass, and in bus processing today. I'm not happy with the sameness in texture their overuse along with other plugins is creating in lead vocals today. I would never use one on classical recording. This relates to our tube power amplifier threads. Recording and mastering studios use clean amplifiers to hear what the end customer is intended to hear. All the tube sound is placed into the recording before the mastering amplifier and speaker system.

Today the original Universal Audio electronics are licensed as software plugins for UA's own AD-DA Apollo interfaces and for other plugin formats. It is another example of a one to many business model.

The distortion and dynamic range-changing of these software plugins or vintage analog outboard gear, microphones, and consoles are deliberately introduced in the recording and mastering process for artistic reasons.

The coda to this long history is that the UA of today can measure this old console and sell original Bill Putnam Caesar's Palace plugins to their large customer base! ASR readers can run their music through software plugins digital audio workstation software or run it on their interface.


Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Mar 18, 2023
Are you a bot? They were doing it for more than 20 years at this point
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