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Kush Audio UBK-1

Kush Audio UBK-1

4.65 4.65 out of 5, based on 11 Reviews

The revolutionary dynamics shaping tool that takes plugin compression to places analog hardware simply cannot go.


19th March 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by soundrick

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Kush Audio UBK-1

I bought the UBK-1 the day it was officially released. Being the proud owner of a UBK Fatso, I couldn't resist to see what Greg did ITB.
I'm glad I jumped on board, this is one of the most colorful and interesting sounding plugins I've heard. Well, not probably, it IS.

I'm a little hesitant to write a review on this, after seeing UBK's videos and reading his adjective-laden descriptive poetry. But, I'll just speak on my own experiences with it, in use.

I always start with the headroom control, especially on sharp transient material like drums. Once the little green light is flickering with the transients, I go to work.
For the first section, the Saturation, I go ahead and dial it in pretty heavy, often going past the 12 oclock mark. This is one is fun to go over the top on, then dial the mix back. In general, I either rail the amount knob and put a pretty low wet-dry ratio, or ease in the amount with a higher wet ratio. Depends on how "colorful" you need.

On the compression section, I generally use the "Glue" comp, or I've found "Splat" is pretty sweet for drums. I feel the same about the Fatso, normally hovering on the "Glue". Don't know if that's coincidence or if they are the same/similar comps. I assume the latter.
The compressor I feel is just a little bit unpredictable/wily. It seems to get up and go pretty quick out of the gate. With the headroom control properly set, I find myself very seldom going past the 10 oclock mark on the comp, and that is usually compressing pretty good. I put all the comps through their paces and I feel the same way about all of them, they seem to compress pretty quick, some quicker than others. "Squish" and "Crush" obviously take off REALLY fast.
The HP filter is a nice touch and very useful, especially on drums. I have a feeling there were a lot of drums going through this thing when it was being designed. Like UBK illustrated in his video, you can give drums a completely different feeling of movement with the compressors.
Like the Saturation, I usually find myself using a combination of more compression and lower wet/dry ratio, or vice versa. I hardly EVER have used the comp 100% wet.

The "Density" control is the one I have not even come close to mastering yet. It's a very strange control. It kind of sounds like a frequency dependent EQ, or like a de-esser with really wide bandwidth. But even those examples don't really do it justice, because it doesn't really "duck" the material hitting it's threshold (or whatever detector it uses). I have experimented with different sources through it, both "top" and "mids" and I haven't found anything that just can't live without it.
All that being said, the combination of all 3 processors is something to hear. Even though I'm not sure WHAT the Density control is doing, I'm sure it IS doing something, LOL. I always dial in the first two, then add a little Density at the end (I rarely push it beyond 9/10 oclock), and when I start to toggle the different sections on and off, I never want to hear it turned off.

My personal favorite application for the UBK-1 is on keys and synths. It has increased the "vibe" and "mojo" of my Rhodes and Organ tracks TEN FOLD. Whether I'm using VIs or my keys through a DI, I always strap this plug on them and instant magic happens.
On the album I'm currently working on, there was a running theme of "hmmmm.....this needs "something".............Oh, I know, the UBK-1". That is the highest praise I could give any audio tool. When I want something just to sound "cooler", I throw the UBK-1 on it. Easy as pie.

Sound Quality- 10
It would have been higher, if I had an option. Like I said, the UBK-1 makes things sound cooler, everytime. That's the kind of tool I want.

Ease of Use- 10
A button per function, few functions, and 3 big knobs for "less" or "more". Doesn't get any easier.

Features- 9
I give it an 9 only because I'm sure there are plenty of instances where some deeper control might be nice, like the compressor section for instance. But, it has the "right" features to make cool sounds, so it couldn't possible get any lower a score IMO.

Bang for Buck- 8
I felt it was fairly priced when I bought it, especially after using it. It's paid for itself a few times with awesome. But, in a relatively short period of time, it was offered at half the price I paid. What does that mean? I'm not complaining, Kush even offered a voucher for "early adopters", so that's fine. So, "Bang for Buck" for me, an 8. For anyone buying it now, probably 10, it's a no-brainer/can't live without, IMO.

I will admit that I definitely need to spend more time with the Density control and the compressors, for that matter, but I pretty much started getting results right away, so I assume with a deeper understanding and more experience with it, the sky is the limit for this plug.

Thanks UBK, this is another classic!

24th March 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by manysounds

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Kush Audio UBK-1

This will be quick.

Sounds freekin' great. There is a wide range of adjustment inside this puppy. I can't stop using it. 10

Extremely easy to use. Truly leaves the decisions up to your ears, as I like it. Not too many ways to tweak it but huge range of adjustment nonetheless. 10

Has every feature it has. The only thing missing is maybe some adjustment to the preset compressors. I can live without that.

Totally worth the $$$. Didn't come with a free ice-cream pop so I give it -1.

27th March 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by groovedigga

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Kush Audio UBK-1

A friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on this little plugin and I'd never heard of it. After checking out the video demo online I thought I'd give it a try.
It's worth mentioning that the demo requires iLok registration so you'll have to grab a key if you want to check this one out!

A relatively simple interface belies the range of effects possible with this plugin. A single knob in the compression section allows users to go from low level enhancement up to totally spanked and even beyond! A five way switch provides different flavours of sonic battering.

A saturation section (prior to the compressor) adds harmonic distortion and some flattening of spiky peaks whilst a mysterious 'density' control allows further tonal shaping.

In use I found the processor to be quite un-subtle. Make no mistake, this thing adds plenty of grit and colour but nearly always in a musical way. The addition of dry/wet controls in each section makes it way more useful as you can dial in the amount of colour you want. I think all compressors should have this function as it makes parallel processing a breeze! A sweepable HPF is also available in the sidechain further increasing it's usability.

I've only had the UBK-1 for a few days and have really enjoyed it. The simplicity of the interface encourages experimentation and a huge range of effects are possible. I've mostly used on drum buses and signals I want to 'warm' slightly but I'm going to explore much more subtle settings in the coming days. I've tried to get similar results using combinations of plugins and get pretty close but it's nowhere near as quick or as much fun (although I still lov softube's FET...). It's musical, fun, simple (but complex!) and has a 'sound' so comes highly recommended. Check it out!

28th March 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by gfriend

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Kush Audio UBK-1

I bought this brilliant plug-in after demoing it for about an hour. The kind of sounds that can be made with it really enhance instruments in an interesting way that no other compressor does. It can grab and put a choke-hold on any signal in various knees, and curves. Each section really is flexible in it's versatility for saturation level, tone and making sounds jump out of the speakers. I've tried it on acoustic guitar (picked and strummed), bass, drums, organ, and vocals and it really is both unique and very versatile. Adding ambience, distortion, punch and control is quick and FUN! I have been able to get acoustic guitars to find space in a dense arrangement, add super fat low end to d.i. bass, distort vocals and add roomy ambience to drums while keeping them punchy and feeling uncompressed. My favorite uses so far have been both acoustic guitar and vocals.

I've been mixing a debut record for an artist and his music really calls for unique saturation that doesn't appear as obvious distortion. My previous attempts at using sansamp, massey tapehead, 1176 etc have been pretty successful but the UBK-1 slays them...it combines a lot of those sounds and uses but with the ability to parallel compress with the mix levers, add touches of crazy distortion underneath, and drive recorded material into special harmonic territory. I feel that the character of UBK's compression/saturation is different, and in a class all it's own. I am unfamiliar with using the fatso but I believe UBK really worked his imagination and ears to come up with this design and make it truly unique...it does things that other plugins might do but not in such a simple, easy to dial in fashion. I am very impressed and feel lucky to own it!

For such a modest price it's a must have for itb productions at home or in the studio. Thanks UBK!

12th April 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by mastermix

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Kush Audio UBK-1

After hearing Greg demo this plug at AES(and dragging more than a couple of people to check it out along with his other cool stuff), then checking out the videos, the UBK-1 was on my "must get" list. The reduced price made it a no-brainer.

Being a quiet day at work, I decided to have a little fun with the UBK-1. I strapped it across the 2MIX of a recording of drums and guitar that I did to shake down the studio after the install of a DM2000VCM a couple of years ago. Mind you, this was a fine recording that I was extremely happy with the results of. The UBK-1 took it to some other place... some place good!!! I pretty much spent my time playing with a big grin on my face.

Basically I instantiated it then just started twisting knobs... all I can say is that this plugin is the audio equivalent of bacon... and we all know that everything goes better with bacon! You just have to decide how much "bacon" you want on your audio sandwich.

Just to add, I had just finished mastering a radio show featuring The Mastersons. Just for the heck of it I pulled up the project and placed the UBK-1 on the first musical track. Light settings were the order of the day here... lots of headroom with a tiny bit of Saturation and Smooth compression mixed in gave the track that little extra bit of something... it was fine to begin with but once again a bit of "bacon" made it better. I saved the preset and added the plug to the other three music tracks... same result!

IMO a "desert island" plugin...

6th May 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by edwinhurwitz

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Kush Audio UBK-1

When VW came out, it was my goto for drum busses and overall mixes to add a kind of analog aspect to the sound. Back then, my only real other limiter was the Waves L1 and the VW was much more pleasing and I love the way I could get different parts of the spectrum to respond. And yet, something was missing. Mixes felt static.

This gets it right. The obvious application is getting motion in drum kits, but I've also really enjoyed what it does to vocals. I've got some recordings of singers who are very expressive, but have kind of a honking, nasal quality in their voices that are always appropriate. These are the things that don't really respond to eq or compress on their own and even in conjunction using the most common tools. However, this compressor, with some careful juggling, can smooth out things very nicely.

I've put it on some bass tracks to great effect, although it would probably be more appropriate for music in styles other than what I usually do (Americana, rock, etc.).It can add grain to the bass that you might not want.

I've only had this compressor for 10 days or so, but I can already tell it's going to make it into every mix. Vintage Warmer will probably still show up every now and then, but this is a real step in the evolution of compressors that do that analog style thing.

As a last note, it's so easy to use. While you sacrifice some control, what control you do have is what you really want. It's really easy to go through the settings and hear the tones change. In some ways it's a little like Photoshop LightRoom, where you can easily access parameters that allow you to do broad sweeps that change the color of the sound and you can swing through the options and narrow in on what you like fairly easily without having to go back and forth between different parameters that interact with each but get involved in interacting with the users.

22nd May 2012

Kush Audio UBK-1 by mattqualls

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Kush Audio UBK-1

Don't be an idiot, just buy it.

The first time I used this plugin, I was a bit over whelmed and not really sure how to use it. But with time I learned how to utilize the plugin, especially on drums. The UBK-1 can do things to the drums, you never thought possible. I normally don't mic the toms, I let the overheads capture them (I usually have low overheads, mostly in the Glyn Johns set up). But let's say the drummer wants to hear more of the toms in the mix, the UBK-1 can pull those suckers straight to the front of the mix with some tweaking of this plugin. Seriously, I love it. Buy it, play with it, try the presets and have some f*ckin fun making music.

6th January 2013

Kush Audio UBK-1 by audibleobsession

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Kush Audio UBK-1

This is a fantastic plugin. The sound quality, ease of use and features at hand are fantastic. Where else can you get such control over 5 great compressors in one simple, organic plugin for $150. I look forward to many more Kush Audio plugins.

4th June 2013

Kush Audio UBK-1 by Ardis

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Kush Audio UBK-1

This is less of a gear review than a solution review. I am a singer/songwriter and record myself in a home studio. I record mostly guitar and keyboard into slaved Korg D-12 recorders with a modded Oktava 2500>UA Solo 610> FMR PB-6a. I do whatever I need to, in the Korgs (24bit), and then drag and drop the mix into Reaper on a Mac with the Kush UBK-1 and Clariphonic plug ins as finishing.

Why? I can basically turn a couple of knobs on the outboard gear and listen to where I want the sound to be. 24 bit means I don't have to worry about meters. The Korgs have enough in them to allow me to roughly shape the sound, and record/mix quickly close to the instruments (no moving around). The Kush plug-ins basically take whatever I record, and make it sound "professional"(for lack of a better word). The Clariphonic opens it up and the UBK-1 gives it mojo and movement. I also like the Slate console plug-in to add that little extra console placement.

I know this isn't for everyone, but there are a lot of truly fantastic options out there. The Kush solution is musical. No fiddling with knobs or mousing around. I need to hear the song like it is in my head and concentrate on the sound and the performance. The UBK gives you saturation and sets levels through a blinking headroom light. The compressors are all good for different reasons (Glue is awesome!), and allows changes intuitively. Get something really great, and back it off with the wet/dry switch. The Clariphonic same thing, opens it up and adds sheen/air. All of a sudden you're working with what flavor of "better" you want. Obviously, in the rarified air of great engineering, I'm working with a chainsaw approach, but honestly the difference is astounding. I can record with confidence which is huge, since usually the "huh", moment of the raw track quickly becomes the "oh yeah" moment. If you are looking for a solution that will make your songs sound great in terms that are intuitive and musical, try this. Point and shoot!

17th November 2013

Kush Audio UBK-1 by kingofswing

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Kush Audio UBK-1

I recently picked up the Kush UBK-1 after a great demo experience. I love this powerful beast, and it's like no other dynamics tool I have used, and I own many plugin compressors and some cool hardware comps too. The UBK-1 adds movement and feel to almost anything, and brings life to digital audio. You can make new grooves out of old ones, and change the feel of drums for the better! The sound quality is incredible for a plugin, really adds depth and mojo to audio. The five different compression types all sound great and each one is tuned to perfection. Smooth and Squish are my favourites! I love the saturation on the UBK-1, very analog like! I also own the Slate VBC, and can say that the UBK-1 is a very different beast, and makes a great addition to the VBC. They don't compete with each other at all - a good thing IMHO. I shall finish by saying that UBK-1 really changes the perception of software vs hardware comps (like VBC) IMO, and it proudly stacks up against some very costly hardware compressors, which says a lot about this beast. Go try the demo or just buy it, you won't regret it.

29th January 2016

Kush Audio UBK-1 by amaze2n

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Kush Audio UBK-1

I am pleased to say that since trying it, the UBK-1 has become my new favourite character compressor. It has such a smoothly aggressive sound (if that even makes sense), really warm and earthy and sweet. I'm absolutely wowed at the quality, it's pure gold. You have 5 compressor models to choose from, and each has something unique to offer. The saturation by itself is top-notch, and can be used to great effect for anything from adding a bit of subtle colour to outright distortion.

UBK (the guy behind Kush) has an interesting approach to his plugins - basically forget everything you know about dynamics, saturation, and EQ, and use your imagination. In his mind it's not about spectral/dynamics control, it's about the motion of the sound and its kinetic energy. UBK-1 is the embodiment of that ideology.

In my experience, the UBK-1 shines most when used for NY-style compression. Make sure to adjust your headroom, dial in some saturation, hit the compressor hard, and then drag the mix lever down until you find your sweet spot. The density knob is a mysterious creature, it behaves in unpredictable ways that are hard to describe. From what I gather, it applies frequency-dependent compression upon the mids or the hights. Depending on your setting, it can give you a more "solid" or "bright" sound. Just experiment with it.

I would have liked a sort of "expert" pannel, where you can adjust attack, release and other such elementary parameters. Still, perhaps it does better without. It makes you think less in technical terms and focus on what it is doing to the sound. And the sound is undoubtedly phenomenal.

9/10

 
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