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Old 15th November 2009
Gear Head

Originally Posted by larry b View Post

If you're "cool" you gotta make sure you knock UA gear because you gotta keep up appearances, and heaven-forbid that you use anything that is sold at big-box stores such as GC.
All claims to 'coolness' notwithstanding, there's plenty of great boutique equipment and big box boxes alike. And lots of lousy ones too, on both sides. But UA has really rubbed me the wrong way, in part for the way the stuff I've tried sounds, and in part because they built up my expectations to a pretty crazy degree with their marketing campaign, what with Bill smoking over his console with his awesome hair. It's romantic and genius, and each in our own way, we all want recording to be like that, just like we want the office cubicle life to look like Mad Men.

IMHO, Neumann, Shure and dbx all have modern, mass production lines full of mics and boxes that work really, really well. Not every product, of course; but in each case, there are legendary products (the U87, the SM57, the 160 series are the obvious ones) that have remained solid. Not always identical to their roots, but always reliable, predictable and in the ballpark. And also, each company has introduced lots of new products to boot — variations on a theme, mostly, but some have really kept up; the TLM 103 and Shure KSM series hold their own with anything else in their class. And personally, I think the dbx 286A is the coolest de-esser / expander anywhere at any price, hardware or software alike, at $150 (though in fairness, I wouldn't probably use the mic pre if given another option).

The thing these three companies share with UA is name recognition: Lineage, history, expectation. But my trouble with the new UA comes from just never liking it all that much (specifically the 2-610, the 2-1176 and the 1176LN) when I plug it in — especially (important part) given its price point in the market, and especially when I know how that stuff is supposed to sound. $2100 is a lot of dough for two mic pre channels, and $2000 is a lot of dough for a single channel of compression. And if either one blew me away when I turned it on, then great. Or even if it came with a can of pomade and a pack of Chesterfield Kings; that would be cool, I suppose, too. But they don't do it for me, and I really believe there are far better options in bang-for-your-buck terms.

I mean, it's all tools, and they all build the houses of music we call records or files or whatever; every last mic or pre or comp, UA inclusive. I'd sell all this crap and yell into a bag of magnets if I could.

And clearly there's a lot of snake oil to be sold as well. Perhaps now is the prefect time to patent my brilliant Snake Oil Detection Device and offer it to an unsuspecting public. With, you know, pomade.

- Chris