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UAD Tape plugins versus Neve 5042 Saturation Plugins
Old 2nd September 2011
  #1
Gear Nut
 

UAD Tape plugins versus Neve 5042

How do you think these compare?

Anyone with experience in both the Neve 5042 hardware tape emulation and the UAD tape plugins?

If you had to chose one, which would it be and why?

tks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXIygTrVIH
Old 2nd September 2011
  #2
Here for the gear
 

I haven't heard the Neve gizmo, but I have the Studer A800 plugin, and I use it on virtually all my projects now. And I have to say, it's a perfect emulation, at least to my ears... I was BLOWN AWAY the first time I put it on the master bus in Logic. I really couldn't believe my ears - such a natural, pleasant warming up of the sound. Universal Audio really did it with this one.

So, in my opinion, if the Studer plug is perfect, which I think it is, I personally can't find any reason to be looking at the Neve 5042. It might very well be just as good as the A800 plug, but it can't be any better, because that plug nails it completely. From a sound point of view, I guess it's like choosing between apples and oranges (or in my case, an unknown fruit - but who cares, 'cause I really like them apples ).. Whereas in practical use you get loads of other possibilities with the UAD card as well, take the Massive Passive f.i., and a bunch of great compressor emulations. Plus I don't think UA have released their last great plugin yet - haven't tried the Ampex 2-track plug yet, but I suppose it must be at least matching the Studer A800 plug in terms of quality & realism of the emulation. Anything less would be a disaster now that they have set a new standard for tape emulation. Yeah, I know I sound like a fanboy, but did I mention that I really like that Studer plug?

Finally, I think the 5042 is a bit pricey compared to a UAD card, if you take into consideration that it basically only does one thing. Of course, if you don't have a DAW-based setup and thus are looking for a tape simulation standalone unit with XLRs to connect to your hardware mixer, then the Neve of course comes into play, for that reason alone... Just my 2 cents..
Old 2nd September 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
hasbeen's Avatar
What he said.

The great thing about UAD was I got to audition the plug before buying. It was a no brainer.

Plus, I love the little spinning reel to reel on the tape deck. It is as much fun as fake tube glow!
Old 2nd September 2011
  #4
Lives for gear
 
ttown23's Avatar
Yep, what they both said... go for the A800 and don't look back.

I also use it on virtually every track.. try putting an 808 bass kick through it, complete magic!

I also like the FATSO Sr., very cool warm compression effect somewhat similar to the tape compression effect of the Studer but more pronounced and harsher (if you want it to be).
Old 4th September 2011
  #5
Gear Addict
 
DoctorG's Avatar
 

I tried the 5042 and it wasn't for me. I found that there was a fair bit of bass roll off and the overall effect is kind of subtle. It's not cheap either. I bought the Fatso Jr. which has a more obvious sound. While I'm not sure it sounds that much like tape its definitely a good sounding unit. While I haven't used the Anamod there are many who really like it - maybe look at this one if you want hardware tape emulation.

For plugs, I have the UAD Studer which is more like the type of tape sound I was after. Also have the Waves MPX which is dirtier and just as useful in a different way. Might try the UAD Ampex but I'd need to really like it before buying another tape plug.
Old 4th September 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 
vo1k1's Avatar
 

FWIW, the 5042 can be really useful as a mix tool either on individual tracks or on buss. Things that come immediately to mind are bass, orchestral group, acoustic guitar.
Old 4th September 2011
  #7
Gear Nut
 

Thanks all

I agree the UAD tape plugins sound nice from what I've tested in the demo. I've also tested the 5042 a while before the UADs tape plugins came out and I really loved it. Though never had the chance to compare them at the same time.

It'd be interesting to hear a comparison from anyone who owns/knows both.

From memory, the UAD seems more flexible in the flavours/sounds that its possible to get out of it. Whereas the 5042 is more like a one trick pony with a really nice trick. Given they were tested in different times, not sure which I would pick if I had to chose one. Didn't find many threads on this, but there is one where owners of both seem to prefer the 5042.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXIygTrVIH
Old 4th September 2011
  #8
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Righto - as owner of both:


UAD:
1. Got a nice tape sort of sound
2. Lots of nice controls for FX etc
BUT
3. STILL sounds like what it is - a digital plugin with some tonality of tape. In other words - if you're looking for that subtle analogue sound .... you won't get it. However - the real sound of analogue is so subtle as to only to matter to people like us!! I use UAD tape a lot - it's great. But it isn't just like using tape. Same for the new ATR model - I have a half inch ATR 102 and I won't be selling it anytime soon after auditioning the UAD version! Also there isn't really any advantage is using the ATER on a mix whereas the studer is useful in getting SOME tape mojo in a mix.

5042:
1. Brings a lovely euphonic quality to the sound (all the portico gear is like this!!)
2. Has a nice harmonic aspect to the sound which can be driven nicely think
BUT
3. STILL does not sound like tape.


Neither of these systems sound like any tape machine I have or have used.. However - they both are great systems for adding nice sonic qualities. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either BUT on balance the UAD makes more sense for work with the portico being the more sonically desirable.

SO -

the UAD adds a (still digital) tape like effect. The Portico adds a nice very analogue sheen (particularly in the highs) but doesn't do what tape does. The UAD is more "tape like" (yet still clearly digital) and the Portico is very analogue but not tape like!! Oh - and I don't like the Portico 5042 on mixes because there is a big bump at 300hz and the real low bass gets lost. When I use my Ampex ATR102 there is a nice bass hump.
Old 4th September 2011
  #9
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
Righto - as owner of both:


UAD:
1. Got a nice tape sort of sound
2. Lots of nice controls for FX etc
BUT
3. STILL sounds like what it is - a digital plugin with some tonality of tape. In other words - if you're looking for that subtle analogue sound .... you won't get it. However - the real sound of analogue is so subtle as to only to matter to people like us!! I use UAD tape a lot - it's great. But it isn't just like using tape. Same for the new ATR model - I have a half inch ATR 102 and I won't be selling it anytime soon after auditioning the UAD version! Also there isn't really any advantage is using the ATER on a mix whereas the studer is useful in getting SOME tape mojo in a mix.

5042:
1. Brings a lovely euphonic quality to the sound (all the portico gear is like this!!)
2. Has a nice harmonic aspect to the sound which can be driven nicely think
BUT
3. STILL does not sound like tape.


Neither of these systems sound like any tape machine I have or have used.. However - they both are great systems for adding nice sonic qualities. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either BUT on balance the UAD makes more sense for work with the portico being the more sonically desirable.

SO -

the UAD adds a (still digital) tape like effect. The Portico adds a nice very analogue sheen (particularly in the highs) but doesn't do what tape does. The UAD is more "tape like" (yet still clearly digital) and the Portico is very analogue but not tape like!! Oh - and I don't like the Portico 5042 on mixes because there is a big bump at 300hz and the real low bass gets lost. When I use my Ampex ATR102 there is a nice bass hump.
great comparison, thanks Narcoman
Old 4th September 2011
  #10
Gear Head
 

Yes I`m with narcoman on this one. The 5042 is a tape circuit no tape. Closest thing to tape I have come across is the nebular with R2R and TB+. But Nebular is Buggy and I always have to render and it`s a lot of extra messing around that does not always translate.These days I tend to use it on the final aspect of the mix and it runs best at 96Khz forget 44.1Khz.

The plugs ins don`t sound like tape. Period.., however the good point about them is you can use as many as you like throughout your mix no problem as with the portico, you can only track with it or use it on the mix buss so it has it`s limitations.

The analog sound is never just tape, it`s pres, desk, tape, some compressors and more tape and let's not forget summing. It is a chain with a whole lot of subtle harmonics.

Even with Nebular if you want a tape sound you have to line up at least 4 of them each mimicking what would be going on in a studio with a tape machine a desk and some nice pres.Personally I don`t chase the tape sound ITB anymore.

I still use Mcdsps ac2 and ac1.If you know what you're doing they will produce some great softening and warming fxs.
Also I have found this, if you get your gain staging right, and don`t crush your mix and tracking you can still produce a mix that will rival a mix done on tape.
Old 4th September 2011
  #11
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by keena View Post
Yes I`m with narcoman on this one. The 5042 is a tape circuit no tape. Closest thing to tape I have come across is the nebular with R2R and TB+. But Nebular is Buggy and I always have to render and it`s a lot of extra messing around that does not always translate.These days I tend to use it on the final aspect of the mix and it runs best at 96Khz forget 44.1Khz.

The plugs ins don`t sound like tape. Period.., however the good point about them is you can use as many as you like throughout your mix no problem as with the portico, you can only track with it or use it on the mix buss so it has it`s limitations.

The analog sound is never just tape, it`s pres, desk, tape, some compressors and more tape and let's not forget summing. It is a chain with a whole lot of subtle harmonics.

Even with Nebular if you want a tape sound you have to line up at least 4 of them each mimicking what would be going on in a studio with a tape machine a desk and some nice pres.Personally I don`t chase the tape sound ITB anymore.

I still use Mcdsps ac2 and ac1.If you know what you're doing they will produce some great softening and warming fxs.
Also I have found this, if you get your gain staging right, and don`t crush your mix and tracking you can still produce a mix that will rival a mix done on tape.
Tks Keena, I run Logic and just realized now going to Mc DSP site they are compatible with Logic, last I checked I think they weren't, a while ago.

Though you don't consider the 5042 or the UAs to sound like tape, when you compare what they can do for you, do you like them? and do you have a favorite?

tks
Old 5th September 2011
  #12
Gear Maniac
 
johnnygri's Avatar
Hey there Serra. Whilst I haven't got any experience with the UAD plugins, I've got a little bit of experience with real tape and Waves/Airwindows plugins. Please bear with me, I know this isn't bang on topic.

I really wanted a great tape sound, and tried out loads of tape plugins. I bought the Airwindows ToTape plugin as I loved the sound I got, especially when sticking it on every track.

Then I decided, that if I wanted a tapey sound, I should just bloody well get a tape machine. I think my reasoning was something along the lines of if you want a good coffee, don't use instant, grind the damn beans and make a decent cup.

I didn't have the budget for a Studer or an Ampex. Nor the know how to maintain one. Nor the space. I ended up finding a restored-to-new Tascam 38, 1/2" 15ips machine. If you're scoffing now ("that isnt 2 inch, just crap") then yes I know and realise that - BUT - I am one happy guy. Paid £500 for a superb machine in absolutely perfect condition.

Two things:

1) Owning a tape machine is flat-out awesome.
2) The sound is utterly, utterly different. As has been said, plugins still sound digital. There is a smoothness to the transients that can be attained with the real article that I don't hear from any plugins. Mixes are easier. etc. The UAD may well be incredible in this respect, but I am a bit of a cynic I think.

I bought the Waves MPX plugin when it was on offer, and it's definitely nice enough on the master, and it can really add a lot of nice. On tracks however it hasn't give me what I get from my 8 track. Running tracks onto it (through my Ensemble) not only sounds fantastic, it makes me feel awesome, like I'm doing something properly.

I know that here on gearslutz something like a humble old Tascam 38 is a bunch of crap, but the fact is I'm making great sounding stuff with it and I don't care what anybody says!

Not sure if that's of any use, given you're looking at the UAD plugin or the Neve, and I hope whatever you choose sounds aces. I felt compelled to put finger to keyboard on this matter as I'm so flippin' happy I went down this route heh
Old 5th September 2011
  #13
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

I had a 38 years ago. Kept it right up until two years ago. Great for bass guitars and acoustics.
Old 5th September 2011
  #14
Lives for gear
 
ttown23's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnygri View Post
Two things:

1) Owning a tape machine is flat-out awesome.
2) The sound is utterly, utterly different. As has been said, plugins still sound digital. There is a smoothness to the transients that can be attained with the real article that I don't hear from any plugins. Mixes are easier. etc. The UAD may well be incredible in this respect, but I am a bit of a cynic
I have to agree, well somewhat at least.

Here's a little anecdote about the power of a real tape machine that I think you may find interesting. About 6 months ago I helped to record, mix, and master a piano jazz album. We decided to have three levels of redundancy on the recording side, and included a Nagra at 15 fps with Ampex tape.

When we got back into the studio and started mixing down, I used the UAD2 Studer A800 plugin and all were amazed. It really sounded nice on the Gefel m930 recorded grand pianos.

Then, we played a few of the tracks recorded with the Nagra. They sounded great... BUT not as great as you might imagine next to the A800 plugin!? In the end, we used the Studer A800 plug on 95% of the album (and just included one track recorded with the Nagra-- which was a pain to digitize properly!)

So yes, I agree that real tape still has that added something, but IMO you probably won't hear much of it in the final CD mix.
Old 5th September 2011
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serra View Post
Tks Keena, I run Logic and just realized now going to Mc DSP site they are compatible with Logic, last I checked I think they weren't, a while ago.

Though you don't consider the 5042 or the UAs to sound like tape, when you compare what they can do for you, do you like them? and do you have a favorite?

tks
I prefer the 5042 if I want to head in the analog tape direction the 300 bump never really bothered me.The plug ins I have tried and I personally consider them to be for the most part a little bit hype.However if you can find a place for them in your mix go for it.With gear it`s really about if you can get it to work for you.
Old 7th September 2011
  #16
Here for the gear
 
juniperian's Avatar
 

Hey johnnygri, how are you going about running audio through your 38? Are you just pressing record on the deck in Repro mode and recording back into your DAW?

I have a 38 that's been sitting in my closet for 20 years, and I've been thinking about the same thing. There's also a guy in CA named Jim Williams who apparently upgrades 38s with better quality electronics and +4dB XLR connectors, and I've been thinking about sending it to him.
Old 8th September 2011
  #17
Gear Maniac
 
johnnygri's Avatar
Hey juniperian, yes that's how I'm doing it at the moment. I'm patching in gear on the way there/back to avoid extra conversions (but I can't really hear much of a degradation through the Ensemble when I don't).

Give it a shot!

I've been advised that these things, built like tanks as they are, don't survive postage, so be careful there. +4 with XLR would be kind of nice but I say just dive in and give it a crack.

Out of interest, do you know more about what Jim Williams' upgrade involves?
Old 8th September 2011
  #18
Moderator
 
narcoman's Avatar
 

Contact him on here. He's an approachable chap. Do a search for user "Jim Williams". That's the man!!
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