Common Audio guitar pedal comparability: Which amp emulator is best for you?

We could earn income from the merchandise out there on this web page and take part in affiliate applications. Be taught extra ›

Printed Feb 6, 2023 1:00 PM

For many years, Universal Audio has made waves—or possibly that’s produced waveforms—within the music trade by creating world-class recording interfaces, legendary analog tone shapers, and painstakingly emulated low-low-latency channel strip and classic instrument plug-ins. Just lately, this dedication to a lush punchy presence within the combine has been exhibited with the introduction of their $20-a-month plugin subscription service, UAD Spark, in addition to the discharge of the Sphere DLX and LX modeling microphones. Now, this multi-dimensional processing philosophy has discovered its approach into inaugural Common Audio guitar pedals, which take the type of fashionable, sturdy stompboxes loaded with highly effective texture-modulating engines and versatile connectivity choices. 

I not too long ago had an opportunity to check drive all three of the Common Audio UAFX amp emulator pedals, from the traditional Fender-esque Dream ’65 Reverb Amplifier and Woodrow ’55 Instrument Amplifier to the British Invasion-inspired Ruby ’63 Prime Enhance Amplifier. When you’re on the lookout for ultra-portable, ampless authenticity that simply cuts by way of a mixture, right here’s a fast rundown of every part that makes every UAFX amp emulator pedal distinct.

Common Audio guitar pedal comparability

All Common Audio UAFX amp emulator pedals are priced at $400 and share related design components and fundamental performance. Right here’s a more in-depth take a look at the distinctive guitar tones—formed by sign paths that may embody parts modeled after legendary Celestion, Oxford, JBL, Korg, Shure, beyerdynamic, Royer, Sennheiser, Neumann, and AKG gear—that will help you resolve which one is best for you.

UAFX Dream ’65 Reverb Amplifier

The Common Audio Dream ’65 Reverb Amplifier pedal is an homage to the venerable Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb, a tube-powered guitar amp that’s made its approach into numerous recordings and performances over the many years by gamers from Johnny Marr and Muddy Waters to St. Vincent and Mac DeMarco. Along with emulating the Deluxe Reverb’s iconically wealthy clear tones and ear-pleasing overdrive breakup, the Dream ’65 pedal contains built-in spring reverb and vibrato results—a traditional mixture that’s not typically seen in a single pedal (the Milkman F-Cease and Strymon Flint being a few unbelievable exceptions). Through a set of onboard switches, customers can toggle between (or bypass altogether) a variety of traditionally correct speaker cupboard, mic, and room tone modifiers—tech borrowed from the $1,200 UA OX Amp—to sculpt singing saturation for surf rock, Texas blues, jazz, punk, and virtually every part in between. 

Listening to the Dream ’65 produce the nuanced and dynamic richness of a Fender Deluxe with no actual speaker was equally satisfying and perplexing for those who’re used to the expertise of filling a room with the sounds of an actual amplifier. Monitoring the pedal by way of headphones and studio screens gave an expertise extra akin to listening to a high-quality recording than truly transferring air in a bodily house. Nonetheless, this candy tube-like sparkle and sag spoke to the Dream ’65’s potential for recording great-sounding guitars in less-than-ideal acoustic areas—simply add digital audio workstation and an interface. Suppose you’re a session participant on the lookout for most tonal flexibility or wish to crank the velvety highs that swept from Sundown Sound to Muscle Shoals within the ’70s. In that case, the Dream ’65 Reverb’s trustworthy modeling of its versatile namesake makes it a no brainer.

See also  PreSonus AudioBox GO audio interface evaluation: A tidy tiny toolbox

UAFX Woodrow ’55 Instrument Amplifier

UAFX Woodrow guitar pedal sitting on top of its box

The Woodrow ’55 Instrument Amplifier is a leaner, meaner cousin of the Dream ’65 pedal, designed to ship all of the full-bodied, harmonically wealthy tone and barking overdrive of a classic Fender Tweed Deluxe amp from the mid-Nineteen Fifties. The “tweed sound” is taken into account by many gamers to be the holy grail of guitar tone, with an unmistakable midrange-forward chunk and woody resonance that’s nice for enjoying growly leads and thick chords, a la Neil Younger and Blake Mills. The Woodrow ’55 emulates a number of the most defining options of the unique Fender Tweed Deluxe: it gives a singular twin enter channel setup, with a brighter “instrument” and a bassier “microphone” enter channel that may be blended for a variety of tones; it additionally lacks a spring reverb circuit, opting as a substitute for a “room” knob that provides studio ambiance to the general sound. Just like the Dream ’65, the Woodrow additionally incorporates a three-way speaker choice change, however the pedal’s second change has been swapped for a lift selector, permitting customers to “sizzling rod” their setup by toggling between inventory, tape machine, and rack delay preamp tones. 

When put by way of its paces, the Woodrow ’55 delivered a formidable depth and vary of tone plus a dynamic, responsive play expertise extremely just like the Fender Tweed sound after which it’s modeled. As with the Dream ’65, it was a little bit of an odd expertise to listen to a pedal produce such an correct depiction of a loud amplifier in a room with none of the particular sound strain, however the Woodrow ’55’s specific angle and dynamic vary advised that it might be a very stable selection for including tons of character to a clear solid-state amp just like the Roland JC-40.

UAFX Ruby ’63 Prime Enhance Amplifier

UAFX Ruby guitar pedal sitting on top of its box

If British-style tone is extra your factor, the Ruby ’63 Prime Enhance Amplifier gives a unbelievable emulation of a classic Vox AC30, one other traditionally famend amplifier utilized by the likes of Dave Grohl, Jonny Greenwood, and The Fringe of U2. In comparison with the ever-present sound of an American Fender-style amp, the Vox AC30 produces typically brighter and extra harmonically advanced clear tones. It delivers a lean and crunchy tube grit when overdriven. The UAFX Ruby ’63 effortlessly emulates the Vox’s traditional jangle and chime with a three-way speaker selector and a second toggle for switching between regular, brilliant, and vibrato channels. 

See also  Finest stereo audio system of 2022

The Ruby lacks a reverb circuit, similar to the unique Vox AC30, however the pedal features a room ambiance knob just like that discovered on the Woodrow ’55 pedal. Every of the three channels on the Ruby additionally options its personal particular kind of enhance circuits to additional add to the vary of tones out there, all eccentricities intact. Vox AC30s are massive and heavy amps that must be turned up very loud to attain their signature overdrive, however the Ruby produced all the identical full-throated tone and crunch with none logistical issues.

What concerning the Common Audio Golden Reverberator, Starlight Echo Station, and Astra Modulation Machine?

Common Audio’s UAFX line of pedals additionally contains the Golden Reverberator, Starlight Echo, and Astra Modulation Machine, results stompboxes that function the identical general design as their amp emulator counterparts however with a give attention to expansive soundscapes fairly than a like-you’re-in-the-room-with expertise. Sculpt the clipping clangs and grainy tails of spring reverb tanks and studio plate reverbs, unfold the whooshing haze of eccentric tape and bucket-brigade echoes, or surf the saturated ripples of refrain/flanging/tremolo. We didn’t get an opportunity to check these results but, but when they’re as well-built and versatile because the amp pedals they’re undoubtedly price contemplating for those who’re trying to develop your sonic palette on stage and within the studio.

What makes Common Audio guitar pedals so interesting?

The principle enchantment of the UAFX guitar pedals lies of their capability to recreate guitar tones from a number of traditional tube guitar amplifiers with none of the related upfront price, bulk, ground-loop noise, or repairs. Fashionable variations of the guitar amps emulated listed here are costly—often above $2,000 used—and classic variations can attain nicely into the five-figure vary. In contrast to an amplifier, a UAFX pedal will also be thrown right into a backpack and casually taken to a different location for studio recording or reside efficiency, much more simply than a observe amp. The pedals’ switchable audio system, results, and channels additionally give them a wider vary of tonal choices than a conventional amp, giving them an edge in inventive conditions.

See also  Finest speaker wires of 2022

The entire pedals within the product line are appropriate with Common Audio’s UAFX Management smartphone app, which permits customers to alter and recall customized artist tones and private presets, customise footswitch performance, and even set up free further cupboard and mic emulations so you may tweak your sign chain wirelessly by way of Bluetooth. A desktop model of the management software program can also be out there and contains the identical options with the addition of firmware updates over USB-C.

Universal Audio guitar pedals I/O and bottom panels
Julian Vittorio

Common Audio guitar pedals comparability: Design

Common Audio’s UAFX pedals all share the identical type issue and have eye-catching aluminum and plastic housings with high-quality knobs and switches that really feel satisfying to make use of and are paying homage to these discovered on high-end recording studio gear. Every pedal contains two footswitches that toggle between reside and amp/impact circuits by default, however customers can even bind them to customized features/presets utilizing the smartphone app. On the rear of every pedal is an abundance of I/O, together with a 400-milliamp-minimum 9-volt DC enter, two unbalanced TS/TRS inputs and outputs, and a USB-C port for desktop management and firmware updates. Along with with the ability to perform like a conventional guitar pedal with a easy enter and output, the entire UAFX amp emulation pedals function a singular “four-cable mode” that enables them to be routed into the results loop of any amplifier, giving gamers the choice to simply change forwards and backwards between their very own amp’s built-in preamp and the UAFX amp pedal of their selecting with out having to commit to 1 or the opposite.

So, which Common Audio guitar pedal is finest for you?

The UAFX amp emulator line of Common Audio guitar pedals all price the identical and all use a mix of high-quality {hardware} and software program emulation to supply guitarists and producers a very fascinating and intuitive inventive various to a conventional amplifier with out the necessity to work together with a pc display. In a really perfect world, you’d seize all three to provide your self the widest vary of inventive choices to make signature tones into your tone. Nonetheless, if you should keep on with one, the UAFX Dream ’65 Reverb Amplifier will pull off the overwhelming majority of conventional pop, rock, and blues tones due to its wide selection of sounds and included results. The UAFX Woodrow ’55 Instrument Amplifier is the very best pedal within the product line for getting brilliant nation twang and growly, in-your-face guitar tones, and the UAFX Ruby ’63 Prime Enhance Amplifier is the only option for brilliant, jangly Britpop-style cleans.