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Universal Audio SD-1, the reinvention of the microphone

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Universal Audio SD-1, the reinvention of the microphone

A microphone is something difficult to rethink but this was clearly Universal Audio’s vision in designing its new microphone. It is called SD-1 Standard and is the entry level model of a larger bouquet but here the concept is already expressed very clearly: for Universal Audio the microphone is an essential element of the audio chain, and in 2022 it can only exist in a context where hardware and software are closely united.

With this SD-1 the idea was to provide an adaptable and indeed ideal tool for every use, from simple voice recording to video calls as well as high-end project studio work, and why not even beyond (that is, it’s a great product too. for singers). And in fact it works like a normal microphone, it connects via the classic XLRs to any mixer or card. But it is with the Universal Audio hardware that the SD-1 reveals its versatility, thanks to the channel strip presets for every possible use and use.
Anyone familiar with Universal Audio’s UAD platform also knows how faithful the emulations of studio equipment and outboard are available to users. There are simply no better digital versions of the Api and Neve channels on the market, nor of less common or even esoteric processors like Manley’s Voxbox or Helios preamp. Thus, if the SD-1 can really be used in any context, it is connected to an Apollo UA card that the instrument shines at maximum intensity.

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SD-1 is a dynamic microphone contained in a “studio” chassis, not only for aesthetics but also to incorporate two switches for cutting low frequencies (200 Hz) and a boost for high frequencies (3-5kHz), while the range of the mic goes from 50 Hz to 16 kHz. The microphone appears to be built very well with quality materials, including the rather sturdy capsule protection net. The choice of moving the XLR connector on the back of the microphone in order to better manage the positioning on the rod is very clever. In the box there is also a pop filter that never hurts.

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Once switched on and put into operation, the SD-1 immediately reveals its purely vocal vocation, but the performance on acoustic guitars was equally interesting. We tested it using different Unison preamps directly via Console 2, the Apollo card management software, fiddling with the presets to see how soon we could find a satisfying sound. And net of special needs, with the SD-1 the first is really “good”, even in more complicated contexts such as whispered voices or with more varied dynamics. It should be borne in mind that being a dynamic it does not need a separate 48v power supply but at the same time, the preamplifier input level must be raised a little, an operation that can increase the background noise but which is easily manageable. There are also on the market signal boosters for dynamic mic like the Cloudlifter that “give” 25 decibels more without increasing the background noise but they do not seem necessary in this context: SD-1 was created to be used “out of the box.” ”And does its job as expected, with a nice round sound and a circuit made to make the most of the Uad plugins. For the sake of completeness, we have also tested it on other preamps, specifically in the stock ones of a Rme Fireface 800, in a P1 by A-Designs and in a Funkenwerks V376 Tab, obtaining results that are very faithful to the characteristics of the individual preamps but also a sound that is always very clear and defined.

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From the aesthetic side, the SD-1 is also designed to appear “beautiful” in the videos of the Youtubers and, after all, it is a very successful object, with its vintage cream color combined with a contemporary design. Ultimately Universal Audio has an excellent extra product in the catalog, and at this point the price, 299 euros, for a microphone of this quality and versatility is particularly interesting, especially for those who already have a setup based on the Uad ecosystem.

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