Universal Audio | OX Amp Top Box
The Universal Audio OX Amp Top Box was the first dedicated product from UA addressing guitarists needs within the studio recording environment. We still get asked what it does, and how it can be configured and setup into a workflow - so below are a few of the ideas and suggestions behind this really useful device.
UA OX - What is it?
Firstly it's a load box. This means it allows your guitar amplifier to be driven correctly at the 'sweet spot' sonically while controlling the actual volume output you hear from the front speaker at manageable levels for recording or practising.
You can run your valve amp at the sweet point, at any volume – with is very useful for home recordists, and a big deal for amps that don’t have master volume control.
It's a cabinet simulator. If you want to record through a wide variety of cabinets, but only have one, the OX utilises your guitar amplifier through Universal Audio's Dynamic Speaker Modeling software, which you can customise to tweak your sound. The OX reacts to amp impedance just like a real speaker, which is one of the reasons it sounds so convincing alongside this UA software.
It's a guitar amp recording chain. With a selection of software microphones and their placements, ambient room mics and up to four UA plug-in studio effects, this is a one-stop solution for dialling in that perfect guitar sound. The effects are a 4 Band EQ, 1176SE, Delay and EMT Plate.
Different 'presets' can be assigned to the 6 RIG choices on the left dial of the OX for easy recall. The ROOM dial allows you to add the ambience room mic to any sound very easily, and is one of the most flexible ways to add more realism and natural space to your recordings.
UA OX - How do I control it?
UA has opted for WiFi control on either an iPAD or MacOs platform which requires MacOSX Sierra or higher. Connecting it to my WiFi Network was extremely simple and I've been using the desktop app on my MacPro to edit and store sounds easily.
There are Faders for Mic1 and Mic2 and a Room Mic(s) fader which is controller by the ROOM front dial. Cabinets can be changed, and the plug-ins on the Master section can be deactivated if desired, with an overall output Fader for monitoring.
There are a number of microphone choices with numbers to give away the approximate designs, such as Dynamic 421, Condenser 67, Condenser 87. Dynamic 57 etc all with the visual representation and options to move them, and their axis positions.
UA OX - Can I use it without an amp?
No, you can't. There is no amp simulation within the OX, it requires connectivity into a real amplifier ( preferably valve rather than solid-state ).
UA OX - Can I use it without a speaker cabinet?
Yes, you can. You can use the line outputs or SPDIF ( at 44.1k ) and headphone output, allowing you access to the amp tone even when a speaker cabinet isn't connected.
The line outputs, or SPDIF, you could connect directly to an audio interface or live sound mixer, and by using the headphone output means you can turn your 100W Marshall valve monster into a great sounding practice amp...no matter what time of night!
UA OX - How is it connected?
The OX is set up between your amplifier and speaker cabinet setup. You can use it with either an Amp Head + Speaker Cabinet or a Combo Amp.
Connectivity with an Amp Head + Cabinet :
Connectivity with a Combo Amp :
Connectivity with a Combo Amp is slightly different but the same principle. You need to find the connected cable from the speaker and remove it from the rear of the combo amp. This is usually quite short, so you'll probably require a Female to Male Speaker Cable to connect from the amp and then back into the OX.
* Don't use the Preamp output or Send / Return jacks for speaker connections *
UA OX - How does it sound?
The UA OX is an amazing device for creating multiple guitar sounds but just from your one amplifier in the chain. The whole box oozes confidence right down to the quality wooden retro styling and very heavy chassis. The software speaker cabinets and microphone flexibility is extremely useful and makes it easy to dial in sounds and save them in the MacOs app.
My favourite part is actually the ROOM dial, this sounds amazing on every sound I've chosen. You can get a really intimate sound or dial in a little more space to take to you on a journey into Universal Recording Studios, the recording room it is based upon. It's very simple - but very effective.
The EQ is useful and can be viewed as sliders or graphically. The 1176SE is ok, it doesn't sound as good to me as the 1176 UAD versions, and I do wonder why UA included the SE version when the full version could have been so easy to add. The Delay plug-in is useful and the EMT Plate sounds decent as well. Perhaps in future firmware updates the Effects may get upgraded? But they don't hinder the playing sound at all - you can always bypass them and go to something ITB instead should you desire.
Having the software work on iPad or MacOS Sierra and above ( no PC version yet ) is flexible and by storing your 6 favourite settings on the front of the OX. You could easily gig with it without having to take an iOS device to control it.
These Presets allow you to set up your “go to” sounds in advance, then store them ready for a recording session which guarantees the player complete control over their sound anywhere.
UA OX - Hear and see it in action
One of the best sounding UA OX videos is by Pete Thorn. Everything he plays is tracked and layered through the UA OX, and he demonstrates how easy it is to tweak the sounds via his iPad.
One to sit back and enjoy!
For more info on anything Universal Audio go to < Universal Audio @ KMR >