Review: UAD 1176LN Limiter Plugin
FREE with a purchase of UAD
Great sounding, fairly easy to use compressor once you understand its quirks
Includes low DSP SE version
Sounds GREAT on drums, bass, guitar, vocals, you name it!
The newer UA 1176 Classic Limiter Collection does a better job at emulating the whole circuit flow of the analog gear
Universal Audio’s 1176LN is a great sounding emulation of the Classic 1967 hardware. This compressor has been a hardware staple in professional studios for YEARS and is probably one of the most used compressors ever made, and with careful setup, really can sound good on basically anything. Its that versatile! Though this plugin is given free with any UAD purchase, this DOES NOT mean its and inferior product. Quite on the contrary, I find it STILL gets heavy use in my studio today.
Just to clarify, this is not a review for the newly released “UA 1176 Classic Limiter Collection” which I have also reviewed here. http://littlefishaudio.com/gearevu/Audio_Gear-detail/uad-ua-1176-collection/
This is the original Universal Audio emulation, which I believe was one of the first plugins, or if not one of the plugins that made UAD platform a major competitor in the plugin market. Of course this is all due to its great sound and faithful emulation of the compression characteristics of the hardware. Part of what made the compressor a hit was its “lightning-fast 20 microsecond attack time,” which makes it very well suited for taiming transients & fattening up sounds, particularly drums. I really like it as the “crush buss” compressor when doing parallel drum compression and really slamming it to the extreme. I’ve also found it works really well on rock vocals, as I can really shape the attack time in such a way that is not possible with the LA2A. It depends on the song, but I often find myself using either the 1176 or LA2A for my vocal compression.
The 1176LN is a great comment to the LA-2A, and when used in serial compression with the 1176 with a fast attack to complement the LA2A’s naturally slower attack, you can really get a ton of control over the type of compression and usually results in a very natural compression in my experience. One thing to remember about the 1176 however, is that its attack and release settings are the opposite of how one might thing of them. For example, unlike other compressors who’s attack and release relate to actual milliseconds, the numbers on the 1176 are just arbitrary, with 1 actually being its SLOWEST setting, and 7 is actually the fastest. I must admit when I was young and first getting into compression this threw me for a loop, and was wondering why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted!
To my ears it sounds like the 1176LN plugin does not really replicate the analog circuitry of the hardware like the new “UA 1176 Classic Limiter Collection” does, but it does have that great 1176 compressor control and feel, and even does an addiquite job of replicating that “compression distortion” when you throw the attack and release way up and really slam a part, like a bass for example. I personally still find it has a place in my studio, even with the UA 1176 Classic Limiter Collection at my disposal, because it still sounds great and uses much less UAD DSP. In fact, UA gives you a lighter DSP version of the plugin, the 1176SE, which can run a staggering 61 mono instances on a single UAD2 chip! http://www.uaudio.com/support/uad/compatibility/instance-chart.html To my ears they SE and LN version sound basically the same at normal settings, and only really sound different when cranked. If I need extreme settings I will reach for the newer version anyway, so if I just need the sound of the 1176 compressor, and not any analog distortion, I will reach for the 1176SE plugin first.
Overall this plugin is highly recommended.