Review: UAD CS-1 Channel Strip
FREE with a purchase of UAD
Great sounding, easy to use channel strip with additional multi effect options through the Delay and Reflection Engine Modules
No way to reorganize the modules
No Gate plugin
Like all other plugins from this series, its in need of a GUI facelift
Lack of input gain staging and output metering
Universal Audio’s CS-1 Channel Strip which comes FREE with each UAD purchase, is a combination of the EX-1 Equalizer and compressor, DM-1 Delay Modulator, and RS-1 Reflection Engine combined into one plugin, all of which I reviewed on this site, so check out those reviews for more information on the individual modules. So for this review I’ll focus mainly on the use of the CS-1 vs the individual modules. Though the CS-1′s individual modules can be bypassed, they are chained in the order given above and cannot be changed, so if you need more control over the order of the modules or want to double up on one for a particular sound (for example you want the DM-1 Delay to be used for Chorus and delay) I recommend loading the individual modules. In fact, truth be told, its extremely rare when I actually load the full CS-1 channel strip on a source.
The advantage to using the CS-1 though, is that The CS-1 takes up about 6.4% DSP off a single UAD chip. If you were to load up each of the modules independently, it takes up 8.5% DSP, so you are saving DSP loading the channel strip if you plan on using all its features. In my experience bypassing individual modules does not give you does not seem to give you DSP back, neither is there a way to hide individual modules you dont need, which would be a nice addition.
For anyone use to using channel strips like the SSL or NEVE for example will immediately notice the lack of a gate plugin. I guess you could make the argument that Universal Audio are giving you two additional plugins anyway in the delay and Reflection Engine that are not available in a standard channel strip, though I do find it odd that a gate was left out. I also feel the lack of proper input gain staging as well as proper output metering to also be an inconvenience and would have been a welcome addition to a channel strip plugin, and, like all other plugins from this series, it could benefit from a nice GUI facelift.
However, with all its faults, it doesn’t sound bad at all. Given the fact that it comes free with every UAD purchase, its easy to overlook whats possible with all these modules and immediately start filling your UAD cart with Neve EQ’s, Dimension D’s, MXR flanges, and an ungodly amount of compressors. I instead highly recommend you take your time to really learn these modules and know what they are capable of before investing in new plugins, so you know how to better augment the sounds and capabilities you already have.