UNIQUE IN A COMPETITIVE MARKET
I first came across the URS plugins when I was mixing at Elliott Randall’s studio. When someone with the recording heritage of Randall gets excited about a product, you can’t help but be very intrigued indeed.
LET’S BACK THE TIME TRAVEL TRUCK UP A TAD
Back to 1978 to be precise. This was when Bobby and Joanne Nathan founded the Unique Recording Studios, smack dab in the middle of New York City. URS started out as an eight-track facility, expanding to 16-track Tascam and quickly moving on to the first ever made Otari MTR-90 24-track. In the early eighties, thanks to the fast-growing hip hop scene, URS had to build another room to cope with the sheer volume of clients gravitating towards the facility’s vast collection of now vintage synths. At the turn of the century the complex had expanded to five studios over three floors in the heart of NYC’s Times Square.
FROM HARDWARE TO SOFTWARE
Bobby Nathan is no stranger to the software side of things. Apart from running the very first MIDI studio ‘MIDI City’, he has also been a design consultant for Digidesign, EMU, Akai, Fairlight and Yamaha, amongst others. Nathan was also the first to sample James Brown’s screams on EMU’s Emulator I. The Unique Recording Software came to the public at the 2003 AES exhibition and was nominated for a TEC award within a year.
NEW, YET FAMILIAR
It is obvious that the brain behind the URS plugins has spent most of his career surrounded by the all-time classics when it comes to dynamics and eq. Every plugin you open up feels like you’ve physically handled it and heard it before. These plugs are very well laid out, clearly labelled and easy to use. And like the hardware, each plugin has its own character. In a world of ‘in-the-box’ mixing, this is such an important asset.
A lot of plugin manufacturers try to supply us with all-in-one bundles covering equalisation, dynamics, time and pitch based effects and de-noising. URS decided to focus on just eq, compression and limiting.
GRILLED AT THE SONIC CUISINE
Nathan sent me the full URS bundle for review, which meant 18 new plugins to learn and to play with. I had just been asked to mix an EP for a new and upcoming London band called Delta Unit. Trying the plugins out one at a time, URS ended up in most of the project. As time and budget had to be well managed here, I had to do most of the work ‘in-the-box’ to cut down on recall time. These plugins gave me an amazing analog feel in operation, look and, most importantly, superior sonic quality.
As engineers we can get a bit over-excited by new pieces of gear, but the sound of these plugins did not go unnoticed by my client, who was present at all the mixes. The keywords from that session were ooh, wow, subtle, nice, clarity and old school. In my opinion, that’s all you want from a set of plugins modelled on those vintage units we all love and mostly can’t afford. Which brings us nicely onto the next point.
UNIQUE RETAIL STRUCTURE
Each plugin can be purchased separately. But once you get your hands on one of these you are going to want more. There are several bundles set up to serve your individual needs. From classic and eq only bundles to specific series, you name it,
they have it.
I suggest you get out there, explore and add some URS warmth to our world of 0s and 1s.