UAD OX Amp Top Box

Discussion in 'Studio & Stage' started by dcm_guitar, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. dcm_guitar

    dcm_guitar New Member

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    I got a UAD OX a couple of days ago and thought I would post some initial impressions....

    For those who don't want to read: It's damn good and worth the price of admission for recording. It's a real game changer.

    For basic background, I've been home recording for more years than I care to divulge. I've released a couple of albums to no acclaim and made tens of dollars from music. My current setup is primarily for my own use, but I do rent it out on occasion as a project studio for small, local bands. I act as engineer / producer; whatever the situation dictates.

    I've gone "all in" on UAD plug-ins for tracking and mixing. While I would love to have racks and racks and racks of hardware, the monetary and physical limitations of my studio mean that's not going to happen. Based on the reviews, the UAD emulations get you anywhere from 92% - 99% as much sonic "mojo" as the real thing. Honestly, I'll have to take their word for it, because I've never tracked on a real API Vision Console ($500,000) and I don't have Manley or Pultec or Neve in my equipment racks. Still, I'm thrilled with the results I get from my Apollo based system, and absolutely love using the Unison inserts.

    Despite my affinity for UAD, plug-ins I was pretty "meh" when UAD announced the OX. My current setup for capturing electric guitar worked well when I want to silently record. It was a bit of a "roll your own" approach. I use my Mesa Boogie Mark 5:25 into a Suhr Reactive Load (don't get me started on the Mesa Cab Clone. I LOVE my Mesa, but the Cab Clone is just not good enough). I take the signal out of the Suhr into my Apollo. I've tried inserting the Two Notes WOS (Wall of Sound) into my DAW for power amp/cabinet/mic with the Two Notes IRs as well as others. I also tried inserting UAD's Vintage Amp Room (from Softube) into the Apollo's Console app and then use the cabinet models without the amp models. This way I get to use MY tube amp on the front end. I get the Mesa preamp tones (and the Mark 5 has a LOT of tones in it) and then I get to choose whatever cabinet I want. While the Two Notes WOS is REALLY flexible, I find myself primarily using the Vintage Amp Room insert in the Apollo Console because the workflow is so easy. I find the more limited selections helps me quickly get out of "recording engineer" mode and into "guitar player" mode. This set up works well.

    So, I get the OX because of the reviews I've read and I'm a bit of a UAD fanboy. The packaging is really nice. The unit is kind of big, and you can't stack anything on top of it. So, it's a bit of a PITA to place. I get it configured into my studio layout. I get it working. I have to give the folks at UAD a lot of credit. Setup on this thing is super easy. They print the names of the connections right-side up AND upside-down on the back so you can always read the connector name. It has stereo line outs, two different types of USB connectors and two different types of digital outputs. This thing WILL integrate into your setup. I get the remote software loaded up, so I can now control it from the unit itself or my ipad or my Mac. That's nice.

    So it plays nicely with others except that it has a big footprint. What about the sound?

    Holy crap, this thing sounds phenomenal! It's that good. Yes, it's that good. First off, the feel of playing from the amp is unaffected by the load box. I was very pleased by the upgrade I got in feel when switching to the Suhr reactive load. The OX is every bit as good as the Suhr as a load box. Then there's the sound. I'm not going to get involved in specs because they're readily available online. The quick description is that the app provides one-stop shopping for the tone coming out of your amp. You can choose the cabinet and the mics (yes, plural). You can choose between dynamic, condensor and ribbon mics. You can have either of them on or off axis. You can blend in as much room sound as you want. The more room you bring in the bigger the stereo image. It's pretty amazing how smooth and real this sounds. You can't (I think) choose different room mics versus the cabinet mics, but this is a nit pick. Another nitpick is that you can't choose the power amp stage. HOWEVER, the different cab models have lots of tonal variation and flexibility. Cycling through different cab models provides the same tonal flexibility as trying a 6L6 versus EL84 or EL34 power amp.

    The app is wonderfully integrated with the OX. You can control it from your desktop. You can provide the guitar player an ipad and they change the setting remotely or you can make selections directly from the unit.

    It's a fabulous load box, it sounds incredible, it's easy to use, it has a full suite of connection possibilities. The downsides are that it's got a relatively large footprint and it's expensive. It does NOT host other IRs. UAD is describing this as a full blown speaker model and not a static IR.

    If you have a real tube amp you love and you're into capturing electric guitar tone the OX is arguably the best solution available.
     
    Tucson Thump likes this.
  2. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    Thanks for your thoughts! I was strongly considering the Torpedo Live, but some early rumbles are that the OX is much more user friendly. I mistakenly assumed that it was a very simplistic load box because of how analog looking it is, but apparently there's control via an app or desktop. A little more money than the Torpedo, but honestly, for someone like myself who likes to keep things simple because I don't want to spend all my free/project time learning a piece of gear rather than using it, might be the way to go. I also like the fact that it's a fully self contained/functional unit. I considered the Suhr load box, but I didn't want to be limited to their Greenback based cab sim box, or be forced to host IR sims through my laptop. I like to do my monitoring directly from the monitor out on my recording interface, rather than feed it back out of my DAW, because I hate latency in monitoring and don't have a ton of processing power/speed. Can the OX operate that way? Assuming it probably can because UA is big on their outboard gear having its own processing.
     
  3. dcm_guitar

    dcm_guitar New Member

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    I monitor through the Console app from my Apollo. So, I don't monitor any of the recording inputs from the DAW. Yes, the OX operates this way easily. As long as your interface has a direct monitoring option. Plus, if you just want to practice, the OX has a headphone out. You can operate the unit with an iPad app and then listen with the headphones if you're not trying to record.

    I like the ease of use of the OX and it really does sound amazing. I also forgot to mention that it has an 1176 emulation built-in for compression and it works REALLY well. It also has delay and reverb effects. You can use the OX for the whole effects chain if you want to record wet. So, you can use your amp for the preamp stage, your amp's effects loop OR the built in effects from OX and then you get several great sounding cabs and mics with a mixable room sound.
     
    Tucson Thump and andy474x like this.
  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    This is a terrific review. the OX is on my short list.
     
  5. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Really good and useful write up!
    Thank you, sounds like you made a fantastic choice and are putting it to very good use!
     
  6. dcm_guitar

    dcm_guitar New Member

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    I wrote the review back in Feb. I've had a few months to play with it, and it's a critical component of my recording chain. When I go back and compare recorded electric guitar tones from before the OX and now, it's a noticeable difference.

    I've had some issues with the OX staying connected to my router. The ability to control the device remotely depends on having both the OX and the device (computer or ipad) connected to the same network. OX doesn't support 5GHz. It will connect to my 5GHz network sometimes and other times it will not. I have to switch my computer off of the 5GHz network before using OX.

    The sound of this thing is really amazing. The best part is the ability to choose different cabinets that have such dramatically different tones to really scuplt the overall recorded sound. They have a model for an old 10" speaker cabinet that sounds pretty "crappy" in a very vintage kind of way. If you double or triple a guitar part and use this cabinet for the second or third part the overall sound is AMAZING.

    I love the fact that I spend more time making mic selection options and room mix options than I do choosing cabinets. With IRs you can get lost in all of the various speaker models. With OX, I have 3 or 4 "go to" cabinets that I like and then make my tonal choices based in the mics, their placement,and the amount of room sound in the mix. It seems more intuitive to me since it's the same thing I would be doing in a studio with a great mic locker and great sounding room.

    I really can't recommend this thing enough.
     

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