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The 7 Best UAD Plugins
For Vocals

When it comes to recording and mixing vocals, there’s no room for error. Messing up your lead vocal is the fastest way to turn off a listener. We all instinctively know what the human voice should sound like, so it’s that much easier to know when something is amiss. Whether it’s compression, equalization, or time-based effects, you always want to ensure you have the right tools.

UAD plugins have long been the best in the business. With the most accurate digital representations of analog hardware on the market, they have become the most sought-after recording necessities of the modern era. We’ve compiled a list of go-to plugins from UAD that can serve as your starting point to a pristine lead vocal and get you on the fast track to mixing and producing like a pro.

 Let’s dive in!

Firstly, we would be remiss to mention that there’s no right or wrong vocal chain. There are a multitude of tools out there that can help you hone and craft your vocal tracks into any shape or form you can dream up. These UAD plugins have been tried and tested by industry professionals, so we know they can achieve the results you’re looking for.

Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveler Collection

The LA-2A has long earned its place in recording history. Used on hits from Nirvana and Jack White, it may well be the most popular vocal compressor of all time. With its digital counterpart developed in 2001, Universal Audio set the standard in analog emulation by creating the original UAD LA-2A plug-in. With its gentle, program-dependent optical compression, and meticulously designed tube amplifier, the LA-2A is the go-to compressor for professional mixers around the world. Known for bringing elements “into focus” and getting a vocal track to “sit” better in the mix, the LA-2A is the perfect compressor/limiter to get that finished sound you’ve been looking for.

UA 1176 Classic Limiter Collection

The first compressor featuring solid‑state circuitry and ultra-fast 20 microsecond FET gain reduction, the 1176 is an easy‑to‑use “desert island” compressor that has lent its character and punch to some of the greatest recordings in history. It can be completely transparent or impart significant color to your tracks when driven hard. The 1176’s lightning-quick attack and release make it the perfect compressor to use on vocals. A go-to compressor for years by the likes of Chris Lord-Alge and Andy Johns. Try it in conjunction with the LA-2A for the famous “double-tap” technique. You can read more about it here.

Pultec Passive EQ Collection

Making difficult-to-isolate instruments and vocals breathtakingly clear without affecting neighboring frequencies, the Pultec EQ has been indispensable for decades. It allows you to dial up extreme levels of EQ boost while staying natural and musical. This plugin is an incredibly detailed emulation of the hardware unit, imparting a colorful tube warmth to any tracks you run through it.

Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ Collection

The Neve 1073 Channel Amplifier is easily the most revered preamp and EQ circuit ever designed. Introduced in 1970, this hallowed class-A transistor mic/line amp with EQ epitomizes the beautiful “Neve sound,” with unparalleled clarity, sheen, and bite. Universal Audio carefully modeled this legendary mic pre/eq as a Unison plugin so you can adjust preamp gain, impedance, and clipping points just like you would with the actual hardware unit. Complete with all the grit, presence, and harmonics your vocal tracks are begging for, available exclusively on Apollo interfaces. 

Captiol Chambers

Located below the iconic Capitol Tower in Los Angeles, Capitol Studios is arguably the most recognized studio in the world — and much of its legend can be traced to its hallowed, subterranean echo chambers. From Ray Charles to Frank Sinatra, Beck to Muse, these underground spaces continue to provide gorgeous hi-fi ambiance that is simply unmatched. Now you too can utilize these purpose-built echo chambers designed by Les Paul himself. Giving your vocals life and depth has never been easier with a plethora of controls to dial in the perfect sound.

Precision De-Esser

Controlling sibilance is extremely important when recording and mixing vocals. The Precision De-Esser plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces lets you easily remove unwanted sibilance and high-end problems from individual audio tracks or even mixes. With intelligent, easy-to-use controls, Precision De-Esser has enough sophisticated yet transparent filter processing to fix vocals, drum overheads, or hi-hats. 

Manley VOXBOX Channel Strip

If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for treating your vocals, look no further than the Manley VOXBOX. This channel strip is a beautiful and evolved system — a high-end blend of a tube-driven preamp, dynamics, and EQ circuits, designed specifically for your all-important vocals. Also included in the VOXBOX is its de-esser, which allows you to control unwanted sibilance while maintaining the warmth and clarity that Manley has become known for.

These world-class digital tools have become the go-to for audio professionals all over the globe. While creating a show-stopping vocal chain can be as simple as choosing your favorites from the list above, there’s no substitute for choosing the right microphone for your vocalist. The Universal Audio Sphere L22 Modeling Microphone allows you to perfectly match your microphone to your performer, even after you’ve finished recording. With 34 of the most sought-after mics to select from, the Sphere L22 is the perfect companion to any UAD-powered vocal chain. 

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