Universal Audio just released two new plugins this Wednesday, adding to their numerous emulations of classic pieces of recording gear. The EP-34 Tape Echo and DBX 160 Compressor/Limiter ($199 each) represent two units from the 70’s that are still widely used and sought after.
The EP-34 emulates the characteristics of both the EP-3 and EP-4, two solid-state models of the original Maestro Echoplex (pictured above). The unit was the first to introduce a slider that actually moved the tape heads further apart, resulting in a longer delay. Popular with guitarists and known for its warm and rich sound, the Echoplex set the standard for the delay effect, and can be found on recordings by Jimmy Page, Chet Atkins, and Joe Satriani among many more.
The original DBX 160 Compressor/Limiter, commonly known as the “VU” model, was also on the cutting edge of recording technology when it was released in 1976. Nowadays, it remains a studio staple due to its distinct sonic signature – much loved on bass, drums, and vocals. With only threshold, compression, and output gain controls, the attack and release times were determined by nuances in the 160’s circuit – for instance, the release time increases as the unit comes out of compression. These unique behaviors are what helped make this compressor so popular. If Universal Audio has been able to capture the sonic characteristics of the DBX 160VU and the Echoplex, they would be worthwhile additions to any engineer’s collection. – Mike Bauer