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Universal Audio 6176
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Universal Audio 6176
crankyrayhanky crankyrayhanky

« Modern Clarity with Old School Vibe »

Published on 07/29/12 at 21:05
The 6176 is a composite two of universal audio’s finest pieces: the preamp of the 610 series coupled with the compression of the 1176. This is an analog unit with tube circuitry- not to be confused with the starved plate designs of inexpensive units, this preamp delivers actual tube warmth.
There is a direct input available, which (for me) excelled in di bass recording situations. The typical xlr connectors allow mic inputs. There is a solid needle; I owned cheaper units where the needle bounced around so much it was basically useless. This UA meter responds the way it should, presenting the critical information needed to dial in a great sound.


UTILIZATION

It may be hard to jump in and get a great sound with this unit. The preamp is notorious for having a large number of criticisms, particularly in the preamp gain staging. With quick dialing, it appears difficult to get a hot level to disk, it seems to go from low/moderate gains to ugly breakup. The key is to use the pad (when necessary) and …get ready for it…dial with your ears, not your eyes. The interplay between the settings is symbiotic; everything has a drastic impact on other parameters and thus the end product. Also know that most of us are no longer recording to tape, but to disk, so extremely hot track levels are unnecessary and mostly ill advised.

SOUND QUALITY

I would not describe this preamp as transparent; it is a character piece. That being said, you could dial in some decent clean tones, but if that is your goal, look elsewhere. This preamp loves old school gristle and delivers in a big way. Sinatra to Van Halen, UA has been on a lot of legendary records. This unit helps to take the edge of that surgical clarity that cpu recording tends to deliver.

OVERALL OPINION

I spent most of this review speaking of the preamp, but the compressor is beyond glorious! It slays in every application I throw at it: kick drums, overhead, room, VOCALS (YES!), bass guitar, acoustics…it can give cool special fx with the all buttons in. I love that compressor, the preamp on the other hand was more love/hate. The gain staging is not an easy task, and there are many units that will deliver more accurate results. So if you are looking for 1 killer preamp, I may not recommend this unless you are a Sinatra type performer. But if you have an array of modern preamps and need one that will be unique flavor, look right here. Sadly, I flipped this piece…regretted it a year later, than proceeded to flip that one too. I’m just not getting the business nor utilizing my studio enough to warrant a preamp of this cost…but if I run into a (2) 1176 at a good price, I would pounce. I think the biggest flaw in the 6176 is knowing that you will want two to serve as a stereo set, making it a costly investment. Perhaps the day will come when I can swing that….
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