Universal Audio SOLO series 610 & 110

Up next, two of the absolute coolest pieces of gear to arrive in the EQ mailbox lately: The Universal Audio Solo/110, a precision class A mic pre and direct box, and Solo/610, a classic vacuum tube mic pre and direct box. Each of these portable units boosts the signal from a mic, or impedance/level-matches the signal coming from high-impedance instrument outs (e.g., guitar or bass with passive pickups, and some older keyboards), to a line level signal. Add to this the celebrated UA sound, characterized by enhanced warmth and clarity, as well as that characteristic UA gloss, and you have two worthy — and rugged — additions to your studio.
Author:
Publish date:

OVERVIEW

The Solo/610 is derived from the Putnam UA-610 Console, and offers an XLR mic in and out, as well as a 1/4" unbalanced jack for direct inputs. As a direct box, the 610 has a 1/4" thru jack so that you can send the signal to an amplifier.

The front panel boasts the essential pre features: 48V phantom power, a low-cut filter, phase reverse, a switch to select between high and low impedance, and another switch to select either mic or DI inputs. On the back, you can choose a mic or line level output signal, and have the option to lift the ground.

The two huge knobs gracing the front panel (which add to the vintage aesthetic) control both gain and level — with an emphasis on the gain (of which there is an incredible range). This “range of gain staging” is how you effectively dial in the amount of gloss or color you choose to add to your signal. Unlike most mic pres and direct boxes, there is no input pad; but this is because UA has essentially built the pad into the gain control, allowing for precise, wide-range level setting.

The Solo 110 offers the same features and controls as the 610, with only one major difference: The 110 ancestry is UA’s flagship Precision 110 mic pres, as opposed to the vintage tube console technology dropped into the 610. The Precision 110s (class A, all discrete pres) are known for their “ultra-fidelity” — a sound both clean and clear, yet still offering a wide tonal range, to deliver the warmth and beef associated with Universal Audio.

APPLICATION

I recently had the privilege of really putting the 610 to the test. The band I was working with wanted a “thick, phat, beefy, glossy tone” for their bass tracks, so of course it was time to utilize some old-fashioned tube technology. I plugged the bass directly into the 610, and then routed the signal into the bass amp using the thru jack. As the bassist played, I turned up the gain while simultaneously adjusting the level so as to not distort the signal to tape. The more I upped the gain, the thicker the sound — and once you really cranked it, you could get some great tube saturation, a finding that ended with the gain being turned nearly three-quarters of the way up. The tone was everything the band had voiced as their desire — thick and warm, while providing a perfect complement to the direct track and miked amp track we ended up mixing with the 610 track.

Shortly thereafter, I ended up using the 110 for a vocal overdub session, and was once again very satisfied with the color that it added to the signal. As we compared five mics to determine which was most appropriate for the artist, I noticed the 110 seemed to add a tremendous amount of much-needed color to the less expensive denizens of my mic locker. Sure, this application may be of limited use when you’re running a very colorful, high-end mic. But for those on a budget, the 110 is great tool for warming up your vocal signal, as it can compensate for what your lower-end mics may lack in terms of tone.

CONCLUSIONS

The Solo 110 and the Solo 610 are each an extraordinary value, and a great addition to large studios and hobbyist spaces alike. Versatile in that they work well in many applications, both units double as mic pres and direct boxes. Each unit was designed for portability and, due to the tank-like exteriors, can be placed confidently in the live room with even the most rocking of bands. Both pieces offer that warm, fat, and unique UA sound for both mic and line signals at a fraction of the price compared to the equipment from which they were derived.

Product Type: Solo/110 Precision class A mic pre & DI box, Solo/610 classic vacuum tube mic pre & DI box.

Target Market: Those desiring that characteristic UA sound without spending an arm and a leg.

Strengths: Exceptional value for money. Great tones. Portability.

Limitations: Not rack mountable.

Price: $799.00 each list

Contact: www.uaudio.com