Universal Audio releases LUNA ahead of schedule

Version 1 of the free recording system launches early to help people create during coronavirus pandemic.

One of the most talked-about products of recent months is undoubtedly LUNA, the new recording and production system from Universal Audio. We weren’t expecting LUNA for a few more weeks yet, but in light of recent global events, UA’s CEO Bill Putnam Jr. put out a statement last week saying the company would bring the launch forward. Now, a mere week later, LUNA is here.

Universal Audio is also announcing a brand new suite of Spitfire Audio instruments on top of the already announced Minimoog, Ravel piano and Shape sampler. Three new products will be available to purchase within LUNA – Spitfire Chamber Strings LUNA edition, Symphonic Brass LUNA edition and Symphonic Woodwind LUNA edition.

Each priced at $299, the three instruments sport new user interfaces designed for performance and quick access to a range of articulations. They use the same world-class recordings as in Spitfire’s existing products and the LUNA Editions offer an exclusive selection of Spitfire’s best-loved instruments and articulations.

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We have a review underway and we’ve had an extensive walkthrough at NAMM that you can watch below but if you still have unanswered questions, read on for more information.

Universal Audio has also just announced a 50% discount on all plug-ins in their store for the entire month of April.

Is LUNA a DAW?

Well, yes and no. Yes in that it allows you to record, edit and mix digital audio. No, in that it’s tied to hardware. In that respect, it’s a hardware recording system. The benefit of using known hardware – specifically the DSP-equipped Apollo and Arrow interfaces – is that it can know with certainty the level of latency in any given part of the system. That means all latency is handled without you ever really having to think about it. And, because of UA’s real-time DSP processing, you should be able to record and monitor audio with ultra-low latency, mostly without ever having to think too hard about it.

Can I run non-UAD plug-ins in LUNA?

Yes. You can run any Audio Unit instrument or effect in LUNA. Audio Unit effects will be disabled on record enabled tracks whilst using the DSP system for low latency monitoring and punch-in workflows, but are enabled again when not in record enable.

Do LUNA instruments run on Apollo DSP?

No. LUNA instruments such as the Minimoog, Ravel piano and Spitfire’s new LUNA Edition instruments, all play back natively. What’s different about working in LUNA is that any UAD effects you add as recording effects or insert effects should effectively add no delay to your playing. Say you want to play the Ravel piano through an 1176 compressor, a distortion and a delay. If you wanted to add these plug-ins using any other DAW, you’d have three options:

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1) Use your DAW’s native effects and suffer some latency
2) Use UAD plug-ins as insert effects in your DAW, improving the sound but dramatically increasing round-trip latency.
3) Setting up the processing chain in UA’s Console application, then sending audio from the DAW to the UA Console application and returning it back to the DAW. This is faster, but not very slick to set up.

LUNA gets around this problem by integrating the features of the Console application. With LUNA, you can add near-zero-latency monitoring with high-quality effects easily.

Is LUNA really free?

Yes and no. LUNA itself is free to Thunderbolt Apollo and Arrow interface owners. In the free version, you will be able to carry over any UAD-2 plug-ins you have already. You’ll get the Oxide tape plug-in as well – this runs on your computer, not on the Apollo DSP. However, if you want to take advantage of the much-lauded Neve summing, Minimoog, Ravel Piano or Studer tape machine, these are paid extras. All four can be purchased together for $699.

Universal Audio Luna

Keep your eyes peeled for a review very soon. Find more information on uaudio.com

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