In case you hadn’t noticed from his articles for Attack, Kush Audio’s Gregory Scott (also known as UBK) is something of a guru when it comes to compression. Having moved from the world of analogue hardware to software, his UBK-1 is a slightly eccentric but incredibly creative effect. If you want something very different to your standard compressor options, it’s the first plugin we’d recommend.
Based on compression curves from Scott’s modified version of the Empirical Labs Fatso (which is sadly not available in plugin format, although the original Fatso is emulated by Universal Audio), the UBK-1 is a unique character piece, doing far more than just compression. Scott himself describes the effect as a “motion-generating character compressor”, which hints at the fact that it’s designed to control and affect the movement of the signal rather than being thought of as a conventional compressor intended to tame dynamics and smooth out peaks.
UBK-1’s interface is split into three sections. On the left, you’ve got Saturation, used to add analogue-style distortion to the signal. With just three controls, it’s a simple but effective starting point. The Compression section that follows is similarly pared-down, with just four controls: a high-pass filter for the sidechain circuit, a wet/dry mix setting, five compression modes (Splat, Smooth, Glue, Squish and Crush) and a single knob for controlling the level of compression, with settings ranging from Mild to Intense. If that sounds like you don’t have much control over the compression, that’s not the case. You don’t have conventional threshold, attack, release and ratio controls, but the approach forces you to concentrate on the sound itself rather than the settings and the results can be dramatically different from one mode to the next. The final piece of the puzzle is the Density section, allowing you to thicken either the highs or mids, with just one knob again to control the intensity of the effect.
UBK-1 is unlike anything else on the market. It’s a hugely creative tool that forces you to rethink the way you approach compression. Most importantly, it sounds incredible.