Mastering Engineer Alan Silverman chooses UC1

Well known mastering engineer Alan Silverman from New York had a UC1 on trial and refused to let it go. Alan Silverman has credits on over 60 Grammy winning and nominated albums. His track record includes sorted artists like Yola, Watchhouse, Judy Collins, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, The Kinks, Dolly Parton and Keith Richards. We are delighted that he offered to write a guest blog about the UC1 for our website.

“At Arf! Mastering we rely on a complex monitoring chain. The mains are augmented by three different sets of individually equalized headphones. We drive the main speakers digitally to take advantage of their on-board DSP without running through an extra D-A-D loop. Having to use multiple devices to juggle a digital volume control for the mains and multi-bus outputs for the phones was a compromise, to put it politely, and a kludge to put it more succinctly, so the announcement of the UC1 caught my interest. 

It promised support for complex monitor chains like ours, uncompromised audio quality, for which Grimm Audio is known, at a price that’s affordable for an indie mastering house. The additional features – a headphone amp, an analog pitch and catch loop, and a separate analog cue feed, with the whole package in a good-looking single rack unit, made it a must try. I contacted Grimm Audio and we arranged for a US dealer to send a UC1 for a trial and possible purchase.

As with any new design, there was a bit of a learning curve. Some multi-channel interfaces have a software mixer applet that allows any input to connect to any output, while in the UC1, the pathways are fixed, so it takes a little getting used to, and some consideration of how to best configure the USB ports and destinations. Eelco Grimm later explained the reasoning behind an architecture in which the absolute highest audio quality is the primary objective.

The first listening test produced an instantly visceral and surprising reaction. I’m not a stranger to high-end audio, both in studio and audiophile settings, and all the usual superlatives can be applied, but what I felt most remarkable was a feel to the sound I can only describe as rock-solid. Nor was this a device that compromises musicality for transparency.

“The UC1’s texture and transparency were superior.“

Alan Silverman, New York, US

Moving on to the phones-amp and A/B’ing with a $20k audiophile DAC/phones-amp, the UC1 presented a deep extension to the low bottom. The UC1’s texture and transparency were superior. 

We tend to move quickly during a mastering session here, so flow and ease of use are key to not getting distracted and pulled out of the music. Operationally, the UC1 proved to be smooth and responsive, easy to manipulate, access devices, and assess status. It feels good to use.

I teach a few days a week at a University in NYC, and I have found the i-Put feature especially nice on school days when I can plug my teaching laptop into the front panel port and set up my audio for class.

We made the purchase and I’ve been enjoying the UC1 as the central hub in the mastering room ever since. It has fulfilled its promise well.”

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