Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 | Page 24


UAD Volt 276

By Drew Robertson

The market space for two channel desktop interfaces is exceedingly tight in this day and age with high value options in just about every price category . It ’ s tough to stand out in the crowd , but the Universal Audio Volt line of interfaces promises to do so by taking advantage of UA ’ s decades of knowledge and rich history of outstanding studio gear . We ’ ll be examining the Volt 276 , which boasts on board tube emulation and a built in compressor circuit for tone shaping . Let ’ s dive in and see what the 276 has to offer .

Build and Features The Volt 276 is a 2-in / 2-out USB interface that comes in a handsomely constructed package featuring an all-metal chassis and smart wooden accents . I rather like the smartly laid out design of the 276 , with all the major controls located on the top of the unit and the inputs and outputs located on the front and rear of the device . The control pots for both the preamps and monitor are satisfyingly chunky and are very smooth in operation and the various backlit button controls feel solid with positive feedback when engaged . We also find the input and output meters along the top right edge , which given the size of the interface are relatively large and easy to read even at a glance . The two preamps are connected in the front via standard combi XLR jacks to accommodate both mic and instrument sources . The rear of the device is clean and simple with the power , USB type C input , MIDI I / O , and Monitor outputs . I ’ m quite pleased with the construction of the Volt 276 , I think it ’ s robust without sacrificing style and will be at home in both the field or in any content creator ’ s space .
Electronics and Sound As with any audio interface the true heart of the matter comes down to the circuits that make it work and the Volt 276 doesn ’ t disappoint . Drawing on UA ’ s decades of knowledge the Volt 276 has managed to pack quite a lot of sound into such a compact desktop unit . Unified across the entire Volt line is the vintage tube emulation circuit , which is designed on the classic UA 610 tube preamp . When engaged this circuit is designed to replicate that classic full , warm sound and rich harmonic enhancement that is so sought after in tube preamps . What sets aside the 76 line of Volts from the standard lineup is the inclusion of a three way selectable compressor module . This compressor module is based on the legendary UA 1176 FET compressors and has three preset modes : VOC , which is the slowest setting and is ideal for smooth vocal compression and less aggressive sound sources ; GTR , which is a medium setting best suited for bass and guitar as the longer release time will help with sustain without losing the transients ; and FAST , which you can guess has the fastest attack and release times for that aggressive compression when you need it . All three compression modes feature a compression ratio of 6:1 which is a nice happy medium setting that isn ’ t too aggressive or too light . The preamps and conversion on the Volt lineup is otherwise nothing terribly special and falls in line with what you would expect in this category with relatively transparent preamps and output conversion that delivers crisp clear sounds at high volume .
The vintage circuitry emulation and compression is truly what makes the Volt lineup special and I was impressed with the sounds I was able to capture . Vocals were rich and powerful , while instrument sources were warm and harmonically detailed . The headphone output is also a noteworthy element as it was able to drive even my notoriously difficult Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros without issue , nice work from UA here .
Conclusion The Volt Line of interfaces is squarely aimed at content creators and home producers and offers some exceptional value in this category of interface . If you ’ re in the market for a two channel interface then the Volt 276 should be on your shortlist for consideration . The small form factor and robust construction makes it equally portable and at home on the smallest of desks . The vintage emulation and compression are great additions and will help capture remarkable sounds that are sure to impress you and give you that big studio sound . Overall , I think the Volt 276 is an impressive piece of kit and I ’ m excited to see what UA brings to the table .
Drew Robertson is an audio engineer , live sound tech and educator based out of London , ON . He can be reached at RobertsonAudioPost @ protonmail . com .