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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: DSP Accelerators

6. Popular Models

The popularity of DSP accelerators is steadily increasingly, and the technology is being embraced by a widening range of manufacturers, some of who have only previously dealt in software, whereas others are famous for their hardware processors.

Here’s a round up of some of the most popular:

TC Electronic Powercore

The Powercore series has been around since early 2001, and now consists of two formats of internal cards (PCI and PCIe), and two power levels of external FireWire devices.

TC Powercore
PowerCore is a superior range of high-end plug-ins that run on tailor-made hardware

The key strength of the Powercore is the set of algorithms it borrows from TC’s range of hardware processors. Professional quality effects and other processes only previously available in high-priced hardware units are now available in plug-in form for a much smaller investment. Powercores also have the ability to run some software synthesisers which sets them apart from most other DSP products.

Universal Audio UAD1

UAD-1x
The UAD-1 Flexi PAK combines Universal Audio’s DSP acceleration hardware with a customizable selection of UA’s no-compromise plug-ins

Hot on the heels of the Powercore was the UAD-1 DSP card. The UAD-1 relies on its fine models of analogue hardware to provide convincing vintage compressor and channel strip plug-ins, amongst others.

Focusrite Liquid Mix

Although one of the most respected names in the outboard industry, Focusrite have recently taken an active interest in the computer-studio market. They have previously made plug-ins available for the Pro Tools platform, but the Liquid Mix brings their talents to bear on the host-based computer-studio. It’s a FireWire box based on ‘convolution’ technology, containing 32 channels of EQ and compression emulations, ‘sampled’ from a huge pool of vintage and modern professional equipment.

Liquid Mix
Focusrite Liquid Mix

An interesting feature is Focusrite’s provision of controls and metering on the hardware box, offering the sort of tactile interface that makes working in a studio so much more enjoyable.

Waves APA32

Famous for both their host-based and Pro Tools TDM plug-ins, Waves have found that some extra DSP really helps their CPU hungry effects.

Waves APA32
Waves APA32

The APA32 and APA44-M ‘Audio Processing Accelerators’ provide DSP power specifically for their extensive range of plug-ins. Unusually, these are run over Ethernet, and can be chained together and shared between systems. Waves’ plug-ins are the only ones that can be run on both the host CPU and the DSP.

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