Passionate about Plugins

Review: USQ-1 from UVI

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We’re always pleased to hear of a new UVI release as we’ve been very impressed with their output so far. The Vintage Vault 2 collection of instruments and the Relayer delay module are solid favourites. And now it looks like we might have another go-to UVI Workstation instrument for when we want some vintage synth sounds…

(E)SQEEEEEEE!

Yup. The latest addition to the UVI instrument collection is a recreation of the much loved Ensoniq ESQ-1. In standard UVI fashion, they’ve delicately taken apart the original synth to extract the essence of the sound… in this case by using oscillator waves taken from the hardware. This forms the core of a very versatile virtual instrument.

USQ-1 allows you to combine two layers of sound based on any combination of the 268 oscillators available. These are individually passed through envelopes, modulators and arpeggios as desired.  Finally there’s a selection of effects, including Thorus, Phasor, Delay and Sparkverb.

Here’s a quick little piece we knocked together in the APG lab using five instances of USQ-1 (using presets) and a couple of drum samples. There are no effects or processing outside of the plugin on this at all apart from a compressor and limiter on the master bus, so the mix is a mess but you get the idea…

Retro Flavour

All these options make for a mean synth suitable for everything from basses to leads to pads to arps to crazy effects and more. All with a tasty 80’s vibe. USQ-1 comes with a bank of 400 presets to get you started but the controls available mean that you can quickly and easily alter the provided sounds to suit your needs. There are five main sections to play with.

MAIN

On the main page you can choose your two waves that form the basis of your patch as well as set their volume and pan positions. Volume and filter ADSR envelopes can be set for each wave here too.

EDIT

This section lets you control the stereo effect, which is either OFF, ALT or UNISON modes and has variable spread, detune and colour. You will also find the modwheel set up here as well as pitch and poly/mono settings.

MOD

The MOD section is tonnes of fun and can help make very unique sounds. Without going into too much detail it basically consists of a variable step modulator and an LFO modulator which can be linked to the volume, filter depth and pitch of each oscillator in various combinations and with various varieties of variables. Muchos funfun.  

FX

Unsurprisingly, this is the bit where you play with the effects. As mentioned we’ve got quality EQ, drive, thorus, phasor, delay and sparkverb modules available with the basic controls you’d expect. Because who wants to listen to a dry synth? Eh?

No one, that’s who.

ARP

Finally we reach the obligatory arpeggiator page. Split right down the middle to accommodate the OSC-1 arp on the left and the OSC-2 on the right you can will find a volume step sequencer for each along with direction controls.

To Your Workstations

This thing sounds great, as we’ve come to expect from UVI. It’s not difficult to get to grips with and the interface is simple and un-fancy but gets the job done.

Being a UVI Workstation instrument you can of course layer this up with any other instruments you have for further awesomeness. Though to be honest, there’s already enough awesomeness packed into USQ-1 to keep you happy for a while. Check it out and get ready to time-warp.

APG Score
  • Sound quality
  • Ease of use
  • Interface
  • Presets
  • Value for money
  • (((1985)))
4.42

Summary

With the massive popularity of 80’s retro sounds in music and soundtracks today the USQ-1 is probably going to be very useful to many people. At the a price of €79 it’s definitely affordable if you are working in that genre, especially bearing in mind that this can provide many parts of a piece of music from the bassline up.

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