Many companies give away free plugins in honor of the holiday season, but Universal Audio is taking things a step further. The audio giant is giving away free Volt 2 hardware interfaces with the purchase of a yearly subscription to its Spark plugin platform. These interfaces typically cost $170, so this is a pretty great deal for beginners, as the hardware plus the Spark software is pretty much everything you need.
Spark subscriptions are also on sale for the holidays, at $150 instead of $240, though this price point is fairly common. The end result? You pay $150 and you get a year of access to every available plugin on the service, plus the Volt 2. Not bad. The company’s subscription-based Spark platform allows access to dozens of popular UAD plugins, from iconic compressors like the 1176 to virtual instruments like the company’s Minimoog reproduction.
As for the Volt 2, this diminutive audio interface features a pair of TRS / XLR inputs on the front and associated gain control knobs. There’s a phantom power button for condenser mics and a proprietary Vintage Mode that runs the signal through a simple tube preamp emulation. These interfaces are powered via USB-C, though ship with a 5V jack for when you’re plugged into an iPad or another mobile device.
In our official review, we praised the Volt 2 audio interface for its minimal noise floor, simple controls and low latency, particularly on Windows machines. The biggest con was the price, which is normally the case for UAD products. Now that it’s down to $0 for this promotion, that worry has dissipated.
This isn’t the first time that UAD has leveraged the holiday season to give away free hardware. The company used to hand out free Satellite DSP accelerators to run its plugins with the purchase of higher-priced hardware items like the multi-channel 4-710d preamp and compressor.