Review: Universal Audio UAFX Ruby ’63 Amp Emulator – the ultimate Vox in a box?
The latest entry in UA’s foray into the world of guitar effects is a trio of high-end amp emulators, is this Vox-inspired unit a jewel in the UAFX crown?
The Ruby ’63 is part of Universal Audio’s second wave of effects pedals, and this time the Californian brand is aiming to bring their high-end digital expertise to the world of guitar amp emulations.
In a world increasingly devoid of opportunities to use real amps, this digital amp emulator claims to capture the mic’d-up tones of a classic valve combo with new levels of authenticity – in this case the Ruby’s inspiration is a 1963 Vox AC30.
Design-wise the Woodrow is intended as both studio and live tool, so you can plug straight into your DAW for recording, or into the PA at gigs, while you can mess around with your settings either by tweaking the onboard knobs, or by connecting the pedal via Bluetooth to the UAFX app, which enables you to upload a selection of user and artist-designed presets for the pedal.
The coppery red finish of the control panel makes it obvious where we’re heading with the Ruby ’63: to Dartford, glamorous birthplace of the AC30. There is something quite unique about the sound of a really good Vox, combining a loosely natural feel with bags of smooth crunch; this pedal aims to provide all of that with or without the crisp and sparkly treble response of the Top Boost circuit.
The speaker selection for your default 2×12 cabinet here is Celestion Silver, Blue or G12H. As with the Dream ’65, pairing up a phone running the UAFX app allows you to add three more options: a single Blue (AC15 style), a pair of G12Hs or a pair of Golds.
As with the Dream ’65 there’s a boost knob, and as with that pedal, this works differently depending on which channel you’ve selected: ‘brilliant’ gets an emulation of the Echoplex EP-3’s famously musical preamp; ‘normal’ gets a germanium treble booster; and ‘vibrato’ gets a simple gain-raiser. Of course, the vibrato channel also has, er, vibrato, with speed and intensity controlled by the treble and boost knobs when in ‘alt’ mode.
We don’t have much more to say about this one other than to declare it the ultimate Vox in a box. There’s much more going on here than just an accurately rendered frequency response: it’s got the squishy feel of the real thing, letting you really dig in on overdriven chords without things turning harsh or spitty.
The clean-ish tones on all three channels are lovely and the crunchy stuff is even better: bright and open on the brilliant channel, sweetly boxy on normal, and just a little subdued on vibrato. The modulation effect itself is superb, summoning the oddly phasey quality of that vintage Vox wobble, and it’s only a pity that – in the name of historical ‘correctness’ – you can’t use it on the other two channels.
The Ruby ’63 offers a bountiful selection of cabinet and boost options, each of them adding something valuable to the pedal’s tonal armoury. If the sound you’re after is essentially Vox, you’re certain to find it in here.
We do have a few reservations: the preset functionality is limited and the price seems steep for a single amp model – but when the modelling is this good, and rest assured the sheer fun involved here elevates it above its Fender-inspired siblings, it might be worth putting your hand in your pocket for.
- PRICE £345
- DESCRIPTION Digital stereo amp emulator pedal, made in Malaysia
- CONTROLS Volume, cut, output, bass (+ room), treble (+ vibrato intensity), boost (+ vibrato speed); toggle switches for speaker cab type, control mode and channel; bypass and preset footswitches
- FEATURES Mono/stereo inputs and outputs, USB-C for firmware updates, Bluetooth for app control; ‘no cab’ option; buffered bypass, powered by 9-volt mains supply only (minimum 400mA)
- DIMENSIONS 148 x 92 x 65mm
- CONTACT uaudio.com
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Read our reviews of the full UAF amp emulator range here.