Founded in 1958
Founded in 1958 by M.T. "Bill" Putnam Sr., the Universal Audio name and company have been synonymous with innovative recording products for over 50 years. A favorite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, Putnam Sr. was a passionate innovator who is widely regarded as the father of modern recording, with many of his legendary studio and equipment designs still in use today.
The Father of Modern Recording
Putnam was the inventor of the modern recording console, the multi-band audio equalizer, and the vocal booth. He was also the first engineer to use artificial reverberation on a commercial recording. Alongside his friend Les Paul, Putnam was also involved in the early development of stereophonic recording. Putnam Sr. also founded successful recording studios in Chicago, Hollywood, and San Francisco. These studios served as fertile creative ground for his numerous inventions and innovations, as well as fostering a new generation of influential producers and engineers.
A Lasting Influence
Before he passed away in 1989, Bill Putnam fostered a new generation of influential producers and engineers. Of Putnam Sr.'s accomplishments, former colleague and famed engineer Bruce Swedien — whose credits include Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson — perhaps said it best. "Bill Putnam was the father of recording as we know it today,” says Swedien. “The processes and designs which we take for granted — the design of modern recording desks, the way components are laid out and the way they function, console design, cue sends, echo returns, multitrack switching — they all originated in Bill's imagination."
Re-founded in 1999
Universal Audio Inc. was re-founded in 1999 by Putnam’s sons, James Putnam and Bill Putnam Jr. The brothers had two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analog recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools with the sound and spirit of vintage analog technology. To that end, UA’s UAD Powered Plug-Ins offer emulations of rare compressors and equalizers, vintage reverb processors and tape machines, as well as legendary guitar amps and channel strips. UAD plug-ins are renowned for injecting three-dimensional “out-of-the-box” analog sound to “in-the-box” mixes.