“Affordable, gig-worthy stompboxes that bring pro-level polish and timeless tones to any rig”: Universal Audio UAFX Evermore, Heavenly, Orion and 1176 review

Offering studio hardware in a compact, pedalboard-friendly format, UAFX is democratizing reference-quality guitar tones – and we can't get enough of it

Universal Audio UAFX pedals
(Image: © Universal Audio)

Guitar World Verdict

UA applied decades of studio processing and digital emulation knowhow into an affordable series of gig-worthy stompboxes that bring professional polish and timeless tones to any guitarist’s stage rig.

Pros

  • +

    Accurate reproductions of classic studio and tape echo effects developed with UA’s expertise.

  • +

    Affordable.

  • +

    Compact pedalboard-friendly format.

Cons

  • -

    Mono only.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Sometime around the late ’70s or early ’80s, guitarists realized that the best way to get studio sound on stage was by using studio gear. Sometimes this simply wasn’t possible (for example, no one in their right mind would take an EMT plate reverb on tour) but even when it was, the equipment was usually cumbersome and prohibitively expensive to all but the most well-paid stars and session players.

The digital revolution has changed that, and now studio-grade processing is available on everything from smartphones and tablets to stompbox pedals. As great as many of these products are, few companies have the expertise and lengthy experience with studio processors of Universal Audio. 

The company’s UAFX guitar pedals are the perfect solution for guitarists who want the sonic benefits of top-grade studio processing as well as incredibly detailed reproductions of elusive classic gear. 

The UAFX Evermore Studio Reverb, Heavenly Plate Reverb and 1176 Studio Compressor pedals provide drop dead accurate reproductions of some of the most used studio effects, while the new Orion Tape Echo offers the genuine sounds of a classic tape delay unit without the bulk and maintenance hassles.

Each of these four new UAFX pedals share the same compact footprint and top and rear panel control and jack configurations, although the actual control functions for each pedal are different. All four units have a side-mounted USB-C port for loading software updates and rear-mounted mono ¼-inch input and output jacks. 

The delay and reverb pedals have Trails/True Bypass switches while the 1176 compressor has a Buffer/True Bypass switch, and the other rear-mount switch is for Predelay on/off (Evermore), Mod Rate slow/fast (Heavenly), Preamp on/off (Orion) or Parallel on/off (1176). 

Top panel controls are as follows: Mod, Mix and Bass, Mid, Treble Decay EQ, Room/Small Hall/Large Hall switch (Evermore); Delay, Mix, Predelay, EQ, Mod, A/B/C plate setting switch (Heavenly); Delay, Mix, Feedback, Wonk, Rec Level, Mint/Worn/Old tape condition switch (Orion); Input, Output, Attack, Release, Ratio, Single/Dual/Sustain switch.

Universal Audio UAFX Evermore Studio Reverb

Universal Audio UAFX Evermore Studio Reverb (Image credit: Universal Audio)

The Evermore pedal is based upon the legendary Lexicon 224 12-bit reverb unit that generated the hypnotic ambient textures heard on dozens of classic albums during the ’80s and beyond. 

Its grainy long reverb tails sound absolutely luscious and pair particularly well with guitar thanks to the reverb’s thick body and depth. The EQ controls for the decay can be dialed in to accentuate those tails without making the primary dry signal sound too washed out or indistinct.

Universal Audio UAFX Heavenly Plate Reverb

Universal Audio UAFX Heavenly Plate Reverb (Image credit: Universal Audio)

The Heavenly pedal offers the brilliant sheen and harmonically rich reverb of an EMT 140 in a compact pedal that weighs less than 1/600th of an original unit.

The A/B/C switch provides Vintage Bright, Vintage Dark and Modern Full plate reverb settings that duplicate the tones and textures heard on countless albums since 1957.

Based on the vintage Maestro EP-3 Echoplex, the Orion pedal joins an increasingly crowded group of Echoplex emulation effects, but because it includes a preamp section it’s more cost-effective than competing pedals that require a separate preamp.

Maximum delay time is about one second, and the added warmth from boosting the Record Level control and engaging the preamp along with the unpredictable modulated wow and flutter warble of the Wonk control results in stunningly authentic Echoplex effects.

Universal Audio UAFX Orion Tape Echo

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

Studio-quality compression truly comes to the pedalboard thanks to the 1176, which replicates Universal Audio’s own legendary 1176 Limiting Amplifier in compact form. The 1176 delivers seemingly transparent compression that always sounds natural and organic even at the most extreme “squashed” ratio, attack and decay settings. 

The consistency that it brings to any guitar tone from clean to distorted is magical, and it’s no wonder that so many pro engineers consistently rely on the 1176 to bring guitar performances to life.

Universal Audio UAFX 1176 Studio Compressor

(Image credit: Universal Audio)

Although each of these pedals sound good when placed in front of an amp’s input, the Evermore and Heavenly truly sound their best when patched into an effects loop.

The Orion sounds great in a loop as well, but to get the most of the preamp section and emulate the best-known Echoplex guitar tones you’ll want to patch it into the amp’s input.

The 1176 sounds good pretty much anywhere you place it, so users may want to experiment with placing it before and in between various effects, as well as toward the end of the signal chain in an effects loop for broader sweetening.

Specs

Universal Audio UAFX Evermore Studio Reverb

  • PRICE: $219 / $199
  • TYPE: Reverb pedal
  • CONTROLS: Mod, Mix, Bass, Mid, Treble
  • SWITCHES: Room/Sm Hall/Lg Hall toggle, Bypass (trails/true), Predelay (on/off)
  • JACKS: ¼-inch Input and Output (mono), 9VDC center negative, USB mini

Universal Audio UAFX 1176 Studio Compressor

  • PRICE: $199 / £165
  • CONTROLS: Input, Output, Attack, Release, Ratio
  • SWITCHES: Single/Dual/Sustain toggle, Bypass (buffer/true), Parallel (on/off)
  • JACKS: ¼-inch Input and Output (mono), 9VDC center negative, USB mini

Universal Audio UAFX Orion Tape Echo

  • PRICE: $219 / $199
  • TYPE: Tape echo emulation pedal
  • CONTROLS: Delay, Mix, Feedback, Wonk, Rec Level
  • SWITCHES: Tape Mint/Worn/Old toggle, Bypass (trails/true), Preamp (on/off)
  • JACKS: ¼-inch Input and Output (mono), 9VDC center negative, USB mini

Universal Audio UAFX Heavenly Studio Reverb

  • PRICE: $219 / £199
  • TYPE: Reverb pedal
  • CONTROLS: Decay, Mix, Predelay, EQ, Mod
  • SWITCHES: Plate A/B/C toggle, Bypass (trails/true), Mod Rate (slow/fast)
  • JACKS: ¼-inch Input and Output (mono), 9VDC center negative, USB mini
  • CONTACT: Universal Audio

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.