United Plugins – FrontDAW. Worth $50?

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I watched Wytse Gerichhausen, a.k.a. “the snake oil guy“, reviewing FrontDAW from United Plugins. It’s free until September 15th, 2019, at that time it’ll be $50. Before watching that snake oil video, I’d already grabbed it and given it a go. I’m kinda agreeing with him on this. It’s free, but it didn’t really impress me.

My Verdict:

Grab it while it’s free if this is something you’re looking for. However, this version should only be free after considering the features and the available alternatives. It’s not really enough on its own to cost money…maybe $20 at the most. There are alternatives that are perpetually free that do similar things and sound about as good, and there are alternatives that cost about the same as FrontDAW and offer more bang for your buck.

One issue for me is lack of makeup gain. Sure, I can use a trim plugin after this to create an output gain control. But pro tools users would be using 2 of the available 10 inserts to work with it that way. I had a similar complaint about Soundtoys’s Little Radiator and Devil-Loc (both of which were free for a limited time when they were first introduced). However, these were lite versions of a plugin that has more to offer, so it made sense as it was designed to entice you to upgrade. If FrontDAW is part of a similar model, it’s not obvious enough on their marketing materials.

If UnitedPlugins wants to charge for FrontDAW, there should be more to offer for the price being advertised. For 50 bucks, I would want gain compensation, oversampling, the ability to switch the “randomness” on command, and maybe the ability to switch the slope of the high pass filter.

Similarly Priced Alternatives:

At $39, you could grab Sonimus’s Satson Console. You get a dedicated channel, a dedicated bus, 8 groups, a hpf that can be switched to 12db per octave, a lpf, a FAT mode, the ability to bypass the saturation globally on the entire session…you get the point.

Another contender would be any of the Omega’s from Kush Audio. $30 each for the 3 that are currently available, and you can activate oversampling globally, invert polarity, and pad the input if needed.

HoRNet AnalogStage is under $20, and offers metering, bypassable analog hiss, you can adjust the age of the components, the internal headroom, group multiple instances together, and add automatic gain compensation per group.

If United Plugins keeps this as a freebie, I think it’ll be a good move for them. They could offer an upgrade for $50 to a model with more features and I think it would go over well. They could go the way of Klanghelm with the MJUCjr, which isn’t a “lite” version of MJUC but is rather a unique algorithm in its own right that shows the power of the big brother while doing its own thing. That way the freebie is still valuable even if one upgrades to the full version.

As it stands right now, I’m worried they’ll follow Audified’s model and release something that is exaggerated in its value and price like Mix Checker. For a similar price when it was first released, I could get Morphit or ARC 2 that both simulate a listening environment while correcting my listening environment. More bang for your buck.

So that’s my take. Grab FrontDAW while it’s free, because it doesn’t sound bad and does what it promises. I’m not shitting on what it does, it’s just not worth $50 in my opinion as it is.