Universal Audio LUNA DAW is now FREE to all mac users

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Universal Audio has turned its DAW LUNA into a free download for all mac users, without requiring an Apollo audio interface.

How many DAWs do we need? This was the question many asked when Universal Audio introduced their Luna DAW at NAMM 2020. LUNA a success? Not yet. One reason could be that it’s only available for UAD users with Apollo interfaces. So, a hardware dongle.

A rethink went through the UAD floors. This can be seen by the introduction of the native plugins that were previously exclusive to hardware users. They are now taking the next step. Universal Audio unleashes its Luna DAW from the hardware chains and releases it as a free download.

Universal Audio Luna DAW

Universal Audio LUNA DAW

You read that right. The LUNA DAW is now a free download for everyone and requires no hardware. A downer: Universal Audio’s DAW is only available for Mac users. Even three years after its introduction. 

LUNA has many features that allow you to use it professionally. You can record and playback as many tracks as your machine can handle with unlimited track count. That’s nice, so no annoying limitations. 

It also offers you everything to mix on a professional level. The LUNA Mixer gives you analog summing, tape machines, channel strips, bus and parallel compression. No extra plugins or separate windows are required, says UAD.

Then, you can quantize audio using LUNA’s proprietary Razor Blade and Polyphonic warp algorithms. There are also neat additions like the full preview of import session data, allowing you to recall key moments, create song variations, and more.

Universal Audio Luna DAW free


The free version of LUNA comes with built-in plugins. Oxide Tape Extension is a simple one-knob tape emulation with saturation control that you can apply across all channels.

Shaper ToolKit Instrument is a sample-based virtual instrument that gives you a wide range of sounds. It lets you layer and create sounds from various built-in sample libraries like Spitfire Audio, Soniccouture, and more. Sounds can have up to four layers, each with dedicated controls.

Plus, you can shape them with a built-in filter, an envelope, and two multi-effects processor slots.


Yes, there is a LUNA Pro. But this only includes more plugins and content. The free version is the full version but with fewer plugins. It ships with a 30-day trial version of LUNA Pro featuring:

Ampex ATR-102 Master Tape Machine & LUNA Extension, the API 2500 Bus Compressor & LUNA Extension, the API Preamp, the API Summing LUNA Extension, the API Vision Channel Strip & LUNA Extension, and the UAD Native Essential plugin collection.

Lastly, you get a 30-day trial of the Neve Summing plugin—an emulation of a famous 80 series console with Neve’s iconic 1272 line amps.

First Impression

At first glance, a good move from Universal Audio. Of course, they want to make the Luna Pro version appealing to people. Since the free version has all the features, I think it’s a great and welcome deal. So you can taste the DAW even without the hardware dongle.

Universal Audio LUNA is now available as a free download for Mac users. It doesn’t require an Apollo audio interface but a free iLok account. Luna Pro with more content is available now for $199. 

More information here: Universal Audio

LUNA Pro is available at my partner

Plugin B.

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  1. “The LUNA Mixer” can’t give “you analog summing” because it runs on digital hardware. It can only emulate or simulate analog behaviour.

    Sorry for being so picky…

    • Well… Some of us were envious of all these free Windows 32-bit plugins, for a while.
      (I’m not really teasing. I used to keep a PC around to try those plugins. Never stuck with them, because newer ones did the job better, including hundreds of inexpensive high quality AUv3 plugins running so well on my iPad Pro.)

  2. Had promised myself that I’d avoid UAD products, from now on because “UA Connect” is precisely the kind of app I want to block out of my main computer.
    Guess I’ll still try this one, for research purposes. (I’m not kidding: I’ve been conducting fieldwork on Music Tech.)

    Yes, the app is launching on my MBAM1. Had to press the “Download” button at least twice. It’s currently scanning my plugins (such a tedious process, every single time I get a new DAW or plugin host!).

  3. “LUNA a success? Not yet.”
    Evidence for this statement?
    Plus what is success supposed to look like here?
    It makes sense for UA to open up the software to more users, it’s been the way it has been going for a while.

    • How many people talk about Luna in forums? How many videos are there where producers work with Luna on YouTube? Most of the time I see Cubase, Ableton Live, and Fl Studio but not Luna.
      A successful product is when people are talking about it, share their knowledges, etc.

      If you search for Luna on YouTube, you can find videos from today or yesterday (free download news). Before there were no tutorials for almost 2 months.

      • I understand what you are saying but until now you could only work in Luna if you purchased an UA Apollo Solo interface minimum. Possibly not the first choice that would come to mind if buying an interface and it also did come with the buy-in of the UA system. So success would be based on how many users of UA audio Interfaces Apollo Solo + switched from a different DAW to Luna or used Luna as their first and only DAW. Making Luna free (although still limited to MAC users) brings it into direct competition with Logic for first-time users (unlikely that experienced Logic users will switch). I’ve been a Luna user from some time I find it does nearly everything I require without been over bloated.

  4. So would anyone like to share their experience of LUNA as an effective tool vs Logic Pro? That free tape plugin seems to be the allure here- but if it’s the type of DAW that keeps out of your headspace in the recording process with external gear it might be interesting. Curious if that Oxide tape thing make a significant difference?

  5. It’s a subtle tape effect. If you turn down the tape speed and turn off the noise reduction and then also put it on every track including the master it’s … slightly less subtle.

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