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Universal Audio Apollo

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Reviews Universal Audio Apollo


Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Review

Yet another step forward Three years ago Universal Audio introduced the Apollo Twin, a more friendly priced desktop version of their Apollo flagship audio interface. read more…

Universal Audio Apollo Twin Review

Twin Sound "It would be ideal if UAD offered a less expensive Apollo with only two mic preamps," we wrote in our review of the first Apollo almost two years ago, and also, "Given the choice of transparent-sounding preamps, it would be no surprise to find vintage preamp emulations in the future. Just wait and see." The time has come now to welcome the Apollo Twin read more…

Universal Audio Apollo Review

One Small Step for Men... Universal Audio is a brand like no other in the pro audio world. The company has been competing in the hardware market for over 50 years with preamps, compressors and channel strips. But it has also been present in the plug-in market for about a decade with the famous UAD DSP platform. We have always wondered what would happen if Universal Audio were to combine their analog and digital technologies. Introduced at the NAMM 2012, the Apollo is the first answer. Focus on the Universal Audio interface! read more…

User reviews on Universal Audio Apollo products

To the Moon, All in or Bust! (Universal Audio - Apollo Twin Duo)

By jaymes.moore, 07/10/2014
While there's been plenty of lunar references in the many reviews for the new Apollo Twin series that are all over the web these days, the notion of "all in or bust" particularly applies to this review. I turned my entire home studio upside down on the flip of a coin that a new Apollo setup would simplify and improve my workflow. See I had grown quite comfortable and familiar with my surroundings, my 2008 Mac Pro tower, the trusty old RME Fireface UC connected via USB, and my centrepiece channel strip, my old LA-610 from UA. The last of my old setup, the LA-610, was especially the hardest to give up. You only have to read my in-depth review here on Audiofanzine to understand that. But the bottom line was, the setup had become too comfortable, and I had accepted it's limitations for too long. Looking to rejuvenate my recording process, I threw it all out the window for one, small silver box....the Apollo Twin Duo.

This may have seemed like a crazy downgrade to some, but after assessing all of the Apollo's features and comparing them to my own studio’s capabilities, I quickly realised I was in fact making a huge upgrade, but with a much smaller footprint. Let me point out some advantages:

1) Are the Tubes done yet?....I do many things in my studio space, music obviously, but also sound design, film editing and graphic design. When a musical idea strikes or a music-related project presents itself, I often only have a narrow window of time to lay it down. Due to the sporadic nature of these projects, having to plan ahead to turn the LA-610 on an hour in advance to heat the tubes up was too much of a headache. Additionally, if my plans changed and I didn't end up being able to record, but had already pre-heated the tubes, I felt like it was such a waste of power and tube life. With the Apollo, I simply turn on the switch, load the exact same preamp module as a plugin in the designated preamp insert point and I'm ready to record. One cable, no wait. But does it sound as good…yes, and I’ll prove it later in the review!

2) Stability and Simplicity- When I started recording as a hobbyist before taking on professional projects, I came up through the ranks of sound cards like everyone else. First was the ol’ M-Audio Fast Track, then on to an Edirol FA-101 and ultimately I settled on an RME Fireface UC. By the time I got the RME, I was taking on professional projects and had a huge appreciation for driver stability and sound quality. But even then, the USB drivers always had quirks with Pro Tools 9 and every so often the RME would go MIA. There was also the minefield that is RME’s TotalMix software that I had to navigate on a regular basis. Configuring inputs and outputs with Pro Tools was always complicated and it was always a nightmare figuring out what sound was being routed where….with Apollo however, this is all automatic. The Console software, works just like a small analog board and it’s routing capabilities are very intuitive. Also, it’s I/O automatically configures itself with Pro Tools. Additionally, because it connects via Thunderbolt, it uses a PCIe driver, that not only blows the USB connection out of the water in terms of data transfer rate, but also in terms of stability. In the first month of regular abuse, the Apollo has yet to loose communication with Pro Tools.

3) Latency - The biggest draw to Thunderbolt is that it matches hardwired, PCIe speeds, meaning recording at lower buffer sizes is feasible with minimal latency. The argument that manufacturers like RME make in this regard, is that in Low-Latency mode, Pro Tools bypasses it’s own output and allows you to monitor solely through the DSP-powered mixer on your sound card, thus in real-time with zero latency regardless of your buffer size. This is true…unless you are using software instruments or guitar emulations. In that case, you will only hear the DI sound from your instrument and won’t be able to monitor with fully processed sound. Apollo makes low-latency recording incredibly easy as well as monitoring with plugins. Because Apollo automatically works with Low Latency mode, there is no configuring and muting tracks to achieve direct monitoring with PT: when you record-arm a track in PT it is simply only heard through Apollo. Because Apollo can load UAD plugins, you can place a preamp, a guitar amp emulation, and even a compressor in the signal path all in real time with no latency before the sound is even sent to PT…that is something no other sound card can do at the moment. You can also have additional Aux sends set up within the console app with reverb and delay plugins in real time to further improve your monitoring experience and ultimately your performance.

4) Hardware controls - The physical design of the Apollo Twin is also a huge upgrade over my old Fireface. Navigating monitoring levels was just too complicated for the Fireface’s tiny numeric display and I found myself constantly adjusting monitor levels with my mouse in the TotalMix window. The Apollo interacts more sensibly. It’s desktop design means it doesn’t have to be tucked away in the rack, but rather it can sit on my desk at arm’s reach. The ability to intuitively switch between monitoring on speakers or headphones is a huge improvement in my workflow. The ability to switch between preamps on the fly and adjust gain and other parameters is also a breeze. It’s no-fuss, no-manual-required operation.

5) One and done…I’ve probably used the words ‘simple’ or ‘plug and play’ in various forms quite a bit so far in this review. That’s because it’s the characteristic that has made the Apollo such an upgrade for me. One Thunderbolt cable and I’m done. I have all of my UAD instances loaded up in my channel strips in real-time, which means top quality processing with zero latency and no laborious patching of cables between physical outboard gear.


So what about in use? Below I'll walk through some instances of where I've used Apollo and UAD processing in conjunction with Pro Tools 11 on some recent projects.


In a recent soundtrack project I was working on, a filmmaker friend of mine had another friend of his, who is a talented singer-songwriter, record a cover of Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why” to be played over the final credits. While his friend is a terrific guitar player and singer, the recording methods used were less than desired. The vocals were recorded in 16 bit audio on a Zoom handheld recorder, so when it was sent to me for mix-down, I had to be creative. Thankfully, Apollo allowed me to do some clever re-amping, which when combined with some additional UAD processing worked some real magic.

In this first audio example, you’ll hear the raw 16 bit vocal takes as they were loaded up first-time in my PT Session.,m.473944.html

I then proceeded to trim and adjust the timing of the backing vocals, tightening up the whole composition. I then re-amped the individual vocal tracks, using a mono output from the back of Apollo and looping the sound back in through one of the Mic inputs. I loaded up a Neve 1073 in the preamp slot, adding some saturation and using the EQ to manage the low-end, while bringing out some top-end sheen. Then the vocals hit an LA2-A Silver from UA’s newer LA2 collection of plugins, with gain reduction ranging form 6 to 12db. The sound was then printed back into PT. I could have presumably loaded these plugins ‘in the box’, but with Apollo I like the idea of passing the signal back out through the physical impedance stage of the mic preamps, just as I would with the real analog gear. Here is the result:,m.473945.html

Finally, to fill in the gaps created by the tight-trimming I did to remove the background noise, I set up two Aux tracks in PT, one with an EMT 140 plate for the backing vocals and one with a RE-201 Space Echo for the lead. The plate gave a nice, warm resonance and sustain to the backing vocals placing them within a well-defined space, and the dual short echoes of the RE-201 combined with its distinctive spring reverb gave an early Neil Young, tape slap effect to the lead vocal. Additionally, I used an instance of UA’s 1176 REV-A compressor (the blue stripe) with a slow attack and fast release to add some pumping energy to the lead vocal so that it would stand out from the pack:,m.473946.html


I said before I’d prove Apollo adequately replaced my LA-610. Below is the sample I used in my review of the LA-610 using an Epiphone Viola Bass. Next is a sample using the same bass with the same-preamp emulation, combined with an LA2-A compressor plugin inserted in the Apollo Console app during tracking.,m.473853.html,m.473947.html


In this instance, I was trying to record some vintage Wurlitzer sounds to help drive the rhythm section of a song. Using the Wurly sounds from GarageBand on my iPad, I was able to use Apollo and UAD processing to transform the original, digital recording.

This is the dry take:,m.473948.html

These are the keys, amped using the UA 610-A emulation in the Apollo Console preamp insert. Additional UAD processing included compression via the Fairchild 660 and some enhancing EQ using the Pultec MEQ-5 to pull out some mids, tighten the lows, and boost the sparkle. I then inserted the EMT140 plate reverb to add some subtle sustain and space, which was followed by an instance of the Neve 1073 after the fact for additional drive. Here is the result:,m.473949.html


The Apollo Twin is also a dream for guitar players who have struggled with home recording and guitar amp emulations. I took the new Chandler GAV19T Amp emulation for a spin and was blown away with the results. I found I could load an instance of the Neve or UA preamps first to improve the DI Signal and then insert the Chandler to get my amp sound. All of this is accomplished with zero-latency, resulting in the best picking dynamics and playing experience I’ve had with any sound-card/amp configuration. I also love the fact that I could throw a Fairchild 660 after the Chandler, basically giving me a world-class rack compressor with extra tube character. Furthermore, I could choose to monitor only with the plugins and record the dry DI guitar signal into Pro Tools, so I could reamp and maintain flexibility later on in the mix. Even better is the ability to record both the dry and wet! Simply choose to only monitor with plugins, and print your main track dry. Also, simultaneously set up another track in your DAW to record one of the AUX channels. Then, in the console app, send the monitored sound of the amped guitar to the Aux send with no inserts loaded, and the full wet sound will be recorded to that second track. Voila, double tracking and reamping in the box with zero latency!

Here’s a good taste of the Chandler plugin, tracked through Apollo with a 610-A preamp preceding it and a Fairchild 660 succeeding it.,m.473950.html

Acoustic Slide:

What about stereo recording acoustic instruments? Sure, why not. I set up to record some Acoustic Slide for a recent soundtrack project, with a down-home, ‘sitting on the porch’ type of vibe in mind. I put an AT4033 on the 12th fret and ran that through the first preamp on Apollo using the 610-A emulation. Using the same preamp configuration in the second channel, I completed my stereo image with an SM57 close miked near the bridge.

Here is the dry recording:,m.473951.html

Here is the same recording, with some additional processing in Pro Tools. Each track was given an instance of Studer tape for some vintage vibe, which was doubled up with some healthy compression from a pair of Fairchild 660s. Pultec EQs were then used to tighten the low end and enhance the top-end. With the tone dialed in, a subtle instance of the Roland Space Echo on each track gave a nice tape slap effect, before the whole performance was pumped with extra grit and attack via a ‘blue-strip’ 1176 compressor.,m.473952.html


Similar to treating the vocals and the Wurly keys, re-amping through the impedance stage and the Neve 1073 emulation works wonders on digital strings. This composition was performed on 4 tracks using the Strings instrument in GarageBand on the iPad. In this first, dry example the thin, digital sound is evident. In the second example, simply passing the tracks through the 1073 without any added gain or EQ adjustments instantly enhances the stereo image and the organic quality of the composition. In the third example, the additional saturation from the Neve preamps and some broad strokes with the EQ go a long way to overhauling a previously anaemic and digital sound.,m.473953.html,m.473954.html,m.473955.html


As I've previously stated, the Apollo is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. Simply download the UAD software from their site after registering your Apollo, install it and you're good to go! The driver automatically configures the I/O and Low Latency mode in Pro Tools and the Play/Pause controls overlap between the Console app and PT, so there's no switching back and forth to audition tracks. I've been using it for a month now with Pro Tools 11 on a mid-2011 Mac Mini and I have experienced nothing but flawless performance in OSX Mavericks.


In this price range, I feel the quality of Apollo's preamps and A/D converters are unmatched by anything that's not 3 or 4 times it's price. The ability to track with UAD plugs, particularly dry and wet signals simultaneously through some clever routing in the Console app, is also a huge coup and one that goes a long way to bridging the analog and digital domain. Most importantly is the ability to turn it on, plug it in and record with flawless performance and uncompromising sonic quality. Nowadays, with DAWs like Pro Tools and Audio Interfaces like Apollo all within consumers' budgets, it's perfectly feasible for the home recordist to achieve professional recordings on their own, which could be brought into a professional studio for mix down without the need for re-recording. In other words, technologies such as these have empowered a new era of independent musicians.

+Flawless performance and stability
+Automatic configuration with most DAWs
+World-class A/D converters
+Pristine pre-amps with endless capabilities through emulations
+Real-time UAD processing
+Easy to use DSP mixer with intuitive, analog interface
+Intuitive, time-saving hardware controls (particularly monitor controls)

-UAD plugs can be viewed as either a best life decision or a slippery's a big investment that will put off some, but if you're already a UAD user and own a lot of their plugs, welcome to your next frontier!
-Only works with Thunderbolt compatible computers
-Only two additional mono outputs, meaning outboard routing capability is minimal and may be a turn-off for those looking to use analog summing devices, like the Dangerous D-Box. In this case, you should look at stepping up to the full-size Apollo Duo or Quad.
-Only one Headphone jack for monitoring. Two would have been really nice, like on competitive interfaces from Focusrite.
-Only two preamps...after getting a taste of unison technology, you'll wish you had more!
- Only available with a duo core, DSP processor...Considering the DSP hit of the newer UAD plugs, four-cores could be easily used, even in this small footprint.

The All-Rounder! (Universal Audio - Apollo Quad)

By avillarreal14, 15/10/2014
This is an excellent piece of hardware that would surely bring new sounds to your production. On one hand you have the massively acclaimed UA plugins, based mostly on their hardware counterpart and bringing one of the best emulations on the market. On the other, you have the actual interface that brings top class converters and vast array of input and output connectivity. It’s simply mind blowing the things you can do with it. Check out the video on YouTube where Fab Dupont explains how to connect the Apollo with the Dangerous Music D-Box.

The onboard DSP power gives you everything you’ll probably need for your session. Not so long ago, I ran a Pro Tools mixing session with 105 channels. I did not have a plugin on every single channel, but there were still a lot! It was refreshing to know that I could just put a plugin anywhere and the system would still run like nothing. I was running a 2013 Mac Mini with 16GB of Ram and Pro Tools 10.


I own the Firewire model and it definitely brings zero latency to the table. Through its two headphones output I can monitor in real time, and using the UA virtual console, I can for instance, have a compressor in the chain going into Pro Tools with Reverb on an Aux. All with no latency.

One of the things that I like the most is the 610 Tube Preamp emulation. I record with it no matter what. The default preamps is very good by itself. Pristine, that’s how I would describe it. Now, when I use it with the preamp emulation it just turns into gold. It distorts the very same way an analog tube preamp would, and adds shimmery high sparkles to the sound. I’ve used it with an AKG C414 XL II and it’s just amazing. The very first thing I used to emulation on was on a Cajon, and it blew me away the way it rounded the high frequency transients but leaving the bottom end full and punchy. Just like the real analog gear!

The 224 Lexicon Reverb is something out of this world too. You load it and you get instantly beautiful reverb that I have never gotten with any other plugin. I also own the Neve 88RS channel strip, and I’ve also had the chance to work with the real console. It is as quirky as I remember it. Great EQ but you have to go easy with it; the compressor/limiting section is spot on. The only complain that I have is the Gate. Not as usable for shaping sounds as the real one.

I also demoed the newer versions of the 1176’s and the LA-2A’s. I liked them, but to me they’re still missing the gluey factor of the real ones. I mean, the real one have some breathing in it, which is why they’re extremely regarded: you simply don’t feel the compression. The plugins don’t do this. They recreate the harmonics really well, but the compression part is still lacking IMO. In fact, I used the Bluestripe emulation on a vocal take without actually engaging the compressor, just because of the nice harmonics when I drove the input.

Of course, these are all tools. Depending on how you use them is what it is going to make the difference. That’s why the default plugins that come with it are just as useful.


Not too much to say on this one because the installation was as easy and trouble-free as you can get. The only thing is that I had to download the latest UAD drivers to run the newer plugins. Because of my not so fast Internet I had to wait quite some time to download the 750 MB file from the UA website.


The reason why probably many of you are buying this interface is because of the plugins. But is not only the plugins that you are getting, is the hardware with top quality converters and the flexibility that’s just unparalleled. Recently I test it against a Prism converter and it was on par. Really, you would have to be the pickiest mastering engineer to discern the difference.

- Awesome sound quality
- Zero latency
- Great connectivity
- Lots of DSP power
- Great on-board Preamps

- The compressors and gate emulations are not that good.
- The rotary buttons feel a little bit cheap and flimsy

a really great interface (Universal Audio - Apollo 8 Duo)

By BernardRoland, 29/06/2016
I bought this interface 3 months ago after I had the opportunity to try many different audio interface models in several stores (mainly in Europe).

As the shope rarely had high-end monitors available, I compared all interfaces using mid-range, 2-way monitors.

Caution : I did not try the Appolo 8 but the previous model, since the Appolo 8 was only released later in May 2015.

Every try I gave it, the Appolo 8 provided superior sound quality and dynamics compared with other models.

I also compared it with much pricier interfaces, and either the difference was almost unnoticeable or the Appolo sounded better…

That’s how I initially made up my mind towards buying an “old” Appolo.

I then heard it through Eve Audio sc 408 monitors, and it sounded just sublime – clear, clean, noiseless, in a word: great.

On the day I was set to buy it, I’m mentioned the availability of the new Appolo 8.

So, I decided to buy it based on sound amelioration, added functionalities, the unison system available on several inputs and the better software.

I did not have an opportunity to compare both (old and new) models side by side.

The sound the Appolo 8 delivers is breathtaking, I believe it to be even clearer than earlier models but the difference seems rather small.

The interface is well-built, sturdy – very sturdy – , the controls are pleasant to use and the functionalities easy to read on the front.

It features an external power supply, which is a large block to be hidden under the table.

The possibility to use two different headphones for monitoring at the same time is a very good point.

Almost all functions can be set up directly from the software, which is awesome.

The unison feature is also very useful, no mic or instrument is perfect and corrections can be applied using this feature which is available on all inputs.

It doesn’t look like much but it’s possible from the input to set everything up so as to get a clean recording with a good basis, hence one that will need less tweaking later on.

Latency is minimal, impossible to perceive to me at least.

Noise level is also extremely low, much lower than any other interface.

It’s very important when recording solo instruments or classical music that features important volume variations.

Another huge asset is the possibility to use high-quality plug-ins within the interface.

Unfortunately they’re not free or cheap, but it just takes watching for special offers to get important discounts.

Considering the general price of interfaces and that of this model in particular, the price is not excessive. Don’t forget the (very useful) additional features that come with it such as the unison functionality and the possibility to work directly with plug-ins, which relieves your CPU.

A real gem! (Universal Audio - Apollo Twin Duo USB)

By shiningdust, 22/04/2018
I use this sound interface to complement (not to say replace) my old ESI ESP 1010e. I went up in terms of range and it’s a real investment but believe me – it was worth it. Latency is ridiculously low, especially in direct monitoring. Using the Unison technology, which implies replacing the clear-sounding and modern (yet high-quality) interface pre by a Unison-compatible plugin (eg a Neve strip, vintage preamp, some guitar amps too), monitoring is still direct.

Unison allows to change the physical preamp’s behavioe using a plugin, which is an amazing technology.

The installing process was seamless, and the same goes for the plugins (the included bundle + a special offer which consisted in $749 worth of plugins + a $79 off coupon on an Helios EQ + those I purchased to take advantage of other special offers – seems like I bought it right on time :-) ).

Yet, there were audio problems with the sound dropping but it got resolved with changes within Windows and the use of a special PCI-e USB 3.0 card instead of the motherboard’s chipset (it seemed to work with a mere update, but you never know).
Thanks again to the UA tech support, they really know their job.

I work on an 17 5820K with 32GB of RAM. This leads me to a problem I’ve encountered: the plugins work on an internal DSP on the card, with a total only 2 DSPs as it’s a Twin model. Its capacity soon gets exceeded, which implies freezing the tracks, saving the settings and make clear decisions then to reset to the default mixer screen so as to empty the DSPs.

In native mode, I can use many mort plugins without saturating my Computer, so it’s a real pity that you can’t mix the DSP and PC’s power, as I could use many more UA plugins than I currently can (I sometimes have to use SE versions of the plugs on secondary tracks).

Lat alone that point, quality of the converters and preamps is incredibly good! Used with a nice microphone (a Neumann TLM 102 in my case), the result is exceptionally good, especially considering that the Unison allows to tweak the sound using channel strips, vintage preamps emulations and so on. But even then, the original preamp stands its case and is more than usable!

The mixer is both easy to use and very practical. A real asset!
Most parameters can be controlled both using the mouse or the interface’s controls.

I like:
+ the preamps’ overall quality
+ the Unison technology
+ the quality of the converters
+ the mixer
+ the possibility to record or not the effects in Cubase Pro 8.5 (or any other DAW)
+ the exceptional quality of the plug-ins (even superior to Waves in a way)

I like less:
- the DSP technology which causes more problems than it helps. It once was very practical (in the days of the UAD-1), but nowadays the processors are so powerful that the UAD-2 is surpassed and it’s a pity. It still can be useful for someone with a small setup, but it’s not my case.
- only two channels, making it impossible to record a guitar amp using three microphones
- a single headphone out, which is not practical to tweak the vocals while making it heard by both the singer and engineer
However, this interface is more aimed at home studio owners who work alone, and for that purpose it’s still a very fine interface.

I’d make the same choice a million times if necessary. I hesitated between this and an REM Fireface, well I’m glad to have entered Universal Audio’s universe!

When I can, I intend to buy a UAD-2 Octo (Satellite USB 3.0 or PCIe, depending on the better compatibility, I’ll see when I have the budget) in order to use more DSP power and take full advantage of all these wonderful plug-ins.

With such a high-quality interface, I’ll also have to invest in good microphones as the only really good mic that I have is the Neumann TLM 102 (I also own a lower quality condenser T-Bone, a ribbon T-Bone, an SM57 and an SM58).
But as I have already invested a lot, that will be for later…

If you can afford an interface in that price range, don’t hesitate and go ahead, you won’t be disappointed!

It’s also a pity that it is the only Apollo available for Windows system computers, i would have preferred an Apollo with more inputs and two headphone outs, and most important more included DSPs… But for 899€, you already have access to an exceptional quality! So let’s not demand too much, a 600€ interface with a lot of ins/out will never reach this one in terms of quality.

CAUTION: if you work on a laptop PC, there is a risk that it will not be compatible with the USB 3.0 chipset. Look up for yourself beforehand.

Edit: the interface is now even cheaper with the release of the Twin MKII, but you won’t get as many plug-ins as I got :-D

Since then, I’ve bought 2 UAD-2 Octo cards – one USB 3.0 Satellite and one internal PCI-e. I can tell you that I no longer have any problem to run as many plug-ins as I like now :bravo: (of course, there’s a world between 2 DSPs and 18...)

For the internal mixer, only the interface’s two DSPs can be used, but it seems well enough with only two inputs, unless you really have to use several plug-ins which is something I rarely – if ever – do. The Twin MKII and its Quad version are almost unnecessary, unless of course you want to use it for mixing (I speak for those who do not own additional UAD-2 cards).

Months later, i still consider it a great product!!! (and the problem with the audio signal which was dropping has almost vanished, except in very rare circumstances which are not even that much of a problem when it happens).
PS: I went to Cubase Pro 9 in the meantime (taking advantage of the grace preriod), and the software is even more stable than before, with crashes becoming rarer… I actually still have to face any, if I remember correctly.

News Universal Audio Apollo

A USB 3.0 Apollo Twin Duo for Windows

Published on 09/15/15
Universal Audio announces the release in October of a new Apollo Twin Duo desktop audio interface with USB 3.0 connection, but for Windows only.

The UAD Software in v8.0

Published on 03/04/15

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