Opinions on the new Universal Audio Apollo

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by jkr, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. jkr

    jkr Supporting Member

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    Do any of you more experienced computer recording guys have an opinion on the new Universal Audio Apollo interface? It looked pretty cool at NAMM when I saw the demo. I've been using a porta studio (Korg D16X) and about to go the computer recording route and curious as to what you think. It's expensive but seems to have features that substantiate the expense and might save me from having to buy expensive outboard gear. I have a good mic preamp (Pacifica) but the Apollo lets you use great sounding plug-ins on the tracking ie neve eq, UA compressors, etc... only thing is, it is in the $2000 to $2500 range.
     
  2. vicdeluca71

    vicdeluca71 Member

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    Looks like I'm gonna have to start saving
     
  3. les

    les Gold Supporting Member

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    Yeah, I heard all about it at NAMM too! Looks like this is going to be a great alternative to buying outboard H/W. low latency too
     
  4. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    This has been on my radar since i got the email from UA a couple of days before NAMM, doesn't start shipping until March though...i'm gonna wait till a few people buy some first to get some more user reviews, looks great and if it does what it claims then its easily worth it, i'm just a little uneasy about dropping 2k+ on anything that hasn't done the rounds first. I'll probably get one in about a year or so. I had a UAD1 card in my desktop computer, but stopped using it when i moved to my MacBook Pro, was going to get a satellite, but might hang out to see how this goes instead.
     
  5. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    You need to ask yourself if the plugs sound as good as the real thing...

    Or if it's just as easy to use the same plugs, after the fact. There will be no sonic difference doing that, unlike using hardware on the way in.

    You're buying a software wrapper, basically. That's a lot of money for something that'll most likely be obsolete in 5 years.

    Depending upon what your recording needs are, I'd look at investing that kind of bank in a more mics, maybe a different flavor pre and a decent interface.
     
  6. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    Yeh thats basically the main argument behind it, the way i look at it, its pretty much a UAD2 Satellite with the promise of thunderbolt technology and a built in Audio Interface, which i hope is on par with the Apogee Ensemble, that in itself would be worth the price. The ability to monitor in real time with effects and choose to print those or not on the way in is just an added extra that some may choose to use or not, not really a new idea, but you have a bit more choice when it comes to effects if you have a few of their plugs than your standard DSP chipped interfaces.

    All that being said, i would agree with this. If you're looking at buying something soon, i'd invest that money in mic's, or pre's, or room treatment...like i stated in my other post, this doesn't come out till March, and since its supposedly a "new innovation", it's gonna take a while for anyone to really gauge how good and stable it is. I'd wait at least 12 months...
     
  7. Scott Whigham

    Scott Whigham Member

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    That's my fear as well. My Chandler LTD1s don't care whether I'm on Windows or Mac, XP or Vista, 32-bit or 64-bit. My UAD plugs, however, care very much haha.

    Looks like an interesting piece of gear - I'm guessing it's probably damn good too. Think about it - this is UA's first real entrance into the prosumer interface market, right? The last thing they want to do is **** that up - they want that to go over well.
     
  8. jkr

    jkr Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the thoughts and comments. Yes, I'm a worried about the obsolescense. Since this is my first move into computer recording (as opposed to working with tape and all-in-one porta studios) I'm guessing that whatever software or interface I get will probably have a 5 year shelf life. I just didn't know if this was a better mouse trap for tracking or are there similar alternatives for tracking with similar plug ins that's less expensive. Of course, I hear there might be latency issues with other systems, where this system boasts virtually no latency. Yes, hardware will probably stand the test of time better. I appreciate the insights.
     
  9. Devnor

    Devnor Member

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    If the interface fails you can no longer use your expensive UAD plug ins. My money is on Fireface UFX...RME has solid driver support and their built in FX is good enough for low latency tracking.
     
  10. TAVD

    TAVD Guitar Player Gold Supporting Member

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    The audio specs are look very good on paper. I've been considering a Lynx Aurora but may wait a while to see how the UA measures up.
     
  11. Scott Whigham

    Scott Whigham Member

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    I don't understand this - you mean that you will sell it at/around the 5 year mark or that it will be obsolete by then? We're talking about a $2000+ purchase - 5 years is not a long time, to me, for a $2000 gear purchase to last. I could spend $2000 on mics, for example, and expect them to last 20 years before they needed servicing (and then to last another 20 years).

    That's just odd to me - that's a LOT of $$$ to spend on that kit and I don't understand having a temporary mentality about it.
     
  12. jmoose

    jmoose Member

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    No... its not really a new idea, but that's the only real "unproven" piece about the UAD puzzle. Tracking through the UAD plugs hits me as a great idea but how much latency is involved? Is it truly real-time or just close? In some cases, even 7 or 8ms delay is a HUGE deal to either myself or artists as things start to flange.

    Personally I dig the UAD plugs & think they sound great... some of the most usable stuff out there without a doubt. Not exactly like the hardware but geez... price out a single 33609 or Massive Passive and then think about running multiples of each. John Siket and I recently mixed a record for a guy using almost nothing but the UAD plugs... will be out soon enough enough I guess, was mastered last week.

    If there's any real drawback to the UAD platform its that some of those plugs are VERY power hungry and its easy to blow through even a quad card. In some cases we had to freeze tracks or "print" stuff to free up headroom. And FWIW the UAD platform has been around for almost 10 years now and while I personally haven't invested, know plenty who have and UA's service has been awesome... WAY better then Waves and a lotta other popular companies.
     
  13. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    UA's two channel converter set is very highly regarded, and it sounds great.

    Here you have more channels, plus mic preamps that I'm guessing should at the very least be decent sounding. If they base the technology on their other converters, they should have a winner even before one gets to the question of their UAD cards, given the price of their competition. And UA's build quality, hardware, etc., is first rate.

    I have all the outboard hardware and mics I need, and this and the Apogee Symphony are the only two interfaces out there right now that move the needle for me.

    Given the UAD plugin support, and the fact that Apogee can be very slow on driver updates, I'm grabbing one of these as soon as they are in stock at Vintage King. I don't mind being a guinea pig in my studio, it's kind of fun to experiment, and for me gear is just a cost of doing business. I'll post a review at some point in a few months.
     
  14. KidArchitect

    KidArchitect Member

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    I'm really hoping it can be part of my next huge upgrade.

    I was honestly looking at the UA 4-710d as my next big thing when it came out last year - pair it up my 003r to get some higher end ADAT (replace my Digimax) with a little outboard compression to sweeten the deal, and some nice pre's...

    I was also looking at getting a UAD setup at some point - i've only heard great things about their plugs, and wouldnt mind getting some higher end plugs.

    Buuuut....I'm re-thinking those options for the Apollo and ditching my 003

    That is - assuming the converters are better than the 003 and the UAD plugs dont get buggy while recording, i think this would be a fantastic piece.

    Only thing I would miss is MIDI - but that's a real simple fix with a midisport 2x2 or something.

    I'm just hoping we're not sacrificing a potentially quality interface by putting too much in the pot, ya know? Especially with audio gear, i try to be cautious of something that offers everything - cuz it's usually a lot of low end to mediocre things piled together...

    If a UAD Quad runs $1500, and the Apollo Quad is $2500, then we're talking a $1000 interface...if we're talkin RME quality, than yes, I'm all about this for sure.

    If we're talkin ProjectMix quality...i'm not so sure...
     
  15. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    But remember that much of the cost is in the enclosure and hardware, etc. You can't parse it out by dollar and say that you're getting a $1000 interface. I'm guessing that you won't be getting 4-710 preamp capability. I'm guessing that the sound of the converters will be excellent based on their other converter technology. And my partner uses the UAD stuff, and it does indeed sound great. I've held off until now.
     
  16. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    My point was that you're paying a lot of extra cash, to be able to run plugs when you record.

    No matter what the marketing hype may be, that is not anything like running thru the hardware versions of those units. It will happen, but we're 2-3 iterations away from that and by then, this box will be obsolete.

    Adding the plugs after you record will sound exactly the same as tracking with them, unlike tracking a vocal thru a real 1176.

    For $1K, you could probably get an interface that sounded just as good, and put the remaining $ into a few mics or a Distressor or something, which would have both a more profound effect on the quality of your recordings, and not become obsolete, ever.
     
  17. Nelson89

    Nelson89 Member

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    This is a good thread, great arguments on both sides. Looking forward to that review!
     
  18. swartzfeger

    swartzfeger Member

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    I'm not being adversarial/contrarian, I'm trying to understand the notion that this UAD may become 'obsolete' -- why is it that a distressor, mics etc are safe from becoming obsolete but the UAD has a built-in shelf life because UAD may release an Apollo 2 in 201X?

    An extreme example for sure, but look at Bon Iver's debut -- a Mac held together with figurative duct tape and a Digi 001.

    The Apollo is definitely on my radar, but my main concern is tracking wet -- do I have to use the UAD software wrapper for 2ms latency, or can I achieve that within Logic running the UAD plugs? I haven't read enough of the FAQ.

    re: UAD plugs' power:

    http://www.uaudio.com/support/uad/compatibility/instance-chart.html

    Another caveat -- Thunderbolt as an add-on. The $2000 interface is now $2500.
     
  19. Sunbreak Music

    Sunbreak Music Member

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    I'm not aware of any way to get around the card's latency.

    People have been prophesying the obsolescence of UAD for at least 10 years. I stopped listening about 10 years ago, and have enjoyed (in my opinion) the best plug platform in existence. For over 10 years.
     
  20. KidArchitect

    KidArchitect Member

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    Mmmmmm i just read through that list. Those plugs look delicious. I've always wanted to use UAD powered plugs...EMT140...mmmm...fairchild....mmm..33609 super mmmmmmmm...

    Can someone explain that chart a little? Are those numbers saying that you can run each specific plug in that many times before maxing out CPU power?

    With that thunderbolt add-on example, you were talkin Apollo Duo + 500 for thunderbolt? Which means the Apollo Quad (for 2500) + thunderbolt would be appr. $3k?
     

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