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UA Apollo vs RME UFX blind test
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jemu999
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19th April 2012
Old 19th April 2012
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UA Apollo vs RME UFX blind test

So I got the Universal Audio Apollo interface last week, and today I received the RME Fireface UFX interface. Im getting rid of my digi 192 and am jumping ship from the pro tools HD platform. Fortunately, the store where I buy my gear were good enough to let me test both.

So anyhow, here are 2 recordings. Both recordings involve an AKG C414B XLS directly into the mic pre of each interface. So this is a comparison of pre/converter vs pre/converter combo. The mic was placed in front of the vocals so the guitar audio low. This is dry. No plugins, no compressor, etc. Also currently there is no acoustical treatment in my room.

BTW: This is not a scientific comparison!! Take it for what it's worth. I tried keeping the levels & mic placement the same, but it was only me in the studio, kind of difficult.

OK.... Which one is better???? And which one is which?????

Version A:
http://soundcloud.com/jemu999/voice-guitar-sample-a

Version B:
http://soundcloud.com/jemu999/voice-guitar-sample-b


(Pardon the performance! And im sure you are going to love the song i picked to listen to several times!)


*********EDIT. **** 4/19/12***** More audio files on page two of this thread as well**************
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#2
19th April 2012
Old 19th April 2012
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Im guessing:
B is Apollo
A is the RME

A seems to have less body and is a little brighter to me
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19th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yotonic View Post
I could over analyze this and find something "good" about each.

But as far as which one just sounded better to me as a listener, (with my engineering hat off) it would be Sample A.

It was not as harsh as B and, had more musical nuance.
Yes A is marginally better. Stayed out the way of the music ever so slightly more. I own the UFX but the B sample did not sound like its pres to me. We'll see.
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19th April 2012
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B is better, not sure what it is, A is to bright, seems to have a harsh digital sound.
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19th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllAboutTone View Post
B is better, not sure what it is, A is to bright, seems to have a harsh digital sound.
ya that is exactly what I heard on A there was like a sharpness on the high notes that was particular unappealing.

B just sounded smoother and rounded. I am betting B is the Apollo.
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19th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllAboutTone View Post
B is better, not sure what it is, A is to bright, seems to have a harsh digital sound.
The amazing thing is there more similar than different! Speaks to the quality of 8 channel mid level interfaces these days!
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19th April 2012
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Thank you for doing this. Would you consider doing a take with just the guitar? I find that vocals are the worst thing to make a comparison by because the tone shifts far more than with other instruments and the voice is a fairly narrow instrument in terms of bandwidth. Drums are idea but the acoustic guitar would at least give use a little sense of the highs and lows, in addition to some transient response.

As far as the clips go, 'A' sounds edgy through some simple monitors but smoother through headphones. 'B' sounds decent either way (and seems to capture background details like the guitar and room more). I wouldn't be able to make a confident judgement of quality without hearing more clips.
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19th April 2012
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If you don't split the microphone and run the same cable specification to each device I think this test is fairly useless.

B sounded better, guitar was fuller and louder, vocals sounded smoother.

I'm listening on some okay earphones just direct out from the computer, so even if you had done the test properly my input is also fairly useless. Record again but split the signal and I'll listen again when I get my new studio monitors and room treatment?
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19th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Dunnet View Post
If you don't split the microphone and run the same cable specification to each device I think this test is fairly useless.
What he said, thus I haven't listened to either of the clips. Kind of pointless IMHO without comparing apples to apples.
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19th April 2012
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Interesting comments, keep em coming. Im planning on using tomorrow to test these 2 units out as best I can. Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to hear.


Quote:
Thank you for doing this. Would you consider doing a take with just the guitar?
You got it. I will do a guitar tomorrow.

Quote:
If you don't split the microphone and run the same cable specification to each device I think this test is fairly useless.
I think this is a good idea. I have to figure out how to set this up. So basically I would need an xlr splitter? Guitar Center should have this? The problem is, I need to figure how to set up my DAW. Im running Cubase, and as far as I know, I can only pick one interface at a time. Unless I record one to Cubase, and the other to Reaper??? Any ideas?
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19th April 2012
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b............
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemu999 View Post

I think this is a good idea. I have to figure out how to set this up. So basically I would need an xlr splitter? Guitar Center should have this? The problem is, I need to figure how to set up my DAW. Im running Cubase, and as far as I know, I can only pick one interface at a time. Unless I record one to Cubase, and the other to Reaper??? Any ideas?
1. Basically run one XLR cable from your mic to a super clean pre amp, (You don't have to use a ton of gain).

2.Then send the out from the pre amp to a passive splitter such as this.

3. Then attach two XLR cables from two of the outs of the splitter to send a separate but equal signal to each interface. Make sure to match levels exactly using the pre amps of each unit.

4. It's best to record a trio such as a group with a percussionist, acoustic guitarist and vocalist all performing live in a nice room.

There you have it, *apples to apples.



* An 'apple to apple comparison' means to compare something to something just like it; it's based on the expression 'comparing apples to oranges', which means that you have made a comparison of something that is not like enough for a comparison to be made.
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I prefer B...
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19th April 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemu999 View Post
Interesting comments, keep em coming. Im planning on using tomorrow to test these 2 units out as best I can. Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to hear.
think the majority of converters these days only struggle with the low end
would like to hear bass or vocals only

breaths in A picked up more dynamics on breaths to me
would be interesting to know which take is closer to how you perceived your own breaths
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19th April 2012
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19th April 2012
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Interesting comparison I'm very glad someone is doing this.
For matching purposes, forget the splitter if you can't use the interfaces at the same time.
How about setting a boom box 1 ft away from a mic and recording the same music with both interfaces?
The song would b the same, the mic too. So you could record at different times just matching the pres levels or just normalizing at the end. They should be the exact same thing and the differences would be only the pres and converters.
Simple, right?
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19th April 2012
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For any kind of meaningful comparison:

(1) We need to listen to wav files not mp3's.

(2) We need to post results from a blind ABX test to prove that we can actually tell them apart at all.

(3) It's better if we don't even know what units we're comparing so we don't try to "explain" what we're hearing according to what we think we already know, but (1) and (2) will do.
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Waves please not MP3.

Something with Bass also please.
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FWIW, I could hear enough bass in the vocal to make a call on which one I liked better.
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Prefer B. Sounds smoother.

I'm guessing B is the Apollo, as i have found similar results using its pres/converters. Very silky smooth, but a touch of colour. The A sample seems more digitally accurate and less forgiving, which i think sounds more like an RME trait than Apollo.
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Funny how high tech some get in wanting to split the the vocal out and use the same performance etc. I get what your saying but if you cant hear a tonal diff between two diff performances from the same performer using two diff I/O's then you need to check your hearing. A PRO should be able to listen and make a simple decision as to which one sounds better tonally. Make sure they null too , lol.
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The replies so far show the units are more the same than different. I think at this level of sound you buy for features and spend your money getting the front and then back end right. Neither of these units is gonna stop you from making a great record! It is really crazy to me no one else has commented on the fact the units sound very similar!

I would not sale one unit for the other unless it was about features or drivers.

The funniest thing is there is another thread on this site that suggest the RME UFX is the worst sounding interface on the market Amazing what that would say about the Apollo if that were true!
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There is definitely an edginess in sample A that is not flattering. At first it sounds like more detail up top but upon further listening it sounds like odd order harmonic distortion, which is often mistaken for clarity at first.

I think it's be easier to work with sample B, and there's plenty of detail for me there anyway. Given a choice, I'd take B.

Hoping B is the Apollo because I just ordered one.
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OK guys. I ordered a "Y" cable. A friend will drop it off this afternoon. Please correct me if i'm doing anything wrong. I plan on connecting my AKG414B to an Avalon Vt737. Im going to put the gain as low as possible and bypass all eq/compressor on the Avalon. From the out of the Avalon, to the Y cable.

One side of the Y will go to Apollo and be recorded via Cubase. The other side of the Y will go to UFX and recorded via Reaper. Im not sure if I can run both DAWs at the same time with different interfaces. In the event I cant, I have a slave pc that ill use for the alternate recording.

Thus we should have same performance to two different pre/converters. Of course there may be slight coloration from the avalon.

Based on the some of the requests, here is what I plan on recording:

1. Vocals only
2. Acoustic guitar only
3. Bass guitar only

Any thoughts, comments, ideas.... let me know sooner rather than later!! Thanks!
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Funny how opinions seem to be all over the place with this one.

Personally, I can't stand the smearing I'm hearing in sample B around 7k (I'm guessing) - it really bugs me.

Having said that and adding that I really like what I hear in sample A:

A - RME UFX (and this one is my pref)
B - UA Apollo (not impressed with this one)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemu999 View Post
Any thoughts, comments, ideas.... let me know sooner rather than later!! Thanks!
Great - also can you put wav files up on soundcloud for download?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jemu999 View Post
OK guys. I ordered a "Y" cable. A friend will drop it off this afternoon. Please correct me if i'm doing anything wrong. I plan on connecting my AKG414B to an Avalon Vt737. Im going to put the gain as low as possible and bypass all eq/compressor on the Avalon. From the out of the Avalon, to the Y cable.

One side of the Y will go to Apollo and be recorded via Cubase. The other side of the Y will go to UFX and recorded via Reaper. Im not sure if I can run both DAWs at the same time with different interfaces. In the event I cant, I have a slave pc that ill use for the alternate recording.

Thus we should have same performance to two different pre/converters. Of course there may be slight coloration from the avalon.

Based on the some of the requests, here is what I plan on recording:

1. Vocals only
2. Acoustic guitar only
3. Bass guitar only

Any thoughts, comments, ideas.... let me know sooner rather than later!! Thanks!

I recommend you use inputs 5-8 on the Apollo to be sure the preamp isn't coloring the sound. This way we'll have a converter only comparison. We can sort out the difference between Apollo's 1-4 and 5-8 channels later. At lesat this way we'll be isolating the converters themselves. Channels 1-4 go through the gain block on the Apollo...foolishly.

RME did it right, so you can use any input on the UFX.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboJets View Post
Funny how opinions seem to be all over the place with this one.

Personally, I can't stand the smearing I'm hearing in sample B around 7k (I'm guessing) - it really bugs me.

Having said that and adding that I really like what I hear in sample A:

A - RME UFX (and this one is my pref)
B - UA Apollo (not impressed with this one)
That's funny because I think the RME is the B sample and I own that Box. I also don't hear B as the better clip but they are very close anyway. Which is why people are picking very different.
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Quote:
Great - also can you put wav files up on soundcloud for download?
The files are now avl for download and they are .wav files.
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"B" a little more interesting, by my opinion...
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