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RME Fireface 800 or Universalaudio apollo duo?
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JimInDreams
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3rd May 2012
Old 3rd May 2012
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RME Fireface 800 or Universalaudio apollo duo?

Im in a middle of the problem here and would need your suggestions to help me out. I have 2200 Euros to upgrade my studio to the next level and i have few problems. if i go with apollo my whole budget is allmoust gone but if i buy rme it would only cost me 800 (second hand) and i would have money to buy more pres and mics to my setup. im starting drum recordings so i need more pres than apollo can offer. but i somehow feel that apollo is way more better equipment than fireface. is the apollo that good when comparing to rme? if it is ill buy it now and save few months more to get the rest of stuff but somehow i have a good feeling to get rme and other now... aaaah so big trouble... what would you do in this situation, what pres , adat ins , mics....? thx for the help
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3rd May 2012
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The FF800 is a solid performing product that has been product of the year for "sound on sound" and others. The UAD product is brand new, with no history or track record. Duh. If you need to be the first kid on the block to own something, buy the new untried product. If you want to record with no drama, buy the proven product.
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3rd May 2012
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+1 rme ff800
it's the best
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With your needs and budget it makes much more sense to buy used.

That being said the rme 800 is a solid interface but the preamps are very weak. First reports are the Apollo preamps are they are very nice and comparable to the apogee ensemble. The ensemble or FF400 might make more sense they have very usable preamps.

I would look into getting a ff400 or apogee ensemble used and add a used daking iv pre or 4 api preamp clones (lots to choose from 3-400 each.)
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4th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
With your needs and budget it makes much more sense to buy used.

That being said the rme 800 is a solid interface but the preamps are very weak. First reports are the Apollo preamps are they are very nice and comparable to the apogee ensemble. The ensemble or FF400 might make more sense they have very usable preamps.

I would look into getting a ff400 or apogee ensemble used and add a used daking iv pre or 4 api preamp clones (lots to choose from 3-400 each.)
Weak preamps have never been my experience. The Fireface 800 is solid, reliable, clean sounding with excellent converters. The bigest benefit has already been mentioned... reliable and proven. Stable drivers and a stable system is the most valuable asset in a computer based studio and UAD is not there yet. You can always buy external pres. My personal choice would be the RME right now. It is a great upgrade.
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4th May 2012
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Pc or Mac?
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4th May 2012
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I really haven't heard one bad thing about the RME's

Ah, but the apollo definitely has the sex appeal!
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For the money, it's hard to argue against the RME. After hearing the recent UFX vs Apollo thread, I chose the UFX. It sounded better and I prefer it's features. However, I'd venture to guess that the Apollo would sound nicer than the FF800 (older version of the UFX), but maybe not enough to justify the huge price difference. I think you have to ask yourself if the difference in quality is more important than having more mics, etc.

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Pc or Mac?
Macpro 8x2.8 ghz (2008)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
With your needs and budget it makes much more sense to buy used.

That being said the rme 800 is a solid interface but the preamps are very weak. First reports are the Apollo preamps are they are very nice and comparable to the apogee ensemble. The ensemble or FF400 might make more sense they have very usable preamps.

I would look into getting a ff400 or apogee ensemble used and add a used daking iv pre or 4 api preamp clones (lots to choose from 3-400 each.)
i could get 4 api clones ???? hmmmn that sounds awesome, daaamn this is hard 1 to decide...
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4th May 2012
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There are 3-4 api clones for sale that I know of. 2 have no transformer and 2 do. I have no experience with them but apparently they all sound very close to the api 312.

warm audio wa12 $450 w/ trans.

Black lion audio ba12 no trans. $300 each

Diy or pre built Seventh circle audio a12 $340 for a diy w/ trans. (+$350 for rack)

or pre buil SCA A12 w/ no trans. for $300 each + rack.


With your situation it may be better to get those api pres and the ff800 used for $800-$900. I digress, the FF800 are usable for good result and much better than prosumer stuff like m-audio. But the pre's in the FF400 and apogee are a step up in quality.
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4th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill@WelcomeHome View Post
The FF800 is a solid performing product that has been product of the year for "sound on sound" and others. The UAD product is brand new, with no history or track record. Duh. If you need to be the first kid on the block to own something, buy the new untried product. If you want to record with no drama, buy the proven product.

Well said sir
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4th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill@WelcomeHome View Post
The FF800 is a solid performing product that has been product of the year for "sound on sound" and others. The UAD product is brand new, with no history or track record. Duh. If you need to be the first kid on the block to own something, buy the new untried product. If you want to record with no drama, buy the proven product.
Agree.

And these 2 unit are not low end !!!!!!
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4th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodney Gene View Post
Weak preamps have never been my experience. The Fireface 800 is solid, reliable, clean sounding with excellent converters. The bigest benefit has already been mentioned... reliable and proven. Stable drivers and a stable system is the most valuable asset in a computer based studio and UAD is not there yet. You can always buy external pres. My personal choice would be the RME right now. It is a great upgrade.
Weak pres has been my experience with the FF800, but everything else about the unit is fantastic. But with a nice rack of 4 external pres for critical parts (kick, snare, OH) the FF800 pres would be fine on toms where you might just need a little extra support.

I would also consider the UFX for two reasons. First, it has 4 excellent pres and two extra analog inputs compared to the FF800. Second, the new version of TotalMix is far superior to the old version the FF800 supports. That feature alone is worth considering the upgrade.

If it were me and I needed at least 8 channels, I would think about a UFX (used if you can find one) and either 1) a good but inexpensive 4 channel pre like Sytek, or 2) an inexpensive 8 channel pre/converter combo, like the ADA8000 or a used Mackie Onyx 800r. I think you could make this work for your budget, or just a little more.

Lastly, depending on what style of music you plan to record you can track great drums with 4 channels. You could go with just UFX for now and use the extra cash for good mics. This would be an excellent foundation to add to later.

Good luck!
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4th May 2012
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I appears that one question has not really been asked to the OP.

Do you already use UAD plugins? Do you really feel that you need UAD plugins?

Everything else can be done with the RME units, which are all good units.

There are a few other questions too, that might help you out a little bit more.

How are you set for mic pres? Do you use any outboard pres already?

If you don't currently have any and would like some of the best pres in about this price range, you need to also look into the Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56. It does compete with the RME units very well, but, it has 8 mic pres and 8 line ins, and two of them are the liquid channel mic pres, that emulate 10 of the most sought after mic pre amps.

Just a thought here, not trying to hijack and post something you did not ask for, but I did see you talking about mic pres in here. You can also add a focusrite octo pre and 8 more focusrite mic pres and connect it to one of the two ADAT connections on the LS 56, this will give you 16 very nice mic pres.

Liquid Saffire 56 Audio Interfaces Professional 28 In / 28 Out with 2 Liquid and 6 Focusrite Pre-amps

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4th May 2012
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I had a FF 400 and sold it, its conversion was cold and uninspiring.Now I have a MR816X and I don't feel the need to upgrade my conversion.I record acoustic music, pop-rock.
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5th May 2012
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so u could say that the MR816X has the same conversion quality than the Apollo? I have the CI2, I think same converters than the MR816X and I would like to improve my DA and the apollo or the symphony seem to be a good choice but... I don't know anything about converters
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dole View Post
so u could say that the MR816X has the same conversion quality than the Apollo? I have the CI2, I think same converters than the MR816X and I would like to improve my DA and the apollo or the symphony seem to be a good choice but... I don't know anything about converters
Without a whole lot more information you won't get much help.

Open a new thread in the low end therory, and include the following:
Type of music you perform/produce
if you need MIDI I/O in the interface or not
How many channels you plan on recording at the same time
Software you use
List some of the gear you have like which monitors, is the room treated or not, etc.

And a little bit about what you feel is holding you back.

I will be honest that upgrading your interface from the CI2 to a symphony, is a huge leap for an interface, especially if you don't have any mic pres, or a board (the symphony does not have them usually, you can get cards, but that is an added expense, that might be better spent on other things you need).

Jim
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5th May 2012
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Thanks for reply, I already opened a tread call Studio upgrade on this forum :-)

I produce electronic music, here is my site under construction but u can listen my stuff :

:::DEMBORA::: EN CONSTRUCCION

I have a couple of vintage mics, no worry about that cause I don't record anything at home, it's all about making the beats and the mix and try to get a better result, so am thinking about to improve my interface cause I would like to use a summing box in the next future so I will need more I/O and better converters, I used to work a lot with some SSL converters in my friend's studio, don't remember the name, those have 24 ch and sounds really sweet, at least way better than the 003 that my friend have there as well.
I used to have RME ADI2 but too cold to me, Apogee duet... too dirty to my ears, big bottom end but too much and the highs are fake to me, I don't know, maybe am too picky

UA converters sounds to me way natural and clean, some kind of analog feel, really musical but really expensive! I don't know how much those converters can help u hear everything clearer and help u improve ur mix somehow... or not
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5th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dole View Post
Thanks for reply, I already opened a tread call Studio upgrade on this forum :-)

I produce electronic music, here is my site under construction but u can listen my stuff :

:::DEMBORA::: EN CONSTRUCCION

I have a couple of vintage mics, no worry about that cause I don't record anything at home, it's all about making the beats and the mix and try to get a better result, so am thinking about to improve my interface cause I would like to use a summing box in the next future so I will need more I/O and better converters, I used to work a lot with some SSL converters in my friend's studio, don't remember the name, those have 24 ch and sounds really sweet, at least way better than the 003 that my friend have there as well.
I used to have RME ADI2 but too cold to me, Apogee duet... too dirty to my ears, big bottom end but too much and the highs are fake to me, I don't know, maybe am too picky

UA converters sounds to me way natural and clean, some kind of analog feel, really musical but really expensive! I don't know how much those converters can help u hear everything clearer and help u improve ur mix somehow... or not
I am replying to the thread you already created right now. Most if not all of the information you put in here, should be in there. Update your OG post in the thread you created, and I am positive that you will get more people add info, besides me in there now.

P.S. The SSL converter that you are referring to is the SSL Alphalink and if you have the Pro tools cards it will connect to the SSL delta link that connects it to the pro tools I/O cards. I have those in my pro facility, in the tracking/Mixing suite.

Jim
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6th May 2012
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atrophy08 is offline
Real Facts here

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill@WelcomeHome View Post
The FF800 is a solid performing product that has been product of the year for "sound on sound" and others. The UAD product is brand new, with no history or track record. Duh. If you need to be the first kid on the block to own something, buy the new untried product. If you want to record with no drama, buy the proven product.
Yes very helpful post there Bill@Welcomehome. Especially the whole "buy the proven product." no offense, or disrespect, but it sounds like someone has some irrational, misdirected anger at the apollo. Second off, i find it's always helpful to follow the rule 'don't knock it til you try it' therefore a more helpful post would have been something like "I have not used the Apollo and don't know much about it. I am happy with the RME ff800....etc" You know I created a gearslutz account just to respond to this

Here are some technical facts:

The RME ff800 has a THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) value of Less than 100 dB, and a Total Dynamic Range value of 116 dB.

The UA Apollo has a THD+N value of: less than 103 dB, and a Total Dynamic Range of 111 dB

So going by those numbers, yes you have the RME in front, but is it world's better? Absolutely not. How do I know? I own both.

Second very valid point, is of course there may be some sacrifices on that front of the argument so that you can get real time UAD processing while tracking with sub 2 ms latency. RME cannot do that, nor can any other interface. It's like having an SSL console and Ampex Tape machine to record your tracks, then saving DSP power for even more versatility in the mix and mastering stage. Not to mention this is the first interface in its class and price range to have a processor, so that host computer has more CPU to breathe

I worked behind an SSL console for three years as well as several Tape consoles, and Neve channel strips. There is no question that UAD-2 plug-ins are the best in the DAW home recording front. It's like having an $80K recording desk console in a portable, $2500 unit, as well as tens of thousands of dollars worth of mastering hardware. I really thought that having this feature would be very exciting to an amateur such as yourself Bill@welcomehome

If you want to talk bout track record of universal audio and their converters, then look up the Twin finity 710 series as well as their other very legendary pieces of A/D D/A hardware units such as their channel strips and limiting amplifiers. So yeah, much better track record amongst the pros.

In closing, of all the interfaces i have used and owned, a much more accurate comparison would be the UA Apollo to the Apogee Ensemble.

Nothing's really wrong with the RME FF800 but I would save the extra $400 and get the Apollo Duo, because there's nothing TOO great about FF800
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6th May 2012
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Hi atrophy08, welcome to the forum.

I don't think Bill meant anything too suggestive from his comment. As far as i know, he has an Apollo on order himself.

I have the Apollo and used to have an MR816x, which many consider to have equal (if not slightly better) conversion than the FF400/800 series, and i still found the difference to be very noticeable.

The difference with the Ensemble/UFX/Apollo is quite subtle, and would be a more appropriate comparison.

Although i love TotalMix software and RME's rock solid drivers, I personally would rather have sonic quality at the highest price point, and for me, the Apollo gives that, both through the unit itself, and through UAD2 processing. The routing isn't anywhere near as complex, but it does for most tasks, so im happy.

If it were me, i'd get the best interface i could afford and then get mic's and pres after. You can't really (easily) upgrade an interface without it getting quite expensive, so the investment here would hold you in good stead for many many years. The Pre's in the Apollo are incredibly natural and more than useable to create something professional, along with the UAD plugins.

Just grab yourself a couple of decent mics and make music.
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6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atrophy08 View Post
Second very valid point, is of course there may be some sacrifices on that front of the argument so that you can get real time UAD processing while tracking with sub 2 ms latency. RME cannot do that, nor can any other interface. It's like having an SSL console and Ampex Tape machine to record your tracks,

I test the Apollo and record with there plugins, as good as the plugins are, they are very far from a real SSL console and Tape machine. And i track with the FF800, unless you want to track with plugins, get the FF800 and save the 400$ for something else, they are both great unit.
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6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by euphoria89 View Post
Hi atrophy08, welcome to the forum.

I don't think Bill meant anything too suggestive from his comment. As far as i know, he has an Apollo on order himself.

I have the Apollo and used to have an MR816x, which many consider to have equal (if not slightly better) conversion than the FF400/800 series, and i still found the difference to be very noticeable.

The difference with the Ensemble/UFX/Apollo is quite subtle, and would be a more appropriate comparison.

Although i love TotalMix software and RME's rock solid drivers, I personally would rather have sonic quality at the highest price point, and for me, the Apollo gives that, both through the unit itself, and through UAD2 processing. The routing isn't anywhere near as complex, but it does for most tasks, so im happy.

If it were me, i'd get the best interface i could afford and then get mic's and pres after. You can't really (easily) upgrade an interface without it getting quite expensive, so the investment here would hold you in good stead for many many years. The Pre's in the Apollo are incredibly natural and more than useable to create something professional, along with the UAD plugins.

Just grab yourself a couple of decent mics and make music.
Interesting, I listened to your MR816X recordings and thought that sounded very good. Nice songs!!!

If you say the Apollo is better(it should for 3X o 4X the price) I'm looking forward to hear some of your new recordings.
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6th May 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atrophy08 View Post
Yes very helpful post there Bill@Welcomehome. Especially the whole "buy the proven product." no offense, or disrespect, but it sounds like someone has some irrational, misdirected anger at the apollo. Second off, i find it's always helpful to follow the rule 'don't knock it til you try it' therefore a more helpful post would have been something like "I have not used the Apollo and don't know much about it. I am happy with the RME ff800....etc" You know I created a gearslutz account just to respond to this

Here are some technical facts:

The RME ff800 has a THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) value of Less than 100 dB, and a Total Dynamic Range value of 116 dB.

The UA Apollo has a THD+N value of: less than 103 dB, and a Total Dynamic Range of 111 dB

So going by those numbers, yes you have the RME in front, but is it world's better? Absolutely not. How do I know? I own both.

Second very valid point, is of course there may be some sacrifices on that front of the argument so that you can get real time UAD processing while tracking with sub 2 ms latency. RME cannot do that, nor can any other interface. It's like having an SSL console and Ampex Tape machine to record your tracks, then saving DSP power for even more versatility in the mix and mastering stage. Not to mention this is the first interface in its class and price range to have a processor, so that host computer has more CPU to breathe

I worked behind an SSL console for three years as well as several Tape consoles, and Neve channel strips. There is no question that UAD-2 plug-ins are the best in the DAW home recording front. It's like having an $80K recording desk console in a portable, $2500 unit, as well as tens of thousands of dollars worth of mastering hardware. I really thought that having this feature would be very exciting to an amateur such as yourself Bill@welcomehome

If you want to talk bout track record of universal audio and their converters, then look up the Twin finity 710 series as well as their other very legendary pieces of A/D D/A hardware units such as their channel strips and limiting amplifiers. So yeah, much better track record amongst the pros.

In closing, of all the interfaces i have used and owned, a much more accurate comparison would be the UA Apollo to the Apogee Ensemble.

Nothing's really wrong with the RME FF800 but I would save the extra $400 and get the Apollo Duo, because there's nothing TOO great about FF800
It is just a new piece of equipment... it certainly isn't personal against you or UAD in the least

To compare the Apollo Interface to an SSL console and High-End Tape machines as well as tens of 1000's of dollars of mastering hardware all wrapped up in a box has little value here on GS. While I appreciate your perspective, the Apollo is none of those things. It is an high-quality interface with plugins and DSP. Thats all. It is still a great piece of equipment, but it is not an SSL console nonetheless.

UAD is my favorite company as a whole. I own and use UAD products for many years. There are countless posts on this board over the past 8 years from myself supporting UAD and thier great products. And for me they are just great products. I also own and use RME products and have for years and have equal posts supporting them. While you may not find RME particularly 'professional' ... I certainly do .

While there may not be anything too 'special' about RME, what they do bring is a long history of stability, reliability and clean clear professional performance in the digital interface world. That is valuable to me as a working professional. The UAD Apollo is brand new. That is not a dminishing remark against the product, it is just a fact and for better or worse that has it's bonafide risks. For some it is worth the risk, for others it is not. Fair enough?
Few people who record for a living in the digital domain will risk stability for an unproven product without any history. If they do, they generally keep thier current set-up close at hand until they can get thier new system stable.

Even with this I am not suggesting that the Apollo is not rock-solid. It may be. However there is a point that cannot be circumvented for any company. UAD (and any company), despite thier best efforts will not have the ability or knowledge to know where the Apollo is going to need changes until it has been out in the world, being used in different scenarios with different workflows by different users. This first year is indeed the real Beta-Testing period and the first group of buyers are the real beta-testers. This is how it is with all new digital gear, DAWS or even new revisions of proven gear.

The OP has a valid position to consider. I myself agree with Bill.. today I would prefer an RME with say a UAD DUO or QUAD etc. as my base. Perhaps in a year or two I would look at the Apollo because I genuinely love the sound quality of most UAD gear. For now stability is highest on my value system over any plugin access or increase in converter quality.

All is well. We are a blessed bunch with infinite options to support our success today.
#26
6th May 2012
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Apollo is NOT a true Analog console

Just to clarify. Maybe I wasn't specific enough, my bad. Never meant that it is 100% like the SSL, Ampex, etc. No interface to my knowledge Just also meant that as the need for those expensive studios, and consoles is slowly becoming of less interest to bands, at least from what market research shows, that things are moving to more private or self-produced music, it is nice that there is an interface trying to give a little extra "color"

To Bill@welcomehome I came off harsh, and that in itself was unprofessional. I hope this is a statement you can agree with. With any audio interface, as good as the stock preamps are that come with it, its probably a good idea to add an external tube preamp for truly better results. And everything depends on what your taste, budget, and physical needs are.

They are both excellent interfaces in my opinion. I still link and use the RME, especially when I do live recordings, because you have a point, there are frustrating instances of error. Live isn't like the studio. if a song is wrecked, it's wrecked.

No interface will ever approach a true SSL 4000. What the Apollo has over the RME is that real time processing power which even you admitted is a nice step forward in home recording to have at least a hint of analog console sound. RME has a longer period of good standing.

In conclusion, both are great. It is a good idea to test both out beforehand. and I still recommend adding a tube pre amp to most any interface in that price range or below. I am a guy who likes experimenting with a lot of interfaces. I own the Mackie Blackbird, M-Audio Profire 2626, RME FF800, DIGI 003(Not by choice. Got it with PT8), and Apollo. I use them with the UA 4-710d Pre amp, or a couple other cheap ones.

Sorry Bill@welcomehome and anyone else i offended. My initial response was uncalled for and not helpful.
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#27
10th May 2012
Old 10th May 2012
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UA Apollo duo

Thx from all great tips , i decided to go with apollo! I will get it probably this week or start of next. I can post a litle review of mine in this thread if your interested. meanwhile can you guys give hint what 8ch adat preamp i should get it with apollo, i dont have money atm but will get it soon so price range could be up to 500 this time . is behringers adat8000 worth of risk ? if i could get 12 ch total ins , i could start practicing drum recording

Wheeeeeeeee Jimi
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#28
2nd October 2012
Old 2nd October 2012
  #28
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Originally Posted by tribedescribe View Post
With your needs and budget it makes much more sense to buy used.

That being said the rme 800 is a solid interface but the preamps are very weak.
weak preamps? i have seen some very large studios for symphonic orchestras recording with FF800...

#29
2nd October 2012
Old 2nd October 2012
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Originally Posted by atrophy08 View Post
Nothing's really wrong with the RME FF800 but I would save the extra $400 and get the Apollo Duo, because there's nothing TOO great about FF800
gosh... you work for UAD, I put money on it. on top of that, the difference is far more than 400 bugs. the ff800 sells now for about 1100 for what i have seen all over europe, the apollo´s lowest price that i have seen is just below 1900. that makes is a whopping 800€ (1000$) more expensive than the ff800. for that money you can buy at least one UAD cuad PCIe... safe yourself a lot of cash and still have money to play. and the ff800 has got more I/O, the apollo is seems rather limited on this side..
#30
2nd October 2012
Old 2nd October 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimindreams View Post
thx from all great tips , i decided to go with apollo! I will get it probably this week or start of next. I can post a litle review of mine in this thread if your interested. Meanwhile can you guys give hint what 8ch adat preamp i should get it with apollo, i dont have money atm but will get it soon so price range could be up to 500 this time . Is behringers adat8000 worth of risk ? If i could get 12 ch total ins , i could start practicing drum recording

wheeeeeeeee jimi
rme octopre!!
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