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Apogee Element 24 vs. UA Apollo Twin MkII Duo - Please Help!
Old 22nd January 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Apogee Element 24 vs. UA Apollo Twin MkII Duo - Please Help!

After exhaustive research, I’m between the and the new or UA Twin MkII Quad. I’m struggling to decide between these three and seek your guidance.

I am an alleged, emerging songwriter using Logic Pro X. I’m fairly new to recording in my sparse home studio. I record acoustic and electric guitar, bass and vocals- one source at a time. I play guitar and some bass. I just picked up a new bass and would like to use it direct through the new rig. BTW- Chris Squire used a pick. :-)

For what it’s worth, I’m a Mac tech using a 2012 QC i7-based MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM and 1TB SSD.

The Pros and Cons from my perspective... *UPDATED 1/25/17 and again on 2/7/17- I learned more; much of that attributed to the insight provided in this thread. The comparison is now between the Quad with the belief that the primary reason one would invest in UA is to use UAD higher demand sampled plugins. The Quad provides better ability to use those plugins.

UA Apollo Twin MkII Quad *Updated to Quad to get more of what you're buying UA Apollo for.
http://www.uaudio.com/audio-interfac...twin-mkii.html

Pros
• UAD’s vast, exclusive plugin library mainly consisting of sampled, high-end gear and also including high quality amp sims that cannot be implemented on other devices. There are several native plugins also under the UAD umbrella. From a quality standpoint, any also available native plugins function no better on Apollo hardware than on any other hardware.
• Plugins are included with the device purchase.
• Additional set of line outs to easily support PA speakers and/or a DI bass/guitar rig.
• Four DSP’s to run higher demand, sampled plug-ins at the device level. DSP's also provide the ability to run a guitar and/or bass DI rig without even running your DAW.
• More “How To” Resources + UAD Forum which equates to a real user community although I notice several posts with no replies- it remains to be seen how valuable the UAD user forum actually is. UAD videos are abundant but UAD also uses videos to sell (and support) UAD plugins. There i$ an agenda to the plugin sales-dominant business model.
• Expandable, in fact, can function as a controller of other UA devices.
• Has knobs/hardware-based control. This may not be a big deal to me.
• Has a power switch (minor pro and only listed because the Element lacks this).
• Pete Thorn is on board with the Apollo Twin and has been inspiring in his utilization of it (great youtube videos!)

Cons
• Converter, pre, input gain plus the monitor and headphone out specs are not as good as Element (refer to post #14 for details).
• If using native plugins, roundtrip latency is 4.2ms if monitoring through the DAW. This also requires Input Delay Compensation to be switched off in Console 2.0 (this one needs to be researched a bit)
• More expensive (+$700 over )

Apogee Element 24
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/element-24

Pros
• Converter, pre, input gain plus the monitor and headphone out specs are best in class ($900 or under and also superior to Apollo Twin MkII - refer to post #14 for details).
• $700 less which could go toward a better pair of monitors...or anything (like a Fractal Audio Systems AX8)
• A simpler workflow that doesn't involve simulated outbound gear (no Console 2.0 with plugins) This could also equate to a lower likelihood of latency issues to work through.
• iOS app that provides remotely controlled functionality.
• Features some Logic integration which should equate to an advantage in ease of implementation. I suspect this is a minor advantage.
• built-in digital clock i/o (not meaningful to me at this point).

Cons
• No additional line outs to support PA speakers and/or a DI bass/guitar rig.
• Apogee provides no user forum = no real community, fewer resources.
• No ability to run many of UAD's industry leading plug-ins. There are definitely other great plug-ins but you won't be able to run UAD's plug-ins.
• No plugins are currently included with the device purchase.
• No DSP’s to run higher demand, sampled plugins although there is a big question about the need for DSP's when considering the power of current computer technology.
• Not expandable. The Apogee Element is not compatible with any other Apogee product line. Apogee states that compatibility is planned for the future. Two Elements can be used together provided a Thunderbolt port is available for each Element.
• No power switch. This may be minor but really?

Questions/Concerns (added on 2/18/17)
Considering the UA Apollo workflow dictated by Console 2.0, would I ever want or need to monitor through the DAW?
These are both late-2016 devices, why would UA let Apogee surpass them on specs (see post#14)? Aren't Apollo owners paying enough for dated DSP's, knobs and buttons?
Considering Apogee Elements' 10db gain advantage, would a Cloudlifter/boost still be advisable when using a Shure SM7b?
Which UAD plugins are most likely to make me forget about the Element spec advantage?



Other honorable interfaces that have been on my radar = Motu 624 and the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre.

Any disclosure you can offer this rookie is greatly appreciated!

Last edited by NightWriter; 21st February 2017 at 12:56 PM.. Reason: Updated Pro and Cons
Old 23rd January 2017
  #2
Deleted 4fa9684
Guest
If you're really serious about this -- is the room where you plan to record acoustically treated? Will you be there for a few years? If the room isn't treated, I would prioritize budget in the following order:

(1) Room treatment
(2) Monitors
(3) Interface

This is a very unsexy way to do things, so it doesn't get much play here, but the truth is you will eventually outgrow your interface and your monitors. You will never outgrow a flat, well-treated room. The nicest interface / monitors in the world will be completely wasted if your room isn't up to snuff, so I'd start by studying up on that if you haven't, yet.

Assuming the room is treated, then moving to the two interfaces, where it's time for another unsexy suggestion: forget them, and look at cheaper, entry-level ones like a Scarlett 2i2 ($150). The reason being that the converters are completely acceptable for producing your desired end product (songwriting demos), and you will learn just as much about the art of recording using one of these as you will with the others (minus learning UAD's specific workflow were you to get the Apollo).

I know the specs don't light a candle to the other interfaces, but I promise you that the quality of the components in this interface will not hinder your development in any way. Yes, you probably won't be recording/mixing a major record on this thing. But that's less because of the unit itself (incredible albums have been made with less), and more because your personal ability to do that is years away. So there's very little point in paying for an interface that's beyond your abilities now. There will come a time when you know enough to realize that you've outgrown the unit, but it probably won't be for a year or two, at which point you'll also likely want more than 2 mic/line/inst ins, may even want to use external converters, you'll have a taste in pres, etc., and you can put the money you saved now toward those things.

As far as monitors go, you will be slower to outgrow those, and there's more to be gained from moving up the price scale, so I'd try to spend as much as you can and get a solid monitoring solution that will last you a while.

If you choose not to take the above advice, I'd get the Apollo for the extra line-outs, the DSP, and cross-platform compatibility. (Songwriters often collaborate.) I wouldn't worry about learning curves on either device. (Once you start doing this, you'll realize technical difficulty is minimal.)
Old 24th January 2017
  #3
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bigdoghat's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I got into Apollo a year ago and was up in the air about whether to or not. I'm very glad I did and I really enjoy being able to use UA plugins. Here's a few things I learned. The bass amp simulator that comes free with Apollo, Bass Amp room I think it's called, to my ears at least, didn't sound as amazing as a lot of the other UA plugins, so I spent a while on the hunt for something better as a bass amp sim. I eventually got the UA Ampeg SVT-VR on sale for $69 I think and feel like the search is over on that front. But to clarify, the free bass amp plug is by no means bad but just doesn't have the mojo that a lot of the other UA plugs have and you could certainly use Bass Amp Room until you have money for something better.

I was very happy with the also free, bundled with the Apollo, legacy 1176's and LA2A, until I heard the paid bundles haha. I thought they sounded noticeably better. I waited and waited and finally got those two on sale too. I also picked up the Fairchild bundle at some stage last year for $79, another purchase I'm extremely happy with.

With UA Apollo you can record through their console with no latency, perhaps the Apogee offers the same? Not sure but it's something to consider as it's a very nice feature.

I don't use Logic but Apollo works seamlessly in Pro Tools and from watching tutorial vids it seems like UA has gone all out to ensure their hardware works really well with the main DAW softwares

I have a Duo and pretty fast, as I got more into UA plugs and ended up using what I had more and more on each song, I began wishing I had more than 2 sharc chips as I want to use their plugins on everything now! Which was what the sales guy who sold me the Apollo predicted lol. So there's that with UA. You could end up wanting more and more, which is not a bad thing but just be aware, you might end up going down that road if you start getting in deep in terms of what's available to you in their plugin range.

The other thing with UA plugs is, don't buy them full price. Sooner or later during a 12 month period, anything you have your eye on will come up with a nice price which makes building a decent UA arsenal do-able. I've also picked up on sale the SSL G-Buss compressor which I love, the Brainworx V3 mastering EQ which I also love. I got free with my Apollo purchase the EMT 140 plate reverb which is outstanding. Also got free the Helios EQ which is again, great, very nice on electric guitar. And now I'm at the stage where I'm wondering how I can spring for a satellite to add more sharc chips to my system. And their stock plug in bundle with the channel strip, eq and a couple of other things, is very nice too.

Owning and dabbling in UA plugs is also a pretty fun and interesting endeavor so I do really enjoy that aspect of it as well but I am a big audio geek so not sure if that comment would apply to you

My last thought is I have absolutely no regrets about buying the Apollo and if faced with the same decision again, I wouldn't hesitate at all in going for it due to it allowing access to their range of plugins. I'm going to PM you something too which helps with UA plugin decisions
Old 24th January 2017
  #4
007
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007's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Having been an Apogee user for many years (Ensemble + Duet FW) and now needing a new interface, I'm in a similar position as the OP.

Been wanting to dive into the UAD waters for some time now.
Aesthetically, I find both the Apollo rack and Twin units to be beautifully designed.
I love the portability of the Twin, and the new MKII announcement makes it that much more tempting.

The big con for me with UA is the cost of plugins.
They're slick, they're great, sound amazing, beautiful GUIs, etc, but not cheap.
Yes, the occasional sale here and there will add a few new bits for under $100 each every now and then, but overall, UAD = $$$.
Sure, you don't have to use them, much less buy any, but the temptation will be there.




Apogee Element.

I also like its simple, no-fuss design.
However, it's almost like they took my love of 'minimal' a bit too far.
Having to rely on software for all things volume, input gain, etc, just doesn't sound like any fun to me.
Yes, they have the controller, which is another cost, takes up more space of your desk/table, another cable to hook-up, ugh.
A multi-knob on the front panel like on the Duet/Ensemble could have been wonderful.

However, the one big flaw on the Element 24 is that it's not bus powered.
Slick, compact, in studio or on-the-go interface that fits in a messenger bag and I have to plug the damned thing in an outlet for power.

To some this may be a minor thing, but it's huge for me.
Old 24th January 2017 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcoughlan View Post
If you're really serious about this -- is the room where you plan to record acoustically treated? Will you be there for a few years? If the room isn't treated, I would prioritize budget in the following order:

(1) Room treatment
(2) Monitors
(3) Interface

This is a very unsexy way to do things, so it doesn't get much play here, but the truth is you will eventually outgrow your interface and your monitors. You will never outgrow a flat, well-treated room. The nicest interface / monitors in the world will be completely wasted if your room isn't up to snuff, so I'd start by studying up on that if you haven't, yet.

Assuming the room is treated, then moving to the two interfaces, where it's time for another unsexy suggestion: forget them, and look at cheaper, entry-level ones like a Scarlett 2i2 ($150). The reason being that the converters are completely acceptable for producing your desired end product (songwriting demos), and you will learn just as much about the art of recording using one of these as you will with the others (minus learning UAD's specific workflow were you to get the Apollo).

I know the specs don't light a candle to the other interfaces, but I promise you that the quality of the components in this interface will not hinder your development in any way. Yes, you probably won't be recording/mixing a major record on this thing. But that's less because of the unit itself (incredible albums have been made with less), and more because your personal ability to do that is years away. So there's very little point in paying for an interface that's beyond your abilities now. There will come a time when you know enough to realize that you've outgrown the unit, but it probably won't be for a year or two, at which point you'll also likely want more than 2 mic/line/inst ins, may even want to use external converters, you'll have a taste in pres, etc., and you can put the money you saved now toward those things.

As far as monitors go, you will be slower to outgrow those, and there's more to be gained from moving up the price scale, so I'd try to spend as much as you can and get a solid monitoring solution that will last you a while.

If you choose not to take the above advice, I'd get the Apollo for the extra line-outs, the DSP, and cross-platform compatibility. (Songwriters often collaborate.) I wouldn't worry about learning curves on either device. (Once you start doing this, you'll realize technical difficulty is minimal.)
dcoughlan - this is one of the best responses I've ever received in any thread. Thank you so much for taking the time to write!

My room is not good but I'm mapping out a solution. If you know of any great threads here or other resources, well, I appreciate that also. The importance of room treatment is not lost on me.

Re: Monitors. What should my budget be? I've auditioned a few... I'm always looking for value no matter the price point. I actually believe Yamaha HS8's are a good value that I could be happy with but they aren't magnetically shielded. Past research led me to Focal.

Interface-wise...Your advice makes sense but this is my perspective- I want to make a good decision based on a long-term commitment with the manufacturer. You mentioned workflow and that is something I don't want to change/overhaul two years down the road. I really don't even want to learn another company's device control software. Your point about paying significantly more for converter and pre quality is valid, however, there are products that bring value in other ways. Apogee is making a real effort to make using their Element with Logic as simple as possible- that's worth something. Through exclusive, high-quality plug-ins and DSP's to support them, UA provides creative tools that I don't have with other products. That has value to me.

Who to partner with...

I like Apogee because they are Mac-only which means they can focus on Mac software.

Although many of their plug-ins are third party, UA is the strongest software developer of the group I've investigated. When you realize that a big part of UA's business model is selling plug-ins, you soon realize that UA has even more incentive to develop reliable drivers for their devices. UA will sell more plug-ins if their installed base is happy with the reliability, quality and overall functionality of their hardware.

I have found far too many documented issues with Focusrite and Mac. On two occasions, Focusrite tech support left many questions unanswered when I inquired about the issues I had found. That eliminated Focusrite for me.

RME (Babyface Pro) is very respectable but RME is really s-l-o-w in product development. They are still marketing firewire interfaces.

MOTU (624) - my biggest concern is that MOTU is more focused on their own DAW.

Audient - I don't get a great impression about their software development but believe the ID14 is the best interface value under $300.

Antelope (Zen Tour) - is awesome but priced way out of my range and they don't provide that value add of Apogee Element or Apollo Twin Duo Mkii.

Last edited by NightWriter; 21st February 2017 at 01:55 PM..
Old 24th January 2017
  #6
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Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I just purchased a Twin USB like two weeks ago and had a similar dilemma to yours ( except I'm on PC and had to choose between the Babyface and the Twin). Here is my take.

1) simplicity - UA's Console is dead simple to use, especially with the Twin. It's plug and play. It's uncluttered and you simply load up fx you want on your channel and then you can choose whether or not to record that to your Daw track ( there's a blue button and a red button - pretty hard to screw that up!). Apogee most definitely has it's own version of mixer software for direct monitoring and adjusting preamp volumes and so you are going to be dealing with this aspect regardless.

2) tracking with UA plugins - You get a great set of plugins with your purchase of Apollo Twin - legacy 1176, legacy LA2A, Legacy Pultec, Helios. Those, despite being older versions, fair better than almost any of the emulations out there now by competitors and I was surprised by the quality ( I'm coming from a native system with Waves, Izotope, and Soundtoys plugs). If you are going to be tracking Bass and vocals and guitar, I can assure you that tracking with the included LA610B unison preamp and an 1176 and EQ changes everything - it sounds drastically different then just tracking a straight source and it improves performances, especially for vocals. The Apogee may or may not allow you to track without latency through plugins natively, but with the Twin it's guaranteed to work and it's guaranteed to have zero latency every time. You can just depend on it. It's also nice to be able to just fire up the UA Console for practicing without the Daw at all, something I do to rehearse all the time.

3) Build quality and esthetic - The twin looks and feels like an expensive well-made product. The large Rotary knob on the front panel feels great and when that thing is on it looks very sharp on a desk - the lights etc really pimp out your music room. It's great being able to reach a dial to adjust volumes ( preamp, headphone, monitors etc.). I can understand the appeal of the Apogee for mobile recording ( less parts to break) but that design is boring and lacks basic functionality if it's going to be sitting on a desk - no volume knob? seriously? Obviously this isn't a crucial factor, but it's worth noting.

4) sound quality, I have the older version of the Twin with the older converters and I can state without hesitation that it sounds amazing in comparison to my old Focusrite Saffire 56 - the DI is particularly great and the preamps and headphone amp are fantastic.
Old 24th January 2017
  #7
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
If you want superior AD/DA conversion and superior headphone output your best choice is the Element. You can read my review here and there's a link to the official UAD Apollo MK2 specs in there as well. Apogee Electronics Element 24

The UAD stuff is not worth getting unless you get Octo core. Google UAD plug in instance chart. Otherwise, you might as well get a 15" macbook pro with a i7 processor and run better plugins like Acustica, Slate, Equilibrium or Fabfilter and way more instances with low latency.
Old 24th January 2017 | Show parent
  #8
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Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
If you want superior AD/DA conversion and superior headphone output your best choice is the Element. You can read my review here and there's a link to the official UAD Apollo MK2 specs in there as well. Apogee Electronics Element 24

The UAD stuff is not worth getting unless you get Octo core. Google UAD plug in instance chart. Otherwise, you might as well get a 15" macbook pro with a i7 processor and run better plugins like Acustica, Slate, Equilibrium or Fabfilter and way more instances with low latency.
You've never compared the two units so you can't confirm that one sounds better than the other. Specs alone don't really mean anything, it's the combination and implementation of components that matters.

The limit in UA plugin instances is definitely a valid point. However, a Duo or Quad is more than enough to track with, which is really the main benefit of the Twin. I've had no issues working it into my previously native workflow at all.

The real test is whether you can track through plugins at no perceivable latency reliably through the Element ( or other similar products) - and for that I am still somewhat skeptical. For a singer, even a smidgen of perceivable latency can create issues.
Old 24th January 2017
  #9
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
I made my comparisons at NAMM. UAD is not as transparent with their AD/DA specs for a reason...
Old 24th January 2017 | Show parent
  #10
Deleted 4fa9684
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightWriter View Post
dcoughlan - this is one of the best responses I've ever received in any thread. Thank you so much for taking the time to write!

My room is not good but I'm mapping out a solution. If you know of any great threads here or other resources, well, I appreciate that also. The importance of room treatment is not lost on me.
Like most subjects on here, GS is a mixed bag when it comes to acoustic advice. Some people really know their stuff, and others really do not.

Since you sound like a reader, I would recommend trying to track down copies of the following:

Mixing Secrets Small Studio - https://www.amazon.com/Mixing-Secret.../dp/0240815807 (small section on rooms / speakers / treatments in here, lots of valuable advice)

Master Handbook of Acoustics - https://www.amazon.com/Master-Handbo.../dp/0071841040 (Borders on more than you need to know, but I found it pretty invaluable)

Recording Secrets Small Studio - https://www.amazon.com/Recording-Sec.../dp/0415716705 (Helpful for recording, generally)

They're expensive, so try the library route first. After going through those you'll have a solid foundational background and be much more equipped to sort through 'good' advice from the bad.

Quote:
Re: Monitors. What should my budget be? I've auditioned a few... I'm always looking for value no matter the price point. I actually believe Yamaha HS8's are a good value that I could be happy with but they aren't magnetically shielded. Past research led me to Focal.
I'm the same way re: value, and I agree the HS8s represent a great pick in that department. They will not hold you back, and can be easily repurposed as "B" speakers in a few years. That said, if you can double your budget and go to ~$1500 and explore something like the Adam A7x, Focal CMS 65, etc., I think those may be worth it, if your room is up to it.

For reference, I was choosing between the Yamahas and the Event 20/20s years ago when I started. Went with the Events because I got a good price on them. They didn't hold me back -- ultimately if you take the time to learn your room and your monitors and alternate sources you can mix on a handful of $100 speakers/headphones) but if I were doing it again I would double my spend to get into that next tier.

Quote:
Interface-wise...Your advice makes sense but this is my perspective- I want to make a good decision based on a long-term commitment with the manufacturer. You mentioned workflow and that is something I don't want to change/overhaul two years down the road. I really don't even want to learn another company's device control software. Your point about paying significantly more for converter and pre quality is valid, however, there are products that bring value in other ways. Apogee is making a real effort to make using their Element with Logic as simple as possible- that's worth something. Through exclusive, high-quality plug-ins and DSP's to support them, UA provides creative tools that I don't have with other products. That has value to me.
I started with an Apogee Duet 2 / Macbook Pro / Logic ~5 years ago. Still have all of them, and still use them as a secondary setup / for mobile recordings. So I definitely like them as a company (although the screen on my Duet died, which was disappointing, but it's still usable).

But along the way I picked up a random Avid Fast Track something or other because it so happened to be the cheapest way to acquire ProTools (bundled), and plugged it in just out of curiosity, and had absolutely zero problems with it. Didn't even look at a manual.

I think you may be overestimating the involvement of interface software. To dial it back, there are really only three things you care about, regardless of interface: setting levels, changing input settings, and routing. Once you understand these things conceptually, it takes only a couple minutes to get up to speed with another device, because you know what you're looking for and there aren't too many settings or menus in the way.

If anything Apogee actually makes things a little _more_ cognitively demanding by eliminating physical buttons, so their control software is somewhat harder to use. But your DAW is often smart enough to handle many of these things internally, so you don't even need to open it up that frequently anyway.

The only real workflow change I know from one interface to the next is where the physical volume knob is.


Who to partner with...

Quote:
I like Apogee because they are Mac-only which means they can focus on Mac software.
This appealed to me five years when I was completely sure I was never ever going to use a PC. I now use a Windows tower as my primary workstation. Never thought I'd see the day, but as someone who likes value, Macs are absolutely dead in the water right now, especially if the Mac Pro is discontinued.

Quote:
Although many of their plug-ins are third party, UA is the strongest software developer of the group I've investigated. When you realize that a big part of UA's business model is selling plug-ins, you soon realize that UA has even more incentive to develop reliable drivers for their devices. UA will sell more plug-ins if their installed base is happy with the reliability, quality and overall functionality of their hardware.
UA's reputation is, in large part, based on being head and shoulders above everyone else when they were first hitting the market. Today it's a murkier value proposition. As processor speeds increase and lower in price, the value of DSP is lowering by the day.

At this point, given that you're just starting and don't really have much of a sense of what you like, it's a good way to get your feet wet with some quality stuff, take a little load off your PC, and have their exclusives available if there are 1-2 killer plugins you love. But other manufacturers are catching up and I'm not sure I'd want to fully invest in that ecosystem today. The extra outs is really what pushed me over the edge toward that one.

Quote:
I have found far too many documented issues with Focusrite and Mac. Then Focusrite tech support left many questions unanswered when I inquired about the issues I had found. That eliminated Focusrite for me.
Fair. Haven't researched them.

Quote:
RME (Babyface Pro) is very respectable but RME is really s-l-o-w in product development. They are still marketing firewire interfaces.
Slow is arguably better than fast when it comes to this kind of stuff. I don't even update a machine once I find a stable config, and RME drivers are pretty much the best there are, partly because they do take the time to do it right and not rush to market. The money that they're saving on marketing / glitz / etc. is going to the devices (and not coming out of your pocket.)

I'd look at them closely.

Quote:

MOTU (624) - my biggest concern is that MOTU is more focused on their own DAW.

Audient - I don't get a great impression about their software development but believe the ID14 is the best interface value under $300.

Antelope (Zen Tour) - is awesome but priced way out of my range and they don't provide that value add of Apogee Element or Apollo Twin Duo Mkii.
No experience with any of these, either.
Old 24th January 2017 | Show parent
  #11
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
You've never compared the two units so you can't confirm that one sounds better than the other. Specs alone don't really mean anything, it's the combination and implementation of components that matters.

The limit in UA plugin instances is definitely a valid point. However, a Duo or Quad is more than enough to track with, which is really the main benefit of the Twin. I've had no issues working it into my previously native workflow at all.

The real test is whether you can track through plugins at no perceivable latency reliably through the Element ( or other similar products) - and for that I am still somewhat skeptical. For a singer, even a smidgen of perceivable latency can create issues.
Going back to instances, depending on your workflow DSP could make sense, but it doesn't make much sense financially. Looking at a 64 max limit on 4k channel strip with octo still seems too inhibiting especially if you'd want to have room to run time based effects and mix buss solutions.

https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/art...Instance-Chart

Maybe for simple tracking a duo would be fine but if you want to have flexibility to also do complex mixes and the option to master all at once you'd need a ton more power and investment in dsp.
Old 24th January 2017
  #12
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jweisbin's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightWriter View Post
Made for Logic. Features Logic integration which should equate to an advantage in ease of implementation.
I don't have access to an Element, but I have seen the "Logic implementation" of the Apogee Ensemble and Symphony I/O. All you get are a few controls on your channel strip, like being able to switch mic/line, etc. It's really not a big selling point, since you can do that all from their console anyway.

From what I can tell, the ensemble has no DSP FX, so naturally it's cheaper. And Apogee's support sucks compared with UA, at least in my experience.
Old 24th January 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
To me it really comes down to features. The only thing lacking for me personally with the apollo twin, is a digital out. So for me the element wins on better connectivity, but in your case that's not needed. I know a lot of writers and producers for that matter, using apollo twins in Nashville. Some are just using it for their portable rig, some are using them for everything. I'm about to setup a portable rig myself and it's between the apollo and element as well for me. Either way, if you can't produce quality results it, will not be because of the apollo or element.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
If you want superior AD/DA conversion and superior headphone output your best choice is the Element. You can read my review here and there's a link to the official UAD Apollo MK2 specs in there as well. Apogee Electronics Element 24

The UAD stuff is not worth getting unless you get Octo core. Google UAD plug in instance chart. Otherwise, you might as well get a 15" macbook pro with a i7 processor and run better plugins like Acustica, Slate, Equilibrium or Fabfilter and way more instances with low latency.
Here is a spec listing...

Apogee Element 24
Element 24 - Thunderbolt Audio Interface - Apogee Electronics

Interface: Thunderbolt
1.41ms round-trip at 96kHz with a 32 buffer setting
24bit/192kHz sample rates

2 Combination Inputs (Line-ins / Microphone ins)
2 Analog Balanced XLR outs
1 Stereo Headphone Out ¼
1 Digital Input Port (ADAT, SMUX & S/PDIF)
1 Digital Output Port (ADAT, SMUX & S/PDIF)
1 Word Clock In/Out (BNC)

The following specs based on AES17 Standard:
Line in
THD+N: -110db
Max Input Level: 20dBu
Gain Range: 0-75dB

Microphone in
THD+N: -110db
EIN: -129 dBu
Max Input Level: 20dBu
Gain Range: 0-75dB

Instrument In
THD+N: -110db
Max Input Level: 20 dBu
Gain Range: 0-75 dB

Dynamic Range
Line Input – 119 dB (A-weighted)
Instrument Input – 119 dB (A-weighted)
Line Outputs – 123 dB (A-weighted)
Headphone Output – 117 dB (A-weighted)

UA Apollo Twin MkII Duo
http://www.uaudio.com/audio-interfac...twin-mkii.html

Interface: Thunderbolt
Analog 1.1ms round-trip at 96kHz with a 32 buffer setting
24-bit/192kHz sample rates

2 combination inputs (Line-ins / Microphone ins)
1 High-Z Instrument in
2 Analog Balanced XLR outs
2 Analog Line Outs
1 Stereo Headphone Out ¼
1 Digital Input Port (ADAT or S/PDIF)

Tested under 48kHz Sample Rate, 24-bit sample depth, 20 kHz measurement bandwidth
Line in
THD+N: -109 dBFS
Max Input Level: 20.2 dBu
Gain Range: +10db to +65dB

Microphone in
THD+N: -111 dBFS
EIN: -127 dBu
Max Input Level: 20.2 dBu
Gain Range: +10db to +65dB

Instrument In
THD+N: -101 dBFS
Max Input Level: 12.2 dBu
Gain Range: +10db to +65dB

Dynamic Range
Line Input – 117.5 dB (A-weighted)
Microphone Input – 118 dB (A-weighted)
Instrument Input – 117 dB (A-weighted)
Line Outputs – 121 dB (A-weighted)
Monitor Outputs – 115 dB (A-weighted)
Headphone Output – 113 dB (A-weighted)

***So yep. Apogee's numbers are better. I already knew that and I'm not sure if I really care that much***
***It's interesting how the specs in the original Apollo Twin manual and the MkII are nearly the same. It's almost as if UA didn't update the manual.***

Last edited by NightWriter; 28th January 2017 at 02:33 AM..
Old 25th January 2017
  #15
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donato's Avatar
I'm not in a totally dissimilar situation. I am using a mac and logic myself. I have a Motu ultralite mk3 hybrid. Have been thinking about upgrading a bit for awhile. Lately the short list is the Apogee Element 24, Motu 8a and Focusrite 4 pre.

I kinda eliminated the Motu because some of the user reviews concern me, I don't care about AVB, and as solid as my Motu has been, it does have pops sometimes even if I'm just playing stuff from iTunes.

With the Apogee I like the idea of buying the best sound quality I can afford and the numbers bear out the best specs in this regard. I'm not really turned off by the lack of controls. The only thing that bothers me is only two inputs. I could maybe squeeze by with this for now, but what if I wanted to expand? Also I'd have to buy new cables for speakers with the outputs, but that's no big deal.

Focusrite 4 pre can be had new or b-stock on eBay in the high $400/low $500 range which actually makes it the cheapest unit. You also get 8 simultaneous inputs to record which I like. I'm leaning toward this option. Most of the reviews are glowing, but some do report occasional clicks. Most of the problems seem to be with Windows. Others report the unit gets hot.

Not interested in UA and their pluggin ecosystem, so that's not for me.

So I'm like 60/40 Clarett today, will probably order in 5-7 weeks. May change my mind before then.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #16
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djrustycans's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
I made my comparisons at NAMM. UAD is not as transparent with their AD/DA specs for a reason...
How on earth can you make informed judgements like this at NAMM?
Old 25th January 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Such a great time to be alive debating this after bouncing tape 30 years ago. My opinion is get the best creative workflow. All the current interfaces sound amazing and operate at high spec on pc or Mac. Rme has always ruled the market for past generation gear and stability but I think most manufacturers have a new bar to keep up with. UA hasn't but will because of market pressure. Slate vrs8 is pushing the envelope of prosumer interfaces and plugs as well as mic emulations. Apogee has always sounded the best to me on the AD/DA side but I've never owned or purchased their products. I'm a musician before I'm an audio engineer so I'm more intrigued with UA and Slate right now. The price of plugs on sale is worth it if you demo for free and get them on sale with coupons.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
If you want superior AD/DA conversion and superior headphone output your best choice is the Element. You can read my review here and there's a link to the official UAD Apollo MK2 specs in there as well. Apogee Electronics Element 24

The UAD stuff is not worth getting unless you get Octo core. Google UAD plug in instance chart. Otherwise, you might as well get a 15" macbook pro with a i7 processor and run better plugins like Acustica, Slate, Equilibrium or Fabfilter and way more instances with low latency.
As a guitar player, and vocalist. For achieving a great sound with great tones when recording on the way in, I think you would love the Twin.

In terms of (expensive) UAD plugins, to start you should just start with the ones to help you get that tone going into Logic. Get a bass and guitar amp that suits your taste. Demo the mic pre amps (the Neve 1073 is fantastic). You'll get some free compresors and EQ's that will keep you going for a long while.

If you set up the recording stage correctly tweak plugin settings etc, and commit them to the recording, you will you hardly have to use more plugins in the mix, your recording will sound great immediately on playback (which is very inspiring) and important when building up your vibe.

In regards to UAD DSP limitations, you can still buy and use any other 3rd party plugin, so you're not stuck or locked into expensive UAD plugs. Also if you commit the UAD plugins at the recording stage, then you will have all that free additional DSP sitting there begging to used in the mix.

Couple of other points worth noting; I've used an Apogee Duet previously and despite the so called close integration with Apple the Duet was way more flakier with my mac than my Twin had been. The UAD drivers have been rock solid! Not one issue in 12 months. Also UAD let you demo plugins for 30 days! and that resets every time you buy a new plug. You can get multiple mixes done in that time!
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by djrustycans View Post
How on earth can you make informed judgements like this at NAMM?
I have the same thought.
You have to walk from one booth to the next, they use different speaker/amp systems, different music out of the system, different volume, audience making noise all around - just to name a few things. All in all this makes it impossible to make a comparison.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdoghat View Post
I got into Apollo a year ago and was up in the air about whether to or not. I'm very glad I did and I really enjoy being able to use UA plugins. Here's a few things I learned. The bass amp simulator that comes free with Apollo, Bass Amp room I think it's called, to my ears at least, didn't sound as amazing as a lot of the other UA plugins, so I spent a while on the hunt for something better as a bass amp sim. I eventually got the UA Ampeg SVT-VR on sale for $69 I think and feel like the search is over on that front. But to clarify, the free bass amp plug is by no means bad but just doesn't have the mojo that a lot of the other UA plugs have and you could certainly use Bass Amp Room until you have money for something better.

I was very happy with the also free, bundled with the Apollo, legacy 1176's and LA2A, until I heard the paid bundles haha. I thought they sounded noticeably better. I waited and waited and finally got those two on sale too. I also picked up the Fairchild bundle at some stage last year for $79, another purchase I'm extremely happy with.

With UA Apollo you can record through their console with no latency, perhaps the Apogee offers the same? Not sure but it's something to consider as it's a very nice feature.

I don't use Logic but Apollo works seamlessly in Pro Tools and from watching tutorial vids it seems like UA has gone all out to ensure their hardware works really well with the main DAW softwares

I have a Duo and pretty fast, as I got more into UA plugs and ended up using what I had more and more on each song, I began wishing I had more than 2 sharc chips as I want to use their plugins on everything now! Which was what the sales guy who sold me the Apollo predicted lol. So there's that with UA. You could end up wanting more and more, which is not a bad thing but just be aware, you might end up going down that road if you start getting in deep in terms of what's available to you in their plugin range.

The other thing with UA plugs is, don't buy them full price. Sooner or later during a 12 month period, anything you have your eye on will come up with a nice price which makes building a decent UA arsenal do-able. I've also picked up on sale the SSL G-Buss compressor which I love, the Brainworx V3 mastering EQ which I also love. I got free with my Apollo purchase the EMT 140 plate reverb which is outstanding. Also got free the Helios EQ which is again, great, very nice on electric guitar. And now I'm at the stage where I'm wondering how I can spring for a satellite to add more sharc chips to my system. And their stock plug in bundle with the channel strip, eq and a couple of other things, is very nice too.

Owning and dabbling in UA plugs is also a pretty fun and interesting endeavor so I do really enjoy that aspect of it as well but I am a big audio geek so not sure if that comment would apply to you

My last thought is I have absolutely no regrets about buying the Apollo and if faced with the same decision again, I wouldn't hesitate at all in going for it due to it allowing access to their range of plugins. I'm going to PM you something too which helps with UA plugin decisions
Thank you for an excellent post! The Ampeg SVT-VR plugin was on my radar so your testimonial is greatly appreciated. As a musician, I'm seeing plugins like a chef would see ingredients. More quality "ingredients" enhance my creative enterprise/potential. That said, some great dishes have been created with few ingredients but I would never be able to make a great Chicken Mole without a well-stocked kitchen.

One of my goals is to write and eventually produce songs for gigging musician friends that they would choose to you use live. I also could see the plugin thing getting out of hand to the point where I'm creating sound that couldn't be effectively be replicated on stage. My plan would be to temper the plugin utilization.

BTW- Feel free to call me out on my lame chef analogy!
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #21
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by djrustycans View Post
How on earth can you make informed judgements like this at NAMM?
Anyone with ears could make a similar judgement. It's simple logic. The technical specs back up those judgements. If an object is described on paper as blue not black and confirmed in the real world to be blue not black then isn't the object truly blue not black?

You don't have to take these judgements personally. It is what it is.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluefonia View Post
I have the same thought.
You have to walk from one booth to the next, they use different speaker/amp systems, different music out of the system, different volume, audience making noise all around - just to name a few things. All in all this makes it impossible to make a comparison.
Please also read my previous quotes about running plug in instances. You have a finite number of plugins with a Apollo Duo all the way to Octo unless you spend ridiculous $$$ to expand DSP and none of this can compare to the processing capability of Macs and Macbook Pros created in the last couple of years. You might as well invest in real outboard gear - 500 series. The use of obsolete sharc processors has been an issue with UAD for a very long time. If profit wasn't an absolute focus for them they'd have switched to higher end processors a long time ago.

As an alternative option I believe you will see more competition in terms of DSP processing power and performance from other manufacturers (Slate? Their analog modeling is amazing! Their every plug-in bundle plus new audio interface is the thing to beat.) come up in the next year or so especially with new Thunderbolt 3 technology.

Personally I'm sticking with Apogee and exploring the use of external Nvidia cuda processing with Acustica's plug-ins. The new Slate options have also caught my interest.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #23
Gear Head
 
phaezusa's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by donato View Post
I'm not in a totally dissimilar situation. I am using a mac and logic myself. I have a Motu ultralite mk3 hybrid. Have been thinking about upgrading a bit for awhile. Lately the short list is the Apogee Element 24, Motu 8a and Focusrite 4 pre.

I kinda eliminated the Motu because some of the user reviews concern me, I don't care about AVB, and as solid as my Motu has been, it does have pops sometimes even if I'm just playing stuff from iTunes.

With the Apogee I like the idea of buying the best sound quality I can afford and the numbers bear out the best specs in this regard. I'm not really turned off by the lack of controls. The only thing that bothers me is only two inputs. I could maybe squeeze by with this for now, but what if I wanted to expand? Also I'd have to buy new cables for speakers with the outputs, but that's no big deal.

Focusrite 4 pre can be had new or b-stock on eBay in the high $400/low $500 range which actually makes it the cheapest unit. You also get 8 simultaneous inputs to record which I like. I'm leaning toward this option. Most of the reviews are glowing, but some do report occasional clicks. Most of the problems seem to be with Windows. Others report the unit gets hot.

Not interested in UA and their pluggin ecosystem, so that's not for me.

So I'm like 60/40 Clarett today, will probably order in 5-7 weeks. May change my mind before then.
If I had thunderbolt I would have definitely gone with a Clarett. Instead I ordered an SPL Creon.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #24
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Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluefonia View Post
I have the same thought.
You have to walk from one booth to the next, they use different speaker/amp systems, different music out of the system, different volume, audience making noise all around - just to name a few things. All in all this makes it impossible to make a comparison.
The noise floor alone at that convention would make it impossible to properly gauge anything, even with headphones.
Old 25th January 2017
  #25
Lives for gear
 
BrentA's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think the decision comes down to if you want to use the UAD plugins or not. I mix 99% in the box, so I wanted to get the best plugins, and that meant getting some UAD plugins. If you don't care about the plugins then the Apogee or pretty much any of the others would be a fine choice.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
The noise floor alone at that convention would make it impossible to properly gauge anything, even with headphones.

You're arguing with me about noise floor when with or without external noise uad specs are beat. The UAD AD/DA noise floor is higher regardless and has a lower dynamic range in all I/O. Not to mention lower gain in the pres. So what are we arguing here? That a gear's specs no longer matters? If that were the case you should be happy sticking with AD/DA converters from the 90s.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #27
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Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
Please also read my previous quotes about running plug in instances. You have a finite number of plugins with a Apollo Duo all the way to Octo unless you spend ridiculous $$$ to expand DSP and none of this can compare to the processing capability of Macs and Macbook Pros created in the last couple of years. You might as well invest in real outboard gear - 500 series. The use of obsolete sharc processors has been an issue with UAD for a very long time. If profit wasn't an absolute focus for them they'd have switched to higher end processors a long time ago.
.
Your point about the limits and cost of DSP for using UAD plugins all over a mix is valid, however, the Apogee or Slate's interface don't even have onboard DSP at all - they don't even offer the functionality of tracking without latency irregardless of system.

There's nothing forcing a user to use UAD's plugins all over a mix - you can limit your use to tracking and a few tracks - that added functionality is something the other manufacturer's don't even have, so you can't point it out as a negative when comparing the devices. It's a benefit they don't have, even if that benefit itself has limits.

UAD doesn't force you to only use their plugins in a project - I use Waves, Izotope, Soundtoys, Klaghem, Eventide etc all over my mixes and the UAD stuff has been a wonderful complement to my workflow.

Slate and Apogee are asking you to trust them that their software and latency will be so reliable and stable that you can track through plugins natively without perceivable latency- and they may be able to deliver that, but I'm skeptical at the very least.

Running a project on the lowest buffer reliably at 96k and tracking through plugins is not an easy feat - I will be interested to see what the real-world experiences for these new interfaces will be.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
You're arguing with me about noise floor when with or without external noise uad specs are beat. The UAD AD/DA noise floor is higher regardless and has a lower dynamic range in all I/O. Not to mention lower gain in the pres. So what are we arguing here? That a gear's specs no longer matters? If that were the case you should be happy sticking with AD/DA converters from the 90s.
I meant the actual noise at the convention floor - you have thousands of people talking, playing instruments etc - this would make subjective listening comparisons very difficult, to say the least. Even in a controlled environment it's doubtful you, or most people, could pick out the two units in a blind test. At this stage of quality, you're splitting hairs to say the least.

And no, I'm not saying specs don't matter, but they don't automatically translate into a better product as you are arguing ( you're a marketers dream!) - more gain in preamps doesn't necessarily translate into a better sounding preamps. I owned the Apogee One and sold it because it sounded no better than my Saffire 56, which only had 55db of gain on tap, while the Apogee had 62db. The Apogee was unusable at the higher gain settings anyway because it introduced a ton of noise at the last 20% or so of the gain range. The actual implementation is what matters.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
Your point about the limits and cost of DSP for using UAD plugins all over a mix is valid, however, the Apogee or Slate's interface don't even have onboard DSP at all - they don't even offer the functionality of tracking without latency irregardless of system.

There's nothing forcing a user to use UAD's plugins all over a mix - you can limit your use to tracking and a few tracks - that added functionality is something the other manufacturer's don't even have, so you can't point it out as a negative when comparing the devices. It's a benefit they don't have, even if that benefit itself has limits.

UAD doesn't force you to only use their plugins in a project - I use Waves, Izotope, Soundtoys, Klaghem, Eventide etc all over my mixes and the UAD stuff has been a wonderful complement to my workflow.

Slate and Apogee are asking you to trust them that their software and latency will be so reliable and stable that you can track through plugins natively without perceivable latency- and they may be able to deliver that, but I'm skeptical at the very least.

Running a project on the lowest buffer reliably at 96k and tracking through plugins is not an easy feat - I will be interested to see what the real-world experiences for these new interfaces will be.

With the latest i7 processors the value of DSP provided by UAD continues to go down as the sharc processors become more obsolete while its users carry the cost. Sure Apogee or Slate depend solely on native DSP but that's a benefit. So far I'm getting 1.7ms roundtrip latency with Element running a mix with 30 stereo tracks each with Acustica 4k pre, Waves 4k channel e, equilibrium eq, and fabtilter EQ, 3 aux stereo tracks with 3 different reverbs and slate virtual mix buss. I also have those bussed to 3 different stereo mix busses each with their own eqs and compressor plugins and bussed out to my master mix buss. with various slate eq and compression and limiter. This is all barely hitting 3% of my cpu on a 2015 macbook pro i7 16gb ram.

I can also trust it's the absolute best AD/DA conversion in this range other than going with a symphony mk2.

So the full benefit of having a ton of CPU power on tap plus knowing what I'm hearing is accurate is far more important than the brand names found on their plugins, which to me doesn't even come close to their analog counterparts. The main benefit of using digital plugins versus analog is being able to use them on a ton of tracks with total recall. If i'm being limited from that by cost and number of instances then I might as well stick to real analog.
Old 25th January 2017 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Reverb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Obagam View Post
With the latest i7 processors the value of DSP provided by UAD continues to go down as the sharc processors become more obsolete while its users carry the cost. Sure Apogee or Slate depend solely on native DSP but that's a benefit. So far I'm getting 1.7ms roundtrip latency with Element running a mix with 30 stereo tracks each with Acustica 4k pre, Waves 4k channel e, equilibrium eq, and fabtilter EQ, 3 aux stereo tracks with 3 different reverbs and slate virtual mix buss. I also have those bussed to 3 different stereo mix busses each with their own eqs and compressor plugins and bussed out to my master mix buss. with various slate eq and compression and limiter. This is all barely hitting 3% of my cpu on a 2015 macbook pro i7 16gb ram.

.
Can you track a vocalist monitoring through the daw with compression etc. and no perceivable latency at all - so that it sounds like they are tracking through hardware? Mixing on a native system hasn't been a problem for a long time now - it's the tracking I'm concerned about - are you comfortable tracking your players through the daw with fx without issue?
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