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Apollo x8p: Extremely disappointed about the sound
Old 20th January 2020
  #61
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by steve.lindqvist View Post
To create a little more confusion: It was a while ago and they were the first Apollo converters(!). Nevertheless, once again(!) in this blind test the masses had failed! Although there was a clear winner, the expectations (Apollo = round, bass-heavy, RME = neutral, thin, sterile) were not fulfilled:
UA Apollo vs RME UFX blind test
That is a test of the pre/ADC, not the DAC, which what the OP is talking about.
Old 20th January 2020
  #62
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
Guys! I'm coming back with news!

Today I've done some tests, and I'm very exited to share my thoughts with you.

Let's begin!


1. Apollo x8p (using Monitor Output) vs Lynx Aurora 16 TB2.
There wasn't a big difference with this two audio interfaces. Yes, Lynx Aurora 16 TB2 sounds a little bit clearer than Apollo x8p, a little bit calmer, but there is no 1000$ difference. I would say, it's 20-100$ difference.

Sound of Lynx Aurora 16 TB2: neutral, almost airy, a little bit more highs, but... nothing special. Very simmilar to RME sound, but I have to admit, that RME... sounds better anyway!)

Sound of Apollo x8p in comparison: more presence, a little bit tighter on a bass, a little bit less ultra-highs, more mid-forward, but in the same time it was more clinical and detailed. No doubts, I heard more with Apollo x8p.


2. Apollo x8p Line Out 1-2 instead of Monitor Output.
Yes, it sounds better than in a case with using a Monitor Output. A little bit calmer, a little bit more airy, more musical, not so punchy, not so fatiguing, less mid-forward, but in the same time a little bit less detailed. But I liked it more.

And this is understandable. Lets look at the tech specs of this outputs, I made a picture from official data-sheet, see the attachment.

Monitor Output has more dynamic range (+2db), but in the same time it has more distortions (to be honest, we're talking about inaudible percents)! But for me Monitor Output signal sounds like it's a bit over-hotted. There is something like an annoying bump at 1Khz and it's audible!


3. Apollo x8p 96Khz instead of 44.1Khz.
Yes, it sounds better than a 44.1Khz. I assume, it's because of another chip using. I've found out on UAD Forum, that Apollo x8p was FIRST OF ALL created to use in 48/96Khz, so we can suggest, that the better chip is used by UAD for those resolutions. At 44.1Khz Apollo x8p sounds like a crap even with using Line Out 1-2. Too mid-forward, too harsh, too rough.

Fankly speaking, I'm confused. There is not an extremely big difference between Apollo x8p and Lynx Aurora 16 TB2 and I can live with Apollo x8p sound.

But anyway, I decided to make one more final test: rent RME Fireface UFX+ and compare it with Apollo x8p. And then make a final decision. If Fireface UFX+ sounds much better than Apollo x8p, I think I have to consider to use both devices: using Apollo x8p as A/D, then send the digital signal to Fireface UFX+ via ADAT and listen regular music and make mixes with Fireface UFX+ and its D/A. Yes, it's an expensive way, but we live once.

I hope my conclusions was helpful to you. Stay tuned and thank you so much!)
Boris, have you tried out 48k yet ????
Old 20th January 2020
  #63
Here for the gear
 
borisovonline's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwh1192 View Post
Boris, have you tried out 48k yet ????
Yes. Same crappy sound as 44.1Khz. Maybe a little bit more pleasant. But no huge difference like in the 44.1Khz vs 96Khz case.
Old 20th January 2020
  #64
Gear Guru
 
jwh1192's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
Yes. Same crappy sound as 44.1Khz. Maybe a little bit more pleasant. But no huge difference like in the 44.1Khz vs 96Khz case.
another thought would be to Clock the Apollo with the RME and see if you hear any changes .. also the other way and clock the RME with the Apollo ...

why: i have an old Aardsync II here and i am bummed they are now another company .. but that Clock can make anything sound tighter and more together .. adn please try 444, 48 and 96 if you can ... you are doing a huge service to those that are thinking of using the same gear .. a good Slut you are Mate !!!
Old 20th January 2020
  #65
Gear Maniac
 
MrMoose's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
I tried to switch from 44 to 96 sample rate and x8p became to sound definitely better. Maybe it’s just psychology, I don’t know, but for a moment of doing that that worked and delivered more “airy” sound.

Added after 2 hours of listening: Yes, I confirm. 96khz sounds more airy, milder, less hott, deeper.
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
Yes. Same crappy sound as 44.1Khz. Maybe a little bit more pleasant. But no huge difference like in the 44.1Khz vs 96Khz case.
It definitely would make me much happier to hear recorded samples (blind-test even better) so that everyone here can fairly assess the differences and we can get much closer to an unbiased discussion.

At the moment you first said that the difference in sound between 44.1 & 96 on your Apollo interface is "maybe...just psychology, I don’t know" to a bit later saying that you thought there was a "huge difference" between the two sounds.

You then showed a graph in post #55 and which shows the difference between the monitor and line output's specs - the dynamic range between the two being 98.4% the same and Total Harmonic Distortion between the two differing by only 0.00001% - and claim to be hearing a difference.

The thread is called "Apollo x8p: Extremely disappointed about the sound". Given how infinitesimally tiny the differences appear to be on paper, I think it would be extremely valuable for everyone if you uploaded some real audio comparisons so that we can hear the differences for ourselves.
Old 20th January 2020
  #66
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMoose View Post
It definitely would make me much happier to hear recorded samples (blind-test even better) so that everyone here can fairly assess the differences and we can get much closer to an unbiased discussion.
Exactly how would you propose to evaluate DAC sound quality via recorded samples posted on the internet? You would be going through a ADC as well as any differences being further camoflaged by the listener's DAC. I'm sorry, but that is about as pointless as folks trying to pass judgement on how something sounds from a Youtube video where the guy used a microphone to record whatever he is going on about.

Evaluating DAC's can only be done live with very careful attention to level matching, using the same type of cabling, etc.
Old 20th January 2020
  #67
Obviously people have sound preferences, but I’ve recorded material professionally for business clients and no one has ever questioned the audio quality.
I most often record at 96khz, but occasionally at 44.1khz.
Many times we’ve also tracked drums in a commercial room, often using Avid interfaces, then mixed and exported the audio using Apollo and actually receive compliments on the “great sound”.
I question analysis like “crappy”.
Sure, anyone chooses gear based on their personal preferences, usually choosing the ‘best quality’ and recording engineers and producers tend to chose a wide variety of audio interfaces, so it’s not as if there is one clear leader.
Old 20th January 2020
  #68
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Whenever someone offers their opinion as fact, a phenomenon all to prevalent with Apollo’s, there is more going on than sonic preference and much less than scientific comparison. I’m not selling my Apollo, it works well and sounds great.
Old 20th January 2020
  #69
Gear Maniac
 
MrMoose's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post
Exactly how would you propose to evaluate DAC sound quality via recorded samples posted on the internet? You would be going through a ADC as well as any differences being further camoflaged by the listener's DAC. I'm sorry, but that is about as pointless as folks trying to pass judgement on how something sounds from a Youtube video where the guy used a microphone to record whatever he is going on about.

Evaluating DAC's can only be done live with very careful attention to level matching, using the same type of cabling, etc.
I didn’t know that, good to know!
Old 21st January 2020
  #70
Gear Head
 
xenozeno's Avatar
Using big descriptive words to talk about converters at this level just seems a little over the top for me. But ok, to fulfill your heart's desires just dump the Apollo and revert to the previous system.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #71
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borisovonline's Avatar
Hello guys, I'm coming back with some news!)

Today I've done the test:

I connected my Bose QC35 II to Headphone Output on Apollo by wire and listened the Apollo's headphone amp. And I was switghing on the fly between Mac Bluetooth CoreAudio and wired connection to Apollo.

And... Believe me or not, but even via Bluetooth audio sounded better than through the headphone output! Hahaha) I was absolutely overwhelmed.

No doubts, 100%, Apollo has a 1Khz bump (or even all mid area), that sounds unpleasant to me. I would like to add that this very rise in the middle greatly distorts the 3d-scene. It becomes flat, shallow and has no true depth. And that's the whole point we're talking about. Absolutely unbelievable.

As TheMagican said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMagician View Post
Apollo’s are mid tier interfaces, traditionally mid forward (eq wise) particularly in their D/A , as interfaces they are nothing special IMHO.
Absolutely, agree.

In 1-2 days I'm going to take Fireface UFX+ or ADI DAC-2, or even Prism Sound and make a final test.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #72
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
No doubts, 100%, Apollo has a 1Khz bump, that sounds unpleasant to me. And that's the whole point we're talking about. Absolutely ridiculous.
That's measurable - so measure it and show us the graphs.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #73
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borisovonline's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
That's measurable - so measure it and show us the graphs.
I don't know how to measure it. Could you help me?
Old 22nd January 2020
  #74
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
Hello guys, I'm coming back with some news!)

Today I've done the test:

I connected my Bose QC35 II to Headphone Output on Apollo by wire and listened the Apollo's headphone amp. And I was switghing on the fly between Mac Bluetooth CoreAudio and wired connection to Apollo.

And... Believe me or not, but even via Bluetooth audio sounded better than a headphone output! Hahaha) I was absolutely overwhelmed.

No doubts, 100%, Apollo has a 1Khz bump (or even all mid area), that sounds unpleasant to me. And that's the whole point we're talking about. Absolutely unbelievable.


As TheMagican said:

Absolutely, agree.

In 1-2 days I'm going to take Fireface UFX+ or ADI DAC-2, or even Prism Sound and make a final test.
Yeah I used to have an Apollo and I found the number one issue I had was the DAC conversion which in general messed with my mixing choices.
It was always an issue of the vocal not sitting right. I’d get comments which always related to the midrange not translating correctly, once I changed interfaces that problem ended for me.
Having said that everything else about the Apollo is awesome, total plug and play, ease of use is excellent.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #75
Here for the gear
 
borisovonline's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMagician View Post
It was always an issue of the vocal not sitting right. I’d get comments which always related to the midrange not translating correctly
Yes, man! Absolutely agree! Vocals (and all mid area) doesn't sit right in the mix and very confusing.

What interface did you finally choose?
Old 22nd January 2020
  #76
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
I don't know how to measure it. Could you help me?
Play a test signal, feed it back in and chuck a frequency analyser plugin on the track. Do the test on monitor, line and headphones outputs. a 1K bump will be more than visible.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #77
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nyandres's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
Play a test signal, feed it back in and chuck a frequency analyser plugin on the track. Do the test on monitor, line and headphones outputs. a 1K bump will be more than visible.
That wont work, because the input could be coloring the signal... or if its failure reflattens the signal, it will falsely change the results. You may need a few more ADCs at least, or a reference flat ADC to be able to tell if its flat.... I also have found Apollo's sound worse than their price tag suggests. THis is every version, vs the competition on the same era... It does make sense though... Their built in Sharc chips arent free anyway
Old 22nd January 2020
  #78
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
Yes, man! Absolutely agree! Vocals (and all mid area) doesn't sit right in the mix and very confusing.

What interface did you finally choose?
Well that’s a bit of a long story but I’ll try to condense.
After the Apollo I went to Orion 32+ Gen 3. Exact opposite issue of the Apollo. Sounded fabulous and accurate but the software is glitchy and buggy. It always needs to have a handshake with the online server and that would drop a couple times a day. Total shame because it sounds like a piece of gear much more expensive than it is which brings me to my end result which was the Lynx Aurora N.
Neutral and rock solid and a lot more expensive than I wanted to spend.
Old 22nd January 2020
  #79
Gear Maniac
I agree with your problem,

in my studio we have an Apollo Setup and I was using RME ADI DS till last year and then I got myself a Digidrid System with IOX converters which are identical to the
Digico consoles, and man there´s a huge difference in converter quailty, for my taste Apollo being the worst of the 3 and the IOX is just phenomenal..
Old 22nd January 2020
  #80
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by borisovonline View Post
I don't know how to measure it. Could you help me?
I'm using the Dayton Audio EMM-6 with the appropriate software. IMHO anyone not using something like this to ensure as balanced monitoring as possible has no business mixing other people's music (I'd include familiarity with a system coupled with successful and balanced mixes in that).
Old 22nd January 2020
  #81
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nyandres's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikael B View Post
I'm using the Dayton Audio EMM-6 with the appropriate software. IMHO anyone not using something like this to ensure as balanced monitoring as possible has no business mixing other people's music (I'd include familiarity with a system coupled with successful and balanced mixes in that).
Except that also wont work. He is trying to measure the io of the apollo. Thos will measure acoustic sound. Your, room, the monitors, but wont do well for the precision required for converters
Old 22nd January 2020
  #82
Gear Head
 

UAD = MOTU in terms of sound quality
Old 4 weeks ago
  #83
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by nyandres View Post
That wont work, because the input could be coloring the signal... or if its failure reflattens the signal, it will falsely change the results. You may need a few more ADCs at least, or a reference flat ADC to be able to tell if its flat.... I also have found Apollo's sound worse than their price tag suggests. THis is every version, vs the competition on the same era... It does make sense though... Their built in Sharc chips arent free anyway
It won't be mega accurate but you'll see the bump you're talking about.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #84
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nyandres's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
It won't be mega accurate but you'll see the bump you're talking about.
What i mean, is it will be tough to see the source of the problem. Like i personally think uad sounds bad for the money, but it still sounds great (just not against competition), and thus think the issues are too small to spot via room measurement
Old 4 weeks ago
  #85
Gear Maniac
OK - I received my Apollo X6 today and have been comparing it to my RME UCX, mostly on headphones. The testing has largely been with hi-res commercial recordings -uncompressed files played via the Audirvana software on my Mac at their native sample rates. Some are 16/44.1, others are 24/92/192, some are DSD converted to 24/176 PCM. Upsampling is turned off These are recordings I am intimately familiar with from years of listening on a variety of home and professional studio rigs.

Outputs of Apollo and RME connected via balanced cables to the balanced inputs of my Violectric V281 fully balanced headphone amp. Headphones used are primarily Oppo PM-1 planar magnetics with a balanced cable harness driven from the balanced output of the Violectric. The Violectric is powered by a PS Audio Powerplant (an AC regenerator that does AC->DC->AC conversion to clean up power).

Both interfaces are plugged into the same power strip and the cables are physically moved from one unit to the other. Matched levels as best I can by ear and even intentionally reduced the volume on the unit I thought sounded better to make sure the listening impression held up at lower volumes.

The result? - I prefer the Apollo. The differences are not huge, but significant by a audiophile/critical listener standard. I feel the Apollo is more 3 dimensional (especially solo voice), has more texture/definition in the bass, has a more delicate high end with more perceived "air". In general, the RME was less 3D, less "lively" and a little more "solid state" sounding. The Apollo is more open, transparent, dimensional, liquid, etc. - more like a high-end audiophile tube amplifier.

I can't really correlate much of anything I hear with some of the descriptions I read in this thread. Which is not to say I'm right and the OP is wrong, but that ultimately sound quality is largely subjective.

I will add that neither unit sounds as good to me as the Sony HAP-Z1ES DSD player I normally use for listening to music for enjoyment. The Sony offers more of the same type of differences the Apollo demonstrated over the RME here.

YMMV, IMHO, yada yada yada
Old 4 weeks ago
  #86
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e-are's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMagician View Post
Well that’s a bit of a long story but I’ll try to condense.
After the Apollo I went to Orion 32+ Gen 3. Exact opposite issue of the Apollo. Sounded fabulous and accurate but the software is glitchy and buggy. It always needs to have a handshake with the online server and that would drop a couple times a day. Total shame because it sounds like a piece of gear much more expensive than it is which brings me to my end result which was the Lynx Aurora N.
Neutral and rock solid and a lot more expensive than I wanted to spend.
Orion does sometimes have driver issues. I use a RME madi card with my Orion. Rock solid and now I can add my adat channels into the mix.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #87
Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post
OK - I received my Apollo X6 today and have been comparing it to my RME UCX, mostly on headphones. The testing has largely been with hi-res commercial recordings -uncompressed files played via the Audirvana software on my Mac at their native sample rates. Some are 16/44.1, others are 24/92/192, some are DSD converted to 24/176 PCM. Upsampling is turned off These are recordings I am intimately familiar with from years of listening on a variety of home and professional studio rigs.

Outputs of Apollo and RME connected via balanced cables to the balanced inputs of my Violectric V281 fully balanced headphone amp. Headphones used are primarily Oppo PM-1 planar magnetics with a balanced cable harness driven from the balanced output of the Violectric. The Violectric is powered by a PS Audio Powerplant (an AC regenerator that does AC->DC->AC conversion to clean up power).

Both interfaces are plugged into the same power strip and the cables are physically moved from one unit to the other. Matched levels as best I can by ear and even intentionally reduced the volume on the unit I thought sounded better to make sure the listening impression held up at lower volumes.

The result? - I prefer the Apollo. The differences are not huge, but significant by a audiophile/critical listener standard. I feel the Apollo is more 3 dimensional (especially solo voice), has more texture/definition in the bass, has a more delicate high end with more perceived "air". In general, the RME was less 3D, less "lively" and a little more "solid state" sounding. The Apollo is more open, transparent, dimensional, liquid, etc. - more like a high-end audiophile tube amplifier.

I can't really correlate much of anything I hear with some of the descriptions I read in this thread. Which is not to say I'm right and the OP is wrong, but that ultimately sound quality is largely subjective.

I will add that neither unit sounds as good to me as the Sony HAP-Z1ES DSD player I normally use for listening to music for enjoyment. The Sony offers more of the same type of differences the Apollo demonstrated over the RME here.

YMMV, IMHO, yada yada yada
Oh my! Should we rename the thread????
Old 4 weeks ago
  #88
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
Oh my! Should we rename the thread????
LOL. I just figured the other side should weigh in. It is also ironic timing since I just ordered my X6 when this thread started and I was a bit concerned, although my motivation was to go "all in" on UAD as I already have 2 satellites and a s**t load of plugins.

The sound is gravy to me. I also hated the UI on the UCX - too much in a small box with no room for controls.

I also have a Babyface Pro for laptop use and while I think it sounds slightly better than the UCX, it is still not at the Apollo level based on my memory of it. Maybe I'll pull it out and do a comparison at some point.

I find the opinions all over the map on DAC sound here. This thread is about how the Apollo is worse than the UCX, and ran across another thread yesterday from a year ago where someone was selling his Apogee Symphonies because he thought the Apollo was way better.

I have been in many homes (exotic high-end audio) and studios where I couldn't believe how bad the sound was and the people actually thought it was better than systems that I thought were more accurate and musical.

Whatever
Old 4 weeks ago
  #89
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basehead617's Avatar
I do wonder if people talking about 'Apollo' were talking about their experiences with the old Greyface, the non X generation, or the twin. I believe those are all different converters from each other and different from the new Xs, in particular the X16 which is better converters than even the x8/x8p.

Not totally sure on the above though.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #90
Here for the gear
 
borisovonline's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by khollister View Post

The result? - I prefer the Apollo. The differences are not huge, but significant by a audiophile/critical listener standard. I feel the Apollo is more 3 dimensional (especially solo voice), has more texture/definition in the bass, has a more delicate high end with more perceived "air". In general, the RME was less 3D, less "lively" and a little more "solid state" sounding. The Apollo is more open, transparent, dimensional, liquid, etc. - more like a high-end audiophile tube amplifier.
You're mistakenly thinking that is true scene, but it's not. That's a point. Apollo sounds "more 3D" because of the rise in mids. You called it "clarity", but this is not clarity, it's fake, unfortunately.

Carefully listen the tracks you know 100% how they should sound and you will find out that they sound different, another way, not you used to. Especially in mid, vocals. They (vocals) will be in front, they will so-called lie over the mix.
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