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Gezellig 14th February 2020 10:05 PM

Universal Audio Apollo x4
 
I purchased this unit on October 2019, as a replacement for my old AVID MBox Pro 3.
And yes, it was a game changer for me.

First, let me adress the apple-esque elephant in the room : the ecosystem. Buying an Universal Audio interface nowadays is, ultimately, buying into a closed ecosystem. You pay for the Unison technology, but have to pay for most of their Unison plugins. You pay for a thunderbolt 3 option. You pay for some portability that, at that price tag, is kinda out of the question.

When you get past these little annoying things, this unit proves really useful and reliable.
The Unison technology inside (which allows the Unison abled preamps to modify their gain impedance in order to match original, vintage and iconic preamps) is really impressive...and colourful.
If you can get a sweet deal on them, the Unison Plugins are really useful and reliable. You can quickly dial-in some great tones and shape 'em to your will. In that regard, the 4 DSP chips are more than welcomed (compared to the dual Shark chips on cheaper models).
Even without Unison plugins loaded, you get a really pristine and clean sound. It sounds amazingly good.
Guitars, basses and eDrums sound detailed and clear. You don't loose any transients, the low-end is clean and the hi frequencies are preserved.
Even if the Apollo converters are far from perfect, it translates really well on a basic A/D level. Jitter is high, headroom is not crazy...but it really is a great piece of gear.
Of course, one of the main downside from using the Apollo series is the Console software.
Authorising your plugins is really straight forward (although selling your unit with/without your plugins can become au daunting process in less than 3 clicks). And the UAD Meter app is really useful for monitoring your DSP resources.
But Console is a bit of a drag. It doubles up on your workflow if you intend on using Unison preamps, it is not the best GUI out there ans, overall, it feels like some kind of half-assed job.
LUNA, some kind of recording digital solution, is expected to hit us this spring, most probably as a Console follow-up. But, then again, it will double-up on any existing workflow.
One thing I don't really like is the operational workflow on the front panel of the unit.
The BigKnob one-for-all-operations solution is not suitable for everyone. You get one big knob to control your channels and your monitors. And, believe you me, it can quickly become a hassle when reamping sources or monitoring a recording session with two cued sub-mixes.
Still, the Apollo x4 has found its place in my set-up. It is classy, efficient and reliable.
Some things work for me, some really don't.
But overall, it is a great piece of gear.
I would recommend any future buyer to really think about your everyday needs. The amount of I/O on the back is really great. But, more than often, will be overkill for bedroom producers and not enough for recording engineers.
Recommended, but for informed buyers only.