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Universal Audio Apollo

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2

4.1 4.1 out of 5, based on 19 Reviews

Universal Audio takes a step into the high end converter world.


16th March 2012

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by rusocubano

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Universal Audio Apollo

This interface is just an amazing!!! peace of gear and possibly the best interface on the market. It's a perfect choice for the mobile workstation or project studio. First of all because of their own high quality DSP plugins and on board UAD2 processors. The other nice surprise is a really low 2ms!!! latency it's almost zero latency on tracking. So you can use a wide range of analog emulation plug-ins like Neve, SSL, Studer, Ampex, Manley, Lexicon and so on.. without any latency at all. Forgot to mention also the high quality AD/DA 24/192 convertors, four analog mic preamps, mic pad, low cut, +48V phantom power, eight balanced line in/out, two JFET DIs, analog monitor outputs, monitor level, dual headphone controls, ADAT, S/PDIF, Word Clock, fireWire 800 and a Thunderbolt expansion bay.

Whatever you do tracking, mixing or mastering - this is all you need in a beautiful compact design, just connect it to your Apple or PC laptop computer through the firewire 800 interface and you are ready to go with a tons of top notch! plugins. It also provides all the necessary I/Os just in case you already have the external analog outboard in your working environment. Imagine being able to access your favorite combinations of analogue outboard equipment and apply them to your project without ever leaving the laptop.

In other words - It's just the best modern top quality centerpiece! for any modern audio needs in a beautiful compact design.

31st March 2012

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by hmakela

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Universal Audio Apollo

I just received my Universal Audio Apollo Duo Audio Interface.
Setup was very straight forward and Universal Audio had done a great job with instructions. Drivers for MAC have performed very well and there are no abnormalities that I have experienced.

I wanted to put this new unit of mine in test and I had prepared camera, microphones and lights before hand. Pretty amazing fact is that I was able to have Apollo record ready to Cubase in about 30 min from un-boxing it!

I prepared 3 tracks within Apollo Console and added Studer 800, Pulteg EQ, and LA2A compressor on each track – I decided to use plug in presets for vocal mic (Shure SM7b) and guitar mics (Rode NT5 stereo pair).

I found console application very easy to use and had audio going to Cubase 6 in no time.

Knobs feel nice (similar feeling to my UA 4-710d unit) and I really like how simple the front panel is with push down control of the main preamp selection after which turning the dial will adjust the preamp gain. After you have chosen the channel by pushing the big knob you can choose other items from the from panel buttons (also you can do these from the console software) like turning phantom power on and off, turning pad on , do phase reverse, or to change the mic to line input.

I will do more comprehensive review later when I am more familiar with the product but here is the YouTube video link of this very first recording. Kindly note that the audio has not been touched since it was recorded (including no adjustment on level etc)

Hurt Cover by Harri Makela using Universal Audio Apollo with real time plugins:

Universal Audio Apollo - Very first recording - 30 min from unboxing - YouTube

1st April 2012

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by vixmix

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Universal Audio Apollo

Wow, this is so perfect my project / commercial writing studio, it allows me to have a great sounding interface that i can proudly replace my Digi 192's without breaking my bank. As a studio engineer transitioning to the the live audio world this has a great potential to go on location to lots of venues I would've otherwise never considered with a DAW. The routing and output options conveniently interfaced with UA's "Console" app has no limits in my production settings. I could effortlessly do a monitor mix with a band without touching any of my options in Protools, its like I have a custom boutique sidecar as a monitor mixer. I A/B 'd them against some average 8 channel adat mic pre's and and found a significant difference in definition, great thing about that is I can take these average sounding mic pres and easily color them to sound amazing with the onboard no latency plug-ins. Another great surprise was being to route two seperate headphone mixes with the ability to monitor them via the headphone section in the Console app is so convenient and will immediately be implemented, only because I feel it can enhance the recording experience to be more creative without interrupting whats become a custom of the headphone mix being the same as the monitor mix. The DI's are another This device is way closer to having a great desk and its I/O sounds so good right out of the box. This is way more than I was expecting. I definitely recommend it.

Perfect fit…

4th September 2012

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by Matt Hepworth

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Universal Audio Apollo

Universal Audio Apollo Quad UAD Interface by Matt Hepworth


The Universal Audio Apollo sounds like a dream come true for project and home studios. Boasting features like top shelf converters, high quality mic preamps, Thunderbolt connectivity and a full blown UAD-2 on board, could Apollo really be all it's cracked up to be?


Introduction
At the NAMM show in January, Universal Audio announced the Apollo - a shockingly powerful combined 24-bit 192 kHz high-resolution interface and a full UAD-2 DSP system capable of real-time processing that caught everyone by surprise and filled page after page on online forums like UAD Forums and Gearslutz. Pre-loaded with the same capabilities as the UAD Satellites and class leading conversion, as well as the promise of Thunderbolt connectivity, we were all drooling over this gorgeous, silver creature, and dying to check this new Greek god of light out.

With a little help from JRR Shop, I was able to get my hands on an Apollo Quad from the first batch.


Physical Aspects
The Apollo is well laid out and beautiful. It's a sleek interface with great front panel input and output metering and has looks that inspire confidence. The preamplifiers and monitor control are handled digitally from smoothly turning knobs. A unique metering system fills in a semi circle visually outlining your knob with green luminescence to show your levels. To the right of the panel metering is the monitor control knob that can push to mute the main outputs by pressing it in. When muted the meter ring also changes color to red to give clear indication of when audio is active or inactive from your monitors. One quick note is that the unit defaults to unmuted when power cycled, instead of recalling its last setting. On the left is the preamplifier control with function buttons just to the right of the knob. Finishing off the front panel are two instrument inputs on the far left and two individually controlled headphone outputs on the far right, just left of the sturdy power switch. On the backside are eight line inputs and outputs and four microphone preamplifiers. A separate set of line outputs for the monitors in TRS are also included, along with wordclock, ADAT, and S/PDIF. Capable of 18 simultaneous inputs and 24 outputs, it is well equipped to take on most projects.


Analog I/O
The analog connections consist of four high-quality microphone preamplifiers with XLR connections and eight quarter-inch TRS line inputs. Any eight of the analog inputs can be used at one time. The mic preamplifiers each feature up to 70dB of clean gain, 48V phantom power, polarity invert, 80Hz high pass filter, a -20dB pad, stereo link, and a line switch - all of which can be physically controlled via the front panel knob and buttons, or controlled via software.

Analog outputs are eight quarter-inch TRS balanced line level outs, and one pair of TRS balanced outputs for the main outputs that are controlled from the front monitor knob. TRS unbalanced stereo headphone outputs are located on the front and have individual volume control knobs.


Digital I/O
The digital input and output capabilities are reasonably expansive and consist of: two sets of ADAT optical input and output connections for up to eight channels of 96 kHz audio, and stereo S/PDIF coaxial input and output connections.


Initial Setup
Set up was very simple, but it turned out I had one of the few Macs with an inadequate FireWire bus and had to order a FireWire 800 card from universal audios compatibility list (as of this review, JRR Shop is including a compatible card with all Apollo purchases).

Although I had been using the unit successfully on FireWire 400, the DSP capabilities were quite limited. Once I popped in the new FireWire 800 card everything ran just like it was supposed. And kept on running. Even though it's normal to have a few bugs in generation one software, the Apollo worked great and never let me down during the session. The mixer application called Console, on the other hand, had quite a few minor glitches and would disappear from the screen randomly, or when minimized, and would have to be relaunched from the menu.


Settings
Unit settings were quite simple and are accessed from a menu in Console. Settings include clocking, sample rate, and the other things you'd expect from a typical interface. Sample rates are selectable from 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz. Buffer sizes range from 64 samples up to 1024 samples. There's also a DSP usage control that can help you achieve maximum performance for balanced audio and DSP loads over the same FireWire bus.


Console Application
Console is the onboard DSP-based mixer that allows real-time use of UAD plug-ins. This is an impressive feature, and I found it to be very useful. The layout of console is much like an analog counsel with two Auxes, channel assigns, two dedicated headphone sends, and main bus. Preamp controls are also conveniently located in Console. Additionally all of Console's settings can be saved as a plug-in in your DAW software with the session. Although it was quite apparent that the goal of Console was to work like recordings in the glory days, and printing to tape. However, in the modern age of DAWs, many of us expect much more advanced routing and monitoring capabilities. More about this later. For now, let's get on to what everybody cares about – the sound.


Converters
I put the Apollo's converters to the test against a plethora of opponents - some of which were more than double the price. Among the contestants were an Apogee AD8000 mk II, a Black Lion modified Apogee AD8000, a Rosetta 800, an AD16X, a Digidesign 192, a Benchmark DAC-1, and also a TC Konnekt 48. Unfortunately, I had just parted ways with my Lynx Aurora prior to the shootout, but even on first listen I felt that the Apollo was very similar in sound to the Aurora, with the Aurora being slightly wider in stereo field, and slightly less bright, according to my memory.

Apollo's conversion is intended to be clean and open and it definitely delivers. I did hear a slight hint of extra air, or splish, if you will. Though not huge, it caught me on my first listen to some very familiar material.

Opening a Pro Tools HD project in Native mode, I got to use the Apollo on a mix I was currently working on. I was very pleased with the imaging and spaciousness of the sound, but found the cymbals sounding just a bit harsh. After putting an EQ across the mix bus with a 1dB cut from 8kHz up, the sound was more what I felt represented what I was used to hearing. Printing the mix with and without the EQ I noticed a slight difference on other playback systems, but not like the difference I was hearing in my control room through my ADAM P33A's. Switching over to my NS-10's with a sub, I loaded each mix into a new session and compared. I noticed the EQ'd mix felt like it had more bass because I was hearing slightly less highs. With the quick, initial listing out of the way, it was on to more serious testing.

First stop was putting the digital to analog conversion against some well-respected and widely used competitors and soon I was knee-deep in comparisons between the Apollo, an Apogee Rosetta 800, and a Benchmark DAC-1. Next to the Rosetta 800, the Apollo was a little prettier and a little cleaner. In contrast, when put up against the Benchmark, the Apollo was wetter and less realistic. In an ABC shootout, each of the three DA converters had things I preferred over the other two. In the end the Apollo stood up very well against the Rosetta 800, but fell a little short of the Benchmark DAC-1. It just felt like the Benchmark was in a little higher class than the Rosetta and Apollo.

Since I had the large pile of converters in my control room, I had the opportunity to put the Apollo up against the previous generation's top-shelf converters; including the AD8000 mk II (which is essentially a mk I SE), and a Digidesign 192 I/O. I found the Apollo to be a bit better than the Apogee, particularly because of the better detail and accuracy of the Apollo DA. Shooting out the Apollo's DA against the 192 DA was not such a close race, though. Apollo had better stereo imaging, better clarity, width, and detail, but a little less aggressive sound overall and possibly just a hint less depth (unless, it was playing tricks on me and the added width was actually de-emphasizing the depth slightly). I was a bit surprised, however, to hear that the Apollo had slightly less punch, in favor of unveiling significantly more detail than the 192's DA conversion.

The AD conversion bestowed upon Apollo is very good sounding - clear, accurate, and detailed. I feel like I can confidently put it in the same league as my Black Lion Audio modified Apogee AD8000 (which just so happens to be the only one in existence and is quite an excellent sounding converter). In my testing I found the Apollo had a slightly wider stereo image, slightly more open top, and slightly less depth and punch. Essentially, they were different, but equal. With the Apogee AD8000 stock unit I found the Apollo's conversion to be wider and more accurately represent the source. While the analog to digital conversion did not sound identical to the source, it was quite similar. Again, Apollo reminded me quite a bit of the Aurora AD conversion, which is wide, clear, and very detailed.

There was a slight difference in the sound of that conversion when using the preamplifier inputs for line-level signals, versus using the separate line inputs directly. If anything, though, I had a slight preference to the four channels with preamplifiers.

Lastly, Apollo's AD converters were put up against the Apogee AD16X where they fared well, but we're not as glorious or as true to the source as the Apogee's converters.


Preamps
The microphone preamplifiers had very little color to them and I found them to neither flattered the sound, nor detracted from it. I suspect they were intended to be that way for a reason. Particularly, it wood make a very good platform for a future software upgrade that could emulate other preamplifiers digitally in real-time. That aside, they compared very favorably to the Digidesign PRE, an 8 channel unit costing more than an Apollo Quad, but were a bit duller and more boring sounding than the True Systems Precision 2 Analog. The Apollo's preamps' pad and low cut were very welcome features on a unit that's already so feature laden. I also appreciated that the preamplifier design had very low noise - even when turned high.


Clock
With all the conversion tests I had the opportunity to compare the Apollo on its own clock and on external clocks. I found the Apollo to be quite sensitive to clocking and I found it to sound noticeably worse when clocked to some converters. Now, I am from the school that believes a better wordclock cannot improve the performance of the internal clock in the unit, but that external clock can, however, change the sound of the converters that are clocking from it.

This definitely seemed to be true with the Apollo. While clocking it from the Digidesign clock noticeably degraded the sound, I found the smoothness, depth, tightness, and punch of the Apollo's converters to improve when clocked to a Big Ben, at the expense of a little stereo width.


What's the Catch?
Even with all the features the Apollo has there are some serious holes that, hopefully, have just not been addressed yet.

There is no DAW playback volume control. While odd, it's not necessarily a deal breaker. On the other hand, what cannot be overlooked, and may be a deal breaker for some, is the fact that you cannot assign your DAW playback to any output other than the main outs. If truly omitted, I'd call it a very careless, costly mistake on Universal Audio's part.

My last complaint is the absolute lack of any routing capabilities. The Apollo cannot be used as an expansion for existing systems, or used to run even basic alternate routing and monitoring plans, let alone outboard hardware.

I spoke to Universal Audio about the mixing console's DSP availability and was encouraged by their response that there's sufficient DSP available to expand the capabilities. That's the beauty of the shortcomings of the Apollo - they can potentially all be addressed via software/firmware updates.


Conclusion
Long story short, the Universal Audio Apollo is a fine piece of hardware from a company with an outstanding track record and highly admired lineage on both the analog and digital sides. The converters are very good - easily outclassing units like the Fireface 800 and TC Konnekt 48. In fact, it's conversion was substantially superior to the industry standard Digidesign 192 I/O.

So, for native users, is it the new Fireface 800 that set the standard for native interfaces last decade? No, but it definitely has the potential to exceed it once the routing functionality gets up to par.

I make it a point to never buy a unit based on future features, but in the Apollo's case, future features will just be the icing on the cake.

  • 3
16th April 2013

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by drewwebsteraudio

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Universal Audio Apollo

I recently bought a Universal Audio Apollo Quad and I've been quite impressed with it and I thought I'd share one of the many reasons I love it: It gave new life to my late-2008, dual core MacBook Pro.

When recording at home I have a 2008 8-core Mac Pro, so power has not been an issue at all. However, most of my recording is done in various locations away from home. For my mobile recording rig I use a late-2008 Dual Core MacBook Pro with Pro Tools 10. Recording with this laptop makes it very difficult to record at low-latency, and impossible to record at low-latency if you wish to track with plugins. Also, plugins nowadays take up so much power that when track counts start adding up I must make sure to use only the plugins that are 100% necessary to get the job done.

I was dead-set on getting an Apollo as I am a fan of UAD plugins and the reviews on the interface itself were great. Getting a new MacBook Pro was also in consideration, but $2200 for the base model was a little steep, so I just got the Apollo Quad and WOW has it given new life to my MacBook Pro.

So let's get it to!:

Firstly, being able to take the load off within my DAW is amazing. I love using plugins within Pro Tools and seeing my native CPU meter hovering around 5%. When I purchased my Apollo there was a promotion going on where I received the Neve channel, the Studer 800 and the Leixon 224. Combine those with the analog classics bundle that comes standard and I had a great set of plugins right out of the gate.

Secondly, being able to use plugins to TRACK with no discernable latency is absolutely amazing. Better yet, with the Apollo you can use the plugins for monitoring or you can actually RECORD the plugins. Genius! Also, the Apollo interfaces with Pro Tools perfectly. Before the Apollo I would have to record arm the track in Pro Tools, then mute the track (due to latency), then record, then un-mute the track, listen back and repeat. With the Apollo I select "Low-Latency Monitoring" in Pro Tools and the record-enabled track(s) is(are) automatically muted ONLY WHILE RECORDING so that you can hear yourself latency-free using the Apollo's Console. (Note that the track must be set to monitor outputs 1&2 to use this feature). This is not only convenient but speeds up my workflow tremendously when tracking by not having to toggle mute buttons.

Thirdly, you can RECORD the Aux tracks from the Apollo's console. Why is this awesome? Well, the main reason is that reverbs take up a LOT of DSP power whether you're talking native or UAD DSP. You can either have a reverb Aux setup both on Apollo's console AND in Pro Tools, thus doubling the amount of DSP needed, or you can just record the reverb Aux from the console. The only downside to this is you'd need an extra audio track for every instrument you wish to record individually, but a few extra tracks takes a lot less processing power than one reverb plugin.

These three reasons are why the Apollo Quad has given new life to my MacBook Pro. I'm in love with this thing and I can't wait to see what UA has in store for it in the future!

Drew

10th May 2013

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by BellinghamBard

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 3
Universal Audio Apollo

I must say, as an Apollo Duo owner, that I don't really like it. You're paying for the 4 preamps and DSP card, which is (in some ways) all that you get. UA's plugins, while brilliant, are out of my price range, making that side of it a little pointless for a home studio. Also, the Console App is HORRIBLE - it doesn't scale on a 13" Macbook Pro, making it useless and finicky, and there is no routing to all of the outputs other than through your DAW, which introduces latency.

To me it's like a Focusrite Saffire with less options - not worth the price I paid in retrospect.

13th January 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by ctrlshft

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Universal Audio Apollo

Apollo sounds fantastic, and being able to use the console in realtime means you can dial in gold that is totally recordable wet. UAD plugs are the real deal, particularly all the MKII versions of their vintage all stars, Fatso, Ampex, Studer, API, Harrison, Manley, and Fairchild emulations. Very few developers out there are getting close to how accurate and detailed these simulations of hardware get.

Downsides to Apollo?

-You're limited to the UAD DSP, and I promise you that if you like the UAD platform plugs, you WILL run out quite quickly.

-Hardware DSP is not cheap, and requires you to conform to the platform limitations. You'll need to buy the Thunderbolt card if you want to use more than one Satellite, for instance.

-You need to export everything in real-time.

- UAD Plugins themselves aren't cheap when not on sale. Good sales come up frequently though, make sure to take advantage of opportunities with those as they arise, same with periodic coupons they send out.

Conclusion:

As an owner of a UAD Apollo Quad, I may be biased, but I sold my Apogee Ensemble for this almost immediately after Apollo's release, so here's what I can tell you: I don't regret it even a little bit. The drivers have been rock solid for me throughout almost the entire experience (osx 10.9 and uad had a snafu shortly after release but they fixed it in a couple days), the console continues to get upgrades and becomes more and more useful and engaging (it's like a live mixer with 4 boutique processors of your choice on every channel), and it's easy to integrate into a studio. I'm using it in conjunction with a Dangerous Audio D-Box and it's really something special to me. Just a great overall experience. Highly suggested.

12th March 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by deacon frost

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Universal Audio Apollo

Converters

Specifications (from the Universal Audio Website)
Supported Sample Rates (kHz): 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192
Simultaneous A/D conversion 16 channels
Simultaneous D/A conversion 18 channels
FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b) Dual ports
Thunderbolt (via Thunderbolt Option Card) Dual ports
Dynamic Range 119.25 dB (A–weighting)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio 119.25 dB (A–weighting)
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise -112 dB @ -1 dBFS

You will need to acquire a special fire wire port in order to use this device through a firewire port. I would recommend buying a new firewire cable as well. I do believe that the new Apollos shipping come with the thunderbolt card, so that is a nice perk.


Although when comparing the specifications of different audio units can not always equate to unity in terms of signal processing and sound, the Universal Audio Apollo 16 can measure up with some of the toughest competitors at a more economical price. Within this unit you have converter chips that are also found within the Prism Orpheous, highly regarded as being one of the best in business, and when being compared to the Apollo in a blind test you'd be hard pressed to hear the difference. 10 ins for the Prism, 16 for the Apollo, and it gets better. You save almost 1.5k when choosing the Apollo and that doesn't even factor in the DSP cards value which includes the access to the esteemed UAD plugins, that to this day are not beat by any competitor. Now not everything is going to be praise because trust me, I've heard the Apogee Smyphony, and honestly I think that the Symphony does sound nicer as it has a more harmonic and euphoric sound to it. That being said, the purpose of converters is to capture the real and entire sound and not add any harmonic content. Still, if I wasn't a huge fan of what the UAD plugins could do I might have chosen the Apogee, but the fact remains is that you will be hard pressed to find the argument that the difference between these units is huge, because it is in fact quite minuscule.

It is to be noted that the Apollo 16 has a different circuitry than the regular Apollo. This was done to improve the 16s performance, although the sound may not be that different.

The Software

The Software that comes with the Apollo is very, very user friendly, and it never crashes. You also have the ability to insert UAD plugins onto your channels via the console software if not your DAW.

DSP and Plugins

The UAD Apollo comes with a quad dsp card which gives you access to some of the best Vst plugins in the world. Upon purchase you also receive a coupon towards three of these plugins. These plugins have the ability to run right off of your console, therefore saving you some CPU (and also kind of acting like an ilock.) These plugins actually are quite horrendous. For example:

The Manly Massive Passive EQ VST- sounds nearly identical to the original hardware
Ampex ATR-102 VST - The best tape simulation on the market
EMT250 and 140 VST- Probably two of the top 5 reverbs in VST land
FATSO saturation compressor VST - One of the best VSTs that UAD has to offer


In summation


The UAD Apollo 16 is not cheap, but when you can compare it to other hardware converters with the same quality with way less options it really is a deal and a no-brainer. Universal Audio doesn't make bad products and I would highly recommend this unit to anyone who takes audio seriously.

17th March 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by jray4

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Universal Audio Apollo

I'm shocked to see so few reviews for such a great unit. I purchased my Apollo 10 months ago now. I had the opportunity to get the 365 day dealer voucher to unlock all plugins. It just made sense.

Sonic evaluations are very subjective. Quick background on me.
34 year old from upstate New York. Grew up on Punk, Metal, Hip Hop, and Mom and Dads 60's and 70's pop.
Played piano and tenor sax since 8, and started guitar at 12. Thought I was a punk rocker, had a Tascam Porta3, and my demo's held weight in that world. Which isn't saying much.
Learned to really play guitar from some great jazz players, and did the Berklee Summer Program 1996. Berklee introduced me to a real studio workflow, and how to LISTEN!
I had more gigs as a player, and still do. I love recording, enough to spend money on a week with Bruce Swedien in 2011. Yet, at the end of the day...

I am NOT a PRO producer, engineer, or mixing engineer.

I AM, a professional musician, with a very good ear. I have also been lucky enough to record, be recorded, and mix in some pretty nice hardware based studios. I work with bands on all levels, primarily Rock.

Previously, I've had good luck with Presonus interfaces, and have run the full gambit of them. Before that, 3 ADAT XT20's did me well. I am a microphone *****. Mostly cool dynamics and ribbons, a Manley card ref, a couple Rode NT1A's, and lots of dirty old mics that sound so bad they're great! (Turner, Baldwin, EV, etc)

I am not hung up on vintage stuff. Did that with guitar for years, and had nightmare gigs, not to mention put my tech's kid through college. Oh yeah, and an old DDA board, some Valley People Racks, etc...Yikes...

Here's the skinny on the Apollo...

Pre's:
I did my homework. I was aware of the upcoming pre-amp plug in, didn't expect it to take so long. I have spent money on a Grace 101, ISA1, and some ART (or equiv) crap. I would call the 4 preamps, in stock form, comparable to the Grace. It's just really clean and open, maybe some call it sterile. I call it a clean canvas. I've had the 610 and API plug in pre's for a month. Haven't tracked drums through them yet, but guitars, vocals , and keys really have some analog flavor. Haters will say "it's not as good as hardware." Hey, it's a plug in, takes up no rack space, and will never need serviced. Did I mention, it sounds pretty damn close to a real 610? I don't have much experience with API pre's, but the fabled "tonal character" is present to my ear. Again, not that I have anything to compare to.

Conversion:
Coming from ADAT world, it all sounds good. As long as I get my 24 bit, I don't care. I don't understand people who are overly hung up on this topic. I researched it thoroughly. You know, there's not many chipsets manufactured that do the task well. You'd be surprised how many $500 interfaces have the same chipsets as interfaces that cost 2 times or more. Nuff said.

Headphone amps:
Nice having 2, but a little weak.

UAD2 DUO and Plug Ins:
I wish I had the QUAD. I have the general waves plug ins, EMI/Chandler, Logic Pro, Lexicon PCM. The compressors, all of them, are amazing. I believe them, sonically they sound "real." Oceanway, EMT140, Roland RE201, and Cooper Time Cube are also common players. I really love the channel EQ in Logic, and only use UAD EQ's for the sonic imprint they offer, and less for carving it out.
The Tape emulators rock, Ampex is on all my Stereo mixes. Studer is becoming part of nearly every tracks.
Tip: use the Studer as a compressor. It's gnarly, dirtys up tastefully, and just freakin looks cool to clients
The ability to track with UAD plug ins is the best. Recording straight to an interface is always lifeless to me. Now, I can run a Vocal through a 610B to a LA2A to the Studer emulator, all in the box. Not hardware, but certainly the next best thing.
As far as amp emulators, phase tools, etc...They are gimmicky...Sorry to say it...The Soft Tube Deluxe Reverb with a 57 on it sounds NOTHING like my custom color Deluxe Reveb Reissue with Jensen P12N. The AC15 is good sounding, just doesn't sound like an AC15. The Bass amps are rough, but have found homes in a few mixes. Metal Room is cool, but I like my ears, and veer away from metal these days The Little Labs skins are cool, but I see no point in spending big bucks on a phase tool, when Logic is perfectly capable already.
I only have an IMac, so running projects 88.2 or above seems to really work the computer hard. The DUO took a bit off, but on those high sample rate projects, I run out of DSP power quick.

Controls:
There's a lot of thought and technology in this piece. It is visually pleasing, and so functional. The interface with the "virtual console" is really cool. Lots of I/O options. Could run a small live show off this baby no problem!

In Summary:
It's hella expensive. I'm a broke musician, we're getting replaced by beat producers and DJ's these days. I'm lucky enough to record 3 - 4 actual bands a year, at my house. The expense was justified. Especially with the Plug in Voucher!
If it didn't have the UAD built in, the unit would be on par with an RME. Clean pre's, good I/O,etc...The UAD, and realtime tracking with plug ins capabilities set this baby on fire...The Virtual Pre's are amazing, and I've never had access to a better line up of compressors in my life.

If I lived in a cardboard box, I would still have my Apollo.

8th April 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by kaz1488

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Universal Audio Apollo

Don't let me 4/5 sound quality review throw you off. This is an incredible piece of gear for the price. The reason I downgraded it from a 5 to a 4 is because of the built-in preamps. Yes, you can bypass them, which I highly recommend doing. I'm not saying the pre's are BAD, but they're certainly nothing to write home about. Very clean, very boring. Sounds dull to me. There's a reason they really don't market the pre's when trying to sell this machine...But, what they do market, WOW, it's incredible. Just make sure to pair the Apollo up with some incredible outboard pre's, and you're good to go.

The first thing UAD tends to push is their UAD plug-in package. It comes standard with about 10 plugins, give or take a few, that range from pretty good to fantastic. But there is an extremely long list of additional plugins you can buy, and they're truly remarkable. A bit pricey, but totally worth it. Plus, you get some great coupons when you first register with UAD. Choose wisely. These are fantastic clones of analog gear. I can't oversell how amazing some of these plugs are. Another incredible aspect of the Apollo is that you can use these plugs in their Console application, rather than applying them in your DAW and drastically increasing latency. Some plugs are gonna give you latency no matter what -- primarily very heavy reverbs. However, you can just disable them and then apply them after you record to keep your monitoring latency down. However, most plugs haven't given me any latency issues. And I'll often run 4 at a time. Compressors/EQ's/Tape Machines/Etc.

I took ease of use down to a 4/5 because it takes some getting used to working with their console app in conjunction with your DAW if you're used to working strictly within your DAW. Utilizing the Console application is highly recommended. It's just a little irritating to get used to. But once you're up to speed on it, it's no issue at all.

The converters are incredibly clean. Any color you're going to get is primarily going to come from your pre's. Don't buy the Apollo if you're looking for converters that are going to drastically change your sound. Buy the Apollo if you're confident in your sound, and want a set of converters that can take what you put into it, and not **** with it at all.

Overall, I'm extremely impressed. It can run with the big boys.

25th June 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by Rokalias

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.5
Universal Audio Apollo

After a lot of research and phone calls about Interfaces .. I decided to go with the UA Apollo Duo .. What A Mistake !!

It is a good unit .. if you plan to work at 44.1 .. you get a large plug in count ..
anything over 44.1 , which i never work at .. 882. - 192 .. I get 4-8 mono plug ins.
Now I know why I never got a straight answer from UA. (yes, they do have the plug ins instance page on the UA website .. hmmm)

We could not get the FW and TB connections to work at the same time , ala - thndbolt connection for the interface and daisy chain FW800 audio drives.
UA techs took control of my system . we did all the same tech / plug in , disconnect . etc . that I's done and they had the same results.
After 3 weeks in repair .. they say they can't find a problem.

** update - a tech from UA just called and went thru my unit again before shipping out .. found that by re-istallng the firmware problem solved.

New Plan .. talking with metric Halo which is a really nice change .
You can actually talk with someone other than a tech ..
I have never been able to contact anyone above the tech level at UA.

As far as Sound .. the UA Apollo is good .. I like the imaging and separation .. a bit sterile which running through my analog console certainly helps.

Like most say . apples and oranges . and we all have out preferences as far as tone .. what we like and use.
I preferred my old BLA modded Digi 002r which actuall had better imaging and a different bottom end that I preferred.

the UA Apollo will be sold upon it's return ..
the good is . one less company to decide regarding the other Hardware I am purchasing

oh .. The UA plugs are good , but, not a lot of reason to purchase if you can't use them .. unless you want to bounce all your tracks .. hard to mix that way.. or another $1500 - $2000 for more DSP Hardware.
again, if you work at 44.1 .. you'll have plenty of plug ins for sessions and if so .. then $1999.xx for the Aollo Duo is a good Interface by todays standards.

I much prefer Hardware Mic Pres , EQ and Comps .. synths . and 95% of the time I mic my GTR Amps .. get most my tones going in and usually know what I'm after when working on projects.

My old 80's analog console, which back then we laughed at now makes most of the current Interfaces sound much better.

I've decided on my new Interface purchase to stay basic . no bells and whistles ..

  • 1
11th November 2014

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by mdme_sadie

  • Sound Quality 1 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.5
Universal Audio Apollo

The Apollo is a good option as a studio effects unit. Do not expect to utilize it as a primary converter though. While the ADC is alright if nothing spectacular the DAC end is pure mush, no bass definition, upper mid hump, very poor reproduction or clarity, virtually no separation. You will have extreme difficulty mixing or mastering with this unit as your DAC for more than bare bones tracks. However it's fine enough for tracking small groups and use as send/return on the UAD effects.

The UAD effects themselves are unremarkable standard digital effects, they don't seek to differentiate themselves from the crowd except by being able to run on DSP which is where their advantage lays. Thus you get the functional advantages of plugins (automation, recall, consistency) without the CPU overhead and with lower latency if used while tracking. Quality wise they're no different to any other plugins out there, so mostly pretty ropey, they can be used creatively but they're nothing like analog equipment outside of the skeumorphic interfaces which are unusually unwieldy in the form that UAD have given them. They're also among the most expensive plugins out there, you might expect them to be much better for the price and legacy of the company, but sadly no, they're as mediocre as they come.

The Apollo does have some nice features on it though, SPDIF automatic frequency conversion, four reasonable good input pre's, decent if strangely compressed ADC. Overall it's just a very overhyped and underperforming fx unit for the low end studio. Avoid.

30th August 2015

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by YRLK

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Universal Audio Apollo

I'm confident that there are better converters out there, but if you can't make good music with any piece of mid-to-high-end converter that's come out in the last few years: YOUR CONVERTER IS NOT THE PROBLEM.

The Apollo is a very well thought device. I have the quad, and I got mine BLA modded. *Probably a waste of several hundred dollars, realistically.

The converters are fine, the DSP works pretty solidly. The plug-ins, while over priced, do sound very excellent. I love the EMT-140. I've also recently been hearing some real analog reverbs too, but gosh: for ease of use and fast recall, the UA verbs are pretty awesome.

I think the DAC is a just slightly unclear/unwide, but I have a D-Box to take care of that. I'm sure other DAC options would perform the same role a bit better.

It's a very compact unit for what it does, so for doing everything that it does, offering you great control and great software for live throughput of audio (while either HEARING OR RECORDING sources with plug-ins on them), I think the Apollo is a fine unit.

Thanks UA.

  • 1
8th October 2015

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by Analogue rocks

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Universal Audio Apollo

For the money this is excellent, I also have unlimited access to two paired IZ radars and a 2"MCI .
THE APOLLO 16 is in my writing studio, but I don't use it just for drafts a lot of what is tracked through the Apollo ends up in final mixes. I love it, if you can't get a commercial sound out of this maybe it is time to consider a production course or a career change rather than an equipment change.

Both Adc and dac are absolutely fine (and if you can't trust your ears get a source file with a good dynamic range, record it through the UAD Adc then look at the wave file, then play it back through the Apollos dac, then record straight back in through the Apollo Adc, zero eq gain fx etc cut the desk out, compare the new wave file again , there are no strange artifacts, bass loss or irregular boost/cuts, the Apollo is indeed very flat which is what you want). Just a visual comparison only shows the peak dynamics have not changed but to compare what is happening within the wavefile file you need to spectrum analyse it.

After some experimenting I quickly learnt the Apollo likes to be the system clock. I work 24/96 until the bitter end of the chain. Shame the 16 lost Spdif!

I monitor mainly through Adams S3A'S (no sub), that forgive nothing, also material tracked (i'm old school so deleted "stems" from my dictionary along with HR:personel, PA:secretary, CEO:the #%nt upstairs) from the Apollo and imported files reproduce fine played back through the UAD DACs on the Tannoy golds in the large format studio and the bass on the Apollo is not lacking at all.
I feel some here (too many) write their opinions based on the regurgitated opinions of others and not their own true experiences.
Tracking without excepion into LPX OR PT I USE UAD CONSOLE, everything else I forget about console and drive within the DAW.
The LEXICON total reverb n effect bundle at £400 (if you shop around) again leaves UAD ROOM TO LOOK AT THEIR CURRENT PLUGIN PRICING STRUCTURE
The actual interface is superb value for the money

By the way I am firewire although my device has thunderbolt as does my mbp. WARNING IF YOU INITIALISE THUNDERBOLT firewire is gone Forever...., so no using it with the mac book pro Tbolt and mac pro tower Fwire, it is either/or

No master volume control within a Daw yes and no. Well there is a physical one, a chair ride away on the interface, another in console which is hidden except when tracking, I would have liked one within protools to drive from the Control 24. My everyday Workaround is wind the Apollo 16 volume up past what i want, pull the protools (or logic) master output fader back a third then that fader becomes my master volume, i have all the control i want within the daw. It only effects the monitor level nothing else. WARNING FOR FINAL MIX BOUNCE DO NOT USE THE ABOVE METHOD < BECAUSE YOUR MASTER FADER NEEDS TO BE UP UP UP
Routing is very straightforwards physical analogue, digital, plus virtual and very flexible both within the DAW and within console.
I have Logic Pro x and PT10HD, successfully synced on a cheese-grater 12 core mac both happily sharing the Apollo and running together.
LOGIC SYNCS TO PRO TOOLS. I use LPX to drive my outboard midi the only vi I use ever, is the LPX B3 and that is it.

Latest LPX upgrade wants me to abandon Mountain Lion so might have to abandon Logic. My PT10HD is stable and staying as is stuck on Mountain Lion as is my Control 24

If you get your head around the Apollo 16, it, it really is a fab piece of kit.

PLUGINS Now to the (are they expensive?) plugins, if you cost out just three UAD reverbs at list price you are all of a sudden arriving at the price of a used hardware PCM96. If you were to buy just 10 percent of the better uad plugins, it makes a used h7600 with an M7 / r 4000 ( both excellent another kings pajamas debate) look cheap. If you bought all the UAD PLUGINS IT BECOMES THE MOST EXPENSIVE PROCESSOR ON THE PLANET
The plugins are excellent , I feel they are overpriced and do not offer value for money. Along with the rest of my peers I feel all those that already had the legend compressor limiter bundles should have been given the reworked classic bundles of the same foc. The deals sometimes make buying the plugins a little more paletable, I do own the classic limiter compressor eq and tape bundles, also love the AMS rx16 would buy it if it goes on offer. For everyday pre interface compression the old faithfull 402 (don't pay more than 200 quid).

For people springing two grand plus for the higher end Apollo interfaces a better included plugin package would not go amiss

UAD AS A COMPANY, I had a serious problem, but within 48 hours i had received a brand new unit with reverse collection on my other unit, and call backs from the Nederlands and then the States the very first day. Uad were excellent, they were genuinely empathetic and understood the gravity of my situation. Their support if things go wrong is fantastic, I will buy more and also recommend them to proffesional users based upon my own experience this summer 2015.

Todays words of wisdom: the best bang for your buck and biggest impact on your recording (even with budget gear) without doubt is the 3 mins you spend optimising your Sound to Noise ratios, input levels, and high pass filter and/or EQ to cut unneeded low Hz's. The difference between this done correctly or incorrectly is a 100 times more audible, than the difference between a £500 converter and a £5000 ADDA converter (without doubt there are audible converter differences).

This is your Janet n John building block, good technique with mediocre gear will blow all the high end gear and no idea recordings out of the water

  • 1
1st August 2017

Universal Audio Apollo Quad TOC2 by jay_phoenix

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Universal Audio Apollo

This is my second Apollo.
The First one died.
It caused me a lot of headaches, anxiety and fear. I could not actually afford this. I'm just a novice EDM producer with expensive taste. I also went through the phase of "if I buy this piece of gear it'll take me to the next level" WRONG!!
Am I happy I bought it? Absolutely. Lets get back to the dead Apollo. Upon turning the card on it would click a bunch times and not connect to the computer. I spent many hours on the phone to UA and they finally told me to ship it off for repair.
I got it back and they said it was good to go but it was not. I sent them videos of what the card was doing. They told me to take it to the store I bought it from and get a new one,which was impressive imo. Here's the Kicker:At that time they were including $700 of plugins (above the standard bundle) with a new Apollo and they honoured that deal with my replacement.To me that spoke volumes about the company I had invested $3000 of my hard earned dollars with.

This review is not going to be full of technical specs and industry jargon because like I said I'm an un-educated novice producer. One thing I have been blessed with is an ear for what sounds good and what does not, having been a music lover and DJ for 15+ years.So hear goes:
The Apollo sounds Great. I have only owned 4 soundcards so far and this one is on another level from the rest. I did have an Apogee Duet which I believed sounded really good IMO.I still have a Motu Firelite and the difference between the two is outstanding.(I am aware that the Motu is a $600 card).The representation is accurate enough to hear minute eq adjustments.The soundscape is wide but not too wide. Be careful as some UA plugins are guilty of removing some low end from your material. At least I've noticed this.

The re-worked console app is okay , however I wish I had the option to NOT use it and save the DSP. Im a producer and I do very little recording.Console eating up 26% of my DSP just sitting there being useless is a definite hit on the Apollo for me. If I could Just switch off the console app and recover that DSP this thing would be 26% more useful to me, as DSP in this ecosystem isn't cheap.
The routing capabilities are not the best either in my opinion. Yes they added alt monitoring, but if you have a sub in your setup it can become a bit tricky.

One thing I absolutely HATE about the Apollo is the power switch.While beefy and will most likely function for a very, very long time (which I appreciate very much) if your mains are on when you switch this thing off it will cause your speakers to make a loud sound that does not sound like its good for the speakers . To me I find it very difficult to believe that UA- the company that built such iconic gear could not have come up with a better power switch? Come on.Really? Or at least make it some how that if I mute the speakers this won't happen. I know the work around for this is simple, but I shouldn't have to on a piece of gear that costs 3k.

All of my ranting aside-this thing has been solid as a rock since I got it replaced. In the EDM world people make amazing music with far inferior gear so its not always what you own but more what you can get out of the gear you have. Took me while to realize this. There are a lot of people using this soundcard in the industry and for good reason. If you can afford it---and believe me its like being in the Apple ecosystem---freaking expensive--it will serve you well.Keep your eyes out for deals-I picked up a TB quad satellite for $900 to add to my Apollo quad and now I'm good to go. Still if UA told me how much money I've spent with them I'd probably puke.--however my crappy music sounds good sonically!

 
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