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Apollo Unison vs. Hardware Equivalents
Old 14th February 2015
  #1
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Apollo Unison vs. Hardware Equivalents

Thought I'd share this - just my opinion. Recently bought an Apollo Twin and have the 1073, 610, and API Vision pre-amp models for the Unison Pres. Also happened to have a Neve 1073LB 500 module. Ran some comparisons with electric guitar DI and a female vocalist (who happens to be an audio engineer) - for the life of us, neither of us could really make out a difference between the UAD and the hardware. The hardware was maybe a touch smoother in some spots, but bordering on muddy almost.

Either way, I sold the 1073LB without hesitation. If I can barely hear the difference, I'm betting that 99.9% of folks listening to my music won't be able to.

Anybody else have similar experiences with the Apollo?

I have an API 527 and am contemplating selling that as well, but in-the-box compression isn't really that useful when tracking peaky sources (like some singers).

Last edited by Clonkified; 14th February 2015 at 02:45 AM..
Old 14th February 2015
  #2
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mangiedog's Avatar
I bought the Apollo Twin two weeks ago, I was thinking of buying a real 1073 to compare as I am blown away with the sound of unison. You've just cleared that up for me and saved me the time and money, thanks! The only hardware I have is the Avalon 737sp, the Apollo pee's all over it, putting the Avalon on eBay this week...
Old 14th February 2015
  #3
In before the haters, I have to say the two most amazing upgrades I have made in my professional career this year have been moving to the Apollo Quad and making the Neumann KH120s my main monitors.

I've worked in studios with most of the hardware modeled on the UAD platform and especially with Unison - There is very little difference when tracking and mixing and after its sent to the mastering engineer - no way.

I just hope it keeps getting better and better.
Old 14th February 2015
  #4
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Interfaces and monitoring are critical. Software vs. Hardware for mixing gear is still something I'm on the fence about. ITB mixing can sound beautiful, but even a "decent" compressor on my mix bus will create an effect I've never heard from any software. It might just be a quicker way to get there. But to me the hardware debate is not yet settled, and I'll be investing more dollars in both hardware and software in the coming months. I will say that the UAD gets closer than most of what I have heard for plugins, it's pretty amazing, I am stuck on UAD right now for my mixing basics.

Last edited by monkeyxx; 14th February 2015 at 04:32 PM..
Old 14th February 2015
  #5
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What would you consider a decent mix bus compressor? Any comparison files compared to software?
Old 14th February 2015
  #6
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Tal Black's Avatar
 

I got an Apollo a few weeks ago. I too was shocked at how well it models things. I have a hware 610B and compared the two. First surprise was the EQ on the model: to my ear it did EXACTLY what the hware EQ does. I mean EXACTLY! During set up I often audition the EQ on vox just to see what it does. Occasionally something really pops when the knob is moved and I'll leave it on.
I found the software 610B BETTER in the breakup/warmth dept. It was smoother, more predictable than the Hware unit which tends to get nasty faster (at least mine does, factory tubes)


For the record the mastering deck models surprised me as well. Kick drum poking out a bit? Mess with the tape formulations. I kid you not. The low-low mid detail that the Apollo seems to deliver makes it possible. I listen thru Adam A7's

I honestly think a decent engineer could pretty convincingly ape an 80's era, 2 inch tape production on this thing.

Last edited by Tal Black; 14th February 2015 at 04:18 PM.. Reason: Clarity
Old 14th February 2015
  #7
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monkeyxx's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clonkified View Post
What would you consider a decent mix bus compressor? Any comparison files compared to software?
I'm using a Behringer MDX2100 Composer and an Alesis 3630.

Before you laugh, both have been upgraded/modified, and sound really good.

I can't offer any sound files right now, but to my ear, the hardware instantly has "character" where software tends to sound more liquid and transparent when inserted.

I don't think the unison preamp nails the 610 sound either, from memory, but it's been years since I've owned a 610. The Unison 610 is a good emulation, though. You do get the same general tone.

I think some of the Waves, UAD, Native Instruments, Softube, Cytomic, etc software has a medium "character" but it's still not 1:1 to the hardware. It's more like, half way there.

My ears love hardware, but, I mix with software all the time. It's just so flexible and reliable.

I still have to say I think a properly done big budget analog production from Nigel Godrich, Butch Vig, or whomever is still the best sound, vs ITB stuff.

This is why I plan on expanding my mix hardware... eventually.

I'm just not in a big rush because software gets me most of the way there.
Old 14th February 2015
  #8
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Lenzo's Avatar
I had my Apollo modded by BLA and have had it back for a few weeks. Just to say that it sounded quite good before, but the mod just adds a sheen to the sound and makes the plugs sound just that much better. Not as dramatic a difference as when they modded my 002r, but still well worth it in my opinion. It just makes the Apollo more fun to work with.
L.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #9
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proxy's Avatar
 

I sold my BAE 1073 when I got my Apollo Twin.

So impressed with the unison 1073 plug in, and love having low latency UAD compressors for the vocal chain.

I use 1073 into LA2A into Fairchild with amazing results.

Wildly impressed with UA's Apollo + Unison.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #10
I bought an Apollo Twin right about the time the Neve 1073 Unison came out. The unit came with 3 free plug ins of my choosing. I chose the 1073, API Vision and Ocean Way (already came with the 610B). I love tracking with realtime plug ins and while I tend to use my Daking mic pre most of the time, every time I use the unison pres, usually with the 1073, I am never disappointed. In fact, always impressed with the result.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #11
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Ive compared the unison pres with a la610 mk2 and the 1073 plugin with a great river.

Both sounds very simular. Its unbelievable. Still the hardware has the edge, but its nearly there. For drums and percussion i always use the api plugin as this suits the soundsource better then my hardware preamps. Universal audio did an outstanding job with this one.
Old 23rd May 2015
  #12
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Tal Black's Avatar
 

I've been using the 610 (6176) for years Tried the Unison 610 and was absolutely shocked at how much it sounded like the hardware. Even the high shelver was DEAD ON. One very surprising diff I noticed is that when pushed the Unison broke up slower and prettier than the hardware did. If an 'Adele' turned up in my studio I'd put her thru the software version.
Old 16th June 2015
  #13
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bled05's Avatar
New To Apollo

I just upgraded to the Apollo Duo and it blows me away how good it sounds, especially the plugins. I'm a small project studio and my latest interface before this one was a Presonus Firepod and it was OK, but the Apollo is in another league altogether. I have some pretty decent condenser mics, including a newly purchased sE Electonics sE 2200 aII, which I really love. I'm hoping to add more mic pre inputs to my current apollo setup so I can have at least 8 inputs, maybe 12, so I can record my band and others live, as well as some more, higher-quality mics. I've been looking at some of the mid-range multi channel mic pres and wonder if my investment would be served better by getting something like the Focusrite OctoPre over something like the Audient ASP 880. This conversation begs the question of whether to spend extra money on hardware mic pres, or buy better mics and something like the OctoPre and rely on the UAD unison plugins for tracking live? I wonder, for example, if I used something like a Focusrite ISA 4, if I'd need all of it's bells and whistles when I could get more inputs with the Octo and just rely on the UAD plugins for the live signal? Sorry if I sound like I'm pretty green, I am! Thanks a lot!
Old 17th June 2015
  #14
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hater in da house! let me start off with .. wtf? let me continue with, as a UAD user, what the hell is unison? is it any different from a regular UAD plug?
Old 17th June 2015
  #15
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carlosguardia's Avatar
I love my Apollo and moving from an M Audio Profire 2626 to the Apollo was like going from a Toyota to a Mercedes Benz. I really like the preamps but compared to my API 512C or my Chandler TG 2, they lack a little. They are much better than the M Audio preamps and I even like them better than my Black Lion Audio Auteur, but they're nothing extraordinary.
Old 17th June 2015
  #16
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peat's Avatar
same here with apollo,

Have sat in studios with 1073's, blue stripes and pultecs and still used the unison preamps and modelled hardware in the console app before hitting Pro Tools.
Sounds incredible to me.

I really don't care about hardware vs software and never have.
What ever gets you there... actually it's usually what ever is closest and easiest to use, just go for it.
Old 18th June 2015
  #17
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Anyone here using the 1073 MKII plug/unison on the new 8P Apollo quad? How many instances are you getting?

I've read of users getting only 4 instances on a Quad Apollo. Perhaps this is due to the sample rates they're running (UAD's instance chart is based on 44.1 sample rates), or they have the EQ's turned on (even if not using them), etc.

Looking for a slim portable set up (macbook pro + Apollo). I'm torn between the Apollo 8 and 8p. The 8 (4 mic pres) has 2 additional line outs vs the 8p. I have a good console, so it's a plus for those addition outs.

I do want/need 8 mic pres (so I don't have to lug my big/heavy separate pres to locations), but to me it seems the big selling point of the Apollo 8p is the unison thingy, but if the Quad 8p can't do 8 instances of unison 1073 MKII's, it seems like a short sell, especially since the 8p is $500 more and has 2 less line outs.


Last edited by Fleaman; 18th June 2015 at 09:46 AM..
Old 16th November 2015
  #18
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
Anyone here using the 1073 MKII plug/unison on the new 8P Apollo quad? How many instances are you getting?

I've read of users getting only 4 instances on a Quad Apollo. Perhaps this is due to the sample rates they're running (UAD's instance chart is based on 44.1 sample rates), or they have the EQ's turned on (even if not using them), etc.

Looking for a slim portable set up (macbook pro + Apollo). I'm torn between the Apollo 8 and 8p. The 8 (4 mic pres) has 2 additional line outs vs the 8p. I have a good console, so it's a plus for those addition outs.

I do want/need 8 mic pres (so I don't have to lug my big/heavy separate pres to locations), but to me it seems the big selling point of the Apollo 8p is the unison thingy, but if the Quad 8p can't do 8 instances of unison 1073 MKII's, it seems like a short sell, especially since the 8p is $500 more and has 2 less line outs.

Anyone ever figure out if you can use 8 channels of 1073 Unison with the Apollo 8P?
Old 17th November 2015
  #19
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jcat5503 View Post
Anyone ever figure out if you can use 8 channels of 1073 Unison with the Apollo 8P?
I've been researching this for awhile and it seems to be a 'results can vary' answer.

With an Apollo Quad and 1073 unison MKII>
>Some seem to only get 4 instances
>Some can get 8 instances, but at 44.1k sampling rate (which matches UAD's instance chart)
>Some can get 8 instances @ 96k!

Some posts about this on the last 2 pgs of this thread>
Musikmesse 2015: Universal Audio announces Apollo thunderbolt 2 for 2015

Last 2 pgs of this thread starting at post 55>
New APOLLO blackface Converters

UAD instance chart>
UAD Instance Chart

At the bottom of the chart are notations that the instance chart was derived at a 44.1k sample rate.
And that it appears to be derived from non-apollo processing (like a PCIe card).
From UAD>

"Apollo interfaces use DSP and memory resources for its internal mixer. Therefore, the UAD Meters will show some DSP and memory usage when Apollo is connected even if UAD plug-ins are not loaded, and instance counts in this chart will be higher than available on Apollo-only systems."


According to UAD's instance chart, it would not be possible to get 8 instances of the 1073 MKII @ 96k, but a poster in one of those threads I linked claimed they did.
I suppose that poster turned off 'Load Lock' and some parts of the plug/processor, though they didn't specify (I think).
Old 5th February 2016
  #20
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The Apollo twin is truly a great analog interface. If I'm using anything other than a tube mic, my vocals sound very harsh, dry, and grainy. (That's from a c314) . I bought a rode nkt(tube mic). The difference to me is anything but subtle. I found the missing link. (tubes) My point is... use a tube mic with the Apollo. Also, IMO the unison plugins ,to me, just add volume/gain to the mic & a slight tonal charachter . No true warmth or smoothness. There's no way to emulate a true tube sound. Like I said, to me, the plugins just seem to add gain. With that being said, I'm looking to purchase a 6176. Seeing what a difference a tube mic has made , Id like to hear what the c314 sounds like going through a top tube pre and overall just having the options between two types of pre's.
Old 5th February 2016
  #21
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I've never used any of the real hardware preamps but I know that the Apollo line is awesome! I went from an mbox 3 to the Apollo twin to the apollo 8 in stuck on UAD now! I took my Apollo to a few friends house and they ordered them on the spot! It's a great product for small guys to get the big time feel. In the last year I've purchased the Apollo twin Apollo 8 and I got the quad thunderbolt for free
Old 5th February 2016
  #22
I don't use the Apollo (or any UAD plug-ins); I notice the positive reviews so I have no doubt as to the quality of the sound based on that.

My question, in the context of the thread, is: the hardware equivalents will have a slight variance in sound (especially as they grow older and the parts 'mature') whereas the software will always sound the same; is there an issue in that music created with this software becomes homogeneous or do users feel that the differences in source and room will alleviate this?
Old 5th February 2016
  #23
I've heard shootouts between the Unison 1073 and the Heritage 1073 (which supposedly isn't even as good as the 1073lb)

UAD 1073 Unison/Heritage Audio 1073(sound files)

Heritage beat it pretty darn easily. It's its a large enough difference to keep your preamp. I don't see an apollo replacing a nice 1073 any time soon! Plus when you record into better a converter, the real 1073 will sound even better than it would through an apollo. That said, it's in the ballpark, as are a lot of plugin emulations of famous hardware. If you can make it work, go for it! Just use what works for you! I love adding 1073 emulations to my recordings. Even though I record through a tube preamp, I still add preamp emulations + 1073 emulations on all my vocal tracks!
Old 5th February 2016
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by D.perez View Post
The Apollo twin is truly a great analog interface. If I'm using anything other than a tube mic, my vocals sound very harsh, dry, and grainy. (That's from a c314) . I bought a rode nkt(tube mic). The difference to me is anything but subtle. I found the missing link. (tubes) My point is... use a tube mic with the Apollo. Also, IMO the unison plugins ,to me, just add volume/gain to the mic & a slight tonal charachter . No true warmth or smoothness. There's no way to emulate a true tube sound. Like I said, to me, the plugins just seem to add gain. With that being said, I'm looking to purchase a 6176. Seeing what a difference a tube mic has made , Id like to hear what the c314 sounds like going through a top tube pre and overall just having the options between two types of pre's.
I too went on a mic hunt for what is best for my voice. I haven't tried tubes since I was concerned about them being too dark with my LA610.

But when I put my mics through the Apollo's 1073 in Unison that made the difference. It was the 1073 that did what I was looking for in a microphone.

As for my mics, I started testing combinations and found that the TLM103 and Bluebird complement each other. Which is very strange. I like the Highs on the bluebird vs the TLM and the Mids on the TLM vs the bird plus I can get any proximity by moving in on the TLM if I want more bottom.

But what both lack, the Neve smooths over. If a real neve/clone is better, I have no doubt, but the software is a 10+ step compared to the 610's and the LA610 hardware.

So instead of comparing software to it's counterpart for hobbyists, try comparing software clone of high end verses mid-range hardware. THAT is where these plugins shine and show their value.
Old 5th February 2016
  #25
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kangking View Post
...and the Heritage 1073 (which supposedly isn't even as good as the 1073lb)
I think it's actually the opposite of that....
Old 6th February 2016
  #26
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Here is what I see as the bottom line, we are finally in the days where the variance in sonics between hardware and software are very close to, if not equal to hardware.

This is a very good thing for this passion of ours and I am as excited for the future as I've ever been!!!!

In the not so distant future we will no longer see attempts to duplicate existing hardware but rather create interesting software based tone modifiers that are not based on recreating previous units that will provide compelling reasons to buy the next great plugin!!!

Waves is trying it, but UA/Slate will likely truly develop it! Slate has already done it with their most recent eq plugin.
Old 6th February 2016
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
I think it's actually the opposite of that....
I'd like that to be true, but i highly doubt that. I'd like to see a shootout between these 2 preamps!
Old 6th February 2016
  #28
Anyway to the op. Posting the files will definitely help us all. (And dont cheat either to try to justify your interface) lol
Old 7th February 2016
  #29
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kangking View Post
I'd like that to be true, but i highly doubt that. I'd like to see a shootout between these 2 preamps!
Here you go> Neve 1073LB or Heritage Audio 73JR?

The consensus in that thread was the opposite of what you mentioned.

YMMV
Old 7th February 2016
  #30
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Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kangking View Post
I've heard shootouts between the Unison 1073 and the Heritage 1073 (which supposedly isn't even as good as the 1073lb)

UAD 1073 Unison/Heritage Audio 1073(sound files)
Just wanted to make some comments on this test.
Not taking sides or declaring winners, only wanted to point out some things>>>

> This was not the same take. 2 separate performances and all that entails. Including proximity effect, etc.
> It appears he set the gains to be identical by number only, not by ear. It's possible the UAD 1073 might of not been driven as hard as the Heritage.
> UAD didn't model the Heritage. All the clones, including Neve reissues, all sound different. In the link I posted previously there was preference for the Heritage over the Neve reissue. So there's that.
> Was not a blind test. So way more bias is involved of course.
> The UAD 1073 EQ was not engaged. This affects the sound quite a bit actually, just engaging the EQ even if controls are flat. The audio goes through the EQ circuit, inductors and all. This is a common 'trick' if you will on the hardware 1073's. UAD has modeled this into their plug I believe. His Heritage appeared to be a non-EQ version, hence his reasoning to not engage the UAD EQ circuit. But it's possible Heritage might of designed/tuned their pre to somewhat make up for the lack of the EQ 'circuit', I dunno. Just thinking out loud.

That being said, I'd like to see a stacked multitracked shootout, say UAD 1073 vs Neve reissue, gains/saturations matched as best by ear, say 10+ trks at least, no eq, no processing at all, same performance with a mic splitter box.
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