Gear Review: Universal Audio Apollo Twin Interface w/ Rory PQ

In this gear review, Dubspot’s Rory PQ takes us through Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin Audio Interface with Realtime UAD Processing and Thunderbolt connectivity. Get an in-depth look at this class-leading audio interface, its many features, and included software.

Apollo Twin

Apollo Twin Interface with Realtime UAD Processing and Thunderbolt

Universal Audio is a name driven by one of the world’s leading development companies of audio recording products, including legendary studio analog hardware and award-winning authentic analog emulation UAD plugins. Founded in 1958 by renowned audio engineer Bill Putnam Sr., “the father of modern recording,” Universal Audio has been pioneering innovative audio recording products for more than 50 years.

Bill Putnam Sr

Much of UA’s success is credited to their astonishing ability to recreate the authentic sound of analog through a long line of UAD-2 Powered Plugins. Whether tracking, mixing or mastering in your favorite DAW, UAD-2 Powered Plugins provide the most impressive analog hardware emulations of classic gear used in studios around the world. Powered by UA’s famous Apollo Interfaces and DSP Accelerator hardware, UAD-2 Powered Plugins also improves the processing power of your host computer, allowing for more complex mixes with higher-quality results thanks to onboard Analog SHARC processing. With regular free software updates, VST, AU and RTAS support, and compatibility with the latest operating systems, it’s no wonder why UAD-2 Powered Plugins are the choice tools of the world’s top musicians, producers, and engineers.

Meet the Apollo Twin

Building on the success of their class-leading resolution and Realtime UAD Processing, UA has set a new standard for desktop music production with the all new Apollo Twin audio interface. This compact and portable 2×6 Mac Thunderbolt interface allows you to record with near-zero latency through the full range of UAD Powered Plugins. The high-resolution desktop-friendly Apollo Twin is available with either UAD-2 SOLO or UAD-2 DUO DSP Processing onboard and packs the same class-leading 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion as its acclaimed predecessors. Housed in an elegant brushed-aluminum casing, the Apollo Twin features two premium mic/line preamps, two line outputs, front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphones output, two digitally-controlled analog monitor outputs, and up to eight channels of additional digital input via an Optical connection.

Apollo Twin

The appeal of the Apollo Twin goes far beyond its modern design, premium components, and exceptional build quality. The connection speed, impressive sound quality, professional features, digital-to-analog conversion abilities, and unrivaled capabilities makes this audio interface unmatched by other interfaces in its price range. Although this is an incredible piece of gear, it has its drawbacks. The Thunderbolt connection provides lightning-fast PCIe speed, but unfortunately this means it’s only compatible with modern Macs and not Windows PCs. In addition, you have to supply your own Thunderbolt cable. Other then those two setbacks, this thing is amazing!

Apollo Twin

Realtime UAD Processing

Embraced by musicians, producers, and audio engineers universally, the Apollo Twin has truly reinvented desktop recording by introducing Realtime UAD Processing with new Unison™ technology, a breakthrough in classic mic preamp emulation. Unlike any other audio interface on the market, you can record your music in real-time with near-zero latency through vintage Compressors, EQs, Tape Machines, Guitar Amps, and many other hardware emulation plugins. It’s important to note that UAD-2 devices can only load UAD Powered Plugins, which are specifically designed to run on UAD-2 DSP accelerators. Native and third-party plugins will not run on the UAD-2 DSP.

Included Console 2.0 Software and UAD Plugin Bundle

All Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo Twin’s now include the new Console 2.0 software and “Realtime Analog Classics” UAD plugin bundle.

Console 2.0 Software

The new Console 2.0 software runs on your host computer and is designed to provide quick access to control various features and functionality in a familiar, easy-to-use mixer interface. The high-resolution / Retina-compatible 64-bit software has a welcoming analog-style workflow with mixer Channel Strips and two independent stereo Auxiliary busses. Console 2.0 gives you access to enable tracking and/or monitoring with or without Realtime UAD Processing, control virtual I/O routings with or without a DAW or any other audio software, and much more. You can also save and recall session configurations or your favorite UAD plugins, as well as choose from 101 Channel Strip presets designed by top producers and engineers. In addition, the Console 2.0 software comes loaded with over 25 user-requested features, including:

  • Plug-in categories and individual Show/Hide
  • Drag & Drop plug-ins for quick assignment
  • New plug-in preset auditioning
  • Per-channel Rec/Mon effects switches
  • Multi-level Undo and Redo
  • Dynamically resizable, independent windows
  • Show/Hide channel strips, devices, and more

Realtime Analog Classics Bundle

Apollo Twin

The “Realtime Analog Classics Bundle” is included free with the Apollo Twin SOLO/DUO and comes loaded with many essential UAD Powered Plugins to get you started tracking and mixing out of the box. Some of the best analog emulations include the Legacy 1176SE/LN Classic Limiting Amplifiers, Pultec Pro Equalizers, and the Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier. Also included is the legendary UA 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ, vintage Raw Distortion Plugin, Softube Amp Room Essentials for guitar and bass amp emulations, CS-1 Precision Channel, and RealVerb Pro. Before purchasing additional plugins to maximize your arsenal its highly recommended to view UA’s Instances Chart to see DSP usage for each plugin and how many instances of UAD Powered Plugins can run simultaneously.

At the Helm

apollo twin

Apollo Twin’s top panel has a few easily accessible controls for various operations. The enticing Level Knob & Switch controls multiple functions depending on the selected operating mode and the current settings within that mode. The two operating modes are selected with Preamp and Monitor buttons. Preamp Mode allows you to control input functions and adjust the two analog input channels. When in Preamp mode, the Level Knob is used to change the selected channel. Monitor Mode has two main stereo output types: Monitor and Headphone. The Level Knob is used to set the volume level for both output types. Along the bottom are a series of additional buttons used to control various preamp options. The commonly used controls allow you to select the input jack for the active channel, enable the low cut filter, enable 48-volt phantom power for the mic input, attenuate the signal with Pad, invert the phase with Polarity Ø, and link the stereo inputs.

Apollo Expanded

Universal Audio

Those looking to harness more DSP and run even more instances of UAD Powered Plugins will be pleased to know about UA’s announcement of Apollo Expanded. The feature update provides Mac users of Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo Twin, Apollo DUO, Apollo QUAD, and Apollo 16 audio interfaces to cascade up to four Apollos and six total UAD-2 devices — adding I/O and DSP as their studio grows.

Apollo Expanded also lets Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo users enjoy:

  • Simple Thunderbolt cable cascading between units
  • Powerful new Flex Driver allowing users to configure Core Audio I/O — name, save, and share presets for different hardware setups and DAWs
  • Star clocking over Thunderbolt, distributing high-quality clock to all Apollos
  • The ability to add an Apollo Twin for desktop monitor control as well as additional DSP and connectivity

Key Features

  • Desktop 2×6 Thunderbolt audio interface with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion
  • Realtime UAD Processing for tracking through vintage Compressors, EQs, Tape Machines,
    Mic Preamps, and Guitar Amp plug-ins with near-zero (sub-2ms) latency
  • Thunderbolt connection for blazing-fast PCIe speed and rock-solid performance on
    modern Macs
  • Unison™ technology offers stunning models of classic tube and transformer-based
    mic preamps
  • Two premium mic/line preamps; Two line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input
    and headphones output
  • Two digitally controlled analog monitor outputs for full resolution at all listening levels
  • Up to eight channels of additional digital input via Optical connection
  • Uncompromising analog design, superior components, and premium build quality
  • Runs UAD Powered Plug-Ins via Audio Units, VST, RTAS & AAX64 in all major DAWs

Is the Apollo Twin for You?

The Apollo Twin truly provides a serious audio interface with professional functionality for those looking for a portable desktop recording solution. Its UAD functionality and Unison technology give you access to a wide variety of emulated analog gear and real-time recording options that can’t be found on other interfaces in its class. I found it extremely easy to operate, although the Console 2.0 software took a minute to figure out. I absolutely love the design, and the build quality is solid. The brushed aluminum finish complements my Mac and other studio gear nicely. The sound quality is simply amazing, and the included plugins have helped me step up my mixes tremendously.

Although this as a brilliant interface, there’s some things to be aware of before you purchase one. The Thunderbolt connections make this interface compatible with only Thunderbolt-equipped Macs. This interface will not work with Windows PCs. Also, if you plan on slapping multiple instances of plugins on your mix, you may be disappointed. You will quickly find out that the Apollo Twin doesn’t have the amount of DSP power as it’s bigger brothers, limiting how many plugins you can use simultaneously. It’s highly recommended to check out UA’s Instances Chart. Other than those setbacks, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin is an absolutely amazing device. It’s versatility, features, and outstanding audio quality is sure to impress anyone who is looking for a top-notch audio interface for their studio.

Purchase Information

Price: $699 for the Single-processor SOLO | $899 for the dual-processor DUO

Where to Buy:  Find a Dealer

Visit Universal Audio’s website for additional information and purchase details here.

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