This site is supported by the advertisements on it, please disable your AdBlocker so we can continue to provide you with the quality content you expect.

Welcome to Our Community

Wanting to join the rest of our members? Feel free to sign up today.

Who's Used Apollo? Studio Upgrade Advice

Discussion in 'Backline' started by Melodeath, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    I'm considering a major studio gear change, and can't decide if it's a good move or a complete waste of money.

    I'm currently running a 2010 Macbook Pro with a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56. When I need more than 8 pres/inputs, I add my m-Audio Profire 2626 with ADAT. This has served me well for many recordings, but I feel like it's time for a computer upgrade, as I've had a few projects recently where I had to start freezing tracks, and I absolutely hate having to do that, so I need more power. I'm also quite curious about newer audio interfaces and whether they offer sonic advantages. I am not displeased at all with my recordings, but if they could sound better just through slightly "improved" pres/converters of newer interfaces, I'd be all for it.

    My original plan was a Retina 27" iMac and an Apollo 8p. This would be an awesome computer, a great interface, and grant me access to UAD's plug-in library (which might be useful since I actually do FAR more mixing and mastering than recording). This would be a pretty awesome setup I think, but it's a $5.5k investment, and while the computer is certainly a massive upgrade, I'm not entirely sure how much better an Apollo will sound than my LS 56. It's an exciting proposition, though.

    Alternatively, I could build a beast of a PC for about $1.5k, and keep my current interfaces (LS 56 supports Windows 10). This saves me a ton of money, but isn't nearly as exciting. Additionally, I'm a little bit nervous about going back to Windows after mixing in OS X for the past 5.5 years. I'm sure I could handle it, but I've enjoyed using OS X during these years, and I'm sure El Capitan is even better than Snow Leopard (which is the one I've been using)

    Does anyone feel they have some relevant advice, or can offer some insight into their experience with Apollo? Someone talk some damn sense into me
     
  2. Machinated

    Machinated Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,230
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I've got one of the first generation Apollo's and its killer. the plugins are solid and its actually nice tracking through them so seamlessly and committing. DSP is much better than the reputation some people seem to hold it in, what's crazy to me is avid can't find a way of marketing it as appealing as uad do.
     
  3. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    What gets me is how expensive UAD plugs are. I know they run sales a lot, but you're still looking at a significant chunk of change just to grab a couple of their plugs. I'm worried it would be a money sink. I'm the type of guy that ALWAYS buys a plug after demoing (from any manufacturer). I already own Slate VMR, which includes a 1073 EQ, but I'd probably get the UAD one as well just so I could utilize the Unison Preamp technology on the Apollo. I imagine it's better than the Liquid Pres on the LS 56, which I don't even use tbh.
     
  4. Machinated

    Machinated Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,230
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I've not paid full price for a single plugin, they often give you coupons and free plugins from time to time. tbh its good marketing because it works but the only time you might find yourself paying full price for a plugin is if you desperately want one that's JUST been released.

    Also, whenever you register a new plugin your demo's get reset, so if you're clever you can just demo the ones you want while you need them and if you need to extend it just buy a cheap plugin from them. I've demo'd the API and neve channel strips numerous times to track through when I have a band in to do drums or whatever and they're printed to the tracks on the way in. I'll wait until they're on sale or when I have money to actually buy them.

    when I bought my apollo I got the studer, EMT140, neve 88RS, helios and precision enhancer free on top of the stuff you get anyway. there's also a pretty good offer you only get when you register new hardware where you can save a lot. sometimes it can work cheaper to buy a satellite and use that offer....

    and ultimately, their plugins are good, but they're just plugins. you can certainly live without them however nice they are.
     
  5. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    So their normal Plug-In Promotion does include the Apollo sometimes? I'm assuming that's how you got Studer, EMT, 88RS, and Precision Enhancer. Right now it's running only for the Apollo Twin, and it goes through December, which means no chance of an Apollo promo until next year
     
  6. Matt-Steele

    Matt-Steele Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    New York
    I have an Apollo and love it. I even switched to the Mac platform because of their support for Thunderbolt under console 2. I suggest not moving to an Apollo without a Mac period. DAW DSP usage under PC is highly sketchy! I've been through many different interfaces and I've really never been completely happy with any of them till I found the Apollo. The Apollo does everything I expect from a high end interface.

    I also own a TON of the UAD plug ins. I'm really in love with them. But beware, not all of UAD's lug ins are of the same quality. IMHO nothing can touch the UAD plugs especially for saturation. Their tape plug ins are simply the best on the planet. Unfortunately, their plug ins are getting more and more DSP heavy. Just don't go in thinking you'll be able to use multiple instances of some of their new plug ins. The reality of the situation i you will probably be able to get away with one or two of the newer high end plug ins while tracking and need to commit the effect.

    The aspect of the Apollo that is unrivaled IMHO is in their virtual preamp/unison technology. It is simply amazing and I can't live without it now.

    http://www.pro-tools-expert.com/hom...s-universal-audio-unison-technology-work.html

    "In the words of Universal Audio “More than three years in the making, Unison is an exclusive analog/digital integration system that gives the user continuous, realtime, bi-directional control and interplay between Apollo’s physical hardware and UAD software mic preamp models. With Unison, the Apollo mic preamp’s analog impedance, gain stage sweet spots, and component-level circuit behaviors are adjusted in real time prior to analog-to-digital conversion to accurately emulate the target mic preamp model.”

    If you have more questions I haven't already answered, feel free to ask away
     
  7. ~BURNY~

    ~BURNY~ Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Messages:
    5,096
    Likes Received:
    66
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Care to elaborate? I was considering the Twin Duo usb, now I'm worried.
     
  8. Machinated

    Machinated Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,230
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    I'm sure he means the FireWire based ones which I think we're always a bit iffy with Windows. Can't imagine those new USB ones will have issues.

    I bought my Apollo quad just before the update hence the deal they were doing - always worth holding out for promotions if you can as something will definitely come up. Guessing there's nothing on them atm as they're still pretty new.....

    If you can id say get a quad if you're looking to mix with quite a few plugins. A quad has been perfect for me so far but with a duo or less I'd have to change things a bit. That said there is enough native versions to cope - except for the the EMT 140 and Fairchild, those are usually the first ones I pull up.

    I dig the studer more than slates but slates is perfectly usable and the uad takes quite a bit of DSP. I also think their 1176's are the best in plugins, I find the slate release too slow. Also the uad has more varieties, and the rev A is killer. if I'm running out of DSP I use slate 1176's on backing vocals and less important tracks and it works fine....
     
  9. Matt-Steele

    Matt-Steele Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    New York
    Sure, I've had extensive discussions with UAD technical support with regards to getting DSP plug ins working smoothly under windows Firewire. It was an incredibly frustrating situation I was in, and it pretty much came down to this... I had to play with my system hardware configuration until things just worked. UAD told me I had to resolve IRQ conflicts on my own which meant un-installing and re-installing hardware until the IRQ channel the Apollo used had no other hardware sharing that IRQ channel. Easier said than done.

    Years back when I first got my Apollo, I was using an HP workstation that had no issues what so ever. A few years later, I built a new PC and this PC just would not work with the Apollo within my DAW what so ever. Every time I attempted to use a DSP UAD plug in within my DAW, the system would fail, usually in not a system lock up but a more sever blue screen. I worked with UAD for months struggling to find a resolution to my issues when I finally was able to resolve the IRQ channel issue. But this meant never changing any hardware on that machine due to effecting the IRQs. Eventually, I had a power outage where I live that corrupted my windows install and I was back to square one. About this time, UAD had just released console 2.0 for Mac/Thunderbolt systems and I was outraged that it obviously appeared that UAD just does not care about supporting PC users anymore. I understand now that their preferred connection of choice is obviously Thunderbolt, and under properly supported hardware, the Apollo runs perfectly with zero issues. Sadly, I just cannot recommend anyone running a Windows machine to think that the Apollo will be a no-issue choice for their preferred audio interface, especially when their latest massive software release (console 2.0) isn't even supported under windows. I will add that console 2.0 is a major upgrade for the Apollo compared to the previous console.

    lol! Dude, I do this exact thing! I pretty much will use the UAD plugs first every time I can, and when I have to mix in the box and don't have enough DSP ect, I turn to the Slate plug ins. Gotta admit though, the UAD plugs have so much more color and vibe than Slate's plugs, not saying the Slate plug ins are bad, just different. I look at my UAD's as the preferred plug ins to always use and Slate's as the washed out/vanilla/dry plug ins that still work but are much more transparent than the UAD, which sometimes can be just what the doctor ordered.
     
  10. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    Matt-Steele, your first Apollo that didnt work well on the HP, is that the same Apollo you're using now, except on mac and with a t-bolt adapter?
     
  11. Matt-Steele

    Matt-Steele Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    New York
    Hey Melodeath, I've only owned one Apollo. I've used it with three different computers. Actually, the original PC I had it connected to was an HP xw8600 workstation. This computer never had any issues with the Apollo connected via firewire. The second PC I built crashed everytime I attempted to use a UAD plug in within Cubase until I corrected the IRQ conflicts on that machine which can not be done simply by manually switching hardware to different channels through software. You have to remove hardware (in this case the video card and firewire card ect), boot the machine up after the hardware is removed. Power the machine down, re-install the hardware and check the IRQs in the hopes that the firewire card is by itself on it's own IRQ channel. This doesn't sound as if it should be too difficult, but after you've attempted this time and time again with no positive outcome, it gets frustrating FAST!

    In contrast, the MAC + Apollo combo functions perfectly. I've never had any problem with the Apollo connected to my MAC. Not to mention I've never even had an issue with Cubase or any of my plug ins on the MAC. In Windows, I'd always end up chasing down plug in install locations and attempting to get Cubase to recognize them. That is all history with the MAC.

    It's all funny too since I still consider myself a PC guy, but for audio recording the MAC is the obvious champ especially if you're utilizing Thunderbolt connectivity.

    BTW... If you're thinking about getting an Apollo, here's my big tip... I own all the UAD channel strips. All of them are great for different applications and they really have their own sound and characteristics, but I've really fallen in love with the API Vision channel strip. This channel strip specifically is special because it sounds as good (quality wise as the Neve 1073) but it uses WAY LESS DSP than the 1073 & 88RS. I highly reccomend the API Vision channel strip. Don't waste your money on the SSL yet until it is updated with preamp/unison tech.
     
  12. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    Thanks! Yes, I recall having to deal with IRQ conflicts on my old custom PC, actually. Pretty annoying. When it died (it was actually just a busted CPU fan, which I've since fixed), I bought my Macbook Pro, which I've been using for 5.5 years now.

    So did you buy the Thunderbolt expansion card separately for your Apollo?

    The API Vision is definitely one I'm interested in. I'd love to try recording a drumkit with 8 API Unison pres. That DSP info is quite useful. I wonder when UA will start including more DSP chips or upgrade to UAD 3 or something. I read they couldn't physically get more than 4 SHARCs into the Apollo, and as you and Machinated said, some of the plugs are very DSP-hungry
     
  13. Machinated

    Machinated Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,230
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    My Apollo had a thunderbolt card included free, I think it was of that last batch that had FireWire and thunderbolt. Because I need FireWire it suits me down to the ground as I'll be able to move to thunderbolt when I finally upgrade my computer.

    a quad seems pretty spot on to me - you can set it so it only uses DSP when you activate EQ's/comps in the channel strip which can help too. and tracking through plugins means less to do later. Shaping your mix as early as possible helps things so much as all your sounds will compliment each other from the beginning which is most of the battle really....
     
  14. Machinated

    Machinated Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,230
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Milton Keynes, UK
    and regarding the API, I've only demo'd it quite a few times and it is really awesome BUT I much prefer it for tracking through than mixing. when I'm mixing I like more control with the eq, whereas for tracking it's lovely shaping things on the way in.
     
  15. xPoopsx

    xPoopsx Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2011
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    I use my apollo with my hackintosh with no problems through the firewire port. I also have the thunderbolt card installed so when I update my computer I will be able to use the higher speed connectivity. I have the API and the 88rs channel strips and I record through both on every recording. The 88rs gives warmth and smoothes out the highs when the API hits super hard. Also, I agree with the other opinions that the UAD 1176 is the best/better than the slate 1176. I would get the highest amount of UAD card that fits in your price range.

    Before I upgraded to the apollo, I was using a saffire pro 40. I hear a huge difference tracking through the apollo and I think I hear a small difference in the playback while mixing.
     
  16. The-Zeronaut

    The-Zeronaut Mixing..Y U SO DIFFICULT?

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Messages:
    1,795
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I hate that UAD seems to be using Windows just to dump their "old" converters and stuff and only releasing
    the new interfaces and upgrades for mac...
     
  17. Melodeath

    Melodeath Moonbow

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2004
    Messages:
    3,046
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Northern VA
    With Console 2.0, can you recall preamp gain settings? With Unison, can you record a track simultaneously with and without the modeling so you can compare? I think you can select Monitor versus record for plug-in inserts, but wasn't sure about Unison
     
  18. Matt-Steele

    Matt-Steele Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    New York
    Yep. I had to purchase the card separately and install it myself. It cost a lot too. I think it was around 500 bucks.

    That's how I use it, and I primarily use the preamp gain to color the signal while recording. The unison tech essentially turns your Apollo into a virtual version of any of these desks/preamps. All the rest of the controls are great if you need to correct something obvious, but most of that can be done after tracking. unfortunately, I don't use any of the UAD channel strips while mixing (I only have a duo). That's where the Slate stuff comes into play. The channel strips are all used during tracking.

    I hear ya! I was furious!!! And as a PC guy, I'll bet you can guess how much pain I went through making the decision to switch to MAC just for my Apollo. I have spent thousands of dollars on a lot of their plug ins and just could not throw away that investment.

    Yep. Console 2.0 is amazing. You can save your own plug-in presets and easily recall them. The Apollo also remembers how you left it, so when you turn it on again, it boots itself back up already in that state. For instance, I've always got the API going as my preamp and it's set very specifically, so every time I open the Apollo, it's always ready to go.

    The Apollo lets you commit its effects to the recording or will send only the raw recorded signal to the DAW. This is as simple as a toggle switch in the console. This is where the Apollo really shines. Its zero latency effects can be used during recording to help that vocalist who wants to hear their voice compressed or that guitarist that has to have delay on when soloing, but we can get the raw recorded tracks sent to the DAW to mix however we desire. I personally don't know if it will record both simultaneously, but you could always record the dry signal then re-apply the plug in within the DAW and turn it on or off to compare or render the effected track out and load it up next to the unaffected track for the comparison.
     
  19. AboutBlank

    AboutBlank Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Messages:
    1,330
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Berlin, Germany
    Switched from a fireface and love the Apollo!
    I use it also for live-mixing/recording, never failed on me.

    The improvement in ad/da is clearly audible, which surprised me a little.
    Also switched to Apple because of the interface, looong time windows user, works flawlessly with mac book pro and hackintosh here. Using FW with both(couldn't afford a MBP with thunderbolt) now getting a little impatient for the Console 2.0, as some features are really handy for FOH.
     

Share This Page