UAD Apollo Twin Review

01-28-2014 02:12 AM

The latest addition to the Universal Apollo range of UAD powered audio interfaces is the Apollo Twin, a baby brother of the Apollo and Apollo 16 and firmly aimed at the home musician and composer.
Pro Tools Expert were fortunate enough to get our hands on a pre-release full production model and spent a couple of days putting it through its paces, you can see James Ivey extended video review here.
The Apollo Twin is a 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface for Mac and it combines the same high-quality 24/192 kHz audio conversion of Universal Audio’s acclaimed Apollo series with onboard Realtime UAD SOLO or DUO Processing. So it is effectively a desktop audio interface with a UAD card inside it which goes up firmly against hardware such as the Avid Mbox and Apogee Duet, however the APollo Twin offers a desktop user the same features found in the more powerful Apollo models, namely UAD powered plug-ins and of course near-zero latency tracking via those plug-ins, the user can also use the UAD powered plug-in processing for mix down as well. An added bonus is that the new Apollo Twin now ships with an updated set of plug-ins which include the new Unison 610 Tube Pre-Amp and Softube guitar amp models.

Features At A Glance

  • Desktop 2x6 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
  • New Unison technology offers stunning models of classic tube and transformer-based mic preamps
  • 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output
  • 2 digitally controlled analog monitor outputs for full resolution at all listening levels
  • Up to 8 channels of additional digital input via Optical connection
  • Includes “Realtime Analog Classics” UAD plug-in bundle, featuring Legacy editions of the LA-2A Classic Audio Leveler, 1176LN Limiting Amplifier, and Pultec EQP-1A Program Equalizer, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, 610-B Tube Preamp, and more
  • Runs UAD Powered Plug-Ins via Audio Units, VST, RTAS & AAX 64
  • Available with either UAD-2 SOLO or UAD-2 DUO DSP processing onboard
  • Estimated street prices of $699 (SOLO) and $899 (DUO).

Out The Box
The UAD Apollo Twin comes in a very sexy ‘Applesque’ box, so the entire user experience feels very classy from the get-go. Inside the box you find the Apollo Twin a PSU and some documentation, no Thunderbolt cable is included, which is a shame but not a deal breaker in our book, just remember to buy one when you order it or you’ll be more annoyed than a giraffe getting picked up in a mini.
One thing is certain when you first hold the Apollo Twin, in creating an affordable Apollo it’s not been by skimping - this thing is built like a tank. On the front panel you have everything you need to set things up without having to constantly look at the computer, from a multi function big knob (no jokes please) to selectors for all the main functions such as input type, low pass filter, phantom power.
Below that you’ll find an input for a Hi-Z guitar and a headphone output.

Around the back are all the main connections for both computer and audio, they include 2 x mic/line inputs, line out (L&R) and monitor out (3&4), Thunderbolt for connection to a Mac, 12v DC and optical in which allows for further connection of an ADAT equipped interface for input or SPDIF, thus giving up to 8 additional inputs.
In Use
To see the unit in action then check out James Ivey’s show and tell video review we have created here.
When we first heard about this unit we couldn’t help but think that at first impressions this would be the killer product of NAMM. For UA to create a product that brings Apollo to a much larger audience of both home users or professionals needing a high quality and flexible mobile device is in our opinion a stroke of genius, after having some time with it we are in no doubt that our feelings have been confirmed. Seeing pictures of the Apollo Twin is one thing, but getting your hands on this baby and using it is another, warning, if you were tempted by the pictures and videos then don’t take your wallet when you go to the store - this baby has stolen our hearts.
Now we know we must address the elephant in the room - which is of course that right now this unit is a Mac only device. As Universal Audio have made this a Thunderbolt device then it does make some sense to concentrate on the platform that best supports Thunderbolt technology, as Jed Allen from UA comments in our exclusive video interview about the new Apollo Twin - every Apple laptop in the last few years has a Thunderbolt connector on it. However we suspect that there will be disappointment from Windows users wanting to take advantage of the new Apollo Twin. Our job is not to get you to buy a Mac so our advice is to lobby the PC manufacturers to adopt a standardized version of Thunderbolt as a standard on all PCs. Without a standard Thunderbolt driver for Windows as it is on Mac then it is nigh on impossible for UA to be able to offer a consistently working product for all Windows users. If Apple continue to throw their weight behind it then it’s most likely to be a future standard that more and more audio manufacturers will turn to.
Setting aside that inevitable gripe, the Apollo Twin is on the shopping list of at least 3 of the Pro Tools Expert team (yes we mean putting our hands in our own pockets), for Mike and I we will be using this as a high quality and flexible mobile device that we can then use also in our larger rig if need be. If you are looking for an interface for your home set-up and in particular one that you could use both at home and with your band (by extending the I/O with an ADAT interface) then you would be smart to check this baby out.

The added package of software is a welcome addition and sets it way ahead of any other interface within this segment, not only do you get some UAD classics such as LA-2A, 1176 compressors and Pultec EQs, you also get the new 610-B tube pre-amp and the very cool Softube Amp Essentials. For tracking these are about as good as it gets and don’t forget that these can all be used at near-zero latency when tracking, as James found at in his review session with the UA Apollo Twin.
It’s moments like this when an old fart like me who had a Tascam 244 4 track cassette based Portastudio (costing £1299 in 1982) wishes he had been 17 now. Technology has progressed and now offers aspiring musicians the little audio miracle - which is utterly mind-blowing, although I’m in no doubt there will be a hoard of entitled twats doing their normal social media rounds and asking why UA didn’t include a free 2 month session at Abbey Road and a Ferrari for the price.
If you are in the market for a new interface for your Thunderbolt-equipped Mac then you must check out the Apollo Twin, this is one of the easiest Editors Choice Awards I’ve ever had to give… it’s a bloody beautiful miracle!