How To Set Up ADAT Lightpipe Input To Expand The Channels On The Universal Audio Apollo Twin

08-21-2014 02:38 PM

The Universal Audio Apollo Twin is a powerful little audio interface, but for some the limited inputs may sometimes not be enough. However UA have included an ADAT Lightpipe input connector on the Apollo Twin enabling the user to increase it by up to 8 extra inputs.
In this free tutorial we are going to show you how to set up ADAT Lightpipe input to expand the channels on the Universal Audio Apollo Twin.
What Hardware To Use?

In order to do this you need a pre-amp that has a ADAT Lightpipe output on the rear, there are a number on the market, they include;

  • Universal Audio 4-710d
  • Audient ASP880
  • Focusrite Octopre

What Pre-Amp Are We are Using

We have both the Audient ASP880 and the Universal Audio 4-170d pre-amps at Pro Tools Expert HQ, in fact Mike uses the Focusrte Octopre as seen here, but to keep it in the family we decided to use the gorgeous sounding 4-710D. The UA 4-710d offers up to 8 channels of audio inputs, 4 mic, 8 line, variable tube and transistor tone blending on 4 inputs and UA compressors. Of course the most important thing for this is the ADAT Lightpipe out on the rear, this is what we use to connect the 4-710d to the Apollo Twin.
ADAT Lightpipe Cable

The ADAT Lightpipe or ADAT Optical Interface was invented by Alesis originally for use in their ADAT tape machines, however widespread adoption took place of this protocol. It is called Lightpipe because the data is transmitted over fibre optic cable. They are widely available online or from stores, we got ours from Amazon, a 5 meter cable costing around £7.00.
Connecting It All Together

The connection between the 4-710d and the Apollo Twin is simple, plug the ADAT Lightpipe cable into the ADAT Out 1-8 connection on the rear of the unit, see above.
Then plug the other end of the cable into the ‘Optical In’ port on the rear of the Apollo Twin, see below.

Setting Up The Software

For digital audio units to work correctly they must all be working at the same sample rate.
The 4-170d is the master in this set-up, so first check the front of the 4-710d to check the sample rate, it is the knob on the far right below the ‘LOCK’ LED. For this set-up we are going to use 44.1Khz. One thing to note, the Apollo Twin can only use all 8 channels if working at sample rates of either 44.1 or 48Khz. At 88.2 and 96Khz it drops to 4 channels and at 192Khz 2 channels.
Open the settings dialogue on the Apollo Console software Edit/Settings. You will see the dialogue box shown below.

Make sure you have set the ‘Clock Source’ to ADAT, the ‘Digital Input’ to ADAT and the Sample Rate matches the sample rate set on your pre-amp. If the sample rate does not match then the word ‘ADAT’ in the clock source dialogue will show in red. All settings need to be displayed in blue text.
Apollo Console Display

If you have set everything up correctly then you should see an additional 8 inputs in the Apollo Console software, see below.

One thing to note, Unison plug-ins require the digitally controlled input stage of the Apollo interfaces so the ADAT interfaces will not be able to use Unison technology.
Growing With ADAT

The use of ADAT to expand audio interfaces is not a new thing, it’s a great option for those who want to start off small and then grow their set-up when they have more money. The addition of the Lightpipe in on the Apollo Twin is a no-brainer, it takes a nice entry level interface and gives it room to grow with you. There are relativity cheap ADAT equipped options out there to get more inputs into your Lightpipe equipped interface, but this tutorial shows that with Lightpipe you can also use some high quality pre-amps as well.
Read the Universal Audio Apollo Twin review here