Universal Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt Interface Review
Posted in Reviews on November 28, 2016
Universal Audio is a company with a pretty impressive reputation and it’s one that really doesn’t need an intro. They’re a company with an extensive history that goes back to the early days of recording, way back in the 1950s and their history is solidly planted in the interface realm. UA has remained relevant for all these years thanks to their innovative products that focus on the user’s experience and function needs and all at a more affordable price than their competitors. Their products are designed to offer consumers professional grade digital to analog and analog to digital conversion, in addition to a built-in UAD DSP accelerator. The interfaces in this line will give the user the ability to utilize UAD plugins in their mix while also providing more functionality by tracking through them free of latency. Anyone who is familiar with this company can tell you they have been producing some of the best audio interfaces for decades.
The Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt interface is the latest addition to Universal Audio’s extensive desktop interface line and it incorporates their UAD 2 powered plugins platform. Just like with the bigger Apollo 16 and Apollo, this setup is able to use UA plugins at mix down and it can also employ them in the record path or monitor with super low latency.
This is one product that received mainly positive feedback from both newbies and pros due to the innovative design, high portability and increased functionality compared to other interfaces in this price range.
Twin Thunderbolt Interface Assessment
The Apollo Twin is available in duo or solo configurations, with the duo model featuring twice the DSP grunt of the solo interface.
The Twin is housed in a very sleek metal case and has the feel and look of a high quality product. Measuring in at around six inches square, it’s much heavier and bigger than most other desktop models, but it’s still highly portable. The Twin also has the awesome advantage of having all the IO built into the unit instead of it being delegated to a flying cable.
Apart from the high impedance jack input and headphone socket, all of socketry is located on the back panel. On the top of the model you’ll find that it’s mostly dominated by a big multi-function rotary controller complete with LED meters and associated buttons.
This desktop model features real-time UAD processing for tracking through EQs, vintage compressors, guitar amp plugins and mic preamps with near zero latency.
The rear panel features two combinations XLR and jack sockets which work for line level signals or mics, in addition to a couple pairs of TRS jacks for line and monitor outputs. These are displayed as independent DAW outputs. The monitor level can be adjusted without affecting audio resolution because the monitor outs feature digitally controlled attenuation. The user can configure the single optical socket to accept up to eight channels of twenty-four bit digital audio or a stereo S PDIF input.
The Twin uses the same circuitry that you’ll find on other models in the Apollo line and the manufacturer claims that this helps to make it one of the best sounding interfaces on the market today. Like the other models in this line, the Twin will need to be registered to a UA account before use. Once it’s installed you can access functionality through the UAD meter and control panel.
The pair of analogue inputs on this model are augmented with an optical socket. The optical socket is able to accept either eight channel ADAT format digital input or stereo S PDIF.
The controls on this interface are similar to those that are found on the front of the first edition Apollo, with the exception of the rotary controller setup. On this model there is only one rotary controller. The monitor and preamp buttons can switch functions in order to adjust headphone level, monitor or input gain. Located below the encoder you’ll find six buttons used for the preamp section of the console.
Apollo Pros and Cons
Pros: This model is very easy and simple to setup and use. This level of user friendliness coupled with the high quality components makes it the perfect choice for both the novice and the pro on the go. The affordable pricing also makes this interface worth the purchase. The compact design makes transporting this model a breeze. A great addition to the Apollo line, the Twin is their most versatile model to date.
Cons: Some consumers felt that the manufacturer’s tendency towards heavy coloration means that this model is not as versatile as most users would like. While the slightly dark and thick saturated tone is great for pop and rock styles, it isn’t as useful for modern or mainstream sounding productions. Consumers who were looking for a more portable model recommended the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 interface. Consumers also mentioned that an additional pair of line inputs or a second headphone amp would have been a nice addition to this interface.
Twin Interface Conclusion and Rating
Overall, most users were pretty impressed with the Twin. The redesign of Apollo models of old that allowed this device to include the exact technical specs of the OG Apollo wasn’t exactly easy and most users cannot argue with the manufacturer’s claim that this is probably one of the best sounding desktop models around. An interface that’s simple to use, the controls located on the top panel can do everything they need to do without a whole lot of tweaking or fuss. The digital input allows the user to add an ADAT format preamp very easily for those occasions when track drums are needed.
The meter lights are bright and clear and the UA plugins in a desktop format were a big consumer favorite. This interface can act as a high quality headphone amp and monitor controller or it can be used solely for portable duties. A great multi-functional device that can take your music to the next level, consumers gave Universal Audio Apollo Twin Thunderbolt Interface a rating of five out of five stars, which makes the Twin our top rated product.
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