When I was asked to review the new Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo, I was thrilled. To be fair and honest, Fort Knox Five has been part of the Universal Audio Artist Program for several years. We use UAD powered plugins on every single piece of music that we work on. In our studio, we have a Universal Audio Apollo quad, and a UAD-2 quad card. When we started using UAD, and then the Apollo interface, it was game-changing for our sound. The UAD powered plugins are virtually identical to most of the original vintage outboard gear and pretty much everything you could ever need is covered in their set of virtual plugins.
Out of the box, the Apollo Twin is a gorgeous piece of gear. It was one of the easiest interfaces out of the box that I have used. One minor disappointment was the lack of a Thunderbolt cable. That was not a big deal. I had one within an hour, and was powering up, and registering my unit. I was able to use this unit over a couple of months (including traveling on the road) for a wide range of applications, including recording, production, remixing, and referencing masters while away from our studio. This is definitely the best-priced high end 2 channel digital interface that I have had the pleasure of using. Plus with the UAD powered plugins, this unit is unstoppable for the price.
One of the best uses I have seen over the last couple of months of touring on the festival circuit is the live application of the Apollo Twin. Several performers, including Russ Liquid, have been using the Apollo Twin in their live performances. I spoke with Russ briefly after his set at Raindance to discuss using this piece of gear live. He loves playing through the Apollo Twin because of the ability to use near zero latency UAD powered plugins in line. He is able to make his live Trumpet sound studio quality using a neve 1073 and Teletronix LA2A. “Apollo has really made the difference!” he says. “My horn sounds like a million bucks, and I don't have to worry about latency. I can plug into any system and know that I'll be okay.” Russ uses a UAD API Channel Strip on his wireless mic along with real verb to enhance the quality of his Trumpet performances using an Apollo Twin Duo as his main interface.
My buddy Congo Sanchez (Drummer for Thievery Corporation) has a decent drum recording setup so we decided to put it to test. We recorded several drum tracks, some raw, and then some using a drum buss using UAD powered plugins. The dry sound was excellent but when adding API to the recordings setup on the Twin it turned into something amazing.
In conclusion, I feel the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo is a fantastic interface featuring professional studio quality recording capabilities at a very reasonable price. It is highly portable without sacrificing any quality. This is a great unit for the road or in a home studio. With all of this, adding the UAD Powered plugins makes this one of the best units on the market. The hardest part now is returning my beloved review unit. Looks like I will be purchasing one for myself!
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
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
-Sample rates up to 192 kHz* at 24-bit word length
-Up to 10 x 6 simultaneous input/output channels
-Two channels of analog-to-digital conversion via:
-Two balanced mic/line inputs
-One Hi-Z instrument input
-Six channels of digital-to-analog conversion via:
-Digitally-controlled stereo monitor outputs
-Stereo headphone outputs
-Line outputs 3-4
-Up to eight channels of digital inputs via:
-Eight channels ADAT optical with S/MUX for high sample rates, or
-Two channels S/PDIF optical with sample rate conversion
-64-bit device drivers
-PCIe audio drivers