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Old 02-07-2018, 07:04 AM
digiot digiot is offline
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: NYC,NY
Posts: 285
Default Re: Best Thunderbolt Interface?

Originally Posted by VRW View Post
Itīs based on twenty years of experience with most of the semi pro and pro interfaces on the market. Many of them I have owned myself, others I have worked with or have seen colleagues and friends working with.

I have owned nearly every Digidesign/Avid interface they came up with except PT HD hardware systems which I only used to work with (was too expensive and not necessary to spend that much money when I could use it in larger facilities anyway),
RME semi pro and pro interfaces in my former Windows days, Apogee stuff from small to pro, Focusrite interfaces etc.

Finally, after being very skeptical about the whole hype for quite a long time, I got to the UA stuff. The main reason was that I had loved my Apogees for their sound quality but I had started to hate them for their drivers and other technical issues by that time.
Same like with the Digidesign stuff before. Remember the Core Audio drama they never have really solved etc.?

And I tell you something, which of course is my personal experience only, I have not had the smallest issue or any problem with the UA Apollo Thunderbolt and the Octo satellite in about 3 years I have used it so far. Not one single driver problem,
not one single software problem, not one single error message caused by the UA stuff. And no hardware issue of course.

Through all versions of macOS (and there were a couple of) and through all versions of PT11/12 the UA stuff was rock solid. For me, based on my own experiences and the ones of my colleagues and friends, this is simply amazing. No other interface except the
former Digidesign HD hardware gear delivered such a trouble free, well working, stable performance in all the years. Well, yeah, RME gear on Windows systems was/is similar to that.

And let's get to the audio quality/the quality of the converters.
As mentioned already besides the Digidesign HD gear and some crazy priced high end converters like Prism converters back in the day etc. the Apogee stuff was my reference for years when it came to audio conversion. I had loved my Rosetta 200 (which btw
sounded a lot better than the 800) and all the other Apogee gear I had owned and used.

This was the reason to get all the new Apogee gear after I had decided to give up on my Digi003 once. Way too many problems with all the new versions of OS and all the new hardware then. Again, the Symphony stuff I only have worked with, not owned myself.
Any other Apogees I have had.

Unfortunately over time the Apogees started having serious driver and software issues and even some ridiculous hardware problems.

That's when I was ready to try the UA gear at last. I already had heard a lot of good things about it but was still skeptical when Christopher here convinced me to give it a try finally. And he definitely knows what he is talking about.
I have never looked back.

To me even the converters/the audio quality of the UA interfaces tops the Apogees and several other high end gear. The audio quality of the new mk2 series simply blew me away when I set up a small but professional recording facility for a friend last summer.
I haven't heard such conversion quality from stuff below 5-6k yet.

That's it.

I never would recommend that UA stuff that much if I would not have been more than impressed and convinced by it over the last 3 years. In conjunction with Pro Tools 12 Native/HD software (I use it with both myself) as well as with Logic Pro X and Cubase 9 Pro
from time to time. But the UA interfaces work well with any other audio application I have ever used it with. Simply cool. Unlike Digidesign/Avid hardware and many others. Even some current boxes.

So itīs based on simply really positive personal experience after having used so many others over the years.

Sure there are a lot options out there for audio interfaces but I have never experienced such a great combination of audio quality, stable performance and trouble free drivers/software besides the big and super expensive HD hardware systems.

The UA plug ins, the Unison preamps/channels in particular, are really nice ones but thatīs not the main reason for me personally to recommend the UA interfaces.

Thank you so much for the honest reply.

I have been down the same road as you. Been using Protools from inception.
From SoundTools to ProtoolsHDX.
I have tried to rid myself from Protools DSP systems many times. I switched from the Mix24 system to a native system but ended up with an HD system anyway because at the time Native was just to weak. Then I did the same thing when Protools switched to PCIe HD systems. Went native and came running back to HD again. When HDX came out I held out for a long time and moved to a "hybrid" system, Using Protools10HD to track and a native Protools system to mix and compose. this is where I went through all the different interfaces. And eventually I gave in again and switched to HDX. Like you I held Apogee as the standard, from the AD8000 on my Mix system to the AD16X on my HD Systems. At one point I switched to the Symphony I/O but was disappointed in the way it sounded compared to my other Apogee's.

So my take on solid drivers might be somewhat different from yours. Let me explain. The reason why I keep coming back to DSP based Protools systems is not because it sounds better. Its because I like its workflow. I can track, sometimes up to 20 inputs at once, add Plug-ins and monitor of the system latency free without having to resort to using 3rd party mixing applications and separate monitor mixes.
I was able to do the same thing with RME PCIe cards and to certain extend with the RME UFX on fast computers. The problem with those was that as soon as I started taxing the processor (especially VI's) it all came crashing down.

When Thunderbolt was introduced I tried it all over again, got one of the first Apollo (silver face) with a Thunderbolt card to try. Only to find out the Thunderbolt card was just a firewire over Thunderbolt converter! Tried the Lynx Aurora with Thunderbolt option which came pretty close but at the time was just as expensive as using HD hardware. UAD fixed the Thunderbolt issue with the newer (black face) interfaces so I tried again. Out of all the "newer" Thunderbolt interfaces I tried (Apogee, Antelope, Apollo and Lynx) The Apollo had the highest latencies when monitoring through Protools!? And this is without even adding their plugins. So from my perspective they make the worst drivers of all of them. I have yet to try the new Lynx AuroraN series but I am sure it is as good if not better then the old ones but their pricing is insanely high. I am waiting on delivery of an new RME UFX+ and have pretty high hopes.

So in conclusion, I believe that "the best" interface is really subject to the users expectations and workflow. My particular workflow is really just a continuation of old tape and in-line console based workflows. You didn't have to patch in a second sub mixer so you could hear what was being recorded at the same time as what was on tape. The same goes for Digi/Avid DSP based systems.
At the end of the day for me, as long as I throw money at it the DSP workflow still works
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Old 02-10-2018, 05:09 AM
Sting Sting is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 55
Default Re: Best Thunderbolt Interface?

Originally Posted by VRW View Post
Sorry, been away from the DUC for a while and got no notification about any replies as yet.

I have used many interfaces through the years from Avid to Apogee etc. and they all were nice without any doubt but I have never had any stuff being that reliable and stable than UA before.

For me personally that's the main reason to recommend UA interfaces. Not the UA plugins which are very good emulations for sure but the really cool UA drivers and the exceptional quality of their converters
are what makes the differences lastly. You won't find anything better for the price out there.

As for your question if one DSP might be enough, yeah, certainly it can be enough if you know which UA plug ins to use finally.
However if you want to have a choice among their plug ins or if you even want to use the UA plug ins in your mixes extensively you will hit the wall soon with one DSP only.

The main reason you want to use those UA plug ins for recording will be the Unison preamp/channel technology. This definitely makes sense.
I have been recording stuff for decades, from small facilities to large SSL and Neve desks and I tell you, you can definitely get high end quality recordings with those Unison channels using high quality studio mics.

That's why you would want to record with these plug ins finally.

I have received astonishing recording quality with the Neve 88RS channel and some high class studio mics as well as with the Neve 1073 Unison channel and the Manley Voxbox. These results were even comparable
to the hardware units. Quite impressive.

Presonus always have been making decent stuff and the Quantum has already catched my attention a while ago but I doubt that it will deliver such high audio quality results like the UA Apollos at the end of the day.

Again, itīs not the UA plug ins which make the Apollos outstanding, itīs the amazing quality of their converters and the unrivaled stability of their drivers and software. That is why you want those interfaces.

If you can afford it go with the Apollo Twin Duo Mk2 which will provide you a certain amount of DSP power from the start. If you can afford the Solo only it might be alright as well as you can add some quad/octo sat later.
In my opinion do not go with a second hand unit. Get the latest model the Mk2 as a new product (even if itīs the Solo only) and you never will look back for sure.

Further if you can afford it buy the Neve 88RS, the SSL E Channel or the Manley Voxbox Unison channel plug in for tracking your voices and instruments. The standard 610 etc is nice for some basic stuff but it not will give you the
UA Unison preamp/channel experience everybody is talking about.

The nice thing with these UA plug ins is that you can demo it for 14 days fully functional and whenever you will buy anything from them all demos will be reset and you can test drive all for 14 days again. So you will have enough
time to check out which of the Unison preamps/channels will work best with your mics and your instruments finally.

From my experience one of these Unison channels (88RS, SSL, API, Manley Voxbox) and a nice sounding reverb plug in (on the AUX) which doesn't suck too much of DSP power will be enough to record seriously good quality stuff
at the end of the day. Given you use high quality mics and instruments of course.

As for the memory of your iMac you do the right thing. Using good quality third party Ram will save you a bunch of bucks. If you upgrade to 16GB you will be fine with PT12. If you can afford even more later it will be fun.

As for your backup drive you may save money like mentioned by Darryl already by using a 7200rpm HDD via USB 3. That will be fast enough for backups and even more durable than a SSD in the long run.

I hope you will get the suiting stuff for your needs and you will have lots of fun with your system.

The best of success to you.

Many thanks again for the well informed reply.

I’ve been holding off on purchasing the Apollo Twin Duo MKll waiting on UA coming up with another deal to include the Neve preamp similar to the deal they had running until the end of December 2017. Could shoot myself for not purchasing the interface at that time. However will wait another few weeks and then bite the bullet as I’ve now ordered the iMac to include Thunderbolt conversion lead. Would one of the reverbs that come with the Apollo suffice as I already have the Lexicon PCM Native Bundle?

Checked the price of ram on Crucial and it is indeed much cheaper than using Apple so have ordered that as well.

Have noted advice concerning external backup so I wonder if you or anyone else could recommend a particular HDD unit that is compatible?
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Old 02-10-2018, 02:04 PM
VRW VRW is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,318
Default Re: Best Thunderbolt Interface?

Originally Posted by Sting View Post
Would one of the reverbs that come with the Apollo suffice as I already have the Lexicon PCM Native Bundle?
Well, yeah, you know, you can get usable results out of the Real Verb Pro for sure.
However I would highly recommend you to just demo several reverbs of their range.
Maybe you find one that suits your needs perfectly?
At least it doesn't cost you anything to just try them all out.

Me personally use the AKG BX20 and the EMT 140 from the UAD list because I also
already have the Lexicon PCM Bundle and several others from Waves to Valhalla.
I mainly use the UA reverbs during recording inserted on an Aux Track in the UA console
2 for monitoring. That's where you cannot use the Lexicon Bundle actually.

However I have to say the UA Lexicon, the Ocean Way as well as the EMT 250 are all
very well sounding plug ins indeed. Great for recording and mixing.

Just demo all the stuff yourself and check out if there's anything you would like to
have finally.

Originally Posted by Sting View Post
Checked the price of ram on Crucial and it is indeed much cheaper than using Apple so have ordered that as well.
Yeah, it is indeed and I can confirm that the Crucial Ram is reliable, good stuff.
I have used it myself on several systems successfully.

Originally Posted by Sting View Post
Have noted advice concerning external backup so I wonder if you or anyone else could recommend a particular HDD unit that is compatible?
If you are on a budget this one might be an interesting option.

If you would need a lot of storage space this one might be a good solution finally.
...I have got such a one myself and I have to say it has done a really good job so far.

If you want it really fast and modern and compatible to your iMacs ports without any

As mentioned before HDDs may be more durable as backup drives than SSDs however
you can use SSDs as well of course. They are good and reliable drives as well these days.

These are just 3 examples you may consider for your backup drive. You may find yourself
other ones of course. Just make sure itīs an 7200rpm HDD and USB 3 at least.

The best of success to you.

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