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Continuing our 10 Days of Apollo celebration, we sat down with Drew Mazurek from Universal Audio to chat about how different users utilize Apollo Series audio interfaces in their studio workflows. Read on to learn more about which Apollo interface is best for home studios, recording studios, and high-end mixing and mastering studios. But first, let’s take a closer look at how Apollo’s innovative Unison technology changed the game for producers, musicians and engineers all over the world.
“As we previously discussed, Apollo Series audio interfaces revolutionized the recording industry when they were released, giving engineers the power to natively record with no latency using studio-quality analog-modeled plug-ins.
Unlike traditional audio interfaces, which are essentially used to get audio in and out of your computer, Apollo Series interfaces put a virtual recording and mixing studio right at your fingertips. With Apollo Series interfaces, UA pioneered Unison technology, which combines our modeling technology with the hardware of the Apollo, taking the guesswork out of the interaction between your interface and the modeling plug-ins.
For example, when you plug a mic into an Apollo, Unison technology enables the hardware preamp to take on the gain staging, impedance and harmonic coloration of any modeled preamp you choose in real-time. You no longer have to estimate how much gain to use to appropriately drive the modeled preamp—Unison technology takes that variable out of the equation.
Unison technology takes over the gain staging of the analog preamp and matches it to the modeled preamp so that when you turn the gain on a Unison 1073 preamp, it behaves exactly like a hardware 1073 preamp, with the same impedance interaction between the preamp and the mic.
We understand that the interaction between the input signal and the preamp has important tonal ramifications, so we wanted to take that out of the equation for both microphones and Hi-Z inputs. Especially with amp simulators, it’s particularly important to get the gain staging right. If you add too much gain, you push the amp too hard, but if you add too little, you don’t hit the amp hard enough. Unison takes that variable out of the equation yet again. When you plug a guitar into an Apollo interface, Unison technology takes over and turns the gain knob of the mic pre into the gain knob of the amp. It’s crucial for dialing in the right tone.”
Now that we’ve got some background on UA’s impressive Unison technology, let’s talk about how you can utilize Apollo Series interfaces to streamline your studio workflow.
“The Apollo x6 is our entry-level rack unit interface with two mic inputs and six DSP chips. They’re great for people working in home studios who typically record with one or two mics at a time but still want to utilize Apollo’s DSP power and digital expandability via digital inputs and outputs. They’re really popular among hip-hop and EDM producers. All of the Apollo rack units are also surround sound capable, making the x6 a great entry point if you’re looking to get into surround sound with support for 5.1 systems.”
“Up next is Apollo x8, which features four mic preamps, four additional line inputs and eight outputs. Just like the x6, the x8 is equipped with six DSP chips and ADAT and S/PDIF connectivity.
In addition to the Apollo x8, we also offer the Apollo x8p, where the “p” stands for preamp. The x8p offers eight preamps, making it a great choice for studios, where you need a lot of mic inputs. You can also chain up to six units together (four of which can be Apollo’s) for additional inputs.
As far as monitoring, all of the Apollo x8 and x8p units feature two headphone amps on the front panel, a built-in talkback mic and support up to three sets of monitors—you’ve got everything you need!”
“Our flagship unit is the Apollo x16, which features our best D to A monitoring path, making it ideal for folks who are looking for a premium monitoring solution. The x16 has no mic preamps or headphone outputs, so it’s really designed for people who are interfacing with consoles or a rack of 500 Series preamps. With 16 line inputs and 16 line outputs, the x16 is designed for modern studios.
Apollo x16 interfaces also feature AES in and out, which is great for large, multi-room facilities that want to digitally send signals over long distances. We work with a lot of mastering engineers who use the AES output to connect to an external monitor controller like a Grace Designs or Crane Song unit. Plus, with 16 line inputs, mixing and mastering engineers can hardwire all of their outboard gear directly to the x16.”
“Part of the fun of owning an Apollo system is optimizing it to suit your workflow with a mixture of PCI cards, Apollo interfaces and Satellites. For instance, my studio system is a UAD-2 OCTO card in a 2019 Mac Pro, an Apollo x16, two x8p interfaces, an additional Octo Satellite for extra DSP power, and an Apollo Twin X as a monitor controller.
We work with some really heavy-duty mixers who just need DSP to mix and literally have six Octo Satellites chained together for maximum processing power. They’ve created a system with a mountain of DSP to run all of our most power-hungry plug-ins without batting an eye.
The Apollo ecosystem is really versatile—we’d like to think that creators of all kinds can customize a system that works for them.”
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