Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin MkII Quad is a desktop audio interface that offers two mic preamps and next-generation A/D and D/A conversion derived from UA’s well-respected rackmount units. Included is a bundle of proprietary plug-in versions of famous analog mixer channels, preamps, and effects through which you can track in real time with near-zero latency.
The Twin MkII comes with digital emulations of the Teletronix LA-2A compressor, Pultec EQs, and other legendary recording tools of the analog world. In addition to its stellar sound, the Apollo interface offers the advantage of powering plug-ins with its own DSP, thus allowing you to keep the latency of your DAW very low. If that all sounds very “techy,” it is. The Console software that comes with the hardware offers complex enough routing possibilities to please a seasoned recording engineer, but is streamlined enough for home studios and guitar recording enthusiasts.
I was able to plug the Twin MkII in, turn it on, and begin recording without so much as cracking the manual. This was because the ins and outs are obvious, and the one basic knob and a few buttons on the surface make things easy. Pushing the Preamp button causes the knob to control input level. Further pushing chooses line or mic level. If you plug in a guitar, the Apollo automatically chooses the Unison Hi-Z for a realistic feel when using amp models. Pushing the Monitor button lets the big knob set your speaker and/or headphone monitoring level.
UA’s amplifier models (Fender ’55 Tweed Deluxe, Fuchs Overdrive 50, emulations of Marshall, Engl, Friedman, and other amps) will set you back between $149 and $249 each, but you can try them free for 14 days before you buy. I found them comparable to other modeling plug-ins, but using the Twin II models offers a distinct advantage over native plug-ins. I was able to use UA plug-in emulations of a Marshall Bluesbreaker, a vintage Roland Space Echo, a Moog Multi-Filter, an OTO Biscuit Bit Crusher, and a Dreamverb reverb, all at once, yet consume only two percent of my MacBook Pro’s CPU. I could also open UA plug-ins in Ableton Live and still have them powered by the Apollo.
Apollo Twin MkII Quad comes with four SHARC processors, but single and dual SHARC versions are available as well ($699 and 899 street, respectively). Bottom line: If you are ready for a world of top-notch, professional sounds for your recording projects, some version of the Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII should be at the top of your shopping list.
APOLLO TWIN MkII QUAD
PRICE $1,299 street
INTERFACE 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface with 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion
I/O Unison mic/line preamps, front-panel Hi-Z instrument input, and up to eight channels of additional digital input via Optical TOSLINK connection. Two line outputs, two digitally controlled analog monitor outputs, headphone output controls. Power supply included.
COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS Apple Macintosh with available Thunderbolt port running OSX 10.10, 10.11, or 10.12. Windows PC with built-in Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C port or qualified Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter (not included) running Windows 10 with Anniversary Update (64-Bit Edition)
KUDOS Spectacular sound and flexibility in a small package.