The Thunderbolt protocol has become a standard in the music industry. It’s no surprise that Universal Audio has designed an entire line of hardware that utilizes it. The UA Apollo 8 audio interfaces represent a continuation of the Apollo legacy, adding in new technological advances to surpass the beloved classic. The three new models (Apollo 8 Duo, Apollo 8 Quad and Apollo 8p) are designed to sit at the center of Mac-based recording environments, making their adoption of Thunderbolt a smart move on UA’s part. Improved harmonic distortion, dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio are just some of the improvements over the original. Let’s take a look!
These Apollo audio interfaces share more similarities than differences, so let’s examine the differences first. The difference between the two Apollo 8 models is in the processing. One has dual-core DSP (digital signal processing) and the other has quad-core DSP. And that’s it! There are a couple differences between the Apollo 8 models and the Apollo 8p. For one, the Apollo 8 Duo and Quad are 18 x 24 models, while the Apollo 8p is 16 x 20. However, the Apollo 8p has eight Unison-enabled microphone preamplifiers, while the Apollo 8 models are limited to four. Beyond those differences, the UA Apollo 8 audio interfaces accomplish the same goal: they utilize Thunderbolt technology to give you powerful recording options with professional plugin emulation. Now on to the similarities!
The Apollo 8 audio interfaces feature next-generation A/D (analog to digital) and D/A (digital to analog) converters. The conversion process has been completely worked over from the original UA Apollo. The manufacturer paired the latest converter technology with redesigned analog circuitry. Double blind listening tests showed that the new converters feature 3dB better dynamic range when compared to the original Apollo. These A/D and D/A converters provide clear and transparent sound that stays true to the original source, with the option of adding warmth and color through built-in UAD Processing. Which brings us to the next point: plugin processing.
The Apollo 8 audio interfaces give you the ability to record through UAD Powered Plugins at near-zero latency. Onboard DSP processing drives the plugins and takes the strain off your computer. The Apollo 8 Duo, Apollo 8 Quad and Apollo 8p all come bundled with the “Realtime Analog Classics Plus” plugin suite. That bundle includes the UA 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ, Raw Distortion Plugin, Softube Amp Room Essentials, UA Precision Enhancer Hz, Fairchild 670 (Legacy), 1176SE/LN Classic Limiting Amplifiers (Legacy), Pultec Pro Equalizers (Legacy), CS-1 Precision Channel, Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier (Legacy) and RealVerb Pro. This suite of plugins brings the authentic tone and warmth of analog equipment to your digital recording environment.
As we mentioned above, all these UA audio interfaces feature Unison-enabled microphone preamplifiers. Unison technology is unique to the Apollo lineup. It accurately recreates the tone of tube and solid-state mic preamps, including details and behaviors in impedance, gain stage and component-level circuitry. The gap between hardware and software is bridged with the pairing of Unison and the onboard UAD-2 processing. Each preamp features switchable low cut filtering, 48V phantom power, pad, polarity inversion and stereo linking. Each UA audio interface also has two Hi-Z instrument inputs that are Unison-enabled.
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