6_twin_guitar

The line between pain and ecstasy on a computer for music making can often boil down to some key elements. One commonly on that short list is getting the sound you might from a studio. Another is making all your inputs and outputs work in your interface.

Universal Audio is one of a handful of vendors that aims to bridge both of those gaps in a single product, with devices that are audio interfaces as well as DSP platforms for hosting high-quality effects. And UA are starting out 2015 with a fairly big benchmark for the company in that software/hardware integration.

That’s the good news. The bad news is, you need a Mac, and the latest-generation hardware, to come along for the ride with some of the new goodies. So, let’s take a look both at what’s new and what’s required to get the latest-and-greatest stuff – as well as where that leaves people with older hardware.

apolloconsole2

A new generation of Universal Audio software

UA has been a name in hardware DSP for quite some time. Recently, though, they’ve pushed further into a wider range of instrument choices, more hardware that makes sense for a solo producer and instrumentalist, and more fluid hardware/computer integration.

First shown at the NAMM trade show in January, this week Universal Audio is shipping its latest software. This software generation is actually made up of several different pillars:

1. Apollo Expanded. For owners of UA’s Apollo audio interface hardware, you can now use all that extra Thunderbolt bandwidth and speed to mix and match gear. Use one interface in the studio, and another in the road. Use a smaller Twin for your monitors and extra DSP muscle, and a bigger interface for everything else. Or add ins and outs and DSP with up to six devices.

2. Flex Driver. Part of the Apollo Expanded idea, but I think worth a separate mention, is a new Apple Core Audio driver that lets you name, save, and share presets when you swap DAWs or hardware setups. This obviously makes the previous scenarios still more practical.

3. New Console software 2.0. Updated Console software for the Apollo line (initially for Thunderbolt, coming to FireWire models later this year) is a whole heck of a lot more modern. The Console was already a useful reason to invest in UAD hardware, giving you a virtual mixer and full control over routing and all the UAD’s signal processing. Now it’s 64-bit, it’s Retina-compatible and high-resolution (and generally looks better than before), and it’s more flexible. You can more easily manage plug-ins, cueing and monitoring, and so on. (More on that below.)

4. UAD 8.0. All the UA software is now fully compatible with OS X 10.10 (though to be fair, I’ve had reasonable success with the previous version since upgrading months ago). You also get new categories and other features.

5. And more plug-ins covering a wider range. Now the goodies – the fruits of collaborations with some big names. You get “Wood Works” plug-ins for acoustic guitars. Distortion (hello Electro-Harmonix, Ibanez vintage stomps). Brainworx guitar amps, modeled on the classic Friedman amps. And Auto-Tune (yes, that Auto-Tune).

satellite

satelliterear

With More Hardware

In addition to the Apollo line, which covers both audio interfacing and DSP, you can also buy your DSP brainpower on its own in the form of the new Satellite Thunderbolt line. The hardware was introduced late last year, but is further enabled by this month’s shipping software updates I still prefer the Apollo myself, because I think it’s a great audio interface on its own, but the Satellite will likely appeal to some studio rigs, especially if they have their own audio I/O already.

friedman_be-100

And New Plug-ins

The UA platform at first meant largely reproductions of vintage studio equipment – compressors, EQs, channel strips, plate reverbs, and so on. Now, when I first saw the soloist-oriented Apollo Twin, I immediately asked when we might see stuff for, say, guitarists. There were already some great Softube options, but it seemed the time was ripe for more.

Well, here we go, with some fairly interesting new goodies on offer.

woodworks

Sound Machine Wood Works. First up, acoustic guitarists – long ignored in favor of amps and such for electrics – finally get their due. The Wood Works plug-in claims to make acoustic guitar piezos sound like they’ve been studio miked. US$299.

bermuda_triangle

Distortion Essentials. Now, UA turns its obsessive compulsive modeling skills to stomp boxes, with the Pro Co Rat, Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, and Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808 all getting digital reproductions. I love using this sort of stuff in production even when guitarists are nowhere in sight, and I think there’s room for better models, so yes, I’ll be testing these to see if they’re up to snuff. US$299.

Auto-Tune Live. Auto-Tune isn’t news. But putting it on this platform is, because of lower-latency monitoring – you can live track, or play live, with this. US$249. Update: AutoTune Live has been delayed and didn’t make the 8.0 release; it’s coming in a future version. (The relevance of that is related to low latency performance on Thunderbolt – at least as an illustration of what this platform can mean for vocalists.)

There are also plug-ins made exclusively for UAD-2 and Apollo:

Friedman Amps by Brainworx. We knew Brainworx was working with Universal, and now we get to see the result: DS40 and BE100 amps from Friedman get their own emulation, plus a noise gate, EQ filter controls, and host-syncable lo-fi delay. Interested in this one, too, especially as it’s been surprisingly quiet on the guitar emulation front lately. (Yeah, Native Instruments, will we ever see Guitar Kontrol? Erm, Gitarre Kontrol?) US$249.

New Console Features

There’s so much new in the Console, it’s worth mentioning separately.

  • Channel Strip presets – so you can save and recall chains of UA plug-ins, at last
  • More monitoring: new Alternate Monitors, Control Room, headphone cue options.
  • Categorize plug-ins, show/hide.
  • Audition presets.
  • Drag and drop plug-ins.
  • Per-input switching between record/monitor.
  • Multiple level undo/redo for plug-in assignments, parameters.

I’ve used this stuff live a lot with Apollo; it’s really nice to see.

Here’s an overview:

Plus a clearer view of how this Flex Driver works with the system:

Why Thunderbolt and Apollo Matter

Clarified/correcter here with additional detail after consulting Universal Audio on the performance differences.

There’s a lot of confusion around Thunderbolt. Apart from the differently-shaped connecter, it is dramatically faster. It’s only recently that we’ve gotten to see the benefits of that speed. But its reliable low latency performance in Universal’s Apollo line is especially relevant. You can run lower buffer sizes more reliably without audio dropouts, and can cut round-trip latency – the delay in time between when an audio signal hits an input, is processed, and then hits the output. UA tells CDM that time is cut just about in half on their hardware. You can also increase the number of stereo instances – once limited to 58 maximum with FireWire, it’s now unlimited on the bus (restricted only by available DSP processing capability.)

This is a very big deal. Using one UA audio interface alone, you are already able to achieve lower latency performance. Then, adding effect plug-ins, you take advantage of the DSP hardware onboard. As some readers are already noting in comments, yes, UA’s platform requires lock-in – those effects don’t work without the connected hardware. But at last, you reap some benefit from that: you can add all of this processing without suffering a lot of added latency. So, if you want to sing or play an instrument or add effects to a synth, you can layer signal processing live as you track – or even live onstage.

And that’s with just one box. The reason UA is getting so loud about Apollo Extended is that the added bandwidth also makes it practical to combine multiple interfaces.

It might not sound like it changes how you work, but it does. I have gotten way more addicted to my Apollo Twin than I ever imagined, and the reason is reliable low-latency performance of UA effects on the interface.

Suddenly, those guitar amps and stompboxes and plate reverbs and compressors and so on get a lot more interesting. And that’s why the AutoTune Live news is relevant, too. AutoTune isn’t news. AutoTune the news … isn’t news.

Now, with AutoTune running on an Apollo, you can finally do what the vocal enhancer did to the Party Posse on The Simpsons. You just switch it on and it works – in the studio or live onstage.

Join the navy.

Left Out: Older Systems, Hands

Not everyone is going to be happy at the moment.

First, Universal Audio early adopters who went FireWire rather than Thunderbolt run into some real limitations. I’ve run into this issue myself, personally, in the studio.

FireWire users will eventually get the welcome new console, but not until an estimated ship date of fall. And they’ll need to update to Thunderbolt to get Apollo Expanded.

They also miss out on software, too. UA right now ships one integrated installer with all the plug-ins and drivers. They’ve explained to CDM that the reasoning is that all the software and drivers have to be in sync. But that means a very big unified install. That’s all fine and well, until you discover that you can’t unplug a Thunderbolt Apollo and plug in a FireWire Apollo – you have to reinstall the entire software package.

That has left a lot of FireWire users griping about the need to purchase a Thunderbolt upgrade card. (We’re getting one in our studio, so I’ll let you know how the upgrade process goes; my instinct says it may be worth it – even if you gripe while doing it.)

Windows users are generally left out in the cold, too, and I’m seeing some folks upset about that.

Meanwhile, there’s reason to see Universal Audio as still in a sort of studio mindset. You don’t get any MIDI control of the Console and its plug-ins. That seems somewhat essential given the sales pitch of a lot of this stuff would be, say, playing a guitar into your Apollo Twin and tracking live. That’s not a time you want to be fumbling for a mouse: you want MIDI faders and foot pedals. UA acknowledges this issue; we’ll see if they can ship that soon.

But a strong package…

If you do have a recent Mac and the scratch to invest in the Thunderbolt hardware and a reasonable collection of UA plug-ins, though, I think it’s a uniquely robust platform. Consider, too, that a modest laptop is now perfectly capable of running even the most dense multichannel project. We’re now well past the point where the laptop is the cheapest part of the equation.

If you’ve got a Thunderbolt-based Apollo system, of course, you get all of these benefits right away.

UA clarifies the situation for everyone else, too, to CDM:

If you have a FireWire Apollo (Mac or PC) you:

  • Can cascade two of the same kind of Apollo
  • Have access to all the latest UAD Powered Plug-Ins for tracking, mixing, and mastering
  • Have realtime UAD Processing through Console 1.0, with an upgrade to Console 2.0 coming Fall 2015.
  • Can daisy-chain up to 2 Satellite FireWires for more DSP power

If you have a UAD-2 PCIe, Satellite FireWire, or Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerator

  • You have access to all the latest UAD Powered Plug-Ins for mixing and mastering — no realtime processing.
  • You can have up to 6 UAD-2 Devices on one system

I’ll be talking about my experience in production with the Apollo and its effects soon, as well as test driving some of this new stuff. If you have questions you’d like me to investigate or to pass along to UA, let us know.

UAD 8.0

See also the walkthrough by our friends at Pro Tools Expert:

  • Hans Schnakenhals

    Worst available platform lock in – thanks no thanks.

  • Hans Schnakenhals

    Worst available platform lock in – thanks no thanks.

  • Hans Schnakenhals

    Worst available platform lock in – thanks no thanks.

  • gunboat_d

    love UAD sounds, but not fond of the design of some of these new plugins. looks like a lot of wasted screen real estate, particularly that horrible looking wood works acoustic thing. I also don’t need I/O jacks in my virtual guitar pedals. all this skeumorphism comes at a price.

    and yeah, Mac only. Oh well.

    • Charles

      If you press the buttons on the Wood Works puzzle in the right order, you see a video from the wizard’s diary which gives you the clue for how to get to the next level (which is either the Windmill Cave or the Planetarium, I can’t remember which).

  • gunboat_d

    love UAD sounds, but not fond of the design of some of these new plugins. looks like a lot of wasted screen real estate, particularly that horrible looking wood works acoustic thing. I also don’t need I/O jacks in my virtual guitar pedals. all this skeumorphism comes at a price.

    and yeah, Mac only. Oh well.

    • Charles

      If you press the buttons on the Wood Works puzzle in the right order, you see a video from the wizard’s diary which gives you the clue for how to get to the next level (which is either the Windmill Cave or the Planetarium, I can’t remember which).

  • gunboat_d

    love UAD sounds, but not fond of the design of some of these new plugins. looks like a lot of wasted screen real estate, particularly that horrible looking wood works acoustic thing. I also don’t need I/O jacks in my virtual guitar pedals. all this skeumorphism comes at a price.

    and yeah, Mac only. Oh well.

    • Charles

      If you press the buttons on the Wood Works puzzle in the right order, you see a video from the wizard’s diary which gives you the clue for how to get to the next level (which is either the Windmill Cave or the Planetarium, I can’t remember which).

  • otheroom

    Usually the best I can hope for when mixing piezo DI tracks is something vaguely resembling an acoustic guitar, but not quite. I don’t know how the plug-in is doing it, but it sounds amazing. I wish I’d had the Wood Works plug-in years ago.

  • otheroom

    Usually the best I can hope for when mixing piezo DI tracks is something vaguely resembling an acoustic guitar, but not quite. I don’t know how the plug-in is doing it, but it sounds amazing. I wish I’d had the Wood Works plug-in years ago.

  • otheroom

    Usually the best I can hope for when mixing piezo DI tracks is something vaguely resembling an acoustic guitar, but not quite. I don’t know how the plug-in is doing it, but it sounds amazing. I wish I’d had the Wood Works plug-in years ago.

  • ElectroB

    ProTools all over again? 😉 Too locked in for my taste (and too much for my wallet)

    I can certainly see the appeal, though – power, low latency, unlimited channels, out-of-the-box-solution, integration.

    • foljs

      “ProTools all over again?” as in “the defacto standard in most professional studios”?

      Because that’s what ProTools are — not some “failed closed platform”.

      • ElectroB

        You’re reading way too much into my comment. I never said Pro Tools is a failed platform.

        Also, having played in a few albums already, I’m well aware of its market share in professional studios. I just criticize Avid’s closed-platform approach and pricing because until recently it forced you into using specific hardware and still today it locks out independent producers and smaller operations because of pricing. The software itself is effective and does the job really well.

        That is why I also don’t agree with UAD’s approach (Mac-only, you’re locked into a particular hardware solution, etc., too restrictive for my taste). I’m sure it works really well, but I prefer to use an alternative setup if I ever need to set up a studio.

        • Charles

          Avid is dying, in part because they’ve been too complacent about all the locked-in customers they have.

  • ElectroB

    ProTools all over again? 😉 Too locked in for my taste (and too much for my wallet)

    I can certainly see the appeal, though – power, low latency, unlimited channels, out-of-the-box-solution, integration.

    • foljs

      “ProTools all over again?” as in “the defacto standard in most professional studios”?

      Because that’s what ProTools are — not some “failed closed platform”.

      • ElectroB

        I did not say Pro Tools is a failed platform.

        Also, having played (and recorded) in a few albums already, I’m well aware of its market share in professional studios. I just criticize Avid’s closed-platform approach because until recently it forced you into using their specific hardware. The software itself is very effective and does the job really well, but basically, they’ve been able to get away with that kind of quasi-monopoly because 1) they came first, and 2) it’s geared towards post production and mastering, so studios adopted it. I’m not sure how many years that status quo will last though. I’ve run into producers and studio people who are switching to Logic and Cubase/Nuendo (supplemented by plugins).

        That is why I also don’t agree with UAD’s approach (Mac-only, you’re locked into a particular hardware solution, etc., too restrictive for my taste). I’m sure the plug-ins are great, the latency is probably amazing, but if I ever need to set up an independent studio and record instruments and do live effects processing while recording, etc., I would prefer an alternative setup that allows me to choose which hardware I use.

        • Charles

          Avid is dying, in part because they’ve been too complacent about all the locked-in customers they have.

  • Elekb

    ProTools all over again? 😉 Too locked in for my taste (and too much for my wallet)

    I can certainly see the appeal, though – power, low latency, unlimited channels, out-of-the-box-solution, integration.

    • foljs

      “ProTools all over again?” as in “the defacto standard in most professional studios”?

      Because that’s what ProTools are — not some “failed closed platform”.

      • Elekb

        I did not say Pro Tools is a failed platform.

        Also, having played (and recorded) in a few albums already, I’m well aware of its market share in professional studios. I just criticize Avid’s closed-platform approach because until recently it forced you into using their specific hardware. The software itself is very effective and does the job really well, but basically, they’ve been able to get away with that kind of quasi-monopoly because 1) they came first, and 2) it’s geared towards post production and mastering, so studios adopted it. I’m not sure how many years that status quo will last though. I’ve run into producers and studio people who are switching to Logic and Cubase/Nuendo (supplemented by plugins).

        That is why I also don’t agree with UAD’s approach (Mac-only, you’re locked into a particular hardware solution, etc., too restrictive for my taste). I’m sure the plug-ins are great, the latency is probably amazing, but if I ever need to set up an independent studio and record instruments and do live effects processing while recording, etc., I would prefer an alternative setup that allows me to choose which hardware I use.

        • Charles

          Avid is dying, in part because they’ve been too complacent about all the locked-in customers they have.

  • DPrty

    Only Mac …. I wont be buying this.

  • DPrty

    Only Mac …. I wont be buying this.

  • DPrty

    Only Mac …. I wont be buying this.

  • Albert

    At first, it seems like a great update. Too much restrictions however:
    – No Midi
    – No Windows-compatability
    – high pricetag for the amp-emulation (dedicated hardware is almost cheaper for a few amps and effects, think AxeFX of Kemper) (I just counted $1650,- in plugins alone for a few amps, bassamp and 3 stompboxes. Kemper is Euro 1600,-: better soundquality and more possibilities)
    – pretty steep pricetag if you want to add a decent amount of plugins
    – tied to one manufacturer and hardwareplatform

    So for now I’ll stick to my RME-card with some dedicated outboarddevices and few decent VST’s. Runs fine at 64 samples and latency is unnoticable to almost all musicians and singers I’ve worked with.

    It seems like a promising upgrade. But it remains too restricted for my taste and workflow.

    • That’s correct, but … I think it would be very unlikely that anyone would by the entire US$1650 in plug-ins just because they were listed here.

      So, yes, what you’re saying is true, but that doesn’t seem to me to be the use case. If you want a standalone set of guitar effects – heck, yes, you’d probably go to dedicated hardware.

      If you’re looking to add some tools for guitars to a unique studio production suite, then this starts to make some sense.

      In a broader picture, it also illustrates what’s possible with a computer interface.

      • Albert

        I think we agree: there is a use-case, just not in my case. :-). I can imagine it being a great tool for certain types of producers/projectstudios, I require more possibilities for my guitarsounds. I’m certain these amps are awesome, but so far the apollo-platform is too limited for my use. (Although having an apollo AND an AxeFX wouldn’t hurt 😉 )

        I do think that this kind of devices have a future: having great sounding preamps, great effects and great emulations integrated into one device is a great, small and mobile solution. However it is expensive (especially with a decent amount of plugins) for one device, which might become obsolete in just two or three years. Ofcourse the same goes for a lot of other (software-)devices….

        However I feel that the future is even more compact: a great sounding audio-interface with a kick-ass ipad-like device on steroids with all kind of control-possibilities. Or maybe the other way around (which seems to be the way UA thinks): one device with a lot of processing power, coupled with just a user interface but no processing on Ipad or laptop. Personally I would opt for the last option for live-use and the first for studio-use (because of flexibility and interaction with other devices).

  • Albert

    At first, it seems like a great update. Too much restrictions however:
    – No Midi
    – No Windows-compatability
    – high pricetag for the amp-emulation (dedicated hardware is almost cheaper for a few amps and effects, think AxeFX of Kemper) (I just counted $1650,- in plugins alone for a few amps, bassamp and 3 stompboxes. Kemper is Euro 1600,-: better soundquality, direct interface and more possibilities)
    – pretty steep pricetag if you want to add a decent amount of plugins
    – tied to one manufacturer and hardwareplatform

    So for now I’ll stick to my RME-card with some dedicated outboarddevices and a few decent VST’s. Runs fine at 64 samples and latency is unnoticable to almost all musicians and singers I’ve worked with.

    It seems like a promising upgrade. But it remains too restricted for my taste and workflow.

    • That’s correct, but … I think it would be very unlikely that anyone would by the entire US$1650 in plug-ins just because they were listed here.

      So, yes, what you’re saying is true, but that doesn’t seem to me to be the use case. If you want a standalone set of guitar effects – heck, yes, you’d probably go to dedicated hardware.

      If you’re looking to add some tools for guitars to a unique studio production suite, then this starts to make some sense.

      In a broader picture, it also illustrates what’s possible with a computer interface.

      • Albert

        I think we agree: there is a use-case, just not in my case. :-). I can imagine it being a great tool for certain types of producers/projectstudios, I require more possibilities for my guitarsounds. I’m certain these amps are awesome, but so far the apollo-platform is too limited for my use. (Although having an apollo AND an AxeFX wouldn’t hurt 😉 )

        I do think that this kind of devices have a future: having great sounding preamps, great effects and great emulations integrated into one device is a great, small and mobile solution. However it is expensive (especially with a decent amount of plugins) for one device, which might become obsolete in just two or three years. Ofcourse the same goes for a lot of other (software-)devices….

        However I feel that the future is even more compact: a great sounding audio-interface with a kick-ass ipad-like device on steroids with all kind of control-possibilities. Or maybe the other way around (which seems to be the way UA thinks): one device with a lot of processing power, coupled with just a user interface but no processing on Ipad or laptop. Personally I would opt for the last option for live-use and the first for studio-use (because of flexibility and interaction with other devices).

  • Albert

    At first, it seems like a great update. Too much restrictions however:
    – No Midi
    – No Windows-compatability
    – high pricetag for the amp-emulation (dedicated hardware is almost cheaper for a few amps and effects, think AxeFX of Kemper) (I just counted $1650,- in plugins alone for a few amps, bassamp and 3 stompboxes. Kemper is Euro 1600,-: better soundquality, direct interface and more possibilities)
    – pretty steep pricetag if you want to add a decent amount of plugins
    – tied to one manufacturer and hardwareplatform

    So for now I’ll stick to my RME-card with some dedicated outboarddevices and a few decent VST’s. Runs fine at 64 samples and latency is unnoticable to almost all musicians and singers I’ve worked with.

    It seems like a promising upgrade. But it remains too restricted for my taste and workflow.

    • That’s correct, but … I think it would be very unlikely that anyone would by the entire US$1650 in plug-ins just because they were listed here.

      So, yes, what you’re saying is true, but that doesn’t seem to me to be the use case. If you want a standalone set of guitar effects – heck, yes, you’d probably go to dedicated hardware.

      If you’re looking to add some tools for guitars to a unique studio production suite, then this starts to make some sense.

      In a broader picture, it also illustrates what’s possible with a computer interface.

      • Albert

        I think we agree: there is a use-case, just not in my case. :-). I can imagine it being a great tool for certain types of producers/projectstudios, I require more possibilities for my guitarsounds. I’m certain these amps are awesome, but so far the apollo-platform is too limited for my use. (Although having an apollo AND an AxeFX wouldn’t hurt 😉 )

        I do think that this kind of devices have a future: having great sounding preamps, great effects and great emulations integrated into one device is a great, small and mobile solution. However it is expensive (especially with a decent amount of plugins) for one device, which might become obsolete in just two or three years. Ofcourse the same goes for a lot of other (software-)devices….

        However I feel that the future is even more compact: a great sounding audio-interface with a kick-ass ipad-like device on steroids with all kind of control-possibilities. Or maybe the other way around (which seems to be the way UA thinks): one device with a lot of processing power, coupled with just a user interface but no processing on Ipad or laptop. Personally I would opt for the last option for live-use and the first for studio-use (because of flexibility and interaction with other devices).

  • Robert

    “Mac only”… that’s a problem? If you’re a Windows guy, then I guess it is… but this is music making, and because this stuff isn’t cheap and Windows users tend to be more “cost conscious”, if UA had to choose a platform to support (at least initially), it makes sense they chose to start with OSX. Thankfully there are few “Windows only” sw instruments that intrigue me… perhaps their developers will make Mac versions someday.

    • Albert

      I have both Mac and Windows systems, and use them both live and in the studio. While I have always been a Windows-user for everything else, For music I had a slight preference for OSX, Mainly because of the lousy performance of XP in terms of reliability and latency, and friends who claimed that Mac is better for music and graphics. Since Windows 7 I have had to readjust my opinion on Windows vs Mac. Mac is more expensive but not necessarily more reliable. OSX has some advantages in terms of midi-implementation and the way it handles audio-interfaces, but I have been able to crash both (well-maintained and exlusively used for music) systems and can get lower latencies on my Windows 7 system than on my Mac system.
      To claim that it makes sense for UA to start with OSX because of the ‘ cost-consiousness’ of windows-users is in my humble opinion not true. First of all UA is not just starting out, they have been playing the game for quite some time now. Second of all: my windows-system was more expensive than my Mac-system. Not being able to use a UA-product on both my systems is a dealbreaker for me.

      • Robert

        Yeah… so allow me to clarify. 1st I appreciate knowing about your usage/results. Secondly, while hardware (in general) and plugins aren’t new to AU, the Apollo line is fairly new. I didn’t say the TENDENCY for Windows users to be more “cost conscious” was the ONLY reason why it made sense for UA to START with OSX if they had to choose one platform initially.

        You say you get lower RT latency with Windows vs. your Mac system. I’m going to assume (perhaps incorrectly) your mean over USB or Firewire? If you were referring to RT latency over PCI I would understand, but the shift to Portable computers and “all in ones” like the iMac have most users without PCI slots & choosing USB interfaces these days. UA wanting low latency knew Thunderbolt can deliver data to & from the PCI bus over a TB cable and modern Macs ship with a TB port (unlike most PCs so far). Another reason why UA’s decision to support OSX initially made sense (IMO).

        • Charles

          Yep. New Macs come with Thunderbolt, on PCs it tends to be an option that most users don’t bother with.

  • Robert

    “Mac only”… that’s a problem? If you’re a Windows guy, then I guess it is… but this is music making, and because this stuff isn’t cheap and Windows users tend to be more “cost conscious”, if UA had to choose a platform to support (at least initially), it makes sense they chose to start with OSX. Thankfully there are few “Windows only” sw instruments that intrigue me… perhaps their developers will make Mac versions someday.

    • Albert

      I have both Mac and Windows systems, and use them both live and in the studio. While I have always been a Windows-user for everything else, For music I had a slight preference for OSX, Mainly because of the lousy performance of XP in terms of reliability and latency, and friends who claimed that Mac is better for music and graphics. Since Windows 7 I have had to readjust my opinion on Windows vs Mac. Mac is more expensive but not necessarily more reliable. OSX has some advantages in terms of midi-implementation and the way it handles audio-interfaces, but I have been able to crash both (well-maintained and exlusively used for music) systems and can get lower latencies on my Windows 7 system than on my Mac system.
      To claim that it makes sense for UA to start with OSX because of the ‘ cost-consiousness’ of windows-users is in my humble opinion not true. First of all UA is not just starting out, they have been playing the game for quite some time now. Second of all: my windows-system was more expensive than my Mac-system. Not being able to use a UA-product on both my systems is a dealbreaker for me.

      • Robert

        Yeah… so allow me to clarify. 1st I appreciate knowing about your usage/results. Secondly, while hardware (in general) and plugins aren’t new to AU, the Apollo line is fairly new. I didn’t say the TENDENCY for Windows users to be more “cost conscious” was the ONLY reason why it made sense for UA to START with OSX if they had to choose one platform initially.

        You say you get lower RT latency with Windows vs. your Mac system. I’m going to assume (perhaps incorrectly) your mean over USB or Firewire? If you were referring to RT latency over PCI I would understand, but the shift to Portable computers and “all in ones” like the iMac have most users without PCI slots & choosing USB interfaces these days. UA wanting low latency knew Thunderbolt can deliver data to & from the PCI bus over a TB cable and modern Macs ship with a TB port (unlike most PCs so far). Another reason why UA’s decision to support OSX initially made sense (IMO).

        • Charles

          Yep. New Macs come with Thunderbolt, on PCs it tends to be an option that most users don’t bother with.

  • Robert

    “Mac only”… that’s a problem? If you’re a Windows guy, then I guess it is… but this is music making, and because this stuff isn’t cheap and Windows users tend to be more “cost conscious”, if UA had to choose a platform to support (at least initially), it makes sense they chose to start with OSX. Thankfully there are few “Windows only” sw instruments that intrigue me… perhaps their developers will make Mac versions someday.

    • Albert

      I have both Mac and Windows systems, and use them both live and in the studio. While I have always been a Windows-user for everything else, For music I had a slight preference for OSX, Mainly because of the lousy performance of XP in terms of reliability and latency, and friends who claimed that Mac is better for music and graphics. Since Windows 7 I have had to readjust my opinion on Windows vs Mac. Mac is more expensive but not necessarily more reliable. OSX has some advantages in terms of midi-implementation and the way it handles audio-interfaces, but I have been able to crash both (well-maintained and exlusively used for music) systems and can get lower latencies on my Windows 7 system than on my Mac system.
      To claim that it makes sense for UA to start with OSX because of the ‘ cost-consiousness’ of windows-users is in my humble opinion not true. First of all UA is not just starting out, they have been playing the game for quite some time now. Second of all: my windows-system was more expensive than my Mac-system. Not being able to use a UA-product on both my systems is a dealbreaker for me.

      • Robert

        Yeah… so allow me to clarify. 1st I appreciate knowing about your usage/results. Secondly, while hardware (in general) and plugins aren’t new to AU, the Apollo line is fairly new. I didn’t say the TENDENCY for Windows users to be more “cost conscious” was the ONLY reason why it made sense for UA to START with OSX if they had to choose one platform initially.

        You say you get lower RT latency with Windows vs. your Mac system. I’m going to assume (perhaps incorrectly) your mean over USB or Firewire? If you were referring to RT latency over PCI I would understand, but the shift to Portable computers and “all in ones” like the iMac have most users without PCI slots & choosing USB interfaces these days. UA wanting low latency knew Thunderbolt can deliver data to & from the PCI bus over a TB cable and modern Macs ship with a TB port (unlike most PCs so far). Another reason why UA’s decision to support OSX initially made sense (IMO).

        • Charles

          Yep. New Macs come with Thunderbolt, on PCs it tends to be an option that most users don’t bother with.

  • Charles

    Oh look, that’s where all the skeuomorphism went.

    That’s a lot of money for not a lot of plugins that you can’t use anywhere else. I agree with Albert, in the long run you’re probably better off with an Axe Fx or Kemper or the like – outboard DSP, low latency, work live, standalone, or with any DAW.

    • “that you can’t use anywhere else”? Wait a minute here. You can run them in any host, and you can run the Console app standalone.

      With any DAW – check.
      Low latency – check.
      Live – check.

      Standalone – no, but that’s true of any software plug-in.

      Yes, if you’re just comparing a stomp box to an Apollo, that doesn’t make sense. But there isn’t an outboard equivalent of the range of effects Universal Audio is offering.

      Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but they do suit a particular use case and in a way that isn’t directly comparable to hardware. The comparison would be other native software plug-ins. And there’s the trade-off – a native plug-in suite might be cheaper, but there are on the other hand advantages to the software integration.

      • Charles

        You can’t run them without the UA DSP hardware, is what I meant. And the primary use case appears to be people who have the money for quality outboard but for one reason or another don’t want to buy it. There ARE outboard equivalents to the range of effects they’re offering, a couple of them have been mentioned here. Round trip latency appears to be the main advantage of the UA solution.

    • blaaargh

      Those GUI’s are horrible.

  • Charles

    Oh look, that’s where all the skeuomorphism went.

    That’s a lot of money for not a lot of plugins that you can’t use anywhere else. I agree with Albert, in the long run you’re probably better off with an Axe Fx or Kemper or the like – outboard DSP, low latency, work live, standalone, or with any DAW.

    • “that you can’t use anywhere else”? Wait a minute here. You can run them in any host, and you can run the Console app standalone.

      With any DAW – check.
      Low latency – check.
      Live – check.

      Standalone – no, but that’s true of any software plug-in.

      Yes, if you’re just comparing a stomp box to an Apollo, that doesn’t make sense. But there isn’t an outboard equivalent of the range of effects Universal Audio is offering.

      Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but they do suit a particular use case and in a way that isn’t directly comparable to hardware. The comparison would be other native software plug-ins. And there’s the trade-off – a native plug-in suite might be cheaper, but there are on the other hand advantages to the software integration.

      • Charles

        You can’t run them without the UA DSP hardware, is what I meant. And the primary use case appears to be people who have the money for quality outboard but for one reason or another don’t want to buy it. There ARE outboard equivalents to the range of effects they’re offering, a couple of them have been mentioned here. Round trip latency appears to be the main advantage of the UA solution.

    • blaaargh

      Those GUI’s are horrible.

  • Charles

    Oh look, that’s where all the skeuomorphism went.

    That’s a lot of money for not a lot of plugins that you can’t use anywhere else. I agree with Albert, in the long run you’re probably better off with an Axe Fx or Kemper or the like – outboard DSP, low latency, work live, standalone, or with any DAW.

    • “that you can’t use anywhere else”? Wait a minute here. You can run them in any host, and you can run the Console app standalone.

      With any DAW – check.
      Low latency – check.
      Live – check.

      Standalone – no, but that’s true of any software plug-in.

      Yes, if you’re just comparing a stomp box to an Apollo, that doesn’t make sense. But there isn’t an outboard equivalent of the range of effects Universal Audio is offering.

      Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but they do suit a particular use case and in a way that isn’t directly comparable to hardware. The comparison would be other native software plug-ins. And there’s the trade-off – a native plug-in suite might be cheaper, but there are on the other hand advantages to the software integration.

      • Charles

        You can’t run them without the UA DSP hardware, is what I meant. And the primary use case appears to be people who have the money for quality outboard but for one reason or another don’t want to buy it. There ARE outboard equivalents to the range of effects they’re offering, a couple of them have been mentioned here. Round trip latency appears to be the main advantage of the UA solution.

    • blaaargh

      Those GUI’s are horrible.

  • Aventure Numérique

    Are native plug-ins so bad sounding or unusable that such a hardware based system is required in 2015 ? I don’t understand.

    • The newly updated version of Logic Pro answers this question in spades. The native plugins in Logic Pro are now as good as any third party alternative, seriously good in fact. All in the box. And, apart from the prerequisite of owning a Mac, it is only approx $280AUD. This represents unbelievable value in anyone’s language. You can mix and master without the need for 3rd party plugins.

  • Aventure Numérique

    Are native plug-ins so bad sounding or unusable that such a hardware based system is required in 2015 ? I don’t understand.

    • The newly updated version of Logic Pro answers this question in spades. The native plugins in Logic Pro are now as good as any third party alternative, seriously good in fact. All in the box. And, apart from the prerequisite of owning a Mac, it is only approx $280AUD. This represents unbelievable value in anyone’s language. You can mix and master without the need for 3rd party plugins.

  • Are native plug-ins so bad sounding or unusable that such a hardware based system is required in 2015 ? I don’t understand.

    • The newly updated version of Logic Pro answers this question in spades. The native plugins in Logic Pro are now as good as any third party alternative, seriously good in fact. All in the box. And, apart from the prerequisite of owning a Mac, it is only approx $280AUD. This represents unbelievable value in anyone’s language. You can mix and master without the need for 3rd party plugins.

  • harold fitz

    It’s a cool website, thanks! Take a look at http://bit.ly/1Dow1SQ , it might interest you! Regards. Harold Fitz.

  • harold fitz

    It’s a cool website, thanks! Take a look at http://bit.ly/1Dow1SQ , it might interest you! Regards. Harold Fitz.

  • harold fitz

    It’s a cool website, thanks! Take a look at http://bit.ly/1Dow1SQ , it might interest you! Regards. Harold Fitz.

  • wondering what the latency value is. heard about clicking issues with Ableton Live and Thunderbold interfaces.

  • wondering what the latency value is. heard about clicking issues with Ableton Live and Thunderbold interfaces.

  • wondering what the latency value is. heard about clicking issues with Ableton Live and Thunderbold interfaces.

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