Very few manufacturers get almost everything right every time, but Universal Audio is one of that select group. The original Apollo Twin was released as a more affordable alternative to the Apollo 8 and Apollo 16. The Apollo Twin MkII improved upon that initial success and became the go-to portable interface for many professionals.
Despite being around for a few years already, the Apollo Twin MkII is still held as sought-after as ever.
Apollo Twin MkII overview
It’s a Twin, alright! Apollo Twin MkII’s basic premise has remained the same as the original: an audio interface and DSP platform. It’s a compact, desktop, 24-bit/192 kHz interface offering 2-ins and 6-outs.
On the surface, MkII has had a color change from silver to gray/black; otherwise, it’s virtually identical.
A slightly irritating feature that it shares with the original version is that it’s a Thunderbolt interface that doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt cable.
Granted, it’s not a massive complaint, but some users have reported issues with certain cables, so it would be easier if UAD just supplied one.
The back panel has two combo mic/line inputs (Unison preamps) and four 1/4″ outputs – two line and two monitor. You’ll also find an optical jack for ADAT or S/PDIF that allows you to add up to eight analog inputs.
The front of the unit has a Hi-Z guitar input on the left and headphones out on the right. The Hi-Z input replaces Mic/Line 1 when in use.
The focal point of the top panel is still the oversized knob that controls preamp and monitor parameters. You determine what it controls by selecting either the preamp or monitor buttons found left and right.
Underneath the knob, there are six dual-function buttons that select specific parameters within preamp or control.
A nice update for the Apollo Twin MkII is that the LED display has been extended to now show visual feedback for every function.
In preamp control, you can switch between input, high-pass filter, phantom power, pad, phase invert, and 2-channel link. While in monitor control, you can go between talkback, Dim, Alt monitor selection, function, Mono, and Mute.
Most of those are self-explanatory; Dim lowers the monitors’ output, and function (FCN) is linked to cascaded routing options (link up to four Apollo’s).
Right under the oversized knob, you’ll see a tiny hole, and that’s the built-in talkback mic. It’s a very handy feature for room to room communication or cues. It’s even useful for recording quick notes/ideas. Input/output metering is shown by four LED ladders.
What’s New With MkII?
The impressive DSP from the first Apollo Twin has been given a considerable boost. The Apollo Twin MkII is available in Solo, Duo, and Quad-core. Each time you double the DSP, you also double the number of UAD plugin instances available to you.
For example, the Quad-core Twin can handle 36 instances of the classic Pultec EQP-1A, without a problem. Duo-core can handle 18, and Solo can run nine.
The already stellar AD/DA converters have also been upgraded and provide more dynamic range than ever, with less distortion. MkI was super-clean, MkII goes a few steps further.
The main reason many people bought the first Apollo Twin was for the incredible Unison preamps. With increased DSP, the Unison preamps are more powerful than ever.
If you aren’t familiar with these preamps, what they do is allow you to insert Universal Audio’s hardware emulation plugins directly into the input paths before the valve, transistor, amp modeling, and EQ.
The result is virtually zero-latency monitoring/recording like you are using a real hardware preamp. Emulation plugins include models from Neve, Manley Voxbox, SSL, Ampeg, Marshall, and more.
There isn’t too much that needs to be said here. You won’t find a UAD Apollo interface that doesn’t provide fantastic audio and recording potential.
The i/o configuration has more than enough flexibility. The ability to expand by another eight analog inputs via ADAT plus cascading up to four Apollo units means it will keep expanding as long as you do.
The main attraction was always going to be the Unison preamps, and they absolutely over-deliver.
The Apollo Twin MkII is a compact audio interface, which makes it ideal for traveling. However, nothing has been compromised for its smaller size. It sports the same robust metal casing that you come to expect from Universal Audio gear. Whether it stays in the studio or moonlights as a mobile recording rig, it’s more than sturdy enough to deal with just about anything.
The software bundle that comes with the Apollo Twin MkII is something quite special. Not just in what you get, but in how it works with the interface’s Unison preamps, too. Universal Audio’s Realtime Analog Classics Bundle is packed with some absolutely impeccable plugin recreations of iconic outboard gear and amps.
- Teletronix LA-2A.
- Pultec EQP-1A.
- UA 1176LN Legacy.
- UA 1176SE Legacy.
- UA 610-B.
Apollo Twin MkII vs. other interfaces
1. Arturia AudioFuse Studio
I’m a big fan of Arturia’s AudioFuse range, and this is the king of them all. It doesn’t compete with the Unison preamps but offers additional inserts and a more flexible i/o configuration.
2. Universal Audio Apollo Solo
The little brother of the Apollo Twin MkII, but this 2×2 interface is no joke. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch enough, it’s a serious contender.
3. RME Babyface Pro FS
Another heavyweight contender in a super portable package. It falls behind the Twin MkII in the preamp department but offers an entirely different kind of flexibility.
- Outstanding audio quality.
- Almost zero-latency monitoring.
- Unison preamps.
- Amazing UAD plugin bundle.
- Increased DSP options.
- No Thunderbolt cable.
The Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII is one of the best audio interfaces you’ll ever use. It’s still a difficult purchase for some people, though, because it’s in a tricky price range. It’s well worth the money, but it’s also well beyond the average beginner budget.
If you can afford the investment, it’s as good as it gets. From the Unison preamps to the powerful DSP to the plugin bundle, it’s all awesome.