Universal Audio is one of the biggest names in audio engineering and has been for the past 60 years or so. The company is responsible for so many innovations in the industry, from the invention of send busses to per-channel equalizers. One of their greatest achievements has been the success of their Apollo series, the latest addition of which is the Apollo Twin X Quad audio interface. This Thunderbolt 3 interface brings all of the innovation and quality that UA is renowned for into an affordable compact desktop unit.Table of contents:
Apollo Twin X Quad overview
The Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Quad is a 10-in/6-out interface that features real-time UAD processing and ample expandability. This interface has so much to offer when it comes to heightening your productivity in the studio, as it allows you to track and mix through extremely accurate emulations of classic studio hardware without any latency and without overloading your CPU processing. That said, let’s take a deeper look into what makes this interface so great.
Located on the front panel of the interface, you’ll find 1 Hi-Z line input and a 1/4″ headphone jack. On the backend of it are 2 XLR/TRS combo inputs, 4 analog outputs for your monitors and line out applications, and an optical input which allows for an additional 8 inputs.
All of these inputs are Unison-enabled, meaning that you’ll be able to load Unison plugins onto the console’s software, record through them, and achieve the effects of vintage preamps while tracking.
The Apollo Twin X requires a 12 V power supply and connects to your computer through Thunderbolt 3. Macintosh users need not worry, however, as the Apollo is backward compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 as well.
Audio recording quality
Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin X Quad is a pristine, clean-sounding unit. This comes as no surprise, as the Apollos have always boasted superb sound quality. However, the Twin X’s updated AD/DA conversion has taken the interface far beyond its predecessors. The unit has an incredibly smooth signal path with a 127 db dynamic range.
Sample rate/dynamic range
While the Apollo Twin X does have a sample rate of up to 192 kHz, there is a caveat. The interface can only record with two inputs at 192 kHz, whereas if you’re using S/PDIF that number goes down to 96 kHz. The number goes down again to 48 kHz when you choose to utilize the eight inputs provided through ADAT.
Those of you who are familiar with optical digital I/O will find no surprise here, as this is all typical. However, for beginners, it is something to look into.
Beyond all this, the unit features a dynamic range of up to 127 dB.
Without having much else to say about it, the preamps on the Apollo Twin X are stunning. What’s more stunning, however, is the Unison preamp technology integrated into the console and software which bring the preamps well beyond what has ever been considered possible.
At its heart, Unison allows for two-way communication between the Quad’s mic preamps and Unison-capable plugins. These plugins adjust the preamps circuit within the console, changing the behavior so that they match the character of the plugin.
This is revolutionary for a number of reasons, but in the most practical sense, it means that you’re not just enacting a filter to get the approximation of a classic preamp’s sound – your microphone will actually be interacting with the preamp the same way it would if you were to have the plugin as a hardware unit.
If any of this is going over your head, don’t worry. All it means is that you’ll have a lot more freedom when you’re tracking and that your recordings will sound a whole lot better than if you were to just slap on some random digital plugin.
This interface could make a great addition to any home studio considering how powerful it is. The only thing we would want to mention here is that its I/O connectivity is a bit lacking. If you’re wanting something for a slightly bigger project, it might be worth checking out a few other interfaces that can suit your needs better.
Even though the Apollo is technically a 10-in/6-out interface, 8 out of those 10 inputs are only available through ADAT and S/PDIF, which for beginners looking to enter the realm of intermediate recording, might require a few more purchases before you can get your 10/12/14 mic setup up and running.
Another drawback of this is the fact that the sample rate suffers when using S/PDIF and ADAT, as we mentioned a bit earlier. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but again, if you’re an intermediate and you’re not ready to spend close to over $2000 to get your entire setup functioning the way you’d like it to, it might be in your best interest to look elsewhere.
All that being said, the Apollo Twin X is still fantastic, and the UAD real-time processing is what really makes this interface so valuable.
Recording on the go? No problem. The Apollo Twin X is lightweight, compact, and extremely well-built. This makes it a perfect option for any sort of mobile recordings you may be doing, but more than that, its real-time processing capabilities make it perfect for live sound applications as well.
Whether you’re a DJ looking for the best live sound possible, or an engineer trying to mix on the go, the Apollo Twin X is definitely worth your consideration here.
The Apollo Twin X is an incredibly sturdy and well-built unit. All of its inputs and outputs have well-fitting connections, and its buttons and knobs feel great. Not much to say here other than that.
Upon your purchase of the Apollo Twin X Quad, you’ll receive access to an expansive software bundle of 14 UAD plugins, all of which are all Unison-enabled. Within this huge pack, you’ll find amazing UAD powered plugins such as UA 610-B, Marshall Plexi Classic, several Precision Mix Rack Collection plugins, and much more.
Compared to other interfaces
Now, obviously, you shouldn’t just be buying the first decent-looking audio interface you see online – these decisions should take time. Check out our picks of the best audio interfaces and the best budget interfaces.
Apollo Twin X vs. Focusrite Clarett 8Pre
We’re mentioning the Clarett 8Pre just to give some of you a potential option to research in case you’re looking for something with a bit more I/O capabilities straight out of the box. The Clarett doesn’t feature any onboard processing like the Apollo, but its 18 inputs and 20 outputs make it a great option for those of you wanting to work with more intricate mic setups.
For now, we’ll just say that these two interfaces are roughly the same in quality, but it will depend on your needs in the studio.
Check out our full Focusrite Clarett 8Pre review
Apollo Twin X vs. Motu 16A
While these two interfaces are roughly the same price and are often compared to each other, they are rather different. The Motu 16A blows the Apollo straight out of the water in terms of connectivity, the Motu has 32×32 simultaneous I/O compared to the Apollo’s 10×6. However, they both offer onboard processing in real-time.
The main thing to consider here, however, is the fact that the Motu has no XLR inputs, only TRS. With this, the Motu is definitely not an interface for beginners, and professionals will probably get a lot more use out of it.
Apollo Twin X vs. Apogee Element 88
Again, here’s an interface that often gets looked at side by side with the Apollo, but the two units are extremely different, and almost not worth comparing. The Apogee sounds incredible, but won’t be very accessible for beginners considering it doesn’t have much else to offer. The Apollo is the better option seeing how versatile and user-friendly it is.
Final verdict on the Apollo Twin X Quad
Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin X Quad is well worth the money. Its preamps, design, and capabilities in real-time processing are worth the money alone, and it’s safe to say that if you do buy this interface, you won’t regret it.
- Amazing sound quality.
- Built-in UAD processing enables recording with complex plug-in chains in real-time.
- Extremely well built.
- Expansive software bundle.
- Thunderbolt cable isn’t supplied.