UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2234 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:46 am

burnt circuit wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:40 am
I'm not going to do the research for you, but trust me there's always cheaper alternatives to UAD.

WAVES SOUNDGRID.
Just the cheapest I/O Module (which isn't the only thing you need! You still need a server and a switch which is another $950 minimum) for Waves Soundgrid that matches the same audio as an Apollo Twin costs 2x more.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... l-room-i-o

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... th-uad-dsp

That's not even counting any of the features I mentioned that apply to a bedroom musician.

So, let's try again?
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

burnt circuit
Banned
142 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:13 am

Robert Randolph wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:46 am
burnt circuit wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:40 am
I'm not going to do the research for you, but trust me there's always cheaper alternatives to UAD.

WAVES SOUNDGRID.
Just the cheapest I/O Module (which isn't the only thing you need! You still need a server and a switch which is another $950 minimum) for Waves Soundgrid that matches the same audio as an Apollo Twin costs 2x more.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... l-room-i-o

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... th-uad-dsp

That's not even counting any of the features I mentioned that apply to a bedroom musician.

So, let's try again?
I don't think you really understand how much power is in the DSP server, networking and the ability to share servers. It opens the doors to a lot of home studios to collaborate onsite, it's the future of audio, it's LAN based systems. Large analog consoles are dated and on their way out, it's just the facts. It's only a matter of time until most all are digital and I hate to say it, touchscreen.

Some people want to recreate the early 2000s, but I'm here to tell you that Rock music is also on the decline, which means live recording with that many i/o's is also on the way out. With the advancement of digital and technology, older analog techniques become less and less important.

Unless you're recording large orchestras, etc, I really don't think the average engineer, musician or producer needs such excess in a world of minimalism. Some people are blinded by the flashing lights or are trying to blind someone with the flashing lights. Instead of just making and mixing music by keeping it simple, easy to say, hard to do.
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

Scotty
KVRAF
2015 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:24 am

He isn't engaging with your arguments earnestly. You've made good points as to the benefits of the Apollo interfaces and he hasn't responded with any facts.

For me, Apollo, it isn't a good value proposition as I have standardized on RME Raydats and Adat converters and I can monitor through effects in live tracking situations at very low latency with a headphone distribution systems (6 channels with independent stereo cue inputs on each ).

I don't trust UA to deliver drivers and to support changing interface standards over time. I also have a lot of good quality preamps here so the Unison technology isn't that compelling. I do have an Apollo for my mobile laptop and it is nice to have Unison available there for tracking mobile which I only do occasionally.

I wasn't thrilled with the way UA handled thunderbolt, USB 3 and Firewire compatibility between PCs and Macs (and now with Luna they have a definite OS bias) nor how they depreciated their first generation UAD-1 cards (yes an old wound) .

That being said their latest generation of Thunderbolt - unison equipped interfaces are very impressive and do everything that you have commented on in terms of features. And like you, I know of no solution that can do what your system can do for cheaper given the IO on board and the real time monitoring that you use routinely. As soon as you have to cost out IO, plugins, headphone distribution systems , and the high quality mic pres that are emulated by UA though Unison a good price point argument for Apollo interfaces can be made as you have done here.

It looks like a really great solution for you and your application. As you have intimated not many people would have the need for as deep an integrated a solution (nor the IO requirements you have) as you have built using Apollo interfaces. On a more modest scale, I agree that under the right circumstances an Apollo Twin might be a good solution for a bedroom producer. For me already having a substantive investment in UAD-2 plugins, getting an Apollo Twin MK II Quad was viable for my laptop. I wouldn't have made that calculation otherwise.

I still stand by my comments regarding the UAD-2 platform both positive and negative. Your examples highlight the advantages of the interface which I only briefly touched upon in my earlier post. Your comments round out the feedback here nicely given that you have concentrated on the benefits of the interface, console, mic pres, headphone monitoring and unison mic pres. All fair points and worthy of consideration.
Last edited by Scotty on Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:46 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2234 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:29 am

burnt circuit wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:13 am
Robert Randolph wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:46 am
burnt circuit wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 8:40 am
I'm not going to do the research for you, but trust me there's always cheaper alternatives to UAD.

WAVES SOUNDGRID.
Just the cheapest I/O Module (which isn't the only thing you need! You still need a server and a switch which is another $950 minimum) for Waves Soundgrid that matches the same audio as an Apollo Twin costs 2x more.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... l-room-i-o

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... th-uad-dsp

That's not even counting any of the features I mentioned that apply to a bedroom musician.

So, let's try again?
I don't think you really understand how much power is in the DSP server, networking and the ability to share servers. It opens the doors to a lot of home studios to collaborate onsite, it's the future of audio, it's LAN based systems. Large analog consoles are dated and on their way out, it's just the facts. It's only a matter of time until most all are digital and I hate to say it, touchscreen.

Some people want to recreate the early 2000s, but I'm here to tell you that Rock music is also on the decline, which means live recording with that many i/o's is also on the way out. With the advancement of digital and technology, older analog techniques become less and less important.

Unless you're recording large orchestras, etc, I really don't think the average engineer, musician or producer needs such excess in a world of minimalism. Some people are blinded by the flashing lights or are trying to blind someone with the flashing lights. Instead of just making and mixing music by keeping it simple, easy to say, hard to do.
I have no clue why you're talking to me about consoles or rock music or DSP. I'm uninterested in all of these things. I didn't mention consoles or rock music, and I specifically said that the value in Apollo exists even if you completely discount the DSP.

I understand that you want(ed?) to talk in the context of bedroom/small/amateur/electronic musicians. I attempted to frame the discussion that way for you with my post about the Apollo Twin.

Are you uninterested in the context that you brought up?

Shall we discuss in the context of my post about '72 i/o', even though you say that's not worth discussing?

Or maybe we can lecture the OP (who makes rock, and has a console pictures for his songs on Soundcloud) about how he's a dying breed and so we should just disregard that totally. :hihi:
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2234 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:39 am

Scotty wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:39 pm
If you are looking at just UAD-2 cards then no I don’t recommend them, I have been on the UA platform for years. There are many great native VST plugins now that are equal to or often superior to UA plugins. I own 5 UAD 2 cards and one interface split across 2 computers.

There are a few standout plugins that may justify the purchase dependent upon competing priorities but generally speaking the platform is not aging well. Much of the catalog is not optimized for high Rez monitors, there is no VST 3 support and the DSP is inefficient.
Also fwiw, I agree with this. :tu:

If the goal is to have DSP-powered plugins to reduce your main system load, it's not the right choice. I don't know anyone that would say it is.

There's only a couple plugins that are arguably "buy Apollo because this is the best (version of this) plugin", and unless you have some serious nostalgia or need to replicate hardware - such as matching a sound recorded with the hardware elsewhere - then it's not really worth it either.

There is some value in the plugins to be used outside the DAW. Having instant recall of various high-quality guitar amp-sim chains with impedance matching is a big deal, and you can't get that elsewhere. Having Ocean Way Studios (Reverb) on a vocal cue is incredible, or getting the 737 sound on a singer's monitor feed can be the difference between a good take and a great take. You might find value in that or not.

But if anyone is thinking about buying it for just the DSP, it's a poor choice.
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

jochicago
KVRian
804 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:29 am

lfm wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:59 pm
There are charts for UAD plugin how much they require each instance.
Here are the charts for anyone interested:

UAD-1 (if you get a used unit)
https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/articl ... ance-Chart

UAD-2, for each core
https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/articles/215262223

An interesting thing to keep in mind is that the older plugins use less CPU. So if you stick to say the legacy 1176 you can run around 20+ on a single core (or about 8 on the older v1 core).

AC222
KVRian
968 posts since 17 Jun, 2012

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:23 pm

There's always two sides to a coin. You could argue that UAD fanboys will have incentive to justify all the money they've paid for relatively more expensive interfaces. And I can understand that point of view.

But I'd argue there is more bias on this forum of people wanting to believe more expensive equipment doesn't matter. Case in point, I got a lot of flack for pointing out that the hardware Lexicon 480 is far superior to the Relab plugin and from people that had no experience with both. In fact, it's pretty audible in when you hear reverb on any source with low frequency content. The plugin sounds pasted on top and blurs the sound big time where is the hardware wraps its sound around the source in a natural sounding way. It was amazing to hear so many passionate cries (whines) from people that didn't know what they were talking about. OT but Acustica Nebula reverbs are the closest thing you'll get in the box sound-wise.

Full disclosure I don't currently own anything Universal Audio period but have first-hand experience to speak to the matter at hand.

If you are talking about the latest generation of Universal Apollo or X6 and above, the converters are most definitely superior versus other all-in-one interfaces. I think a lot of people here are going to be oblivious to this fact, especially on this forum.

There are ways around this like 1) using a quality external clock 2) getting your converters modded 3) buying a quality linear power supply and 4) buying better power cables but I suspect most would rather just buy something off the shelf that sounds good. In fact, a lot of people think that all four of these changes to the signal chain make little to know difference but the fact is most of these people have never compared in person and are wrong. They all impact the signal and after upgrading the clock, the rest can be diminishing returns but all these changes matter.

With the Apollo, the top end line has a pretty high quality clock, decent power supply, and excellent low noise converters that give you a better sound stage and bigger low end than other interfaces using cheaper components.

If we are talking preamps, they are serviceable but quality outboard pres will be better both in specs and real-world performance (yes you can hear the headroom). There are other onboard pres from integrated audio interfaces that personally prefer. For example, the Joco Cello, Arturia, and Metric UNL8 yield better headroom. But the preamps onboard on the Apollo units are more than good enough.

There are also features on the flagship Apollos that a lot of engineers seem to enjoy. Namey, the ability to switch between monitors with the push of a button and not have to hook up external equipment to do this. Between routing and latency, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option. The new Presonus Thunderbolt and Clarett are also supposed to be good in this department but I am less famililar with those interfaces. Maybe someone with experience with those interfaces can chime in?

When you factor in the package of quality of conversion, quality of preamps, latency performance, routing, quality of headphone amp, and convenience (monitor switching just to name one), I can see why a lot of professional engineers would see the flagship Apollo units as a great total value. Great all-around performance straight out of the box with less need for upgrades to achieve a professional sound versus budget all-in-one interfaces.

Bottom line, you can make great music with a lot of budget interfaces. If the performance is great and the mixing engineer does a fantastic job with what they have to work with, it will sound great. Everyone knows this...People take this obvious fact way too far. The reality is that with the same performance and skills from a mixing engineering will almost invariably translate to a better final product on better equipment. It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not want to accept reality.

lwj
KVRist
352 posts since 3 Feb, 2018

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:36 pm

I have an arrow and that’s a great little interface... I’m not enticed to buy into their plugins at all though. Yeah, I can hear they sound good.. but not awesomely better than my best VSTs. They’re expensive and that’s without adding the hardware to even run them properly. Which seems like a poor investment compared to just buying a bigger, better computer every few years.

It seems like a weird technological tangent that had it’s use for a while.. when pc’s were much weaker and workflows were different anyway.

Scotty
KVRAF
2015 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:19 pm

ACC222 Wrote:

"The reality is that with the same performance and skills from a mixing engineering will almost invariably translate to a better final product on better equipment. It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not want to accept reality"

======================================================
I think this is likely true when you are taking about poorly made equipment or faulty equipment but your comments don't match my experience across the broader range of quality gear.

You need to define "better equipment". Some equipment is better in terms of authenticity but might be poorly chosen for a project. Some equipment might be extremely transparent with no audible distortion as measured by an oscilloscope. Technically it is better but can you hear the difference? If you can't, it doesn't matter. IF you can hear a difference is it "better"? Is a $4000 Neumann always better than a MXL V69 ME. No it isn't. Sometimes that Shure Sm7B with inferior specifications is a better choice than an expensive alternative.

People spend a fortune on some hardware which has superior specifications which often doesn't add up to a hill of beans. If you spend $4000 on a Mic Pre channel there is a very good chance that you or anyone else couldn't hear the difference between that and a mic pre that is 1/10th the cost. This holds true even when the track is fully exposed. This has been shown in double blind listening tests. SOS did a double blind shoot-out and the affordable ART Channel Strip was preferred over options that were "superior" and much more expensive.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/preamp-post-mortem

I've got some of the good stuff here (6176, Avalon 737s , 2022s. Neve Clones, LA2-610s, DCS - 4-710D, etc) and never once have these high end unit made the difference that is the difference on a track. I like this stuff but I am under no delusions that my mixes are invariably improved by them. Respectfully, I think this is nonsense.

Similarly, can you honestly say you can hear the difference between an EQ curve that has been applied between the various digital plugin clones when volume matched? The price difference between plugins would suggest that there should be clear winners with noteworthy audible differences.

Once applied most people can't tell the difference between two matched EQ curves derived from different equipment...the sound doesn't care how you got there and your ears won't know either if the signals have been volume matched. If the EQs saturate such as with Pultecs then obviously the plugins would need to account for non linearities which many of them do. Even if there are differences most people would struggle mightily to consistently identify a winner or even pick a favourite.

Do you assume that spending $150 on a compression plugin is superior in results than say using a Mjuc? I have the some of the "best" plugins here often I am reaching for cheaper alternatives. Expensive gear does not always equal superior results.

Similarly I often bypass the the compressor on my 6176 and Avalon 7373s because the flexibility of using a plugin alternative in a mix gives me more options and better results as I shape the mix. Superior workflow can yield improved results which can be far more important than an extremely insignificant difference in frequency response achieved by "superior" equipment.

There is also a lot of nonsense made about clock and jitter. Sending word clock though adat cables was thought to be inferior to dedicated and expensive word clock generators over BNC. Audio quality differences are not detectable by most living mortals even when using expensive word clock generators if the clock source is stable. In fact, in some cases external clock generators can actually degrade audio quality.

https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... ster-clock

Quoted from the conclusions:

"Overall, it should be clear from these tests that employing an external master clock cannot and will not improve the sound quality of a digital audio system. It might change it, and subjectively that change might be preferred, but it won't change things for the better in any technical sense. A‑D conversion performance will not improve: the best that can be hoped for is that the A‑D conversion won't become significantly degraded. In most cases, the technical performance will actually become worse, albeit only marginally so."


What your comment fails to address is the endless chasing of specifications and gear lust to which many of us including myself fall prey. There are psychological factors that greatly impact our perception of gear and sound quality.

There is no harm done in pursuing superior quality gear. Go for it if it makes you happy. I've got some of the "good" stuff. But don't for second believe your mixes are better because you used an Avalon vs an Art PRO II because one has better specifications. That would be fool-hearty and delusional.
Last edited by Scotty on Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

acousticglue
KVRian
858 posts since 27 May, 2008

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 2:30 pm

Knowing what the end result should sound like, having right choices made during onset will greatly improve any mix with most equipment. Like I said if have an army of tracks going in at once and argue about smallest latencies then maybe it's worth it to you. It's not for ME

burnt circuit
Banned
142 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:57 pm

There's no better saying for this situation, "It's the ear not the gear."
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

AC222
KVRian
968 posts since 17 Jun, 2012

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:18 pm

double post
Last edited by AC222 on Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

AC222
KVRian
968 posts since 17 Jun, 2012

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:26 pm

You need to define "better equipment"

For me you gotta partition this into what type of audio equipment.

Preamps - I want lots of headroom. The Neves have way more headroom than stock preamps . I don't care for the scientific crap either but if you really want to go that route you can get many more decibels of clean headroom versus stock preamps on an interface.

For guitars, I also want weight and the Neves have that in spades. The Avalon to a lesser extent. For pianos and acoustic material, I want lots of headroom again that you won't find on stock pres on most interfaces and clean gain. Give me a Millenia.

For microphones, guitars, basses, all that is very subjective and I could like a $100 guitar recorded on quality preamps as much as a $3000 guitar. But I will never like a gutiar and amp recorded into a crappy budget interface more than I will like it recorded into a Neve.

For converters, I want to hear clarity, width, depth, and separation. The Apollo converters do quite well for an integrated interface. To improve upon that sound I would need to step up to something like the next generation Lynx Aurora N.

Budget interfaces on the other hand lack all of those things. On the other hand, all those things can be improved by clocking to a better source, getting the converters modded, going with a linear power supply, and going with custom power cables (probably the last of these four mods you would want to make).

AC222
KVRian
968 posts since 17 Jun, 2012

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:29 pm

burnt circuit wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:57 pm
There's no better saying for this situation, "It's the ear not the gear."
You really think you're going to get a recording/mix that sounds as good as recording/mixing at Sunset Studios or East/West as on a Behringer $150 interface?

acousticglue
KVRian
858 posts since 27 May, 2008

Re: UAD apollo and plugins owners......is it worth it ? HOnestly

Post Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:34 pm

Depends on who's mixing it

Return to “Effects”