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

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
sl1200mk2
KVRist
141 posts since 6 Jun, 2003

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:01 am

TL;DR: If you do a lot tracking and want low latency monitoring w/ FX, then the Apollo platform is a great option. IMO, it's still a good value given the quality of the interface and not just a 'dongle'. If you're primarily ITB working with VSTi's, then it makes much less sense. Stick with native plugins and any number of interfaces (I heavily favor RME). If you still want to try UAD just for the plugins, then pick up a used Satellite and go from there.

I've been a UAD users since the early v1 days and still today. It's a very YMMV thing at this point. Yes, overall the quality of the plugins is excellent. It's a stable, reliable platform with decent drivers and support. You don't have have to spend $200-300 per plugin if you're patient and wait for sales (which happen frequently). It's only when there's a brand new plugin that you're going to have to wait 8-10 months for it to go on sale if you don't want to pay full price. I haven't spent that much in years for anything... it probably works out to be $75-100 each which I find totally acceptable given the quality. I'm only buying 1-2 plugins a year now myself.

That said, for a while now, I only buy the plugins that are going to be unique to UAD (at least for a several year licensing period). If I can get the same plugin natively (e.g. Brainworx, Softube, Sonnox, etc), then I absolutely get the native version. However, I'm not focused on tracking and monitoring with little latency. I'm primarily working alone with mastering or noodling with synths and drum machines and not with live artists.

People like to point out that all the plugins would be the same if they were run natively, but often forget that's not the same case for the Unison enabled ones. Those plugins specifically change the impedance of the interface pre to work in conjunction with the plugin. That wouldn't happen natively with any other interface, so they wouldn't sound the same. Again, how important that is to you is entirely situational and how you're using the interface overall.

I'm replacing my older Apollo later this year with an RME + Lynx setup and will get a used satellite or PCI card to run my current purchases. My direction and needs have changed though, but that doesn't mean I regret the prior 'investment'. It's served me well. I'll keep the Apollo for the occasional remote location recording I do for friends.

Scotty
KVRAF
1998 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:17 pm

I agree with the gist of your post. In the context of using the interface with unison and for specific plugins it can be at once a compelling and expensive option. 60 + plugins here with my feet firmly on the ground.

I would also add that if you buy actual hardware from Universal Audio they do have periodic promotions whereby you get a Quad or Duo card for "free" ... I did get one of my UAD-2 Quads that way with my 4-710D.

Robert Randolph wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:01 am
For me, I can comfortably ignore the plugins for external use (in a DAW) and I find sufficient value from the interfaces.

The impedance matching on inputs, easy near-zero latency plugin application, external control, excellent audio quality, excellent driver performance, decent support, I/O options, stackabilty (hook up multiple devices that act as a single device) and the compatibility they generally support is worth it for me.

Taking such a featureful system and reducing it to a glorified dongle for some plugins is a fairly disingenuous way to frame the discussion. The UAD expansion cards definitely fall into this category (and I think they're a terrible value unless you are in the ecosystem via an interface). The Apollo interfaces themselves are an excellent value if a sufficient part of the featureset benefits you.

That said, some of the UAD versions of plugins are the best on the market that I've found. Some of them have much cheaper equals, and some of them are surpassed by much cheaper options. I currently own 62 UAD plugins and there's only two that I believe are superlative options on the system: SDD-3000 and the RMX16. I feel that I can replicate nearly everything else with other options to my satisfaction. (Note: I do think many of the UAD products are unparalleled in emulation accuracy, but I value the result, not the contextual accuracy.)

I use the UAD plugins heavily in the Console during tracking and I do use them somewhat lightly while mixing.

My UA system is 3 Apollo x8ps and 2 UAD satellites. I have an Apollo Twin in my editing suite.

Scotty
KVRAF
1998 posts since 23 Dec, 2002

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:41 pm

I get around that mono issue by using the plugin in manager in Cubase... once you define them you only have to manage any new ones with each update. But yes with no installer manager it is a pain and is again another long standing request that gets ignored by UA.


zvenx wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:47 am
Excellent post Scotty.
One other big con for me and I have stopped buying UAD plugins (except mk2 upgrades). Their installer.
It installs everything. Like all their plugins, in all formats including Mono.
rsp

User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2233 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:29 pm

burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieved the same sonic equivalent with less money and without a hardware dongle.

You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.

You can match any of their plugin's quality from many developers and for $29.

UAD is for people with money to waste and clients to impress.
Ok, can you please explain to me how I can get 72 i/o (throw in 32 high quality pre-amps in there, 8 highish power headphone amps, 8 high-quality DIs), with near zero-latency plugins (without a DAW, fully recallable across platforms), full cue-mix, that will work at ~64 sample buffer size for a full I/O project?

Cheaper, of course... and portable.

Last I checked the closest option was an RME fireface UFX+, which doesn't meet all the requirements and ends up costing more than I paid for my Apollos after purchasing the necessary MADI boxes, tacking on a few decent onboard pres, headphone distro, DIs and that's not even considering any of the DSP aspect or near-zero latency plugin selection for tracking.

tldr; you can completely ignore the plugins/dsp and the Apollos are a fantastic value for some people. As I said previously, anyone that tries to turn this into an argument about DSP or plugins is being disingenuous out of ignorance or is simply trolling.
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

acousticglue
KVRian
850 posts since 27 May, 2008

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:22 pm

I personally think UAD produces rubbish per the $ my two recording friends bought it, love it and I think it's placebo. My vsts blow it away. It does save CPU if your the MFer having 15 people over to track. That's about it really. If you can knot together 2 PCs for tracking same diff

jochicago
KVRian
795 posts since 26 Feb, 2018

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:34 pm

Robert Randolph wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:29 pm
can you please explain to me how I can get 72 i/o
I do take your point, but you are also pushing things to the extreme end.

When we talk about price/performance how about we also include a conversation about native processing power.

A AMD Ryzen 9 3900X with 24 threads is currently around $500. I don't know what rigging 72 i/o of UAD amounts to in terms of CPU juice, but I imagine it doesn't dwarf a monster CPU like the Ryzen 9.

I did a quick check so I can add numbers here. I'm a couple gens back on Ryzen 7 1700 16 threads. I just did a test with a clean S1 session, at 64 samples, I'm getting round-trip latency of ~5ms. I don't have tons of IO available but I ran a quick session with 8 inputs, and a Fat Channel XT on every track doing gate, compressor and eq, all at 0ms latency. Total CPU reported by S1 is 2%, that's 1/50th of my CPU juice. Even on my setup I should be able to run a 50+ input session at near 5ms latency with a channel strip on every input without the use of external DSP processing. BTW, didn't bother to close my other windows/apps, got 2 browsers running with 20 tabs open.

Because my CPU has 16 threads, if I'm recording 8 tracks that means I've got 8 more threads of empty CPU before the DAW has to start borrowing a thread for more than 1 input. On the Ryzen 9 with 24 threads that means that at 72 tracks, it only needs to accommodate 3 tracks per CPU thread, should be easy-peasy.

I don't need that many tracks. For me, a ceiling of maybe 50 simultaneous input tracks is far more than I intend to reach on this machine. So I really have no use for external DSP for tracking, even if it were free with the purchase of a nice interface (but it is not free, a UAD interface costs a lot more because of the extra CPU power).

So the point is:
Personally, when I've looked at this as an investment the numbers have never added up for me on UAD. In that price range, I would much much rather upgrade to a monster computer and be able to use any plugins I want than sink all that money into the UAD system just so I can track with their UAD 1176 instead of Fat Channel's 1176.

burnt circuit
KVRist
105 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

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

Post Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:37 pm

Robert Randolph wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:29 pm
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieved the same sonic equivalent with less money and without a hardware dongle.

You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.

You can match any of their plugin's quality from many developers and for $29.

UAD is for people with money to waste and clients to impress.
Ok, can you please explain to me how I can get 72 i/o (throw in 32 high quality pre-amps in there, 8 highish power headphone amps, 8 high-quality DIs), with near zero-latency plugins (without a DAW, fully recallable across platforms), full cue-mix, that will work at ~64 sample buffer size for a full I/O project?

Cheaper, of course... and portable.

Last I checked the closest option was an RME fireface UFX+, which doesn't meet all the requirements and ends up costing more than I paid for my Apollos after purchasing the necessary MADI boxes, tacking on a few decent onboard pres, headphone distro, DIs and that's not even considering any of the DSP aspect or near-zero latency plugin selection for tracking.

tldr; you can completely ignore the plugins/dsp and the Apollos are a fantastic value for some people. As I said previously, anyone that tries to turn this into an argument about DSP or plugins is being disingenuous out of ignorance or is simply trolling.
72 i/o? LOL Why? :hihi:

Waves Soundgrid system blows UAD out of the water in all stats.
DSP power, price, cost of plugins, shared servers, networking, you name it.
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2233 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:34 am

burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:37 pm
Robert Randolph wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:29 pm
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieved the same sonic equivalent with less money and without a hardware dongle.

You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.

You can match any of their plugin's quality from many developers and for $29.

UAD is for people with money to waste and clients to impress.
Ok, can you please explain to me how I can get 72 i/o (throw in 32 high quality pre-amps in there, 8 highish power headphone amps, 8 high-quality DIs), with near zero-latency plugins (without a DAW, fully recallable across platforms), full cue-mix, that will work at ~64 sample buffer size for a full I/O project?

Cheaper, of course... and portable.

Last I checked the closest option was an RME fireface UFX+, which doesn't meet all the requirements and ends up costing more than I paid for my Apollos after purchasing the necessary MADI boxes, tacking on a few decent onboard pres, headphone distro, DIs and that's not even considering any of the DSP aspect or near-zero latency plugin selection for tracking.

tldr; you can completely ignore the plugins/dsp and the Apollos are a fantastic value for some people. As I said previously, anyone that tries to turn this into an argument about DSP or plugins is being disingenuous out of ignorance or is simply trolling.
72 i/o? LOL Why? :hihi:

Waves Soundgrid system blows UAD out of the water in all stats.
DSP power, price, cost of plugins, shared servers, networking, you name it.
Except for... everything that I mentioned, because I don't care about dsp power, shared servers, networking. I did name what I was interested (and why I went with Apollo), and it appears that you don't have a response to what I mentioned?

It really does appear that some folks have a very difficult time separating the Apollo devices from the UAD ecosystem.
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

Spring Goose
KVRist
162 posts since 31 Jan, 2020

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:47 am

burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.
explain please

robotmonkey
KVRAF
2376 posts since 20 Jun, 2012

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:12 am

no
No signature here!

burnt circuit
KVRist
105 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:23 am

Robert Randolph wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:34 am
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:37 pm
Robert Randolph wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:29 pm
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieved the same sonic equivalent with less money and without a hardware dongle.

You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.

You can match any of their plugin's quality from many developers and for $29.

UAD is for people with money to waste and clients to impress.
Ok, can you please explain to me how I can get 72 i/o (throw in 32 high quality pre-amps in there, 8 highish power headphone amps, 8 high-quality DIs), with near zero-latency plugins (without a DAW, fully recallable across platforms), full cue-mix, that will work at ~64 sample buffer size for a full I/O project?

Cheaper, of course... and portable.

Last I checked the closest option was an RME fireface UFX+, which doesn't meet all the requirements and ends up costing more than I paid for my Apollos after purchasing the necessary MADI boxes, tacking on a few decent onboard pres, headphone distro, DIs and that's not even considering any of the DSP aspect or near-zero latency plugin selection for tracking.

tldr; you can completely ignore the plugins/dsp and the Apollos are a fantastic value for some people. As I said previously, anyone that tries to turn this into an argument about DSP or plugins is being disingenuous out of ignorance or is simply trolling.
72 i/o? LOL Why? :hihi:

Waves Soundgrid system blows UAD out of the water in all stats.
DSP power, price, cost of plugins, shared servers, networking, you name it.
Except for... everything that I mentioned, because I don't care about dsp power, shared servers, networking. I did name what I was interested (and why I went with Apollo), and it appears that you don't have a response to what I mentioned?

It really does appear that some folks have a very difficult time separating the Apollo devices from the UAD ecosystem.
I think you're missing the point, your needs are far and few between. For the average user it's a waste of money. They remind me of Apple and Macs, same business model, same overpriced dongles or other proprietary methods to milk their long term customers. This also reminds me of the old Protools HD systems that used to dominate the marketplace and now the modern day rental subscriptions have taken their place.

You can choose to spend (waste) your money on anything you desire, but some are financially wiser.
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

burnt circuit
KVRist
105 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:24 am

Spring Goose wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:47 am
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.
explain please


Everything you need to know is contained here.

https://www.waves.com/soundgrid-studio-system
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

Spring Goose
KVRist
162 posts since 31 Jan, 2020

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:33 am

burnt circuit wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:24 am
Spring Goose wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:47 am
burnt circuit wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:48 am
You can achieve the same DSP processing power with many alternatives for half the price.
explain please

Everything you need to know is contained here.

https://www.waves.com/soundgrid-studio-system
ok thanks mate

User avatar
Robert Randolph
KVRAF
2233 posts since 25 May, 2003 from Saint Petersburg, Florida

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:10 pm

burnt circuit wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:23 am

You can choose to spend (waste) your money on anything you desire, but some are financially wiser.
I agree, so would you please answer my question about a financially wiser system that meets the same needs that the Apollos do for me.

It's quite a bit of a strange line of reasoning if your whole argument is that some people buy things they don't need. We can make that case about literally everything this forum is about.
http://admiralbumblebee.com/
Audio Software Reviews, Woodworking, Programming and more...

burnt circuit
KVRist
105 posts since 15 Jan, 2020

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

Post Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:13 pm

Robert Randolph wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:10 pm
burnt circuit wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:23 am

You can choose to spend (waste) your money on anything you desire, but some are financially wiser.
I agree, so would you please answer my question about a financially wiser system that meets the same needs that the Apollos do for me.

It's quite a bit of a strange line of reasoning if your whole argument is that some people buy things they don't need. We can make that case about literally everything this forum is about.
Most people don't need 72 i/o's, in fact they are most likely only using upto 4. So let's be realistic for a minute and take a deep breath. I think we're discussing real world applications for most people, not someone that needs 72 i/o's, that we still don't know the exact usage for?

Even if you really needed 72 i/o's, there is a cheaper way to string something together for a faction of the cost and twice the power.

Now back to planet Earth and a return to the discussion with bedroom producers... UAD is a waste of money to most people's situations and needs.
It's not the quality of audio, it's the quality of production that matters.

Return to “Effects”