Review by Darwin Grosse
Available in SOLO, DUO and QUAD variations (with 1, 2, or 4 DSP cores, $699/$899/$1299), Universal Audio’s Apollo Twin MkII features a few important updates over the original, silver-faced version (which we reviewed in August 2014). Aside from the new, darker case color, the MkII version improves on the A/D and D/A converters and provides improved monitor management control. I reviewed the Thunderbolt version; a USB version has just become available, and both work with macOS and Windows.
But in many ways, this 24/192-capable interface retains the best of the original. It is a compact powerhouse, with two inputs plus Hi-Z (expandable with the optical input) and six outputs (four analog, plus separate headphone outs). Those two inputs feature two of UA’s Unison mic preamps, which provide excellent recording quality and transparency.
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A lot of audio interfaces come in and out of my studio, but I think I’ve found one that is going to anchor a corner of my desk for a while. The sound of the Apollo Twin MkII is clean and tight, and the integration with Universal Audio’s DSP-driven plug-ins means that this is more than an interface: it’s part of an ecosystem. The range of available UAD plug-ins is impressive, from the obvious ones (the UA 1176LN emulation, for example) to the ultra-tweaked (two different tape machine emulations!). Each part of that bargain makes the other more valuable: the high-quality interface improves your use of the plug-ins, and the plug-ins help you stay loyal to the interface. It’s marketing genius, but it’s good for us, too.
Some of the less obvious parts of the Apollo Twin MkII also impressed. In our virtualized age, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the mic inputs on our interfaces—in fact, many don’t even include mic inputs anymore. I’m please to say that the Unison mic pres sounded clean, married well to Unison-ready preamp plug-ins, and were a great partner for every mic I pulled out of my locker.
One of my favorite parts of the Apollo Twin MkII is that it eliminates the need for a separate monitor controller. Providing talkback, dimming, muting, and output control (both for itself and for networked rackmount Apollo units) means that I’m eliminating one more box from my desktop. Given all the stuff competing for that space, it’s great to have a combo device that is so capable.
Sometimes all-in-one devices can be masters-of-none; this is not one of those cases. The design team for the Apollo Twin MkII was on fire; everything from the button locations to the amount of knob turning to get the desired results—it’s all perfect. This interface breathes quality in every way.
More from: Universal Audio, www.uaudio.com