Why I love the Universal Audio Apollo

The Universal Audio Apollo series of interfaces have been around for quite a few years now (since 2012 in fact) and, since their inception, they’ve been revolutionary. As such, they’ve been adopted by some huge industry names – everyone from Dave Pensado to Mick Guzauski.

Universal Audio Apollo Plugin Recommendations

For those who aren’t familiar with the Apollo series, they’re essentially A/D and D/A conversion, with a built in DSP processor. On all of the apollo series, apart from the 16, there are between 2 and 8 mic preamps too. They’re essentially a combination of a UAD satellite, and a high quality audio interface – but at the same time, so much more. With the addition of an interface to a Satellite, comes the ability to run plug-ins in the recording path. This process, known as “unison”, makes the Apollo truly unique.

The bundled UAD software, Console, is fantastic too. It’s set out like a mixing desk, and allows complex routing to be set up, whilst remaining easy to understand. Console also makes the unison process simple and friendly. One of the advantages this gives UA Apollo users, is the ability to track through one of UAD’s high quality preamp emulations, and a compressor for example,  but then still be able to remove them from the recording afterward.

I own the original Apollo Quad, with the Thunderbolt card, and use it for A/D, D/A, plugin hosting, and often for the preamps too, depending on what I’m working on.

These are all fantastic reasons to love the Apollo – but as well as being an interface and monitor controller – it can be used simply as a DSP host for UAD plugins, and this is a huge selling point. UAD plugins are some of the finest on the market, and there’s a fantastic offer available at the moment (at the time of writing, valid until June 30th, 2018) – with UAD offering up to 3 free plugins (worth £533) with the purchase of an Apollo Twin Solo, Duo or Quad.

The plugins on offer by UAD are the Manley VOXBOX channel strip, Pure Plate Reverb and Antares Auto-Tune, so they’d really suit a vocalist, or an engineer who deals a lot with vocals. You also receive the analogue classics bundle, which includes the likes of the LA-2A, 1176, Pultec and the unison enabled UA610 preamp. If you already own any of the plugins suggested however – you’re welcome to swap them for others.

Here are a few of my favourite UAD plugins to help you make that decision:

UAD Neve 1073 StripStuder A800

The Studer A800 is probably my favourite of all the UAD plugins I own. It’s easily my favourite tape emulation plugin, and it’s used in every single one of my mixes, with no exceptions. It’s so versatile, and it works on everything. Whether you want to saturate your drum buss, warm your master buss or enhance your lead vocal – the Studer A800 is the one for you.

EMT Plate 140

 Another incredibly versatile plugin, and one that you don’t need to be afraid of pushing too hard. The EMT Plate 140 feels and sounds like a piece of hardware, and can work wonders on your mix. You have a choice between 3 different plates, as well as time, input filters and some EQ controls, so you can get exactly what you need. The EMT plate 140 is one of my favourites for Lead vocals, but it also works wonders with short times on synths and guitars.

API Vision Channel strip

Authentic API sonic qualities, mixing a 550b EQ and 225L compressor with one of the fastest gates I’ve ever used. If you like the hard API sound – this channel strip is a must have for you. It’s a dream come true on drums and guitars in particular.

Neve 1073

 The Neve 1073 is one of the most popular vocal preamps in the world right now, and for good reason. The UAD emulation is no exception, and, with unison capabilities, can be used in the recording path. It’s fantastic on vocals, but I’ve never really heard it do anything badly, and this is one of the finest emulations on the market.

LA-2A collection

 I’m a huge fan of LA-2As. Their minimal controls and simple to use nature appeal to me, as they still manage to be incredibly versatile. There are three different variants of the LA-2A in the UAD collection, and each offer slightly different tonal characteristics – furthering the versatility. I tend to use them in compression mode (4:1 ratio) more than limiter mode (10:1), as I love the subtlety and transparency they’re capable of.

If you have any questions about the Universal Audio Apollo range of interfaces, UAD powered plugins, or home recording in general, please get in touch with one of our product specialists.

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Chris Milnes

Christopher Milnes is a Leeds-based musician and music producer. He’s received various awards and scholarships for his music production work, notably The David Thompson Scholarship, and the O2 Think Bigger award, as well as the conservatoire prize at Leeds College of Music. His work has been broadcast on BBC radio 1, BBC Radio 3, and many other radio and TV stations.

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