Another highend interface company with new goods to show off at Musikmesse is UAD with a number of Thunderbolt 2 updates to their range. Known for their co-processing abilities and great signal paths for recording, this refresh an upgrade to those superb convertors along with the ability to cascade upto 4 Apollo interfaces or 6 UAD devices total over Thunderbolt.
The are 4 different models with the following features:
The Apollo 8 is shipping with both Duo and Quad processing options for your UAD powered plug ins. It features four Unison enabled mic preamps and Hi-Z inputs for tracking, complete with classic preamp emulations from Neve, API, and Universal Audio.
The Apollo 8p ships with a UAD quad processor and features eight Unison enabled mic preamps and Hi-Z inputs, allowing recordists to track larger through classic preamp emulations from Neve, API, and Universal Audio.
The Apollo 8p ships with a UAD quad processor and features 16 x 16 analog I/O via DB-25 connectors making it ideal for pairing with mixing consoles and other dedicated outboard preamps.
Lastly the Apollo FireWire which also ships with quad Processing allows systems running firewire to access the same features that are now available to Thunderbolt 2 users.
Universal Audio Apollo 16 is the new flagship interface and DSP host from the original UAD DSP card Daddies. Doubling the number of analogue i/o from the previous model, it maintains an itegrated UAD Quad processor for utilising the extensive range of UAD exclusive plugins, such as the excellent Studer A800 and Ampex ATR102 tape simulators.
It also comes complete with the Analogue classics bundle, comprising of the 1176LN, 1176SE, Teletronix LA-2A, Pultec EQP-1A & UA RealVerb plugins, that have been essentials for me for years on my old faithful UAD-1 card.
Apollo 16 is Universal Audio’s flagship 24-bit/192 kHz audio interface, delivering world-class conversion with 16 x 16 analog I/O — twice the analog connectivity of the original Apollo model. This uncompromising FireWire/Thunderbolt-ready* interface combines superior sound and flexible routing with powerful onboard UAD-2 QUAD processing. So you can track audio in real time through the full range of classic UAD analog emulation plug-ins — from Neve, Studer, Manley, Lexicon and more — on both Mac and Windows 7.
With its professional connectivity and multi-unit cascading (for 32 x 32 analog I/O), the Apollo 16 sets a new standard in high-resolution recording with classic analog sound.
World-Class 24-bit/192 kHz Conversion
Apollo 16 brings a true “no compromise” approach to every aspect of its audio signal path. Building upon decades of UA hardware expertise, it features meticulous analog circuit design, top-end converters, and DC-coupled outputs — providing the lowest THD and highest dynamic range of any converter in its class. Specifically, the Apollo 16’s deep, wide soundstage, and its exceptionally open and transparent sound, makes it the ideal centerpiece for professional recording studios.
Realtime UAD Plug-In Processing for Tracking, Mixing, and Mastering
With its standard UAD-2 QUAD processing onboard, Apollo 16 allows recording in real time through UAD Powered Plug-Ins — with as low as sub-2ms latency — so you can monitor, audition, and “print” audio through stunning analog emulations from Ampex, Lexicon, Manley, Neve, Roland, SSL, Studer, and more.** Better still, Apollo 16’s Realtime UAD Processing is also available during mixing and mastering, so that music producers can employ UAD plug-ins (VST, RTAS, AU) throughout the creative process.
Expandable 16 x 16 Analog Connectivity with Advanced Routing
Apollo 16 boasts straightforward 16 x 16 analog I/O via convenient DB-25 connections — perfect for pairing with mixing consoles, outboard processors, cue/headphone systems, and more. Two Apollo 16 units can be cascaded over MADI for an expanded system with eight UAD processors and 32 x 32 simultaneous analog I/O, capable of handling large professional mixes. Dedicated XLR monitor outputs and stereo AES-EBU digital I/O round out the Apollo 16’s rear-panel audio connections.
The Apollo 16’s enhanced routing capabilities include four stereo Cue mixes with individually assignable outputs, and a new “Virtual I/O” feature that allows for Realtime UAD Processing of DAW tracks and virtual instruments.
Thunderbolt™ Connectivity for Macs
Apollo 16 offers compatibility with Intel’s new high-bandwidth Thunderbolt technology on Macs via a user-installable dual-port Thunderbolt Option Card (sold separately). Thunderbolt provides greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at high sample rates, and reduced UAD plug-in latency in the DAW versus Apollo’s standard FireWire connection.
Because Thunderbolt offers many times the bandwidth of FireWire, it allows studios to connect numerous devices in series with the Apollo interface — including hard drives, processors, and additional computer monitors — all with fast, flawless performance. Thunderbolt also makes it easy to expand UAD plug-in processing power via a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis and UAD-2 DSP Accelerator card(s).
Deeper Integration with Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and More
Apollo 16’s Core Audio and ASIO drivers ensure compatibility with all major DAWs, including Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, and more. The included Console application and companion Console Recall plug-in (VST/AU/RTAS) provide control and recall of all interface and Realtime UAD plug-in settings within your DAW sessions, even months and years later. A new “PT Mode” ensures that Pro Tools can take advantage of all 16 analog inputs/outputs for hardware inserts — and maximizes analog I/O in a multi-unit setup.
Hardware Design and Workflow
Apollo 16 boasts numerous design details that give you a fast, natural workflow — and better results. Its Monitor outputs are digitally controlled analog, so you don’t lose audio resolution when you adjust gain. More than 195 high-visibility LEDs provide full input and output metering, and with zero “hot spots” or light bleed. All front controls and rear-panel connections are professional-grade. And finally, standalone operation means that you can use Apollo’s audio connections, and last-used DSP mixer settings, even without a computer connected.
A surprising one for us to see here at Scan but a welcome move none the less. Allen & Heath have been a firm favorite of this particular writer since he first got his hands on a Xone62 many years ago. Great build quality matched with attention to detail and great customer service make this Cornwall based mixer maker a easy choice for pro installs where a true work horse is required.
So this weeks announcement in the form of the Allen & Heath ICE-16 which is a 16 channel hybrid (USB/Firewire) audio interface comes as something of a surprise entry into what is already a fairly crowded market. What can these guys offer and just why are we so excited?
The offical line on the Allen & Heath ICE-16:
The Allen & Heath ICE-16 makes multitrack recording easy. Forget all that fiddling around at the back of clunky HD recorders or messing about with soundcard drivers. ICE-16 lets you capture a high quality 16 track recording straight to a USB key or hard drive.
The Allen & Heath ICE-16 is also a powerful 16×16 audio interface capable of studio quality recording over high-speed USB or FireWire. Whether it’s a live band, a studio session, a conference, a function or a theatre rehearsal, the Allen & Heath ICE-16 is the ideal choice for recording multichannel audio with or without your computer.
16 analogue Inputs, 16 analogue Outputs
Front USB socket for easy capture to USB storage devices
Hybrid FireWire (IEE1394) / USB 2.0 16×16 audio interface
Industry standard wav file format
Up to 6 hours of 16 channel audio on a 32GB USB stick
Signal Present and Peak LED metering on each channel
Mono headphone bus for Input or Output monitoring
Daisy chain multiple units over FireWire
Familiar transport buttons and intuitive controls
It’s essentially a front end to allow 16 channel multitrack recording and playback with full audio interface functionality and the option to bypass the computer completely and record straight to a USB connected hard drive or solid state media. Not only that but multiple units can be chained up to allow more I/O options should they be required meaning that from a live point of view it comes close to our current live favorite the RME UCX but at a sizable cost saving. That’s not to say it’ll be quite as fully featured as the rather epic RME behemoth but we can quite clearly see a lot of uses where bands will be able to make use of a high track count audio interface and recording frontend device such as this without all the extra features, whistles and bells of the higher cost device.
So all that coupled with the good name of Allen & Heath, their well regarded reliability we’re looking forward to getting our hands on one in the near future… The biggest shock however is the price. From a company that has never cut corners or been known for making cheap units we see the SRP is 785 inc vat.
The Universal Audio Apollo is first to the plate with a thunderbolt interface, although it is an optional extra, they have managed not to make this just an audio interface, but actually combine it with UAD-2 Processing power which This really differentiates it from the likes of the RME UFX, which is pretty similally specced. The Universal Audio Apollo comes in Quad or Duo varieties, refering to the number of UAD-2 DSP processors onboard.It also comes with an “analog classics” (im quoting here, everyone knows analog should be spelt analouge)
The Interface is not just about thunderbolt though, it also has two firewire 800 connectors for connection to PC’s and older Macs.
Universal Audio are really gunning for the high end market with this, the converters are specced to 118dbA, and it features 4 digitally controlled analouge Mic Preamps (anyone else think this might be the That! 1570 /1571 chip combination?), as well as eight analogue io, ADAT and a pair of sp-dif connectors.
No pricing info has been released yet, but i would at least expect the cost of a RME UFX plus a UAD-2 card.
Anyway, here’s the details.
Universal Audio Apollo Audio Interface
Sample rates up to 192 kHz at 24-bit word length
18 x 24 simultaneous input/output channels:
Eight channels of analog-to-digital conversion via mic, line, or high-impedance inputs
14 channels of digital-to-analog conversion via:
Eight mono line outputs
Stereo monitor outputs
Two stereo headphone outputs
10 channels of digital I/O via:
Eight channels ADAT Optical I/O with S/MUX for high sample rates
Two channels coaxial S/PDIF I/O with sample rate conversion
Two FireWire 800 ports for daisy-chaining other FireWire devices
32-bit and 64-bit device drivers
Four high-resolution, ultra-transparent, digitally-controlled analog mic preamps
Front panel and software control of all preamp parameters
Switchable low cut filter, 48V phantom power, 20 dB pad, polarity inversion, and stereo linking
Stereo monitor outputs (independent of eight line outputs)
Digitally-controlled analog monitor outputs maintains highest fidelity
Front panel control of monitor levels and muting
Two stereo headphone outputs with independent mix buses
Independent front panel analog volume controls for headphone outputs
Front panel pre-fader metering of monitor bus levels
S/PDIF outputs can be set to mirror the monitor outputs
Onboard UAD-2 Processing
The Universal Audio Apollo DUO and QUAD models featuring two or four SHARC processors
Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing on all of Apollo’s analog and digital inputs
Same features and functionality as other UAD-2 products when used with DAW
Can be combined with other UAD-2 devices for increased mixing DSP
Includes UAD Powered Plug-Ins “Analog Classics” bundle
Complete UAD-2 Powered Plug-Ins library is available online 24/7
The Universal Audio Apollo Console application:
Enables Realtime UAD Powered Plug-Ins processing
DSP mixer for realtime monitoring and tracking
Remote control of all Apollo features and functionality
Console Recall plug-in:
Saves the Universal Audio Apollo configurations inside DAW sessions for easy recall
Enables control of all front panel parameters from within the DAW
VST, RTAS, and Audio Units plug-in formats
UAD Meter & Control Panel application:
Configures global UAD-2 and Powered Plug-Ins settings and monitors system usage
Ever imagined what would happen if you put a Fireface UFX, a Fireface 400, Fireface UC and a Babyface in a blender?
Well actually, that would make a hell of a lot of expensive unusable mess, however, if you combined the best features of all three units, then you’d come up with the RME Fireface UCX. Initally, it does look very similar to the Fireface 400, but as you look closer, the differences start to appear.
Dual USB / Firewire Interfaces
RME will not stray too far from the rather excellent job that they did getting both ports working on the UFX, so we could have expected a DAWBench LLP score of about 7.5 (out fo 10) on firewire (7.4 on usb), which has been the highest score for a non-pcie interface so far. I say could, because during the re-design of the converter circuits, they’ve managed to slash the latency of the stages to a quarter of that found on the UC and Fireface 400. I think i can go on record now and say that this, with the custom programmed USB and Firewire controller chip from the UFX and the amazingly low latency converter circuit, this DEFINATLY WILL outperform the UFX and take the title of Best External Low Latency Interface. I did hear a rumour that the two guys who write the driver software for RME are in fact two ultra-competitve German brothers, one of which does the Windows ones and one who does Mac. If this is true, then its probably the best ever application of sibling rivalry that i’ve ever heard.
RME Fireface UCX Features:
8 x Analog I/O
2 x Mic/ Line Preamps, digitally controlled
2 x Line / Instrument inputs, digitally controlled
1 x SPDIF I/O coaxial
1 x ADAT I/O (or 1 x SPDIF I/O optical)
1 x Word Clock I/O
2 x MIDI I/O (via breakout cable)
1 x FireWire 400
1 x USB 2.0 (USB 3 compatible)
2 Mic Preamps
The mic preamps have been upgraded to the ones from the Micstacy & UFX and there’s not a gain knob in sight, as they are now digitally controlled and monitored from the Totalmix FX software, which also controls the 48V phantom power for each channel. The Clip-Proof “Autoset” function automatically and intelligently (based on program material) turns down a hot recording without the use of a limiter and associated increase in noise floor that brings. The preamps also handle the two line level and two high impedence instrument inputs in the same way. Of course, this is RME, so you can actually turn the autoset fuction off if you desire.
So, the news is that the converter circuits have had a re-design and reveal that it looks like it’s had a tweak from the 113dBA Fireface 400, but just a smidgen off the 118dBA D to A’s of the UFX, coming in at a very respectable 114dBA. with a THD+N score of -98db. RME also has kept it’s excellent Steadyclock with jitter reduction circuitry. It has also made the driver asyncronus over USB, so the interface is able to use the internal clock as master. The Wordclock output can also be used to sync up your other digital devices too.The unit works up to 192k sample rate (cue arguments over whether you should record at anything over 96k), although it does (as with all units) reduce the number of channels on the ADAT input, from 8 at 48k to just 2 at 192k.
Remote Monitor Control
The RME Fireface UCX also comes bundled with a remote control that has more than a passing resemblence to a babyface (less money spent on mouldings = more money spent on circuit dev eh?). This provides volume control to the RME Fireface UCX as well as a couple of assignable buttons (talkback?)
You can also upgrade the remote to the Advanced remote control, that would add another six extra assignable buttons above the volume knob.
USB Class Compliancy
ok, move along, nothing to see here……. well, unless (like me) you’ve got an iPad.
Its been well known that for a while, iPad’s have been able to access class compliant USB audio devices by means of the Apple Camera Connector Kit.
This little converter dongle sticks into the charging port on the bottom of the pad and has a USB socket on the other side. We’ve had great fun sticking USB valve preamps, Microphones and Guitar leads into it, but what we’ve not yet seen is any multichannel options…. untill now.
The RME Fireface UCX can be quickly switched into CC mode with a quick turn of the front panel selection dial and then becomes a 8 channel interface for the iPad, (well, as long as you are running ios 5, which brought in the multichannel function)
Unfortunatly only a couple of programs can make use of the multiple inputs so far, notably “Multitrack DAW” and “Music Studio”, though you would think that a garageband update must be immenent. All programs that have a record audio function can make use of channels 1&2 on input and output.
The other nice little trick up their sleeves in the fact that you can set up a couple of totalmix FX presets on your computer beforehand that can be accessed in CC mode, such as putting compression and reverb on a vocal channel for recording and latency free monitoring.
Differences RME Fireface UCX to Fireface UC/400
RME Fireface UCX
RME Fireface UC/400
DSP hardware effects
Support for RME Remotes
New 2011 design
Low latency AD/DA Conversion
AutoSet for overload protection
Differences RME Fireface UCX to RME Fireface UFX
RME Fireface UCX
RME Fireface UFX
Advanced Parallel Conversion
1 coaxial + 1 optical
(opt. = ADAT I/O)
(2nd ADAT I/O)
Mic Preamps (digitally controlled)
Word Clock I/O (BNC)
Phones Outputs (dedicated)
High Resolution Color Display
Internal DSP hardware effects
AutoSet for Mic/Inst. Preamps
RME Remote Support
Direct USB Recording
1/2 19 inch
All TotalMix FX features at up to 192 kHz
SMUX (up to 192 kHz)
Complete Stand Alone Operation with Setup Recall
USB & FireWire support (X-Core)
Conclusion It seems like RME have got an absolute cracker of an interface here, the low latency performance will set the mark for external interfaces and the class compliant mode will open the door to a whole new hoard of RME fans.
Manufacturers please take note…. This is how to make an interface.
Please go over to RME and check out all the details as there’s far too much for me to cover here.
The first shipment of the RME Fireface UCX should be available from Scan in the next few weeks, Priced just under a grand.