The music quality is something as important as the music itself. If the quality is anything less than great, your song or beat will be adversely affected, no matter how amazing.
Knowing what instruments work best with your rhythm is essential to producing a pleasant melody.
So, what really brings life into songs except for lyrics? Does getting the right even matter? Can you play a song without any high-end software and hardware and still have it sound just the same? Let’s find out!
Preamps, including Apollo x6 and Apollo x8 by Universal Audio, are the hardware that you need to improve your song’s sound quality. However, is an Apollo interface worth it?
Do you really need to spend all that money on an Apollo x6 or Apollo x8? Which Apollo interface is the best, and how do you decide which one you should get?
To find out the answers to all these questions, take a look at the following section.
Universal Audio-Where it all Began
Universal Audio is an international audio business founded by Bill Putnam Sr. in 1958. It has been creating phenomenal recording products ever since its inception.
Bill Putnam Sr. was among the favorite engineers of Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Ray Charles.
A passionate innovator, the Universal Audio founder, is recognized as the father of modern recording technology due to his numerous exemplary, extraordinary equipment and studio designs.
Bill Putnam Sr. was the inventor of several legendary products, including the vocal booth and multi-band audio equalizer. He was the first one to incorporate artificial reverberation into commercial recording.
Along with his friend Les Paul, Bill Putnam Sr. was also a part of the stereophonic recording development.
A natural entrepreneur, Bill Putnam Sr. laid down the establishment of three audio product companies during his extensive career, UREI, Studio Electronics, and Universal Audio.
All three companies launched equipment that is used even today, many decades after their introduction.
The equipment consists of the 610 tube-recording console and ubiquitous LA-2A, and 1176 compressors. The 610 tube-recording console is among the most popular designs in audio history.
It was used to record several famous stars, from the Beach Boys to Sinatra to Van Halen’s eponymous debut.
It was the first product to have individual channels on modular strips for easy maintenance; this design is used by some boutique consoles currently.
Apollo X6 Vs. Apollo x8
Among the most popular interfaces is the Apollo x6, used for several numerous Grammy-winning albums and chart-topping songs, the Universal Audio’s Apollo x6 has won numerous hearts.
One prime model is the rackmount 16 x 22 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface, which brings together the right feel, flow, and sound of analog studio recording.
It also features upgraded surround monitoring, upgraded clocking, 16 stellar UAD plug-ins bundle, and 50% greater DSP than the older Apollo models- a significant advantage of the supercharged HEXA Core real-time UAD processor.
The Apollo x6 showcased an elite class-24 bit/ 192 kHz conversion and dedicated, rivaling converters that give record producers, music creators, and post-production engineers the comfort of receiving crystal clear and high-resolution recording mixed with ultra-low distortion (below 119 dB).
The dynamic range is about 129 dB, and the switchable headroom settings allow the correct level-matching compatible with a wide variety of audio equipment.
The Apollo x6 interface also comes with two XLR mic inputs along with two ¼ inches Hi-Z inputs, all featuring unison integration for UAD emulations of the classic analog preamps.
You can pick the vintage character of your choice on the instrument and microphone recordings without compromising quality due to old equipment.
Moreover, the six ¼ inches line-level inputs fitted on the rear panel allow for virtual outboard mic preamps or direct console output usage.
The switchable low-cut filter, polarity inversion, 48V phantom power, stereo linking, and pad are features on each preamp. They can help you optimize the incoming signals with the easy buttons on Apollo x6’s face.
Other than the six primary analog inputs, Apollo x6 allows you to record up to 10 more channels by making an ADAT- and S/PDIF connection equipped with external preamps to the S/PDIF coaxial input ports and TOSLINK optical port.
The built-in HEXA Core processing on the Apollo x6 makes use of six DSP chips, offering 50% or more DSP than the earlier Apollo generations.
This allows you to record with classic analog emulations with almost no latency and minimal burden on the plug computer’s CPU.
The Realtime Analog Classics Plug-in bundle brings you 16 top-notch plug-ins from EQs and compressors to time-based processors and guitar/bass amps.
The Console application within the Apollo x6 provides you with enough control for all the UAD plug-in settings, including the drag and drop functionality, channel-strip presets, and dynamically resizable windows.
The Windows and Mac drivers ensure Apollo x6 compatibility with all the main Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, and so on.
The Apollo x6 interface also works well with Universal Audio’s free Mac-based, LUNA, single-window recording systems and countless track counts with full Audio Units support.
The Apollo x6 comes with an all-inclusive monitor section that offers talkback functionality and a dedicated front panel. The latter controls Mono functions, Dim, Alt speakers, and input and output metering functions.
Apart from the two front-panel headphone outputs (for handling cue mixes) and stereo monitor feed, the six ¼ inches line outputs offer connections to another set of monitors along with outboard processors.
The Apollo x6 can even act as a 5.1 surrounding control monitor. With the Apollo x6, you can increase the capability and power anytime, thanks to its qualified Universal Audio hardware integration.
You have the option to combine a total of six UAD-2 devices and four Apollo interfaces, allowing the Thunderbolt users to expand their DSP and I/O without disconnecting to the Apollo x6.
The three ports of Thunderbolt are compatible backward with Thunderbolt 1 and 2 with the help of a qualified adapter available separately.
Next, we have the Apollo x8, an ideal combination of quality and authenticity. The Apollo x8 has also been used for a considerable number of chart-topping and Grammy-wining songs and albums.
The popular Apollo x8 18 x 24 Thunderbolt 1 audio interface features greater DSP (50%), improved surrounding monitor, and 34 high-quality UAD plug-ins, all thanks to the supercharged HEXA Core real-time UAD processing.
It boasts a 24-bit / 192 kHz conversion with high-end converters. Its crystal-clear resolution, minimal distortion (-119 dB), and wide dynamic range of 129 dB have several music producers and recorders on cloud 9.
The switchable headroom settings are also available, offering level-matching with several modern audio equipments.
The Apollo x8 interface comes with two ¼ inches Hi-Z inputs with four XLR mic inputs, all for precise UAD emulation integration.
It gives you the freedom to choose the character of the instrument and microphone recording, bypassing the unforeseen circumstances that may occur with old equipment.
The Apollo x8 has straightforward buttons allowing for efficient incoming signal optimization, all thanks to its remarkable features, including stereo linking, 48V phantom power, pad, low-cut filter, and polarity inversion.
It also has eight analog inputs that allow you to record up to 10 channels by connecting it with S/PDIF-equipped external preamps to the S/PDIF coaxial input pots and TOSLINK optical ports.
You can also take advantage of the BNC word-clock input and output jacks that allow you to lock digital equipment to the Apollo x8.
Additionally, it comes with Heritage Edition improvements, virtual guitar/bass amps, tape emulation, and time-based processors.
You can connect the Apollo x8 to all the major DAWS, such as Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Ableton Liver, and Cubase, with its Mac and Windows drivers.
The interface will also work with Universal Audio’s free Mac-based, single-window record system and LUNA, the former allowing complete Audio Units support and unlimited tracks.
The Apollo x8 also features talkback functionality, dedicated front panels, Mono functions, and controls for Dim and Alt Speakers. It also has eight ¼ inches line outputs for connecting with a second set of outboard processors and monitors.
The Apollo x8 can act as a 7.1 surround-sounding monitor controller. With the Apollo x8, you can overdub, track, and mix with AD/DA conversions and DSP-powered plug-ins.
Modern History of Universal Audio
The Universal Audio Company was re-founded in 1999 by James Putnam, Bill Putnam Jr., and Bill’s sons.
Their goals mainly revolved around faithfully reproducing classic analog recording equipment in regard to their father and designing contemporary digital recording tools compatible with the spirit and sound of vintage analog technology.
The re-founded Universal Audio’s initial products included the LA-2A and 1176-LN. During the manufacturing process of these ever-green gear pieces, they made a compressor/limiter that Bill Putnam Sr. would have been proud of.
They were adamant about following one rule: stay true to the original. In the hope that their releases become world-renowned classics, they made products that gave a genuine sound and feel, close to the original LA-2A and 1176-LN.
Universal Audio has the honor of employing some of the brightest digital modeling authorities, and DSP engineers for developing their award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform.
The UA DSP creators use the most authentic emulation plug-ins and work with talented hardware manufacturers.
They utilize their exceptional golden units, schematics, and experienced ears for giving the typical UAD plug-ins harmonics and warmth at all the right places, similar to the analogs.
Furthermore, when it comes to developing UAD plug-ins, Universal Audio ensures a thorough physical remodeling of the classic audio hardware, modifying the vintage analog equipment of the digital world, piece by piece.
This is exactly how UAD plug-ins maintain their original features along with some modern changes.
From mere home recordists to multi-platinum mix engineers, the UAD power plug-ins have won the hearts of audio professionals for decades.
The reason is a no-brainer- no other plug-ins faithfully capture the behavior and sound of the classic analog gear. These include rare equalizers and compressors to traditional tape machines and reverb processors.
The main reason the DSP accelerator hardware was adapted was that it provides the user with consistent instances of plug-ins while also performing independently of RAM and computer clock cycles.
This allows the users to form an intense emulation that can run even on the least powerful supported computers.
How Apollo Came into Being
Beginning with its high-quality I/O analog, Apollo’s remarkable sonic performance remains unparalleled. It was conceived and designed to offer a near to 0 latency solution for audio recording.
Initially, Apollo’s products were the only audio interfaces that allowed users to run UAD plug-ins in real-time.
Do you want to monitor yourself using a Neve console channel strip while you track bass with a classic LA-2A compressor or Fairchild?
Or, would you like to follow your vocals through a Studer tape machine along with some Lexicon reverb? With Universal Audio’s ever-growing library of plug-ins, the choices are countless.
Apollo comes with Unison-enabled mic preamps and brilliant gear like x6 and x8 that allows you to track with preamp mic emulations from API, Neve, Manley, SSL, Universal Audio, and SSL.
The Universal Audio Exclusive-Unison technology creates an exceptional tone for these solid and tube-state pic pres, which include their gain stage ‘sweet spots,’ input impedance, and the original hardware’s component-level circuit behaviors.
The Unison’s secret is none other than its impeccable hardware-software integration between the Apollo mic preamps and their onboard DSP acceleration.
All you have to do is put a Unison preamp plug-in in your mic input in the Apollo Console software, and it will physically reconfigure the Apollo interface input impedance.
With this system, you can tap into all the worldly-famous golden sounds recorded with mic preamps.
Apollo and Arrow also feature the Unison technology for the front-panel Hi-Z instrument inputs. It gives you exceptional gain-matching and impedance for guitar amplifiers and stomp-box models.
Thanks to the Apollo Expanded software, the Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo interface can work with four Apollos and six UAD-2 devices, adding DSP and I/O as the studio or label progresses.
Unlike the older generation Apollos, the Apollo Expanded software also offers immaculate integration.
With over a thousand hit songs and countless Grammy-winning albums under the belt, Apollo interfaces produce stellar-sounding records.
To improve the previous Apollo interfaces’ generation class-leading audio conversion, the UA engineers continuously auditioned the latest D/A and A/D converters.
Ultimately, combining the premium-class 24-bit/192 kHz converters with all-new analog circuitry showcases an ultra-pristine path signal.
The Summary- Apollo x6 Vs. Apollo x8
The Apollo x8 is a newer, improved device launched by the Universal Audio company. It comes with 18 x 24 inputs/ outputs (8 x 8 I/O analog), 4 unison preamps, 10 line outs, and 8 line inputs.
The two out of ten line outputs are dedicated entirely to monitor the output. Rest of the features are pretty much similar to the Apollo x6, which features 16 x 22 input/ output ports (6 x 6 I/O analog) and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Furthermore, the Apollo x8 also showcases 16 x 22 interface and improves sound with its 8 Unison preamps through the 8 Neutrik Combo Jacks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Apollo interface is best?
While all the models released by Universal Studio Apollo are exceptional and have been used to produce chart-topping tracks, the Universal Audio Apollo Twin X has won several hearts with its excellent features.
This latest model is an entry-level device in the X-series with new, improved preamps that give your sound a different meaning in the best possible way.
Is an Apollo interface worth it?
If you want to record a track similar to the Grammy-winning songs or sound exactly like several other legendary performers of the music world, getting an Apollo Twin X is your best bet.
It has a new series featuring the Thunderbolt 3-powered interfaces and numerous other remarkable features.
How many inputs does the Apollo x8 have?
The Universal Audio Apollo x8 offers simultaneous 18 x 24 inputs/ outputs (8 x 8 I/O analog) along with two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
How many inputs does the Apollo x6 have?
The Universal Audio Apollo x6 comes with simultaneous 16 x 22 input/ output ports (6 x 6 I/O analog) and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.