UAD Apollo Twin Series vs Arrow (Side By Side Comparison)

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[17th August 2020] Update: UAD Apollo Solo Announced!

UAD recently announced that the UAD Arrow will be superseded by the brand new UAD Apollo Solo.

Not much has changed besides a brand new color, and the choice between a USB3 or Thunderbolt device. It is being considered as a rebrand of the Arrow, and hardware/features stay largely the same:

  • Two XLR-1/4” combo inputs with Unison microphone preamps
  • A Hi-Z instrument input in front
  • Two line outputs
  • Headphone output
  • 192 kHz/24-bit resolution
NEW RELEASE!
Universal Audio Apollo Solo
$499.00

Apollo Solo is the world’s finest Thunderbolt 3-powered desktop recording audio interface for Mac and Windows — delivering class‑leading audio conversion, two Unison™ mic preamps, and a suite of onboard UAD plug-ins for recording album‑quality results, in real time.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On MusiciansFriend
11/29/2020 01:42 am GMT

Universal Audio has set a lot of standards over the years, and their  Arrow interface continues this tradition. It’s easily one of the best Thunderbolt audio interfaces out there, and an affordable way to get your hands on the classic UAD sound.

Already well known for their Apollo series, UAD recently introduced the Arrow line which is similar, but different enough to warrant comparison.

Apollo Twin vs Arrow: Who Wins?

For me, if I have to choose a UAD interface, it’s a tie between the Arrow and the Apollo Twin X. The spectacular converters and other features of the Twin X give you the best quality and great usability for the cost. Whilst the Arrow is more affordable – its quality processors, converters and compatibility make for fantastic value.

But it really comes down to my particular needs, and of course, everyone is different.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
Budget Pick
Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface,Gray
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)
Premium Pick
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXQ)
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Duo
UAD Arrow
Apollo Twin X Duo
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Quad
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
USB3, Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt 2
USB Only
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
1
2
4
2
Mac/PC
Mac
Both
Both
Mac
PC
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$799.00
$416.00
$899.00
$1,399.00
$899.00
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Duo
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
Mac
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$799.00
Find Out More
Budget Pick
Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface,Gray
Model
UAD Arrow
Ports
USB3, Thunderbolt 3
Talkback
DSP Cores
1
Mac/PC
Both
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$416.00
Find Out More
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)
Model
Apollo Twin X Duo
Ports
Thunderbolt 3
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
Both
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$899.00
Find Out More
Premium Pick
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXQ)
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Quad
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
Talkback
DSP Cores
4
Mac/PC
Mac
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$1,399.00
Find Out More
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing
Model
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB
Ports
USB Only
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
PC
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$899.00
Find Out More

Why Choose UAD?

Universal Audio’s studio rack interfaces are considered top of the range. Now they have started to include this technology in their desktop interface range making them incredible in terms of quality, functionality and portability.

All the devices featured in this article are excellent units. Universal Audio have provided ingenuity and great design to bring you high sample rates, fantastic A/D converters and iconic preamp emulation all with UAD’s ‘Near Zero Latency’ technology.

Let’s Compare

In the market now are the Universal Audio Apollo Twin series and the new Universal Audio Arrow. These products are similar in size and almost similar in functionality. The Apollo Twin series currently has three main models to the Arrow’s single model.

The Apollo Twin series consists of         
  • Apollo Twin USB
  • Apollo Twin MKII – (Duo and Quad)
  • Apollo Twin X – (Duo and Quad)

All of these devices can record up to 192kHz at 24 bits per sample. Although they are designed to be used with the Universal Audio software, they are compatible with all major DAWs, including Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton Live.

They also all have the following
  • Phantom power
  • Hi-Z input
  • Headphones out
  • I/O metering
  • HPF (High pass filter)
  • Ø reverse (Phase’ reverse)
  • 20dB Pad (For mic preamps)
  • Stereo link for inputs
  • Internal UAD DSP acceleration

UAD DSP Explained

Universal Audio are well known for their DSP technology which allows users to run special high end analog emulation plugins with near zero latency. These plugins are exclusive to UAD and can’t be used without a UAD device!

This also allows you to add extra processing to the input before the sound hits your DAW, with special guitar sims, compressors and EQs based off vintage circuitry.

Universal Audio devices come with a large collection of these plugins so you can work with them straight out of the box. Just plug the interface in, load up the software, and jam away.

Breaking It All Down

1. UAD Apollo Twin USB Review

 

The first in the Apollo Twin Series is the Apollo Twin USB. As the name suggests, it’s a USB 3 device. It’s also the only USB device in this article as it was released in 2014, however it’s still a fantastic unit.

USB 3 delivers up to 5Gb/s which is more than enough for multitrack recording and as the plugin processing is done onboard with its two (Duo) SHARC DSP processors, you can still get ‘near zero’ latency when using the ‘UAD’ plugins.

As mentioned, there are two mic / line combo inputs and a Hi-Z input for direct guitar or bass. It has a -20dB pad, Ø reverse and can link stereo inputs. This device has fantastic quality A/D converters and also features extra outputs for monitoring. The levels for these can be adjusted either on the interface itself or in the software ‘Console’.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing
  • Desktop 2x6 Super Speed USB 3.0 audio interface for Windows 7/8 with world class 24 bit/192 kHz audio conversion
  • Real-time UAD Processing for tracking through vintage compressors, EQ's, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp...
  • Unison technology gives you the tone of the world's most sought-after mic preamps - including their impedance, gain...
  • Runs UAD Powered Plug-Ins via VST, RTAS, and AAX 64 i8n all major DAWS. Includes the "Real-time Analog Classics" UAD...
  • 2 premium mic/line preamps, 2 line outs, front panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone out, 2 digitally controlled...

You will also get the ‘Realtime Analog Classic Bundle’ with legendary compressors like the Teletronix LA-2A and EQs like the Pultec EQP-1A, stunning guitar and bass amp emulations from Softube, as well as UA’s landmark 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ plug-in.

You can also add eight additional inputs using the devices ‘ADAT Optical’ in.

This unit has six output channels of digital-to-analog conversion via digitally controlled stereo monitor outputs, stereo headphone outputs and line outputs 3 & 4.

Unfortunately, the Apollo Twin USB is only compatible with Windows due to the type of USB 3 card. 

2. UAD Apollo Twin MKII Duo/Quad Review

The Apollo Twin MKII is very similar to the Twin USB model. You get the Realtime Analog Classic Bundle, eight additional inputs using the ‘ADAT Optical’ expansion, six output channels, stereo headphone outputs and line outputs 3 & 4.

But there are also a few differences. The DSP in this unit is the ‘UAD2’ DSP and you get 2 of them (hence ‘Duo’).

This unit is also available with a 4x Core DSP option which is the “Quad” version. This lets you have a lot more plugins running at the same time and more processing means you can utilize more CPU taxing plugins.

This model also includes a ‘talkback’ function, giving you a built-in microphone for communication and recording through your monitors in your live room. This is something most desktop interfaces lack and will be invaluable for those working with other musicians!

The included software is a seriously impressive, fully-featured DAW. It’s called ‘LUNA’ and it is Universal Audio’s next version of ‘Console’. UAD describe LUNA rather ambitiously as “the fastest recording environment for music production, editing, and mixing”.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
  • Desktop 2x6 Thunderbolt audio interface for Mac and Windows with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion,...
  • Real-time UAD processing for tracking through vintage compressor, EQs, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp...
  • 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output, 2 digitally...
  • Real-time analog Classics UAD- plug-in bundle: Legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp...
  • Console 2.0 software features channel strip presets, drag & drop functionality, dynamically resizable Windows, Runs UAD...

But the main difference between the Twin USB and this unit is Thunderbolt 2. So it’s compatible with Mac OSX, but also with Windows. However, Thunderbolt 2 is still rare on Windows machines. 

This Thunderbolt upgrade also has another fantastic feature that allows you to add additional inputs by daisy-chaining other Apollo devices!

When more I/O or DSPs are needed, up to four Apollo interfaces can be chained together via Thunderbolt in a multiple-unit configuration. This allows for future flexibility if you plan on expanding your studio later on. The MKII also has upgraded A/D converters for efficient and precise audio capture.

The MKII is basically the Mac version of the USB but with the upgrade of the extra DSPs, the talkback function and the multi unit chain via Thunderbolt 2.

3. UAD Apollo Twin X Duo/Quad Review

The Apollo Twin X Duo/Quad is very similar to the MKII and USB. Once again, you get the Realtime Analog Classic Bundle with all the same compressors and amp models as before.

You can add the eight additional inputs using the device’s ‘ADAT Optical’ in and you also have the six output channels of digital-to-analog conversion via digitally-controlled stereo monitor outputs, stereo headphone outputs and line outputs 3 & 4. It also has the option for Duo or Quad DSPs and runs alongside the LUNA software.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)
  • Apollo Twin X allows musicians and producers to easily track, overdub, and mix with Elite-class A/D and D/A conversion,...
  • Built upon UA’s 60-year heritage of audio craftsmanship, Apollo Twin X confidently outperforms everything in its...
  • Includes FREE download of LUNA Recording System, which transforms all Thunderbolt equipped Apollo and Arrow interfaces...
  • Apollo Twin X includes the “Real Time Analog Classics” UAD plug-in bundle, other UAD plug-ins sold separately.
  • Record and mix with Elite-class A/D and D/A conversion — with the widest dynamic range and lowest noise of any desktop...

The functionality of the Apollo Twin X is identical to the Apollo Twin MKII expect for the stereo monitor outputs which are independently addressable, and all the outputs on the X are ‘DC-coupled’. This means super low frequencies will not hinder your listening source. This may not be all that noticeable but some will appreciate the difference!

Universal Audio have increased the efficiency and accuracy of the A/D converters and have stepped up the connectivity to Thunderbolt 3. This means faster transfer speeds and compatibility with Mac OSX and Windows.

I recommend checking the connections on your computer to make sure you can get the fastest interface possible!

Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXQ)
  • Apollo Twin X allows musicians and producers to easily track, overdub, and mix with Elite-class A/D and D/A conversion,...
  • Built upon UA’s 60-year heritage of audio craftsmanship, Apollo Twin X confidently outperforms everything in its...
  • Includes FREE download of LUNA Recording System, which transforms all Thunderbolt equipped Apollo and Arrow interfaces...
  • Apollo Twin X includes the “Real Time Analog classics” UAD plug-in bundle, other UAD plug-ins sold separately.
  • Record and mix with Elite-class A/D and D/A conversion — with the widest dynamic range and lowest noise of any desktop...

4. UAD Arrow Review (Now Known As “Solo”)

The Arrow is a great interface. It has the processing power of the Twin USB and connectivity speeds of the Twin X.

It’s relatively new and is a simplified version of all of these devices, but doesn’t compromise on sound quality.

This is handy, as not everyone will require talkback or extra monitor outputs. This device is designed to give you the same power without the flashy features and makes high quality UAD interfaces more affordable.

It features the same preamp functions like the 2x mic preamp / line in combos, phantom power, Hi-Z input, headphone outs, I/O metering, high pass filter, Ø reverse, -20dB pad, stereo link-able inputs and internal DSP.

The Arrow runs the onboard UAD-2 DSP Accelerator with SHARC SOLO core processing with four output channels of digital/analog conversion.

Included are the same high-class preamps as the Twin X and the same compatibility with the LUNA software. You can also add four additional Universal Audio interfaces and 6x UAD 2 devices if you wish to expand. The headphone bus is separated from the main outputs. 

The Arrow is also compatible with both Mac OSX and Windows.

The other great thing about this unit is that it doesn’t require additional power. It sources power from the Thunderbolt 3 connection which is a plus for portability.

NEW RELEASE!
Universal Audio Apollo Solo
$499.00

Apollo Solo is the world’s finest Thunderbolt 3-powered desktop recording audio interface for Mac and Windows — delivering class‑leading audio conversion, two Unison™ mic preamps, and a suite of onboard UAD plug-ins for recording album‑quality results, in real time.

Check Price On Amazon Check Price On MusiciansFriend
11/29/2020 01:42 am GMT

So, Which Interface Is Best For Your Individual Needs?

All these devices are all pretty evenly matched in quality. Even the lower spec models are very, very nice, so the decision will come down to price and functions/features.

The Apollo Twin X

  • The Apollo Twin X is the leader in features and quality. You have the best preamps Universal Audio offer, and paired with the emulations you can have almost whichever preamp sound you want.
  • If you have a control room and a keen ear, the Twin X is for you. If you like to use amp sims, compressors and preamp emulators while tracking, you might even want to consider the quad version for extra processing power.

The Apollo Twin MKII

  • The Apollo Twin MKII would be the best choice for someone on a Mac.
  • The converters may not be the same but they are still great quality. You’ll still get the same essential features and the same processing power.
  • The Apollo Twin USB has less functionality with no talkback function and the duo processor may not be the latest but it is still good. You can get these for the same cost as the Apollo Twin X Duo.
UAD’s LUNA Digital Audio Workstation comes with most of their interfaces.

UAD Arrow

  • The Arrow is the best device here for someone who just needs a good quality interface for their home studio or mobile rig.
  • It features the same connectivity as the Twin X and the same processors. The A/D Converters differ but they are still great, and if you don’t need additional monitors and talkback mic, then this is the unit for you.

The Apollo Twin USB

  • The Apollo Twin USB has less functionality regarding the talkback functions.
  • Getting the Twin X would not only give you better A/D Conversion but also talkback capabilities and compatibility with Mac and Windows.
  • It will also allow you to daisy-chain other Apollo devices to increase your input count.

Final Thoughts

All these devices show a slight but significant progression in Universal Audio’s technology over the last six years. The limited compatibility in the Apollo Twin USB, unfortunately, renders it a bit redundant these days, however, it is still great in its own right.

It’s almost a similar case with the Apollo Twin MKII as most Windows machines won’t have Thunderbolt 2. But if you only use a Mac for your production work then that’s not an issue.

The Arrow and the Apollo Twin X definitely maximize the technology available, accurately representing the needs of different producers and engineers while also reflecting that in their cost.

Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
Budget Pick
Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface,Gray
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)
Premium Pick
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXQ)
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Duo
UAD Arrow
Apollo Twin X Duo
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Quad
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
USB3, Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt 3
Thunderbolt 2
USB Only
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
1
2
4
2
Mac/PC
Mac
Both
Both
Mac
PC
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$799.00
$416.00
$899.00
$1,399.00
$899.00
Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Duo
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
Mac
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$799.00
Find Out More
Budget Pick
Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface,Gray
Model
UAD Arrow
Ports
USB3, Thunderbolt 3
Talkback
DSP Cores
1
Mac/PC
Both
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$416.00
Find Out More
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)
Model
Apollo Twin X Duo
Ports
Thunderbolt 3
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
Both
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$899.00
Find Out More
Premium Pick
Universal Audio Apollo Twin X QUAD Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXQ)
Model
UAD Apollo Twin MKII Quad
Ports
Thunderbolt 2
Talkback
DSP Cores
4
Mac/PC
Mac
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$1,399.00
Find Out More
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB High-Resolution USB Interface with Realtime UAD DUO Processing
Model
Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB
Ports
USB Only
Talkback
DSP Cores
2
Mac/PC
PC
I/O 2x4 + 8 Optical Inputs
I/O 2x6 + 8 Optical Inputs
Price
$899.00
Find Out More

Last update on 2020-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API