EAST VILLAGE, MANHATTAN: It‚Äôs not everyday that a game-changing audio solution arrives on the scene. So it follows that after January‚Äôs NAMM announcement of the Universal Audio Apollo high resolution audio interface with realtime UAD processing, interest levels ran high.
With the first units just shipping now following an extremely high volume of pre-orders, the Universal Audio team paid a special visit to New York City this past week to satisfy the hunger for hands-on time with Apollo, holding a VIP Launch at FLUX Studios for the new product.
An elite contingent of NYC‚Äôs busiest producers, engineers, and mixers converged on the East Village studio, getting up close and personal with Apollo in the process.
Guests started out with a guided tour of Apollo‚Äôs features in FLUX‚Äôs airy ‚ÄúFabulous‚ÄĚ mixing and mastering suite. There UA‚Äôs Bruce MacPherson went deep inside Apollo‚Äôs attributes, including its 18 x 24 FireWire/Thunderbolt-ready audio interface (for Mac and PC ‚Äď Thunderbolt will officially arrive this summer), realtime UAD Processing for low-latency (sub-2ms) tracking and mixing with UAD Powered Plug-Ins, and the workflow evolutions of its Console software interface.
Over in the Dangerous live room, FLUX founder Fab Dupont led a live demonstration of Apollo‚Äôs recording capabilities. A pair of NYC star artists — vocalist Liza Colby from The Liza Colby Sound and piano muse Ian Axel ‚Äď provided plenty of source material, as Apollo showed the accuracy of its preamps for tracking, and the wide range of analog tones available on input from its realtime UAD processing.
For many in attendance, Apollo‚Äôs NYC VIP Launch represented a welcome opportunity to spend time with the unit, and they came away with some strong first impressions to share.
‚ÄúI think it rocks and it fits a niche in the market that‚Äôs between several different products,‚ÄĚ said the busy composer/sound designer and audio journalist Rich Tozzoli (“Pawn Stars“, “American Restoration“). ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of well-thought-out ideas in [the Apollo] that will have their place in audio. And users will range from the laptop user all the way up to the full-blown HD rig, and anywhere in between.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs going to fit right into my room,‚ÄĚ Tozzoli continued. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve gravitated towards the UAD-2 platform quite a bit because I‚Äôve gotten spoiled with all their plug-ins, so now I want more of them in my rig‚Ä¶and this will let me have a DI on the front to plug a guitar in, it will let me use headphones if I want to (and it) gives me the options for FireWire, Thunderbolt — all the options on the ‚ÄėI‚Äô and the ‚ÄėO.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Peter Moshay, engineer for Mariah Carey, Ian Hunter and ‚ÄúLive From Darryl‚Äôs House‚ÄĚ to name just a few, traveled from upstate to see Apollo‚Äôs NYC landing. ‚ÄúThey thought all the way through to give it eight channels at 96 kHz, which is the bleeding edge of what people are doing,‚ÄĚ he observed. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm going to get one not only for the studio, but also for my travel rig — I want to have a duplicate setup for the road. I‚Äôll be able to take this on the road, and then bring it into the studio, plug it in and everything‚Äôs the same. I don‚Äôt have to switch rigs.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI was pretty impressed,‚ÄĚ said engineer Jay Messina, whose clients include Supertramp and Aerosmith, after putting Apollo through its paces. ‚ÄúComing up from an analog world, I‚Äôm used to adding my processing ‚Äď before recording and laying it onto tape ‚Äď so to be able to do that so easily is a big plus for me. And I like the way the A-D converters sound: clean and transparent.‚ÄĚ
Producer/engineer/mixer Ric Schnupp of Ric Schnupp Productions (The King‚Äôs Speech, ‚ÄúBoardwalk Empire,‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúGossip Girl‚ÄĚ) also reported being impressed with the sonic quality of what he heard. ‚ÄúIt sounds incredible, and adds an analog element of what I‚Äôve been missing,‚ÄĚ he said.
Many engineers noted that the Apollo represented a new tracking/mixing system alternative for their studios. ‚ÄúIf it proves to be really high-quality, the Apollo will replace a lot of ‚Äėprosumer‚Äô things out there,‚ÄĚ added Allen Farmelo, the decidedly analog-minded Brooklyn engineer/mixer (The Cinematic Orchestra, The Loom, Cucu Diamantes). ‚ÄúI personally wouldn‚Äôt use the plugins a lot, but I like knowing that I‚Äôm getting a really clean sound in.‚ÄĚ
Engineer Jeremy Siegel was scouting the unit for NYC‚Äôs Pro Sound Effects. ‚ÄúThis is for people like me,‚ÄĚ he said, after checking out a demo. ‚ÄúI can print FX ‚Äėto tape‚Äô with Apollo, which is something I can‚Äôt do with anything else.‚ÄĚ
Dave Fraser, co-founder of the NYC original music house Heavy Melody that created Heavyocity‚Äôs Evolve and Damage virtual instruments, summed things up succinctly. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a certain musicality that Apollo‚Äôs got,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIt turns up the power of what you produce.‚ÄĚ
— David Weiss