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Universal Audio bring new Apollo X interfaces to your desktop

Twin X and brand-new x4 Thunderbolt 3 interfaces pack more processing power

The new Apollo X desktop format interfaces from Universal Audio: Apollo x4 (left) and the Apollo Twin X (right).The new Apollo X desktop format interfaces from Universal Audio: Apollo x4 (left) and the Apollo Twin X (right).

Just over a year ago, Universal Audio updated their black-liveried rackmount Apollo audio interfaces and DSP boxes to create the 'greyface' Apollo X range which graced the cover of November 2018's SOS. The range was redesigned with more processing power to run plug-ins (six SHARC chips each, in the so-called 'Hexacore' configuration), and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Inevitably, UA have now upgraded their desktop Apollo Twin MkII interface in similar fashion, creating the logically named Twin X. The 'Twin' part refers to the number of simultaneously addressable mic preamps on board — although as with the original Twin and Twin MkII, the new interface also accepts up to eight additional digital inputs via a stereo or eight-channel (S/PDIF or ADAT-format) optical digital port, and has four outputs plus a stereo headphone feed, making up the '10 x 6' (ie. 10-input, six-output) designation UA have given it. The Twin X is also available in two different models: the Twin X Duo Core with two SHARC chips (which is less expensive, but will of course also run fewer plug-ins at once...), and the more expensive Twin X Quad Core (with four SHARCs).

The rear panel of the new UA Twin X.The rear panel of the new UA Twin X.

At the same time as announcing the new Apollo Twin X models, UA have also filled the only other entry-level gap in the Apollo X range by launching the wholly new desktop x4, which (you guessed it...) features four mic preamp-equipped input channels, is only available with quad-core processing and nicely complements the rest of the existing range (x6, x8, x8p and x16). As with the Twin X, there is also a S/PDIF or ADAT-format optical digital input which brings the maximum number of simultaneously addressable inputs on the x4 up to 12 — but the x4 also has an optical output, six analogue outputs and two independently addressable stereo headphone jacks, bringing the total number of possible simultaneous outputs to 18 and making sense of UA's designation of the x4 as a 12 x 18 interface.

The larger, more detailed rear panel of the x4.The larger, more detailed rear panel of the x4.

Common to both new interfaces are the improved A-D and D-A specs from the rackmount Apollo X models, with 127dB of dynamic range, front-panel high-impedance inputs for guitars (one on the Twin X, two on the x4), talkback options, the ability to use the onboard DSP to add real-time effects to your low-latency monitoring feed when tracking, and the Unison input circuit modelling technology found on previous Apollo interfaces as far back as the original Twin (see the Unison section in our original Twin review). Unison — in combination with the right UA plug-ins, of course — can emulate the impedance and gain staging of various classic preamps, channel strips, amplifiers and processors. To this end, both interfaces ship with UA's Realtime Analog Classics bundle of plug-ins to get you started, featuring models of respected studio gear from the past, including LA2A and 1176 compressors, Pultec EQs, and UA's own valve-based 610B preamp and EQ.

The Twin X Duo Core retails for £966$899, its Quad Core sibling is £1500$1399 and the x4 is £1926$1799. All three interfaces are available now. Interestingly, UA have apparently chosen not to discontinue the previous Twin Mark II (reviewed in SOS June 2017), but have lowered its price with the release of the other desktop Apollo Xs, so as to leave a lower-cost member in the range — and as the Apollos can be 'cascaded' to assemble larger interfacing systems from a number of individual units, this remains a potentially attractive purchase, particularly at its new slightly lower price of £858$799.

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