Late last year UAD announced Apollo Windows 10 Thunderbolt Compatibility but with the caveat that PCs must be equipped with Thunderbolt 3 via USB-C and that older Thunderbolt systems will NOT be supported. However, maybe an older computer with Thunderbolt 1 could be persuaded to work?
Community member Knut Richard Vanderloock decided to take on the challenge to see if he could get his older machine with Thunderbolt 1 to work with his UAD hardware. Eventually, he was successful and this 2 part series is his story of how he managed to get it to work as the setup was not straight forward and required the right procedure. Over to you, Knut Richard....
You might be asking why on earth did I even think of trying this? Well, I've been using a PC as a Hackintosh machine for some while and I knew that the Thunderbolt ports on my PC did work with my equipment when in Hackintosh mode. My current machine configuration is as follows...
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z77x-UP4 TH
- Processors: Intel Quad Core i7 3.5GHz 3770K Ivy Bridge
- Graphics card: Nvidia GTX 960
- RAM: 16GB DDR3
- SSD Boot drive: Corsair 256 SSD
- Media Drive: WD 1,5TB 7200 HD
- Apollo Quad FW (with thunderbolt card)
- UAD-2 satellite OCTO
- Apollo Twin DUO
No Thunderbolt Hot Swap
So why didn't I just continue using the PC as a Hackintosh? The only reason for this is the option to have Thunderbolt hot swap. To this day, even with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3, it seems impossible to get hot swap working on a Hackintosh. So, I had to reboot the computer every time I switched on or off one or more of my Thunderbolt devices.
Mac Mini To The Rescue
So, what to do then? Enter the Mac Mini 2012 i7. I've been using the Mac Mini for the last year, and I'm really pleased to be able to use the thunderbolt hot swap as it's supposed to work. However, my problem with this setup is mostly down to the lack of power and drive space. Having a 7200 RPM drive inside the mini isn’t possible, and big SSD's are expensive. Running many VI's isn’t an option as the mini is too weak.
I Use Mac And Windows, And Have No Favourite!
Just to get this discussion out of the way at once, I've been working on Mac and PC, side by side since 1996. I do not favour one or the other and I feel that ProTools works in the same way on both platforms except for the keyboard modifier keys in keyboard shortcuts. The differences are mostly related to the system and drivers and I know from personal experience that it is more difficult to get some equipment working on a PC than on a Macintosh, that's just how it is. Once Pro Tools is up and running, there's no difference.
Universal Audio Announce Thunderbolt 3 Support
Back to the PC. I've been waiting passionately for Universal Audio to release Thunderbolt drivers for Windows, which they now have done at last But I was very disappointed when they announced that Thunderbolt support would only be for Thunderbolt 3 and I thought my days on a PC were numbered. I decided to have a go and see if I could make it work, but the first attempt was a disaster.
Installing the drivers on my Windows 10 PC was no problem at all and the installation went smoothly. Once the drivers were installed my computer immediately recognized my Apollo Quad and announced it wanted to update the unit's firmware. After some painful deliberation on whether it was a good idea to update the firmware on a system that wasn't exactly qualified, I decided to press GO and updated the firmware. Thankfully, the Apollo did reboot and firmware upgrade was successful.
So Far So Good
I did not have ProTools installed on my PC at the time, but I had Studio One. I opened the software and sure enough, there was my Apollo TB driver set up. I could change the settings in the audio engine, record, playback and edit. To my satisfaction I stood up, raising my arms in the sky and thought - I WIN! - well... no.
No UAD Plug-ins
To my surprise, I realised that none of the UAD plug-ins were showing. All the Studio One plugins were there, but none of the UAD. So I tried Pro Tools instead and this is where things started to go sideways.
After installing ProTools and starting it, ProTools would not recognize my Apollo Thunderbolt driver. It constantly crashed on startup, not even letting me enter the audio hardware setup. I tried all the tricks I've learned from ProTools Experts, the DUC, Google, YouTube, and so on but still no luck. The only reference I could find to this problem was to ASIO4ALL (more on this in part 2), so I installed that, and success – well… no, again.
When Pro Tools started and with ASIO4ALL chosen as my HW interface. I could use the Apollo Thunderbolt as the interface inside the ASIO4ALL driver, but only with a buffer of 512. My goal was to get the Apollo Thunderbolt driver running in Pro Tools, and not use ASIO4ALL so I didn't spend too much time trying to solve the buffer size problem. Also, I discovered that there were no plugins showing inside Pro Tools just as I Studio One.
At this stage, I remembered that there were some messages appearing when I installed the Universal Audio drivers, but I didn't remember what they said. As with all experienced PC users, I do not read all the messages during an installation, I just press Next, which in this case proved to be a bad move.
The Re-install Of The UAD Drivers
So, maybe the installation of the UAD drivers didn't succeed after all since the plug-ins wouldn't show up in ProTools or Studio One. To try and resolve the lack of plug-ins I wanted to reinstall the UAD drivers. However, at this point, I made a mistake leading to the complete format of the hard drive and reinstall of Windows.
After pressing “Uninstall” on the UAD Powered Plug-Ins, the installer prompted me with three choices, Reinstall, Uninstall or Close. I chose Reinstall.
What happened was that the reinstallation failed (probably because of a hardware failure described in part 2), and I was left unable to uninstall, reinstall, remove or manually remove the drivers. I tried searching forums, google, FAQ and the documentation, but the installation of the UAD drivers would always fail after this move.
The problem seemed to relate to a cache folder and some blocked permissions, which was not a UAD driver problem, I found that It was a Windows installer problem that I couldn’t correct, so I decided to re-install Windows and give it another go.
More To Come in Part 2
In Part 2, I will cover preparing the system, the system settings including BIOS, the correct installation routine, how I managed to get the plug-ins showing nd show a video of the working setup.