In this video for Production Expert made with the support of Universal Audio, Technical Editor James Ivey invites Paul Sundt (Guitar) and Danny Adams (Bass and Vocals) to record a track with him using 2 Universal Apollo X16 audio interfaces. James also shows how he uses the UA Apollo 16 Generation 2 in a console workflow allowing him to access many great UAD-2 effects emulations. We also answer the question about which sounds better the new Apollo X16 or Gen 2 Apollo 16 interface.
Setup & Workflow
After a brief introduction James first talks about how the two Apollo X16’s connect to his Audient ASP8024 console and how he uses the console’s 8 sub-groups as 8 extra faders for mixing allowing him 24 channels for recording and a full 32 channels for mixing. He also goes onto explain about some of his outboard gear and effects that he uses on the drums across the first 12 channels of the console.
Processing In The Box
The Bass Guitar part was recorded using a clean DI. In order to give it a little more attitude James uses the UAD-2 Ampeg B15N plug-in to make the part more “real”. Check out the ‘before and after’ processing audio example in the video.
Paul is a very even player, so James decides not to hit the guitar parts very hard and uses a UAD-2 Distressor emulation to just give the guitar more bite in tone rather then use it to control the dynamics of the track too hard.
The vocals were recorded using the amazing Townsend Labs Sphere L22 microphone giving the option to change the microphone type in the mix. James chose a blend of OW12 and OW47 from the UAD-2 Ocean Way Microphone Collection to give Danny’s voice a really nice depth and clarity. The UAD-2 Fairchild 660 was then used to impart some of that Fairchild magic to the vocal.
Using The Console With UAD-2 Effects
James uses two external hardware effects processors, the Bricasti M7 and an older Alesis Wedge. All the other reverb, delay and modulation effects are being processed real time using UAD-2 emulations routed to and from the other UA interface in the rig, the older Generation 2 Apollo 16. This means James can build up effects chains in the box and route them through the console as if they were hardware processors not just plug-ins. This is a very cost effective way to get that a classic console workflow without the massive expense of rare vintage hardware.
The Big Question - Which Sounds Better?
While it’s very nice to here a band playing and recording using the new Apollo X16 interface the question I am sure you really want the answer to is - does the new Apollo x16 sound “better” than the older Generation 2 (Blackface) Apollo 16?
Take a listen to these 2 passes of the drum track for this song (Eastern Promise). The first track is a naked unprocessed recording of the drums as recorded using the Apollo X16. The Second uses the same recording levels and desk settings to record and played a drum pass using the Apollo 16 Gen 2.
Can You Spot The Difference?
Many people have asked me if I believe there is an audible difference between the new Apollo X16 and the Gen 2 Apollo 16. Well to my ears, (and hopefully yours) the X16 gives us much bigger more defined bottom end. The kick drum in the X16 drum take has much more real low end sub and the overall stereo picture of the kit is better defined. This goes to demonstrate I believe, that the improvements in the A/D D/A conversion and the clocking that have gone into the X16 really have made this a serious top-end interface.
The Gen 2 Apollo 16 was good, and if you had not been able to A/B the drum recordings I’m sure I would have been very happy with a recording made using the Gen 2 Apollo 16, but now I have heard the difference, I know which one I’m going to be using in the future.
My thanks to Paul and Danny for their amazing musicianship and we all really hope you enjoyed the song and this video.