Apollo Twin Vs. Arrow: Which is the best Head-to-Head?

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    Apollo Twin Vs. Arrow: Which is best Head-to-Head?

    Universal Audio pretty much has the professional audio industry eating out of its palm by selling excellent quality products at attainable price points.

    It’s no surprise then, that two of the bestselling professional-grade audio interfaces on Amazon are both made by them – the Apollo Twin Duo and the Arrow. The differences are subtle, but each one can be a make or break feature depending on your usage.

    Bus-Powered & High-Performance

    Universal Audio Arrow

    Universal Audio Apollo Solo Heritage Edition, APLS-HE
    • A special edition of UA’s popular Apollo Solo interface — with a premium suite of 5 award-winning plug-in titles from Teletronix, Pultec, and UA — a $1,300 value
    • UAD SOLO Core Processing for tracking through vintage compressors, EQs, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp plug-ins with near-zero latency
    • Unison mic preamp and guitar amp emulations from Neve, API, Avalon, Manley, Marshall, Fender, and more
    • Produce with LUNA Recording System — a free, fully-integrated recording application made for Apollo (Mac only)
    • Runs UAD Powered Plug-Ins via VST, AU, and AAX 64 formats in all major DAWs

    UAD Arrow has some top-notch preamps that can go toe-to-toe with more expensive interfaces. The USB Type C connectivity also makes it a mobile music production powerhouse.

    Dual SHARC Processors

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin MKII Duo (APLTWDII)
    • Desktop 2×6 Thunderbolt audio interface for Mac and Windows with world-class 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion, uncompromising analog design, superior components, and premium build quality
    • Real-time UAD processing for tracking through vintage compressor, EQs, tape machines, mic preamps, and guitar amp plug-ins with near-zero (sub-2ms) latency*
    • 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outputs; front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output, 2 digitally controlled analog monitor outputs, 8 channels of digital input via Optical connection. Apollo Thunderbolt System Requirements MAC- Apple Mac computer with available Thunderbolt port.macOS 10.11 El Capitan, 10.12 Sierra, 10.13 High Sierra, or 10.14 Mojave. WINDOWS- PC computer with built-in Thunderbolt 3 port. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (64-Bit Edition). Qualified Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter (sold separately)
    • Real-time analog Classics UAD- plug-in bundle: Legacy versions of the LA-2A, 1176LN, Pultec EQP-1A, plus Softube Amp Room Essentials, Raw Distortion, 610-B Tube Preamp & EQ, and more
    • Console 2.0 software features channel strip presets, drag & drop functionality, dynamically resizable Windows, Runs UAD powered plug-ins via VST, RTAS, & AAX 64 in all major DAWs

    Record with all the plugins you want with zero latency because the Apollo Twin Duo has SHARC chips to help ease the digital signal processing load on your PC.

    Mobility Over Processing Power?

    While both are excellent professional-grade audio kits, the price difference between them makes choosing one over the other literally worth hundreds of dollars.

    The Apollo Twin Duo’s SHARC processors are worth considering but the Arrow is a bit more future-proof and mobile with its bus-powered Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C port.

    What We’ll Tackle Here:

    When it comes to audio quality, the Unison-equipped preamps on these audio interfaces are pretty much similar in a raw recording.

    However, there are a few notable differences that can be deal breakers for you to favor one over the other. These shouldn’t be a big deal if their prices were closer but the price gap makes the choice a bit more complicated.

    You can, for example, put that $300 toward getting a better mic. So, to be able to make a conscious decision between these two, here are a couple of things we’re going to set our sights on:

    • Do you need two SHARC processors?
    • Is Thunderbolt 3 USB-C a big deal?
    • Will the bus-powered Arrow have issues with mics that require phantom power?

    The Specs

    First let’s breakdown the technical info for both interfaces.

    Common Features: Unison Preamps

    These two interfaces, coming from Universal Audio, are bound to have a lot of similarities. The most prominent similarity between them is the magnificent Unison preamps. This ensures that both of these record crystal noise-free sounds.

    UAD Arrow

    The Arrow, especially when compared to others in the $500 price range, is such a strong performer because of the Unison preamps.

    UAD Apollo Twin Duo

    In this regard, both the Arrow and the Apollo Twin Duo have the same specs so they perform similarly. So, whichever one you get, you’re sure to record sensational music or vocals.

    Common Features: SHARC Processors

    SHARC Processors lighten the load on your computer by processing the sounds directly in the interface. This lets you use plugins with relative ease.

    Universal Audio Arrow

    There’s one SHARC processor built-in for the Arrow. For a lot of users, this should be enough. However, if you use plugins heavily on your music, then just one SHARC processor might not be enough.

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo

    The ‘Duo’ on the Apollo Twin pertains to the dual-chip setup inside the interface. This means that heavier use of plugins wouldn’t result in much latency. If you expect to autotune a lot, then this might be a better bet than the Arrow.

    Winner: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)

    The Apollo Twin Duo wins this because two SHARC processors make it twice as powerful than the Arrow.

    If you’re in the market for an audio interface equipped with SHARC processors, you’re most likely doing so because you want to use plugins. In this case, two is better than one because the extra processor would let you use even more plugins without feeling a single bit of lag.

    Common Features: Software Bundles

    Universal Audio doesn’t only have some of the most desirable hardware on the market, they also craft some of the best software. Luckily, if you buy either the UAD Arrow or the UAD Apollo Twin Duo, you’re also going to get a bunch of different software bundles too.

    Universal Audio Arrow

    Few of the plugin giveaways are quite pricy in and of itself so you should factor that into the $500 price tag as well.

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo

    While the list of free plugins is generally the same, the Apollo Twin Duo sometimes comes bundled with a few more than the Arrow. One such free plugin promo was the Antares Auto-Tun Realtime Advanced which can cost upwards of $300.

    Winner: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X Duo Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface, (APLTWXD)

    These plugins sweeten the deal but it’s a fact that the Apollo Twin Duo sometimes comes a bit sweeter than the Arrow. Who knows, we may have similar deals for the Arrow someday. But, until that happens, this is a win for the Apollo Twin.

    Common Features: Thunderbolt Technology

    Thunderbolt is one of the most powerful connection technologies out there. It has a super-fast transfer speed that beats the traditional USB interface. Fortunately, both the Apollo Twin Duo and the Arrow have this built-in.

    Universal Audio Arrow

    Thunderbolt is currently in its third generation and the Arrow has this version. This means the data transfers between the computer and the audio interface should theoretically be faster.

    However, data transfer on the Arrow is limited by the processing power. If you’re using plugins heavily, the Thunderbolt 3 isn’t going to help you very much.

    On the flip side, the Thunderbolt 3 technology comes in the form of USB-C so this should let you use your phone’s USB-C cord to connect your audio interface.

    Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo

    The Apollo Twin Duo comes with Thunderbolt 2 technology with its proprietary port. This means you’re going to have to buy a separate adapter just to plug it into your computer.

    It also doesn’t allow power to pass through so you’ll have to plug in a separate power supply into a wall outlet.

    Winner: Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface,Gray

    From USB ports to 3.5 mm audio jacks, the Thunderbolt 3 is slowly replacing all computer connection interface.

    Which one are you leaning towards?

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    Unique Feature: Universal Audio Arrow


    One feature of Thunderbolt 3 is that other than data, it also allows power to pass through the cables. This means that other than your USB-C cable, you don’t need anything else to start using the interface.

    If your workflow requires you to be mobile, then the Arrow is the one to get.

    Want to record at the park? No problem. Using the Arrow with just your laptop battery is doable.

    Unique Feature: Universal Audio Apollo Twin Duo


    The Apollo Twin Duo lets you connect it with your Apollo audio interfaces to make one awesome production system. You can link up to 4 Apollo devices plus 2 more Satellites.

    This way, you’re not limited to the analog inputs on the Apollo Twin Duo. In case you occasionally need to record a band, the Apollo Twin Duo can handle more than the Arrow.

    Universal Audio Arrow vs Apollo Twin Duo: Pros and Cons

    Below is a breakdown of the good and the bad of each of these interfaces. For a quick overview of the perks and downfalls read on and you’ll soon have an idea of which one will work best for you.

    Pros of Universal Audio Arrow

    • Excellent value for money.
    • Thunderbolt 3/ USB-C.
    • Bus-powered.
    • Comes with excellent free plugins.
    • Unison preamps.

    Cons of Universal Audio Arrow

    • Single SHARC processor.
    • USB-C not included in the box.

    Pros of the Apollo Twin Duo

    • Cascade feature.
    • Dual SHARC processors.
    • Comes with excellent free plugins.
    • 2 sets of analog outputs.

    Cons of the Apollo Twin Duo

    • Thunderbolt 2.
    • Requires power supply.

    Final Verdict

    While the less expensive Arrow holds its own against the Apollo Twin Duo, it falls short where it matters. It lacks some basic features that professionals might need.

    The cascade feature, for example, is a great way to make sure that professionals can be flexible no matter what the recording situation might be. The additional SHARC processor also ensures that it will be a reliable performer even if a lot of plugins are being used.

    As for the Arrow, it can be a great backup interface to the Apollo Twin Duo. With a little research, you’d figure out how to cascade it with its more expensive brother.

    Michael Ocejo ( Editor-in-chief )

    Michael loves audio production. He especially enjoys the technical aspect of making music sound good! Michael also loves spending time with his friends and family and enjoying parties.

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