Gear Of The Year 2017 – The Best Interface/Mixer

Your sound deserves the best conduit into the DAW, and 2017 saw no shortage of options to choose from, but what was the best interface/mixer?

Winner – Universal Audio Apollo Twin MK II

Price Solo £699, Duo £899 and Quad £1,299
Contact via website
www.uaudio.com

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The Apollo Twin MK II is an incredible combination of high-quality interfacing with UA’s renowned plug-ins, used by numerous top producers the world over. What separates the Apollo range from other interfaces, though, is that it has internal DSP processing to run those plug-ins, so your computer doesn’t have to.

Essentially, what you get is an interface that lets you plug your gear into some of the finest emulations of classic channel strips, compressors and other outboard, all at no cost to your computer power.

Dubbed ‘Unison’, this technology is the key to the world beating sound quality of UA’s incredible plug-in range. Pretty good eh? The Apollo Twin has been a key product in the music technology world for several years now and this MK II, released earlier this year, takes everything to a whole new level.

The Twin comes with the Realtime Analog Classics plug-in bundle, which covers 15 plug-ins from the UAD catalogue, such as the wonderful 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ as well as the great Raw Distortion stompbox, Teletronix LA-2A, 1176SE compressors and Pultec EQP-1A EQ.

“Overall, the Apollo Twin Mk II is a fantastic audio interface we’d wholeheartedly recommend to all,” said reviewer Mark Cousins. “It’s pleasing to see just how much the Console application had evolved, and more importantly, how the list of Unison-powered plug-ins had grown quite significantly. Having initially concentrated on mic preamps powered by Unison, it’s pleasing to see the efforts being applied in more guitar and bass plug-ins, which seems a neat fit with the technology.

“In use, plug-ins like the Fender ’55 Tweed Deluxe are much closer to the sound and feel of playing through a real amp.” Mark concludes: “From the quality of the audio conversion, to the thought applied to the Console application, the Apollo Twin Mk II is a very high-class product, delivering supreme audio quality at every stage of a production. It is the most complete solution for tracking and mixing on a desktop computer.”

Highly Commended – RME Fireface UFX+

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Price £2,220
Contact Synthax 01727 821 870
www.synthax.co.uk, www.rme-audio.de

Where the Apollo scores on plug-in power, the runner-up RME Fireface UFX+ scores on inputs and outputs. It can handle 188 channels of both made up of a mixture of analogue and digital, has pristine audio quality and great TotalMix software to keep everything in check. It is quite simply one of the most powerful interfaces we’ve looked at.

“RME has a very good reputation for high-quality PRO products,” said Marc JB. “Having a UFX+ simply helps sell my studio to clients, as it gives a recognised and reassuring stamp of quality – they know that they are going to get a pristine, professional sound. This is a perfect hub for a pro, futureproof studio. The Fireface UFX+ with TotalMix FX combine to deliver a sublime workflow and crystal audio quality.”

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