A Bandwidth and Connectivity Boost for your Apollo Audio Interface.
The Thunderbolt™ Option Card for the Apollo and Apollo 16 audio interfaces provides greater UAD plug-in instances, improved performance at higher sample rates, and reduced UAD plug-in latency versus Apollo’s standard FireWire connection. Compatible with Intel’s new Thunderbolt technology on the latest generation of iMacs® , MacBook® Pros, MacBook Airs®, and Mac minis, the Thunderbolt Option Card offers unrivaled bandwidth and next-generation connectivity for the Apollo interface.
The user-installable Thunderbolt Option Card includes two Thunderbolt ports, and easily slides into the expansion bay of the Apollo. Bus power is provided to all downstream Thunderbolt devices, allowing music producers to connect peripherals in series with the Apollo interface — including hard drives, processors, and computer displays.
When the Thunderbolt Option Card is engaged, Apollo’s FireWire 800 ports are instantly reconfigured as a hub for connecting FireWire devices, such as a hard drive or a UAD-2 Satellite.
* For compatibility and system requirements, please visit the Thunderbolt support page.
What are the advantages of using Thunderbolt as opposed to FireWire?
In general terms, Thunderbolt has 12 times more bandwidth than FireWire 800, and 20 times more bandwidth than USB 2. Thunderbolt support gives Apollo ultra-fast UAD-2 PCIe performance running through a cable with no noticeable bandwidth limitations. So, in simple terms, you’ll be able to run many more UAD plug-ins inside your DAW versus FireWire. Additionally, the minimum processing buffer of 512 samples for UAD plug-ins streamed via FireWire no longer applies, so latency is reduced for UAD plug-ins used in the DAW.
How do I add Thunderbolt to Apollo?
First, make sure you are running the latest Apollo software on a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac. Next, purchase the UA Thunderbolt Option Card (sold separately). The card is easy to install — simply remove two screws with the supplied hex wrench, remove the blank plate, and slide the Thunderbolt Option Card into the guide rails. Once properly inserted, simply replace the two screws and you’re good to go.
Does the UA Thunderbolt option card supply bus power?
Yes, the Thunderbolt Option Card supplies bus power to downstream devices. This enables you to connect numerous devices in series with the Apollo interface — including hard drives, processors, and computer displays — all with fast, flawless performance. It does not power Apollo.
So, since Thunderbolt is here, are you going to discontinue UAD-2 Satellite?
Absolutely not. FireWire is still a widely used protocol, and will be for many years to come. There are also FireWire-to-Thunderbolt adapters available on the market that will enable you to use the UAD-2 Satellite on computers even if they only have a Thunderbolt port.
Can I use the FireWire ports on Apollo as a FireWire hub when Apollo is connected to the computer via the Thunderbolt Option Card?
Yes! You can connect other FireWire devices like UAD-2 Satellite or FireWire hard drives directly to Apollo when connected via Thunderbolt.
Now that my Apollo is connected via Thunderbolt, do I have two discrete FireWire 800 ports for a total of 1600 Mbps?
The total bandwidth of the FireWire hub on the rear panel of Apollo is 800 Mbps.
Can I still use my Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo on a FireWire-only host computer?
Yes. During the power-up, Apollo will detect whether it is connected via FireWire or Thunderbolt.
Can I switch (hot plug) Apollo from one computer to another?
Yes, you can hot plug from one computer to another with no issue on the system level. However you should not plug Apollo into the same computer with both FireWire and Thunderbolt, connect two computers simultaneously to one Apollo unit, or attempt to hot plug Apollo while a DAW is running.
Where can I find detailed technical information about the Thunderbolt Option Card?
Complete technical details and the latest bulletins about Thunderbolt Option Card compatibility and operation can be found on the Thunderbolt support page.