Apollo Thunderbolt Support Information
The following information is subject to change and may not always be up to date due to OS and DAW updates, or other factors beyond Universal Audio's control.
Last Updated: June 1, 2015Jump to:
|Latest Tech News||Support Videos||General Info|
|About UAD v8 Software||System Requirements||Device Compatibility|
|Connections||Quick Start||Usage Notes|
|Multi-Unit Cascading||Thunderbolt Software Info||About Thunderbolt 2|
|Thunderbolt Option Cards|
Thunderbolt Versus FireWire Support
Important: This page is dedicated to Apollo Thunderbolt systems for Mac. If connecting Apollo to Mac or Windows computers via FireWire, see the dedicated Apollo FireWire support page instead.
Latest News and Updates
Have questions about the new Apollos? Visit the next-gen Apollo Q&A forum.
- Note: The latest UAD software is compatible with system sleep/wake and Thunderbolt hot-plugging.
- Next-generation Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, and Apollo 16 mkII models require UAD v8.0.2 (or higher) software to function.
- UAD v8 software features significant enhancements for the UAD Thunderbolt platform and is recommended for all users.
- As of UAD v8 software, UAD authorization is simplified. See About UAD v8 Software below for details.
- All references to "Apollo" on this page apply to Apollo DUO/QUAD (silver), Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, Apollo 16, and Apollo 16 mkII unless specifically noted otherwise. Apollo Twin has a dedicated support page.
Support Videos to Help You Get Started
Visit the support videos to help you setup and use Apollo:
- Apollo Interfaces Basic Setup & Recording (Console 2.0) w/ Fab Dupont
- Apollo Console 2.0 Part 1 (Getting Started)
- Apollo Console 2.0 Part 2 (Console Sections)
- Apollo Console 2.0 Part 3 (Expanded Systems, Flex Driver)
- Setting up Apollo with Avid Pro Tools
- Setting up Apollo with Apple Logic Pro
- Setting up Apollo with Steinberg Cubase
- Setting up Apollo with Ableton Live
- Creating and navigating your My.Uaudio account
- Studio Basics
- All UAD support videos
After software installation, all Apollo and UAD operation manuals are at this location on the system drive:
- Macintosh HD/Applications/Universal Audio
- All operation manuals can be accessed from the Help menu within the Console application, or by clicking the "View Documentation" button in the Help panel within the UAD Meter & Control Panel application.
- All operation manuals can also be downloaded here.
- Latest Apollo software
- Main Product Pages – General product information
- Compatibility –Additional information for Apollo and UAD-2
- Apollo FAQ – Frequency asked questions
- UAD-2 FAQ – UAD questions that aren't specific to Apollo
- Compatible DAW Applications – Using audio software with Apollo
- UAD Instance Count Chart – How much DSP each UAD plug-in uses
- UAD-2 support pages – Technical information related to Apollo's UAD-2 functionality
- Pro Tools Compatibility – RTAS and AAX 64 information
- Troubleshooting Basics – Steps you can take if the system is not operating properly
- UAD Software Release Notes
About UAD v8 software
New UAD v8 Features
In addition to new UAD plug-ins, UAD v8 software offers significant enhancements for the UAD Thunderbolt platform, including:
- Apollo Expanded, featuring:
- Mix-and-match compatibility with up to four Apollo interfaces
- New Console 2.0 application with over 25 new user-requested features
- Flex Driver enables custom I/O routes and names at the Core Audio driver level
- Compatibility with up to six UA devices
- Simplified UAD authorization (Internet connection required)
- Apollo Unison technology for new Distortion Essentials Pedals
- Mac OS X Yosemite compatibility
Simplified UAD Authorization
- As of UAD v8 software, UAD authorization is automatic (Internet connection required). When the UAD software is updated, authorization happens in the background when the computer is started and/or when the UAD Meter & Control Panel application is opened.
- It is no longer necessary to manually authorize after updating UAD software; you can begin working immediately.
- After purchasing a UAD plug-in, the UAD software requires manual authorization. The web store guides you through the process.
Wiring changes with multi-unit cascading
- Apollo multi-unit wiring is changed with UAD v8. Only a single Thunderbolt cable is needed for each Apollo unit, and no other cables (ADAT, Word Clock, FireWire, MADI) should be connected between Apollo units.
- See Multi-Unit Cascading below for complete details.
Increased UAD load with Apollo DUO/QUAD
- UAD v8 software adds two additional cue mix buses and four additional Virtual I/O channels to Apollo DUO/QUAD. The increased channel count results in a slightly higher idle DSP load (when no UAD plug-ins are running) when compared to UAD v7.
- If a session with very high DSP loads was saved with UAD v7, there may not be enough UAD resources to load the session under UAD v8 without a "DSP exceeded" error. If a the error occurs, UAD plug-in loading will need to be reduced accordingly.
Note: This issue does not apply with Apollo 16, which already had seven mix buses and eight Virtual I/O channels with UAD v7.
Apollo System Requirements
- Apple Mac computer with available Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port
- Mac OS X 10.8.5 Mountain Lion, 10.9.x Mavericks, or 10.10.x Yosemite
- 4 gigabytes available disk space
- Internet connection to download software and authorize UAD plug-ins
- Compatible VST, Audio Units, RTAS, or AAX 64 plug-in host DAW software
- Thunderbolt cable (sold separately)
UAD Powered Plug-Ins version 8
- For information about Apple Mac Pro (Late 2013) compatibility, click here.
- Computer power required by modern DAWs (especially with high track counts) can tax the computer's resources. For optimum performance when using a DAW, the computer hardware options listed below are recommended:
- Quad-core i5 or better processor
- 8 GB or more RAM
Thunderbolt Computer Compatibility
- Apollo is compatible with all Apple Mac computers that have an available Thunderbolt or
Thunderbolt 2 port. The computer must meet the system requirements.
- Apollo Thunderbolt Software is not compatible with Windows PC computers. Apollo FireWire software can be used for
PC-equipped studios with Apollo models that have FireWire ports. For details, click here.
UA Device Compatibility with UAD v8 Thunderbolt Software
- A total of six UA devices can be used together
- Up to four Apollo interfaces of any type* can be used together (mix-and-match)
*Exception: One Apollo Twin can be used
- To use UAD-2 PCIe cards, a compatible Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis is required
Note: UAD-2 SOLO PCIe and UAD-2 DUO PCIe cards are incompatible with Apollo Twin
- Up to two UAD-2 Satellite FireWire units are compatible
Note: All compatibility information for this device still apply when using UAD Thunderbolt Software
- All Apollo units must be connected via Thunderbolt
- Apollo FireWire connections are incompatible
FireWire Device Compatibility with UAD v8 Thunderbolt Software
- FireWire devices such as external hard drives are compatible
- FireWire devices may be connected directly to the computer's FireWire port (if available) or an available Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port via the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter
Device Driver and UAD Plug-In Compatibility
- Apollo requires Mac OS X version 10.8.5 and higher (the lowest OS version that supports Thunderbolt 2)
- UAD Powered Plug-Ins are 32-bit and 64-bit compatible
- Console 2.0 is a Retina-compatible 64-bit application
Connecting Apollo to the computer
- Connect Apollo to any available Thunderbolt port on the Thunderbolt bus with a Thunderbolt cable (sold separately). The connection can be either directly to the computer's Thunderbolt port, or to an available Thunderbolt port on a Thunderbolt peripheral attached to the computer's Thunderbolt port.
- Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 ports and devices may be mixed and/or matched for any/all Thunderbolt connections.
Note: All Thunderbolt devices must be connected to the same Thunderbolt port on the computer.
- Apollo cannot be bus powered via Thunderbolt. The included external power supply must be used.
- See the Multi-Unit Cascading section for specific instructions on how to connect and use two or more Apollo units together.
- Universal Audio Thunderbolt devices are tested with authentic Apple Thunderbolt Cables and Thunderbolt Optical Cables by Corning. Using off-brand cables may cause unpredictable results.
Connecting additional Thunderbolt peripherals
- Thunderbolt peripheral devices may be serially connected (daisy-chained) to Apollo's second Thunderbolt port.
Note: Apollo must be powered on for the computer to recognize the daisy-chained device.
- Per the Thunderbolt specification, bus power is supplied to downstream (daisy-chained) peripheral devices.
Note: Apollo must be powered on for the daisy-chained peripheral to receive Thunderbolt bus power.
- Universal Audio Thunderbolt devices are officially certified as Thunderbolt compliant and are therefore compatible with other certified Thunderbolt devices when used in the same chain.
- The Startech Thunderbolt Docking Station is tested in-house and is known to be compatible with UA Thunderbolt devices. This device has an HDMI display output which can be used for an external display to free the second Thunderbolt Option Card port for other devices.
- All Thunderbolt devices must be connected to the same Thunderbolt port on the computer.
- The Thunderbolt protocol supports a maximum of six Thunderbolt peripherals per Thunderbolt bus.
Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort
- For general information about Thunderbolt ports and displays, see Apple's Thunderbolt ports and displays FAQ.
- Apollo cannot be used by connecting it to a Mini DisplayPort connector. Although Thunderbolt and Mini DisplayPort devices have the same physical connector, the underlying communication protocol used by these devices is different.
- The type of device port can be determined by the icon next to the port. Thunderbolt ports have a "lightning bolt" icon, while Mini DisplayPort ports have a "display" icon. The difference between these ports and icons is shown in the illustration below.
Quick Start: Installation, Registration, and Authorization
Quick Start Overview
- Follow the steps below to setup Apollo. For a short video of the setup process, click here.
- Setup includes connecting the hardware, installing the software, and registration to authorize bundled UAD plug-ins.
- For more detailed explanations (and offline authorization procedures), see the UAD System Manual.
Connect to computer and power on
Note: Before powering Apollo, lower the volume of the monitor speakers and remove headphones from your ears.
- Connect the included external power supply to an AC outlet and the Power input on Apollo's rear panel. (Apollo cannot be bus powered.)
- Connect one end of a Thunderbolt cable (not included) to a Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 port on the Mac computer.
- Connect the other end of the Thunderbolt cable to one of the Thunderbolt ports on Apollo (either port may be used).
Important: Do not connect both Thunderbolt ports to the computer. The Thunderbolt protocol is bidirectional, so only one Thunderbolt cable is needed.
- Power on Apollo with the front panel switch.
Install the Apollo software and register
- Download the latest UAD Powered Plug-Ins software installer. The installer file is downloaded to the disk location specified in the web browser's preferences. You can watch the Apollo Start Video that appears after clicking the download button to help you get started.
- Double-click the downloaded installer file to open it. The installer guides you through the process (update the firmware if prompted; see below). Be sure to restart the computer when prompted by the installer.
- After restarting the computer and Apollo is detected by the UAD software, the default web browser opens. Follow the instructions on the web pages to create an account, register the hardware, and authorize bundled UAD plug-ins.
- After registration and authorization are complete, Apollo is ready for use.
- If the hardware was already registered, when the computer starts the UAD Meter & Control Panel application automatically opens and UAD plug-ins are authorized in the background.
- If a new UAD device is subsequently added to the computer, the web browser will open again to register the new device.
- If prompted to update the Apollo firmware, click "Load" then wait for confirmation that the update is complete (see below for firmware update details).
About Firmware Updates
- Firmware updates for the Apollo hardware may be included within the software to enhance system functionality.
- For optimum results, always update the firmware by clicking "Load" if prompted by the software.
- The software will guide you through the firmware update process; be sure to follow the instructions on screen. Most importantly, power off then power on the unit after the "Power Off UAD Device" window appears.
- The Apollo software prompts for firmware updates automatically (if available).
- For complete firmware update information, visit the firmware support page.
Important: Do not interrupt system power during any firmware update routines.
Refer to the Apollo Software Manual to learn how to configure the audio interface settings, use the Console application and Realtime UAD Processing for live input monitoring, use the Console Recall plug-in in a DAW, and much more.
- Opening Console
To open the application, click its icon in the Mac OS X Dock.
- Explore the interface
For complete Console details, see the Apollo Software Manual.
Thunderbolt Use Notes
Quit audio software before disconnecting Apollo
- Important: For optimum results, quit all audio software applications (DAWs) that are using Apollo and/or UAD plug-ins before disconnecting Apollo from the computer.
- It's safe to leave the Console and/or UAD Meter & Control Panel applications open when disconnecting Apollo.
System sleep is compatible with the latest Apollo Thunderbolt software. However, disabling sleep when using DAW software is generally recommended. For optimum results when using Apollo with DAW software, follow these guidelines:
- Disable sleep. Open the Energy Saver panel within System Preferences* and drag the “Computer Sleep” slider (if present) to “Never” (the far right position).
- Before sleeping the system, quit any DAW software using UAD plug-ins.
- If UAD-2 Satellite FireWire is connected, system sleep MUST be disabled. Sleep is not compatible with UAD FireWire devices (UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt is compatible with system sleep).
Computer sleep is disabled in the Energy Saver panel within the System Preferences application
- Although Thunderbolt has much higher data bandwidth compared to FireWire 800 (dual 10 Gigabit lanes for Thunderbolt 1 versus 800 Megabits for FireWire 800), it is still possible to run out of Thunderbolt bandwidth. This can occur when very high-bandwidth Thunderbolt peripherals such as high-performance RAID storage arrays, multiple Thunderbolt and/or 4K displays, and similar devices are connected in the same Thunderbolt chain.
- Bandwidth considerations are especially a factor at high session sample rates.
Using UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) with Thunderbolt
Note: This section applies to the UAD-2 Satellite FireWire model only. It does not apply to UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt.
- If UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) is connected, system sleep MUST be disabled. Sleep is not compatible with UAD FireWire devices.
- When UAD-2 Satellite is connected (via a FireWire port on the computer or the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter) to the same system as a Thunderbolt-connected Apollo, the following conditions apply:
1. UAD plug-ins in the DAW loaded on UAD-2 Satellite stream via FireWire, while those loaded on Apollo stream via PCIe.
2. FireWire tuning with the UAD Bandwidth Allocation parameter is applicable for UAD plug-ins running on UAD-2 Satellite. Since UAD plug-ins in the DAW that are loaded on Apollo still stream via PCIe in this configuration, FireWire tuning is applicable only for those UAD plug-ins running on UAD-2 Satellite.
3. A minimum processing buffer of 512 samples for UAD plug-ins in the DAW applies for UAD-2 Satellite.
- Note that Realtime UAD Processing is always available for Apollo's inputs via the Console application, regardless of configuration (even when DAW I/O buffers are set to high values and/or when UAD-2 Satellite FireWire is connected).
General Use Notes
Sample Rate Changes
- For optimum results when using Console without a DAW, perform sample rate changes within the Console application (instead of within Mac OS X's Audio MIDI Setup application).
- For optimum results when using a DAW, perform sample rate changes within the DAW itself (instead of the Console application or within Mac OS X's Audio MIDI Setup application).
- For optimum results when Apollo Twin's current sample rate is different from the sample rate set within a DAW session, change Apollo Twin's sample rate within Console to match the sample rate of the DAW session before loading the DAW session.
4x Sample Rates Support
- Console's AUX 2 is unavailable at sample rates of 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz
- Multi-unit cascading is unsupported with sample rates of 176.4 kHz and 192 kHz
- Apollo uses DSP and memory for its internal DSP mixer. Therefore, the UAD gauges show some idle resource usage even when UAD plug-ins are not loaded. Note: The Console application does not use Apollo's DSP or memory.
- As compared with UAD v7 software, idle UAD resource usage is increased slightly with UAD v8 due to increased channel counts in the newer software.
- When logged into the computer under an account that does not have administrator privileges, saving UAD preset files via the UAD Toolbar (via the small folder icon below each UAD plug-in interface) will result in an "Unable to save preset file" dialog. If this occurs, either log in with an administrator account, or use the DAW's preset management tools.
- When loading and saving UAD presets within Console 2, using Console 2's improved preset management tools are recommended instead of the UAD Toolbar.
External Word Clock
- To set Apollo to sync to external Word Clock, the setting must be made within Console. If the setting is changed from within the DAW's control panel, the change may not actually be activated even if the DAW indicates the setting is changed.
Apollo Console Notes
- Realtime UAD Processing with UAD plug-ins in Console uses DSP differently than when UAD plug-ins are used within a DAW. To maintain the lowest possible input latency, UAD plug-ins used on a single Console input are “chained” and must be processed within a single DSP chip. Therefore, it is possible to get a DSP/PGM/MEM limit exceeded message even though the UAD gauges may indicate there is plenty of DSP/PGM/MEM available.
- Loading Console sessions from differing Apollo hardware models allows the session to be opened as offline.
- Console sessions (and Console Recall plug-in sessions) created in Apollo Thunderbolt software cannot be loaded with Apollo FireWire software and vice-versa.
- Console Session files (configuration presets) saved within Console will not be saved if the "/" (forward slash), "\" (back slash), or "?" (question mark) characters are in the filename. Avoid these and other special characters when saving Recall files.
DAW Application Notes
What is the lowest hardware buffer setting I can use with Apollo for stable operation?
The audio interface hardware I/O portion of Apollo can run at any hardware buffer setting that is stable within the DAW itself. Results may vary as a result of how much the DAW session stresses the computer system. This can be influenced by:
- How many processor-intensive native plug-ins (such as virtual instruments, convolution reverbs, etc.) are in the session
- Track count and sample rate
- Processor speed and overall power of the computer
When UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) is connected to the system, UAD plug-ins used within the DAW run at a 512 minimum buffer size in order to operate reliably. Apollo’s dynamic buffering enables lower hardware I/O buffer settings (256, 128, 64 etc.) while maintaining a stable 512 buffer for UAD plug-in processing in the DAW.
The buffer size for UAD plug-ins used within the DAW is equal to the DAW’s hardware I/O buffer setting. Additionally, LiveTrack mode can be used with Thunderbolt (except when UAD-2 Satellite FireWire is connected) which lowers latency even further with UAD plug-ins used within the DAW.
Of course, for the lowest possible latency when running UAD plug-ins on live inputs, we recommend using the included Console application to take advantage of Apollo’s unique Realtime UAD Processing feature, where DAW I/O buffering does not apply.
Multi-Unit Cascading with Apollo Expanded
Note: This entire section applies only when using more than one Apollo unit in the same system with UAD v8 software.
About Apollo Expanded
UAD v8 software includes Apollo Expanded, allowing Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo interfaces to be freely combined — adding I/O and DSP as your studio grows.
Multi-Unit Cascading: UAD Device Compatibility
- Click here for UAD device compatibility when multi-unit cascading.
Multi-Unit Cascading: Wiring
Important: Wiring between Apollo units is different with UAD v8 (compared to v7). For a wiring diagram, click here.
- A single Thunderbolt cable is required for all unit interconnections. Connect one cable to the host Mac and one cable between Apollo units.
- Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 ports and devices may be mixed and/or matched for any/all Apollo Thunderbolt connections.
- The Apollo device ordering and the Thunderbolt ports used (second port on Apollo versus second port on Mac, placement in daisy chain, etc) is not important.
- The computer and all Apollo units must be connected to the same Thunderbolt port.
- In the wiring example diagram, the lower Apollo is designated as the monitor (master) unit. Connect speakers (including ALT speakers, if enabled) to the monitor unit only.
- All first-generation (silver) Apollo and Apollo 16 units require the Thunderbolt Option Card. The FireWire ports cannot be used.
- Do not connect more than one Thunderbolt cable between the same two Thunderbolt devices (the Thunderbolt protocol
- Connecting two Apollo Twin units is not a compatible configuration.
- Do not interconnect any Word Clock, FireWire, ADAT, or MADI ports between any Apollo units.
Multi-Unit Cascading: Operation Notes
For complete operating instructions, see the Apollo Software Manual.
- Monitor Designation: To facilitate the mix bus integration within Console, one Apollo unit must be designated as the monitor (master) unit in the Hardware panel within the Console Settings window. All other Apollo units are expander (slave) units.
- Monitor Outputs: The monitor speaker system (or systems, with ALT monitoring enabled) must be connected to the outputs of the monitor unit only.
Note: The monitor outputs of expander units are available as line outputs in the Core Audio panel (within the Console Settings window) and are not affected by the monitor level.
- Monitor Knobs: The hardware monitor knob on the front panel of expander units, and their surrounding LED level rings, are disabled (except Apollo Twin in remote mode). To adjust the monitor output level, use the front panel monitor knob on the monitor unit, the knob on Apollo Twin, or the monitor level control in Console.
- Cue Outputs: The cue mix buses can be routed to hardware outputs on the monitor unit only.
Exception: Cue mixes can be routed to the headphone outputs of any monitor or expander unit.
- Flex Routing: Inputs in Console can be directly routed (via Output Route menu) only to hardware outputs of the same unit.
- Multi-unit cascading is unsupported at sample rates of 176.4 kHz or 192 kHz.
- (Apollo Twin) Designating Apollo Twin as the monitor unit is not a recommend configuration. Instead, designating Apollo or Apollo 16 as the monitor unit is recommended to take advantage of their additional outputs for CUE routing and ALT monitoring.
Note: Apollo Twin can remotely control the monitor level of the system even when it is an expander unit.
Multi-Unit Cascading: Clocking
Note: All Apollo multi-unit clocking is carried via Thunderbolt. All connected Apollo units always clock (slave) from the monitor unit, regardless of whether Apollo is set to internal or external clock.
- When multiple units are connected via Thunderbolt, all Apollo system clocking and clock settings are automatically configured by Apollo’s device drivers.
- Apollo's clock setting must remain on INTERNAL unless specifically clocking to an external (non-Apollo) device.
- When Apollo’s clock source is set to INTERNAL, “EXT” will illuminate on the front panel hardware of the expander units.
- Important: When slaving to an external (non-Apollo) clock, connect the external clock source to the monitor unit only.
- All expander units are automatically configured to use the external clock when Apollo’s clock setting is EXTERNAL.
- When Apollo’s clock source is set to EXTERNAL, “EXT” will illuminate on the front panel of both the monitor unit and all expander units.
About UAD Thunderbolt Software
Note: Next-generation Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, and Apollo 16 mkII models do not have FireWire ports. These models require Apollo Thunderbolt software.
Thunderbolt PCIe audio drivers
- UAD Thunderbolt software (Mac only) uses Thunderbolt PCIe audio drivers for all audio I/O and UAD plug-in processing with all Apollo models. PCIe audio drivers provide high-bandwidth, low-latency Apollo performance with all Thunderbolt-equipped Macs.
- FireWire audio drivers are not included in UAD Thunderbolt Software. Therefore, Thunderbolt must be used for Apollo’s connection to the computer.
- The Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter cannot be used to connect Apollo to the computer when using UAD Thunderbolt Software.
Apollo firmware determines the operating mode
Note: All Apollo models with FireWire ports ship with FireWire firmware from the factory so they can be connected and used with FireWire computers that do not have Thunderbolt ports. Be sure to install the UAD Thunderbolt Software and firmware to enable the latest Thunderbolt features and functionality.
- Apollo's firmware determines whether the system operates in Thunderbolt mode (PCIe audio drivers), or FireWire mode (FireWire audio drivers). Apollo firmware is contained within the UAD Powered Plug-Ins software installer.
- To obtain the UAD Thunderbolt Software (and the matching firmware), choose "Apollo, Apollo 8, Apollo 16 - Thunderbolt"
from the "Select Your Product" drop menu on the software download page.
- To update the Apollo firmware, be sure to click "Load" when prompted by the UAD software and follow the onscreen instructions.
Important: UAD Thunderbolt Software disables the FireWire ports on Apollo and Apollo 16
After loading the required firmware contained in UAD Thunderbolt Software on Apollo models with FireWire ports:
- Apollo cannot be connected to the computer via FireWire
- FireWire devices cannot be connected to the Apollo FireWire ports
- UAD-2 Satellite and other FireWire devices must be disconnected from Apollo’s FireWire ports
UAD-2 Satellite and other FireWire devices can be connected to other FireWire ports, such as a:
- FireWire port on the Mac (if available)
- Thunderbolt port via the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter
- Thunderbolt hub that has a FireWire port
Reverting to FireWire connectivity
Note: This section only applies to Apollo models with FireWire ports. Next-generation Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, and Apollo 16 mkII models do not have FireWire ports; these models require Apollo Thunderbolt software.
To reactivate the ability to connect Apollo models with FireWire ports to the computer via FireWire (and/or to reenable the Apollo FireWire ports), the Apollo software and firmware must be downgraded to a version that supports FireWire.
Important: The firmware downgrade must be performed while Apollo is connected to a Mac computer via Thunderbolt. The firmware cannot be downgraded while connected via FireWire.
To revert Apollo to FireWire connectivity:
- Connect Apollo via the Thunderbolt Option Card to a Thunderbolt-equipped Mac computer.
- Power on Apollo so it will be recognized during UAD software installation.
- Download Apollo FireWire software by choosing "Apollo & Apollo 16 - FireWire" from the "Select your Product" drop menu.
- Launch the downloaded UAD installer for FireWire and click through the screens to begin installing the software.
- During installation, the UAD software will prompt to downgrade the Apollo firmware. Click the "Load" button in firmware downgrade dialog window to initiate the process.
- After the firmware is installed, the "Power Off UAD Device" window appears. Power off Apollo using the front panel switch, then power it back on. The FireWire firmware is now installed.
- Click "OK" in the Power Off UAD Device dialog window to allow software installation to finish.
- Restart the computer when prompted by the software installer.
Apollo's FireWire ports are reactivated and the unit can now be connected to Mac or Windows computers via FireWire using Apollo FireWire software.
About Thunderbolt 2
All Apollo Thunderbolt connections are compatible with both Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2
- The original Thunderbolt Option Card, and the newer Thunderbolt 2 Option Card, can be connected to Macs that have Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 ports.
- Thunderbolt 2 technology is designed for backwards compatibility with Thunderbolt 1.
- Apollo can be connected to Mac computers that have Thunderbolt 1 ports or Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Apple computers with Thunderbolt 2 ports
The following Apple computer models include Thunderbolt 2 ports:
- Mac Pro (Late 2013)
- 13" and 15" MacBook Pro with Retina Display (Late 2013) and newer models
- iMac with Retina 5K display
- Mac mini (Late 2014)
Thunderbolt 2 compared to Thunderbolt 1
- The primary benefit of Thunderbolt 2 is to facilitate the use of 4K video displays. In general practice, there are no other operational advantages.
- Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 1 have the same total amount of bandwidth (20 Gbps). Thunderbolt 1 has two 10 Gbps lanes while Thunderbolt 2 has one 20 Gbps lane.
- 4K video requires more than 10 Gbps (but less than 20 Gbps) at video refresh rates higher than 30 Hz. Thunderbolt 2 enables the increased bandwidth needed to deliver 4K video resolutions at 60 Hz refresh rates.
- Adding a Thunderbolt 1 device to a Thunderbolt 2 chain will cause subsequent Thunderbolt 2 devices in the chain to use Thunderbolt 1 protocol.
- In general, if 4K resolutions at high video refresh rates aren’t required, Thunderbolt 1 bandwidth is more than capable for even the largest audio production needs.
Enabling 4K video with Thunderbolt 1
With Thunderbolt 1 devices such as Apollo with the original Thunderbolt Option Card, or a Thunderbolt 1 chassis connected to a Mac Thunderbolt 1 or 2 port, it is still possible use 4K displays. This can be achieved in the following ways:
- MacBook Pro with Retina Display: Use the dedicated HDMI port, which supports 4K resolutions. The maximum refresh rate is 30 Hz in this configuration.
- Mac Pro (Late 2013): The new Mac Pro features three pairs of dual Thunderbolt 2 ports (six ports total on three buses), and also a dedicated HDMI port. Use a dedicated Thunderbolt bus for 4K displays and a separate bus for Thunderbolt 1 peripherals, or plug directly in to the dedicated HDMI port.
- Note that 4K displays can be used with Thunderbolt 1 Macs, however the video refresh rate is limited to 30 Hz.
For information about Universal Audio compatibility with the Mac Pro (Late 2013), click here.
Thunderbolt Option Card Information
About Apollo Thunderbolt Option Cards
- There are two versions of the Thunderbolt Option Card: The original (discontinued but still compatible) Thunderbolt Option Card introduced in October 2012, and the newer Thunderbolt 2 Option Card introduced in July 2014.
- Both cards have the same behavior, with the exceptions detailed in the table below.
- Between July 2014 and April 2015, all Apollo and Apollo 16 units shipped from the factory with the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card pre-installed. As of April 2015, Apollo FireWire units shipped from the factory do not contain a Thunderbolt Option Card or Thunderbolt 2 Option Card, and Apollo 16 (silver) is discontinued.
- Next-generation Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, and Apollo 16 mkII models ship from the factory with the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card pre-installed. These models do not have FireWire ports.
Thunderbolt Option Card Documentation
- This page contains all documentation related to the Thunderbolt Option Cards (there is no separate manual). Please review the information in this section carefully before installing or using the device.
Thunderbolt Option Card Product Information
- Main product page – General product information
- Thunderbolt FAQ – Frequency asked questions
- Thunderbolt 2 Information – How it compares to Thunderbolt 1
- Thunderbolt Option Card comparison – Differences between the two option cards
Thunderbolt Option Card Installation
- Important installation note: When removing or replacing Apollo's expansion bay cover plate screws,* take precautions to ensure the screw head sockets do not strip by inserting the hex wrench* deeply into the screw head before rotating the screws.
*4-40 x 1/4” button head cap screws, 1/16” hex wrench
- The Thunderbolt Option Cards are designed for easy installation by the user. Detailed instructions are provided in the printed Installation & Setup Guide in the retail package. To download the Installation & Setup Guide, click here.
Note: Instructions are the same for the original Thunderbolt Option Card and the newer Thunderbolt 2 Option Card.
- For a YouTube video showing how the Thunderbolt Option Card is installed into Apollo, click here.
Note: This video is from the Winter 2012 NAMM trade show floor where the product was first announced, and shows a prototype card that has an OFF/ON switch. There is no switch on the shipping version of the cards.
Apollo behavior with the Thunderbolt Option Card
The specific differences when using Apollo with a Thunderbolt connection versus a FireWire connection are:
- Data for audio I/O and UAD plug-ins used in the DAW is streamed via PCIe instead of FireWire. Therefore FireWire bandwidth limitations no longer apply, and higher UAD plug-in instance counts can be achieved (within the constraints of available UAD DSP).
- The minimum processing buffer of 512 samples for UAD plug-ins streamed via FireWire no longer applies (unless UAD-2 Satellite FireWire is connected*). PCIe can use smaller buffers, therefore latency is reduced for UAD plug-ins used in the DAW.
- FireWire tuning via the UAD Bandwidth Allocation parameter is no longer applicable (unless UAD-2 Satellite FireWire is connected*). The FireWire panel in the UAD Meter & Control Panel application does not appear when Apollo is connected via Thunderbolt, so the parameter is unavailable. Similarly, the FireWire bandwidth gauge in the UAD Meter does not appear.
- LiveTrack mode is available for UAD plug-ins used in the DAW. When enabled, LiveTrack mode reduces UAD processing latency via PCIe even further. LiveTrack is useful when playing virtual instruments through UAD plug-ins.
*Note: Specific FireWire behaviors still apply when UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) is connected. See Using UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) with Thunderbolt for details.
- The type of card can be determined by a visual inspection of the text on the card's mounting plate. The original Thunderbolt Option Card has port numbers silkscreened on the plate ("PORT 1" and "PORT 2"), while the newer Thunderbolt 2 Option Card does not have port numbers, as shown below. Also, the ports are slightly recessed on the Thunderbolt 2 Option Card.
Determining the Thunderbolt Option Card type
Differences between the two option card types
- The Thunderbolt 2 Option Card supports the Thunderbolt 2 protocol for use with 4K display monitors.
Note: This card is fully compatible and compliant with Thunderbolt 1 ports and devices.
- The Thunderbolt 2 Option Card does not contain FireWire circuitry.
Important: This card is not recognized by Apollo FireWire software (FireWire audio drivers).
- All operational differences are summarized in the table below.
|Thunderbolt Card Compatibility||Thunderbolt Option Card
|Thunderbolt 2 Option Card
|Compatible Universal Audio Products||Apollo DUO
Apollo 16 mkII
|Compatible with Thunderbolt 1 Macs?||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with Thunderbolt 2 Macs?||Yes||Yes|
|Minimum UAD Powered Plug-Ins version||UAD v6.3.1 and higher
(FireWire or Thunderbolt versions)
|UAD v7.7.1 and higher
(Thunderbolt versions only)
|Minimum Mac OS X version||Mac OS X 10.6.8
Snow Leopard (no longer tested)
|Mac OS X 10.8.5
|UAD Thunderbolt Software compatible?
(PCIe audio drivers)
|Apollo FireWire software compatible?
(FireWire audio drivers)
|Connect to Mac via Thunderbolt 1 or 2 using
UAD Thunderbolt Software (PCIe audio drivers)?
|Connect to Mac via Thunderbolt 1 or 2 using
Apollo FireWire software (FireWire audio drivers)?
|Connect to Mac via FireWire using
Apollo FireWire software (FireWire audio drivers)?
|Connect to Mac via FireWire using
UAD Thunderbolt Software (PCIe audio drivers)?
|Apollo's FireWire ports active when connected
to Mac via Thunderbolt 1 or 2?
|Yes, with Apollo FireWire software
(FireWire audio drivers)
|Connect UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) to the same
Thunderbolt bus as Apollo via the
Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter?
|Connect UAD-2 Satellite (FireWire model) to Apollo's
FireWire ports when connected to Mac
via Thunderbolt 1 or 2?
|Yes, with Apollo FireWire software
(FireWire audio drivers)