Universal Audio Apollo Solo Review: The Best!

Universal Audio’s Thunderbolt audio ports got a big makeover at the end of 2018, but one product was left alone. It wasn’t because the bus-powered Arrow was the smallest and easiest to miss that it made it through; it was because it was only a few months old. But since the Apollo X line is now well-known, UA is catching up on the rest of their products, so the Apollo Solo has replaced the Arrow.

In a way, the new Apollo Solo is just the Arrow interface with a USB-C port that can be driven from the outside. If you’re tracking with UA’s LUNA [#138] Recording System, having an Apollo that is fully bus-powered, light, and portable, with sample rates of up to 192 kHz and no noticeable latency, is pretty freaking appealing. There is a Hi-Z TRS jack on the front of the Solo and two main inputs with line preamps on the back (via XLR combo jacks). As Unison-enabled inputs, all three can be addressed, but you can only track two of them at a time. Just to review: The low-latency mic preamp and emulation technology that UA created is called Unison. It lets you track in real-time through modeled standard preamp and EQ chains. What else is this Arrow different from the last one? It’s not Twin X “space gray,” but the body is silver.

Let’s talk more about its characteristics.

Design and Build

It’s about quality over quantity with the UAD Apollo Solo Thunderbolt 3 audio interface. It is made of metal and has a simple but useful front panel interface with one button that controls a lot of the features. One would feel safe traveling with it and bringing it to gigs because it comes in a small but tough metal chassis.

Where to Buy?

Buy here

The Apollo Solo’s body is made of solid, molded cast aluminum. There is no venting, and there is a big grip mat along the bottom that hides any visible seams or screws. Simply bringing this up because the Solo can get warm to the touch when the built-in DSP is used for long periods of time. Although not seriously dangerous, it’s important to know that the Apollo Solo’s body itself absorbs heat and that the single SHARC-based DSP chip inside can make a lot of heat when it’s under a lot of stress from processor-heavy instances.


The only difference between the Apollo Solo and the Arrow is that the Apollo Solo is smart gray instead of black, and UA’s software updater thinks it’s talking to an Arrow. You can use UA’s Unison modeling technology with its two mic/line inputs, and it has one pair of line outputs on quarter-inch jacks. Another quarter-inch plug for guitars is on the first input line, and a headphone feed is carried by a different jack. On the top screen, which is for control and monitoring, there is a big rotary encoder with an LED display all around it. They have the same audio specs as the Arrow, which means they are pretty much the best for a bus-powered interface.

Moreover, the Apollo Solo needs a Thunderbolt 3 connection, just like the Arrow. It is also charged by the bus, so you can’t use a power adaptor. This means you’ll need a Type C–to–-Type C Thunderbolt connection, which is a shame because it’s not in the box. Even with an adapter, older Thunderbolt links can’t be used because they don’t provide enough power. 


Compared to other audio platforms, Apollo has a huge number of high-quality plugins. In addition, these apps really are the best of their kind. Not only that, but the apps run on the Apollo Solo, which means your computer is free to operate normally. 

Unfortunately, the Apollo doesn’t have a lot of plug-in processing power, so you can’t use nearly as many plugins for a full mix. Actually, based on the plugins you choose, you might not be able to run enough of them at the same time to record two input tracks with amp simulations.

Many of these plugins can be used in “Spark” mode, which skips the internal engine when mixing.


Apart from the plugin bundle, the Apollo Solo comes with a free digital audio workstation (DAW) and a very powerful and stylish audio interface control software.

To operate your Solo, you’ll need to use Universal Audio’s Console. Console skillfully manages every option you could ask for in an audio interface, from configuring headphone mixes to selecting which plugins to record through.

It’s very simple and elegant, and it’s a real pleasure to use to add complicated workflows that sound great to your recording and/or monitoring signal path.

Might we add that the UAD Apollo Solo comes with Luna, a free DAW that only works on Macs? In general, Luna is a nice, clean, and simple DAW that works well with UAD plugins and lets you mix in a way that makes use of things like modeled analog summing lines and tape on every channel.


To conclude, the Apollo Solo is Universal Audio’s first high-end audio product, and it does some cool and interesting things with both digital and traditional sound. If you want a good interface that you can take with you on the go, the Apollo Solo lets you record singing, guitars, and other instruments through UA’s Unison modeled preamps and amplifiers without losing quality. It may be Apollo’s youngest kid, but it’s a strong one!

Why You Should Read Reviews Before Buying

While finding a seamless set of recording equipment can be a bit of a headache, you need to explore your options rather than settling down on the first thing that you see. As smart buyers, we know how important it is to do research on a product and think about its pros and cons before we buy it. With that, it’s great that the internet gives us access to so much information that we can learn everything we need to know about a piece of equipment before we decide to buy it. So, there should be no excuses on your part as a smart buyer.

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