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Thread: I Challenge UA to Fix The DSP Limitations on This Platform

  1. #1
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    I Challenge UA to Fix The DSP Limitations on This Platform

    If UA does not fix the platforms' DSP limitations, count me out when it comes to new interfaces. I did not post this in the Wants and Wishes category because it is a necessity, not a feature upgrade I'd like to see.

    I was going to respond to the thread about waiting for TB3 on new UA interfaces. As I started to write my reply, I found myself writing, "I don't care if a new interface has TB 1, 2 , 3 or 33!"

    That got me to thinking. No incremental improvement in the UA platform will be nearly enough of an incentive for me to purchase any other hardware (and maybe plugins) from UA. Not TB3; not full MIDI implementation, not dual core SHARCs on Apollo; not AVB; not even a digital only in/out version of Apollo.

    Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of UA. I have made a huge investment in plugins, an Apollo 8 Duo, and a SF Quad.

    Nor am I planning to leave the platform. I am selling my Apollo Quad SF and my Apollo 8 Duo to buy a new Apollo 8 Quad. I will do so because of the promo. The Quad Satellite offer entices me enough to go with the current limitations. But I am not going further with UA. At this point, we are stuck.

    So at the risk of stating and repeating the obvious:

    One DSP per track just doesn't cut it. Period. And not being able to use chips across multiple Apollos is ridiculous. Multi-threading and multi-core technology on native systems has been available for more than a decade. No, I am not asking for or wanting native versions of UA plugins. I am simply making the point that other systems are not limited in this manner.

    I understand that there are physical reasons for the DSP limitations with respect to the PFGA chips in Apollos.

    So I challenge UA: Even if you have to charge more for an Apollo with a PFGA capable of using DSP across hardware and more than one chip on a track, just do it. At that point I will buy.

    When I bought my Apollo 8 in 2015, I did not understand these limitations. That is on me. I should have done more research into the platform.

    But it is two+ years later. When you consider the entry level cost for an Apollo 8, you should not have to put up with this situation. The number one reason I bought into the UA world was I wanted to be able to access the UA plugins. I thought that having the hardware host the plugins with on board DSP would be a plus. Then I ran into the DSP limitation issues.

    Winter NAMM is upon us. The big rumor is a Twin single with a TB3 connector. Why on earth should we care? Sure, I am all for any updated feature set like TB3, MIDI implementation, etc., for Apollo. But without a DSP limitations fix, it is simply not enough.

    As a group, those of us on this forum over the last few years have generally accepted this state of the UA universe. I believe it is high time we stopped accepting a system with a basic design flaw. What do you think?
    Don Schenk and Hoenerbr like this.
    Apollo 8 Duo (BF), Apollo Quad SF, iMac i7 Quad, Logic Pro X, Studio One 3 Pro

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    Practically a UAD Expert Kcatthedog's Avatar
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    "Multi-threading and multi-core technology on native systems has been available for more than a decade."

    While this is true, I wonder if this is the solution or what is the real problem ? I wondering if the upsampling of Ua plugs, although a processing step, somehow prevents ua from implementing a dsp solution ?

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    I think we live in a time where our options are incredible. Each manufacturer and platform has its own benefits and limitations. Iíd like to see some of those features too, especially Routing across multiple units and dsp shared across units for live tracking... but Iíve used so many products and you have to purchase based on your needs. In the end, for me, the Apollo workflow is pretty amazing. I previously had a 192 i/o interface which could route to any input to any output... and rarely used that feature. The way Apollo integrates to live sessions with 4 headphone cues, and a great UI - well, I think itís amazing. They canít please everyone and it seems as though they are advancing their platform. As long as they keep improving it and keep us audio professionals in mind, I think the future is bright with UA. The stability of their system is worth more to me than any features.

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    Practically a UAD Expert slamthecrank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drsax View Post
    The stability of their system is worth more to me than any features.
    Absolutely could not have said it better myself!

    Stability is what I'm after 100% of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slamthecrank View Post
    Absolutely could not have said it better myself!

    Stability is what I'm after 100% of the time.
    Are you Mac or Windows? I would like to see a poll result to see if they are the same or skewed for reliability concerns.

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    Practically a UAD Expert Kcatthedog's Avatar
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    ah the computers or the apollos ? Given all the inconsistencies reported with windows , as a platform and with windows configs as opposed to apple, i don't think the poll result would tell us very much of anything ? I'd completely expect worse anecdotal reporting of windows performance ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcatthedog View Post
    ah the computers or the apollos ? Given all the inconsistencies reported with windows , as a platform and with windows configs as opposed to apple, i don't think the poll result would tell us very much of anything ? I'd completely expect worse anecdotal reporting of windows performance ?
    Well the drivers for Windows and thunderbolt are pretty recent and since they moving away from the USB interface there must have been some issues (or didn't sell well) as well?

    Although my only Mac i've ever bought was a macbook pro for $2000, and it didn't go well. The battery died after a year of use ($120 to replace) and then not long after my wife left it at her parents while visiting (who happen to be on the other side of the planet), so it sat for a year (which killed the 2nd battery). Then it lasted a few months after i got it back and the motherboard burned out...just turns on but eveything is black, Apple said they'd have to replace the motheboard, but they couldn't guarantee it wouldn't be replaced with a motherboard that had a recall on the graphics card killing motherboards, which only came with a 90 day warranty). So haven't bought another Mac, but with the audio world going Thunderbolt and Windows lack of support i'm not sure what to do. My current windows desktop is from 2005/2006 so it's time for an upgrade.

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    Practically a UAD Expert Kcatthedog's Avatar
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    Agreed neither Mac or windows are perfect Anectdotally, in terms of what I have seen discussed here, in general, a lot more problems with Windows running apollo. There was the fw problem with Mac but when I switched to tbolt: bullet proof performance. THE USB twin seemed problematic or maybe that is just what was reported here ? When peeps use the right mb apollo experience with Win seems fine , once they get their settings dialed in ?
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    Hopefully windows side will settle down with good support for usb-c/tb3. I like quite few others Iíve spoken to will likely migrate to windows down the line. Iíve had similar problems with MBPs like the other poster, and appleís response was quite simply appalling. I was lucky to have one MBP replaced with a later one that didnít seem to be plagued with the dreaded graphics card issue only because the MB fried 3 times very quickly and it was under warranty, but quite frankly Apple had major issues with graphics chip frying for far too many versions of their MacBook pros. 3 of them for me... I havenít forgotten. Itíll depend on what they offer pro wise when itís time to upgrade.

    DSP wise it depends on what someone needs. Iím good with my quad for now, I suspect many are, I run channel strips going in, if I wanted to run an eq and or compressor I likely could. But I get the frustration, I donít know why you canít share cores and more.

    But someone said they are more interested in reliability than more features. I couldnít agree more. If something doesnít work reliably for my sessions then I have to find something that will.
    Last edited by TimTee; 4 Days Ago at 05:07 PM.
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    @drsax, I appreciate your opinion.

    I agree that Apollo is rock solid stable on my Mac. If it weren't I would have sent it back soon after I bought it. I also know from personal experience that MOTU makes rock solid interfaces too. Stability is a prime requirement in an interface. So why give UA extra credit for stability?

    I previously had a 192 i/o interface which could route to any input to any output... and rarely used that feature.
    My issue is not with the somewhat limited routing in Console 2. It is with the limitations on how plugins are allocated DSP resources. Those restrictions limit where, how many and which combinations of plugins can be used.

    The maximum DSP available per channel is one chip . This is an amazingly restrictive limitation.

    Here is a real world example of how drastic the affect of these limits becomes. You have an Apollo 8 Quad. You are recording an acoustic guitar part in mono. Nothing else is being recorded in the session.

    You want to run it through a channel strip to get the Unison microphone preamp and do some EQ. Maybe you need a bit of compression, too.

    The acoustic guitar you are using still sounds a bit thin. Better add Woodworks in the next slot.

    And of course you want to place the guitar in the correct spot in a great room. I have a small one room studio so I always slot the Ocean Way Studios plugin on my acoustic guitars. I also like the integrated reverb that matches the room's space.

    So I put the SSL E Series Channel Strip in the Unison slot. My DSP goes to 41.8%. Then Sound Machine Woodworks goes into the next slot. DSP is now at 78.2%. When I try to add Ocean Way Studios I get a warning that I am unable to instantiate it because I have exceeded DSP load limits.

    In the meantime, I am sitting with three DSP chips at idle. With the restrictions of one chip per channel, the additional chips I paid for when I bought my Quad are about as useless as tits on a bull. That is just plain wasteful. Note that this example does not even account for the DSP usage required to run the system.

    Can anyone on this forum really state that they bought their UA hardware because of the quality of the interface and not because they wanted access to UA's world class plugins?

    I agree with you drsax when you say:

    I think we live in a time where our options are incredible. Each manufacturer and platform has its own benefits and limitations.
    We do have a plethora of great choices when it comes to our audio interfaces. If interface quality and features were the only issue for me, I would sell my Apollos and buy a MOTU 1248 and an 828ES. The converters are the same, and for the cost of one Apollo 8 Quad, I'd have 6 mic preamps, 16 line inputs, 4 channels of SRC S/PDIF coax, 16 channels of ADAT at high sample rates, more than twice the outputs, more flexible routing, and AVB.

    And with two Macs and a PC, I could combine the power of two computers to make my setup more powerful through AVB.

    I can't say from personal experience whether audio quality of the MOTU interfaces is as good as Apollo 8's audio quality because I have not tried one of the new MOTUs. I'd bet that they'd be really close though. Note that the retail price of the two MOTU interfaces is the same as one Apollo 8 Quad.

    I am selling my two Apollos (SF Quad and Apollo 8 Duo). I figure I can get about $2500 net for them. I will buy a new Apollo 8 Quad with the free Quad Satellite because I love the plugins. That in no way means that the DSP restrictions are not a huge negative for me.

    To accent this I will also point out that if the Apollo system was able to share DSP across devices, I would be considering purchasing two Apollo 8 Quads. That would give me 8 chips for tracking without restricting how DSP would be allocated.
    Apollo 8 Duo (BF), Apollo Quad SF, iMac i7 Quad, Logic Pro X, Studio One 3 Pro

    Gibson SG, Hamer Duotone, Brian Moore i213, Taylor 710 BCE
    Mesa Recto Pre + 20/20, 68 Bandmaster

    Mackie Onyx 1640, Event SP-8, Kemper Profiling Amp, Roland VG-99

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