Connecting Apollo to the computer via Thunderbolt
- On Mac systems, Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 ports and devices may be mixed and/or matched for any/all Thunderbolt connections.
- On Windows 10 systems:
- The host computer must have an available Thunderbolt 3 port.
- A qualified Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter is required. For details, see this article.
- UAD devices with Thunderbolt 1 or Thunderbolt 2 connections may be mixed and/or matched.
- Apollo cannot be bus powered via Thunderbolt. The included external power supply must be used.
- See the Thunderbolt Multi-Unit Cascading article for specific instructions on how to connect and use two or more Apollo units together via Thunderbolt.
- 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.
- When connecting Apollo to the computer always check the orientation of the Thunderbolt cable. The Thunderbolt logo must be face up on the Thunderbolt cable when plugged into both the Apollo and the computer - if the Thunderbolt logo is not face up then the cable is inserted upside-down, which can be done fairly easily.
Note: On iMac computers, the Thunderbolt logo on the Thunderbolt cable should face left (when looking at the back of the iMac).
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 UA Thunderbolt devices must be connected to the same Thunderbolt port on the computer.
Note: Apple MacBook Pro models (2016 and later) with four Thunderbolt 3 ports have two separate Thunderbolt buses — the two ports on the left side are one bus, and the two ports on the right side are a separate bus.
- 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.
- On Mac computers, 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.
Thunderbolt PCIe audio drivers
- UAD Thunderbolt software 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 Thunderbolt-equipped Mac & Windows systems.
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 latest UAD 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 update Apollo to Thunderbolt firmware using UAD v9.0.0 and later, connect Apollo to the computer via Thunderbolt and click "Load" when prompted by the UAD software. Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the process.
Important: UAD Thunderbolt firmware disables the FireWire ports on Apollo and Apollo 16
After loading Thunderbolt firmware on Apollo models with FireWire ports:
- Apollo cannot be connected to the computer via FireWire until firmware is downgraded (see below)
- UAD-2 Satellite and other FireWire devices cannot be connected to the Apollo FireWire ports
- UAD-2 Satellite and other FireWire devices can be connected to other FireWire ports, such as a:
- Compatible FireWire port on the computer (if available)
- Thunderbolt port via the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter
- Thunderbolt hub that has a FireWire port
- Important: To re-enable FireWire functionality on Apollo models with FireWire ports, the Apollo firmware must be downgraded, and this firmware downgrade must be performed while connected via Thunderbolt. See "Reverting to FireWire connectivity" below for details.
Reverting to FireWire connectivity
Reverting Apollo to FireWire connectivity is simplified under UAD v9.0.0 and later. For details, see "Revert to FireWire connectivity..." in the UAD Meter & Control Panel section of the UAD System Manual.
For help reverting Apollo to FireWire connectivity under UAD v8.7 and below, see this article.
- Apollos equipped with 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.
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.