Configuring Apollo's I/O for Hardware Inserts in Pro Tools


  • This article covers configuring the I/O of rackmount Thunderbolt Apollo interfaces (Apollo silver w/ TB option card, Apollo 8, Apollo 8p, Apollo 16 w/ TB option card, Apollo 16 mkII, Apollo x6, Apollo x8, Apollo x8p, Apollo x16) in order to use Hardware Inserts in Pro Tools. If using an Apollo Twin, see the Using Hardware Inserts with Apollo Twin article.
  • If using an Apollo silver or Apollo 16 via FireWire, use the PT Mode option (Console > Settings > Hardware) to configure the I/O for hardware inserts. For more information, see the PT Mode section in the Working With Apollo chapter of the Apollo FireWire Software Manual. 

IO Matrix

In order to use the Hardware Inserts feature in Pro Tools, you will first need to change the default I/O setup on the IO Matrix page of Console Settings (Console > Settings > IO Matrix).

The Pro Tools Hardware Inserts feature requires that you connect your external gear on the same input and output channels of your Apollo interface, i.e., Line Inputs 1-2 and Line Outputs 1-2. In the default Apollo I/O setup, the first two input channels are Mic/Line/Hi-Z 1 & Mic/Line/Hi-Z 2, however the first two output channels are Monitor L and Monitor R. In order for the channels numbers to correspond, we must insert “null” values for the first 2 inputs so that Mic/Line/Hi-Z 1 lines up with Line Output 1, Mic/Line/Hi-Z 2 lines up with Line Output 2, and so on.

You can select one of the I/O presets already available that matches your configuration which will align your line inputs and outputs automatically. For example, if you’re using a single Apollo x8p, select the Single-Apollo x8p PT preset from the I/O Presets menu. Once you have selected the appropriate I/O preset for your system, please choose LOAD, and proceed to resetting the Pro Tools I/O as described below.


Pro Tools I/O Setup

Follow the directions below to reset your Pro Tools I/O:

  • You will first need to make sure that the Apollo is selected as your Playback Engine within Pro Tools. To do this, open Pro Tools and navigate to Setup > Playback Engine and make sure 'Universal Audio Apollo' is selected.
  • Next, navigate to Setup > I/O and click on the 'Input' tab when the I/O Settings window appears.
  • On the 'Input' tab, select all paths shown and click 'Delete Path'. Delete all paths on this tab so it is completely empty.
  • Repeat these steps for the 'Output', 'Bus' and 'Insert' tabs as well.
  • Once all paths are deleted, click the 'Default' button. This will re-populate the tab with the correct paths.
  • On the 'Insert' tab, Apollo's MON out uses output pair 1-2, so you have to make this final adjustment to line up your hardware inserts: drag the entire set over one pair so that Insert 1-2 is using I/O 3-4, Insert 3-4 is using I/O 5-6, and so on.


Important Note: Make sure to mute the Console channels corresponding to the line inputs that the return signal from your outboard gear is being fed into to avoid double monitoring.

Enabling Delay Compensation

In Pro Tools, choose Options from the menu drop-down, and enable Delay Compensation, as shown below.


Now that the Apollo’s line inputs and line outputs have been aligned and the Pro Tools I/O reset, you can conveniently route audio to and from your outboard gear from an insert slot within Pro Tools.


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