LUNA Recording System is the new music production system from Universal Audio. LUNA transforms Apollo interfaces into the most inspiring and fully‑integrated Mac‑based recording systems on the planet. LUNA integrates with your Thunderbolt-equipped UA Audio Interface on macOS and provides a complete environment for recording, MIDI creation, editing, arranging, and mixing – all with an intuitive and contextual user interface.
This article includes:
- A Natural Analog Workflow
- Apollo Integration
- Accelerated Realtime Monitoring
- Recording Features
- LUNA and Console
- Polarity invert and channel trim
- LUNA Extensions
- UAD Instruments
- Non-Destructive Audio
- How do I Save?
- Undo and Redo
- Supported Plug-In Formats
- Track Follows Modes: Time and Tempo
- Sample Rates, Imported Audio, and Imported Sessions
- Focus Browsers Overview
- Keyboard Shortcuts and Menu Reference
- LUNA Key Commands mapped to macOS Shortcuts
A natural analog workflow
LUNA is based on a powerful hardware-software integration, giving Apollo interface owners the fastest, most natural recording system for music creation, editing, and mixing on your Mac. No more toggling between Apollo's Console app and your DAW to track through UAD plug-ins in real time.
Instead, LUNA's Accelerated Realtime Monitoring™ lets you record through UAD plug-ins with no discernible latency, and eliminates hassles in creating monitor mixes, cue mixes, setting up Unison plug-ins, and so much more.
Apollo mode and Core Audio mode
LUNA operates in Apollo mode or Core Audio mode.
in Apollo mode, LUNA is integrated directly with Universal Audio interface hardware. When a Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo is connected and powered on, you can set LUNA to Apollo mode. Tight integration with UA hardware means that much of the complexity of audio interface configuration is removed with LUNA. All of your available hardware inputs and outputs are automatically configured and available in LUNA. In addition, all preamp channel features and Unison inserts are automatically available in LUNA, and most routing features of the hardware, including Cues and routing matrix features, are available.
If you have an Apollo connected, LUNA automatically starts in Apollo mode.
Core Audio mode
In Core Audio mode, you can use LUNA with supported Core Audio devices. LUNA can support multiple Core Audio devices at once. All of your available hardware inputs and outputs for enabled devices are automatically configured and available in LUNA, though you may have to make adjustments in the hardware setup panel. In Core Audio mode, Unison plug-ins are not supported on LUNA inputs, though you can use Unison inputs in Apollo Console if you use an Apollo interface.
If you do not have an Apollo connected, LUNA automatically starts in Native mode.
To switch between Apollo mode and Core Audio mode
At the bottom left of the LUNA screen, click Audio Device, and choose Apollo or Core Audio.
Accelerated Realtime Monitoring
Accelerated Realtime Monitoring™ (ARM) is a deep hardware, DSP, and software integration feature inside LUNA that allows you to achieve the lowest possible latency while recording with UAD plug-ins in real time.
Note: Accelerated Realtime Monitoring is available only in Apollo mode. You cannot use Accelerated Realtime Monitoring in Native Mode.
For those familiar with UA’s Console software, ARM eliminates the need to use the Apollo Console app altogether, while providing all of the same features and benefits (low latency plug-ins, input routing, cue mixing, and others). Unlike Console, LUNA and ARM automatically take care of the muting and unmuting of input channels, based on the transport state of the software: Apollo channels that are record-enabled or input-enabled are unmuted, and all other Apollo channels are muted.
For a detailed description of Accelerated Realtime Monitoring, see Accelerated Realtime Monitoring.
Accelerated Realtime Monitoring™ (ARM) eliminates the need to use the Apollo Console app to track and input monitor through UAD plug-ins at the lowest possible latency. Accelerated Realtime Monitoring offers you the ability to effortlessly achieve the lowest possible latency while recording with Apollo. Accelerated Realtime Monitoring seamlessly handles channel input states, allowing for the use of UAD plug-ins on channel inserts for Realtime UAD Processing, without having to leave the LUNA workspace. ARM offers UAD plug-in processing at undetectable latencies while monitoring and/or recording multiple inputs and tracks.
LUNA takes care of the muting of input channels, based on what is in use in the session. Apollo channels that are record-enabled have their inputs unmuted, and all other channels have their inputs muted. Apollo integration automatically controls the muting of inputs and recorded material on disk according to the record enable or input enable and transport state.
You can turn Accelerated Realtime Monitoring on or off globally. Use this setting to achieve the lowest possible input monitoring latency when monitoring input signals through monitor, headphone, and cue outputs.
LUNA’s recording engine is fast and highly capable. LUNA records 24-bit audio at the current hardware sample rate, on as many tracks as your computer can support. With LUNA, you can switch the transport in and out of Record while playing audio. You can also enable and disable recording on tracks while the transport is running, so you can punch in manually on one or more tracks while playing back a session. All audio and MIDI tracks, buses, the main output, and hardware outputs are delay-compensated on playback, so everything stays tightly synchronized.
Plug-in processing (Apollo mode only)
Previously, with the Console App, you had to choose whether or not to record insert effects on input channels. In LUNA, as with the Console App, Unison insert processing is always recorded to disk. However, unlike the Console App, each input channel has four available Record FX slots in addition to eight standard inserts (used for any combination of Audio Unit or UAD plug-ins). These inserts allow you to record through up to four UAD plug-ins on any available input channel (depending on available UAD DSP resources). In addition, UAD and non-UAD plug-ins can be assigned to standard Inserts (not recorded to disk) for monitoring while you record, without being recorded to disk.
Notes on plug-in processing:
- Only UAD plug-ins can be monitored on a record-enabled track when Accelerated Realtime Monitoring is enabled. When you enable ARM, any Audio Unit plug-ins on a record or input-enabled track are disabled.
- UADx plug-ins convert automatically to UAD plug-ins when tracks or buses that require UAD processing are put into ARM mode. So, for example, in ARM mode, if your vocal track feeds an ARM-enabled bus with a UADx Pure Plate Reverb inserted, and you record-enable that vocal track, the UADX Pure Plate Reverb is switched out for the UAD-2 Pure Plate Reverb (if you have the plug-in).
- When you add an Audio Unit plug-in to a record or input-enabled track when ARM is enabled, the plug-in is added in an inactive state, and LUNA displays a notification that the plug-in is disabled.
- When a track is record or input-enabled in ARM mode, the last four standard inserts are disabled.
LUNA and Console
You never need to use Apollo’s Console app when you are using LUNA in Apollo mode. LUNA replaces almost all functions for which you previously used Console. LUNA also includes a number of features that Console does not.
For example, a LUNA session includes persistent Inputs. When you configure a LUNA track with an input, all settings, including Unison plug-ins, Record FX plug-ins, and Insert effect plug-ins, are retained on that track. You can reuse the same input on your Apollo on multiple tracks, and each track in the session will continue to retain the settings that were last used for it, even after you close and reopen the session.
If you prefer to use Console, the settings you configure in Console are removed when LUNA starts, and restored after you quit LUNA. Note that the Isolate and Flex Routing features are configured in Console.
Console Isolate feature
Isolate retains current channel settings when different Console and LUNA sessions are loaded. Isolated channels are also not controlled by LUNA. Isolate allows you to seamlessly monitor live hardware inputs with Realtime UAD Processing, even when changing Console and LUNA sessions. You can use this to prevent a Console channel’s state from changing across LUNA sessions. When a channel or channel pair is Isolated the plug-ins on that channel cannot be changed in LUNA, and the channel input pair is not automatically muted and unmuted by the LUNA mixer—the channel or channel pair is always live.
The only exception to this is that an Isolated input or input pair is muted when a track that uses that input is Record-enabled and LUNA is playing back audio from that track.
Console Tracking Mode
Console Tracking mode allows you to use Console for live channel inputs, and prevents LUNA from automatically muting and unmuting Console channels when recording. Essentially, all inputs remain live, and Console works as it previously did, while LUNA is running.
In Console Tracking Mode, UAD plug‑ins do not persist in LUNA inputs as they normally do. Instead, when you record-enable a track in Console Tracking mode, the plug-ins assigned to the track in Console are loaded into the LUNA channel. However, unlike with Isolated Console channels, in Console Tracking Mode, you can change the plug-ins assigned to the track in LUNA, and those changes will carry over to Console. Console channels then return to their previous states after you quit LUNA.
Note: A Console input is muted when ARM is enabled, a track that uses that input is Record-enabled, and LUNA is playing back audio from that track.
For more information about Console Tracking Mode, see Using Console Tracking Mode.
Polarity invert, channel trim, and track Delay
Adjust trim, polarity and track delay
You can use the Utility row tools on any LUNA channel to trim the track after console summing, and before tape, plug-ins, or channel faders by as much as +12 dB or -144 dB. In the Utility row and on the channel fader you can invert polarity 180º for any track. You can delay a track by .1–1000 milliseconds. You can adjust linked stereo channels or unlink them to invert polarity or adjust trims independently.
Polarity invert is also available at the track fader.
LUNA Extensions are UA add-ons that run exclusively inside LUNA. LUNA includes the free Oxide Tape LUNA Extension. The optional Studer A800, Ampex ATR-102, API Summing, and Neve Summing LUNA Extensions are available for purchase from within LUNA. The included free ARP LUNA Extension provides arpeggiation effects on Instrument tracks.
Integrated Multitrack Tape
LUNA's Multitrack Tape sounds, courtesy of the included Oxide LUNA Extension and optional Studer A800 Extension, give you the rich warmth, punch, and texture of magnetic tape on any audio or instrument track. Simply adjust the per-track Saturation control to dial up the desired amount of harmonics and tape character on your sources.
You can even mix-and-match up to four tape machines total, harnessing different tape formulas, tape speeds, and per-track controls for Bias, Repro, and Tone. It's a tape-head's delight — perfect for gluing together your mixes.
Integrated Master Tape
LUNA’s Master Tape sounds are provided by the Ampex ATR-102 Extension, which can be applied on bus tracks and on the Main track. Master Tape allows you to configure separate machines with different presets or settings on each bus and the main track, allowing deep flexibility in the mixing stage. You can set the tape machine as pre or post-fader, configure tape speed, tape head width, and tape formula directly on each bus track and on the main track. From the tape browser, you can configure the record and reproduce level, and configure bias settings, EQ, and enable noise.
LUNA includes optional Neve® Summing and API Summing LUNA Extensions. These extensions impart the sound and feel of meticulously modeled consoles into the fabric of the LUNA mixer, on bus tracks and the Main track. Console Summing LUNA Extensions change the behavior and appearance of the LUNA buses and Main track to display accurate fader tapers. When you route tracks to a bus with a summing model enabled, the fader tapers of the bus or Main track and the source tracks change.
Built-in Neve® Summing
A major ingredient behind thousands of influential, chart-topping records, Neve 80 series consoles are without equal. These classic analog desks from the '60s and early '70s — made famous in the Sound City documentary — deliver three-dimensional nonlinearities and analog heft that infuses your mixes with vibrancy and color.
Developed in partnership with AMS Neve exclusively for LUNA Recording System, the Neve Summing Extension emulates the entire summing circuit of an iconic Neve 80 series console — including its coveted 1272 bus amplifiers — giving your LUNA mixes all the color of Neve's most cherished analog desk.
Built-in API Summing
The sound behind five decades of landmark albums, API consoles are legend for good reason. From Stevie Wonder's Talking Book and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, to The Cure's Pornography and Radiohead's Hail to the Thief — the mid-forward punch of API's classic analog consoles breathe aggressive, multi-dimensional color into your mixes.
Developed in partnership with API, exclusively for LUNA Recording System, the API Summing Extension emulates the 2520 op-amp and custom output transformers found in legendary API consoles over the past 50 years — giving your LUNA mixes all the attitude and tone of API's esteemed analog desks.
API Vision Console Emulation
The API Vision Console Emulation Bundle turns LUNA into a full API console. Track in real time through API preamp and channel modules, then mix with API's illustrious analog summing and bus compression — seamlessly switching between low-latency tracking using Apollo DSP (Apollo mode only), and high-powered native mixing within LUNA. You can create new audio, instrument, and bus tracks with API Vision Console elements pre-assigned, building sessions within the complete Vision console emulation experience.
About LUNA Extensions documentation
- Learn how to use the LUNA Tape Extensions at Using Tape LUNA Extensions.
- Learn how to use Neve and API Summing Extensions at Using Neve Summing and Using API Summing.
Learn how to use API Vision Console Emulation at API Vision Console Emulation.
- Learn how to operate the ARP MIDI Arpeggiator at ARP MIDI Arpeggiator.
- Learn about LUNA Extensions at About LUNA Extensions.
UAD Instruments bring Universal Audio's expertise in electrical and acoustic modeling, sampling, synthesis, and signal processing to instruments for the first time ever.
LUNA Recording System comes with a curated bundle of inspiring sounds, delivering a new level of realism for software-based instruments.
The Shape and Spitfire Audio UAD instruments are exclusive to LUNA Recording System. Other UAD Instruments can be used in LUNA and macOS hosts that support VST 3, Audio Units, or AAX plug-ins.
Developed in partnership with Moog Music, the Minimoog UAD Instrument is an incredibly accurate and inspiring emulation of Bob Moog's pioneering synthesizer.
By perfectly capturing every nuance of the classic Moog oscillators and ladder filters and harnessing discrete transistor VCA modeling, the Minimoog UAD Instrument faithfully captures every detail of this classic instrument used by everyone from Parliament-Funkadelic, to Kraftwerk, Dr. Dre, and more.
Ravel™ Grand Piano
UA's first acoustic instrument model, Ravel is a breathtaking emulation of a Steinway Model B* grand piano based on UA's exclusive sampling, physical modeling, and new Ultra‑Resonance™ technology, giving you all the sonic nuance of this studio classic.
Captured at Ocean Way Studios, Ravel gives you an immaculately recorded studio piano that’s album-ready, with easy‑to‑use Tone, Dynamics, and Microphone controls, as well as an innovative Reverse feature for startlingly creative sounds and textures.
A comprehensive creative toolkit included free with LUNA, Shape is a painstakingly curated UAD Instrument featuring a collection of the best vintage keys, drums/percussion, guitar/bass, orchestral content, and real time synthesis - courtesy of Universal Audio, Spitfire Audio, Orange Tree Samples, Loops de la Creme, and more. You can expand Shape with more content and sample packs.
About UAD instruments documentation
- Learn how to insert, play, and record UAD Instruments in Playing a Virtual Instrument and Recording MIDI.
- Learn how to operate individual UAD Instrument controls in the separate UAD Instruments section.
When you record audio in LUNA, that audio is stored in the session file. You can edit the audio by copying, cutting, trimming, and deleting sections, while not actually deleting the underlying audio file. Similarly, when you record multiple takes of audio with loop recording, or you record audio over an existing audio file or file section, the previous audio files are retained. You can access all whole audio files recorded with loop recording from the Track Versions feature.
How do I save?
With LUNA, all changes are saved automatically. LUNA writes changes to a database file that is embedded within the LUNA session file. This database is updated with every change and keeps a constant record of your LUNA session. All edits and modifications are automatically saved, and all audio is embedded in the LUNA session file. You can undo and redo changes (except when recording) even after closing and reopening a session.
While there is no traditional Save function in LUNA, you can save session Versions and Bookmarks. Versions and bookmarks have slight differences.
Creating a version is like saving a new session, without actually creating a new session. A version creates a top-level item in the version history. The name of the currently loaded version appears appended to the session name at the top of the LUNA application. A version can be useful when you are adding elements to a session, changing the arrangement of a session, or otherwise significantly changing the session.
Bookmarks recall a state of the session, below a specific version. Bookmarks are created below the latest version, or the currently recalled version. A bookmark can be useful to save separate mixes below a version, or for minor changes in the mix or arrangement. For example, you could make bookmarks under a version for your test mix, a mix with the vocals up and down 3dB, and an instrumental mix.
LUNA also automatically autosaves versions to which you can revert, based on the Autosave Interval in LUNA settings. You can show autosaved versions when viewing sessions and bookmarks, and easily open any autosaved version.
For more information on session versions and bookmarks, see Using Session Versions and Bookmarks.
Undo and redo
You can undo and redo changes in an open session at any time, except during recording. You can even undo and redo changes after a session has been closed and reopened.
Supported plug-in formats
LUNA supports UAD-2 plugins, UADx plug-ins, LUNA Extensions, UAD Instruments, and Audio Unit (AU) plug-ins. LUNA Extensions include Tape Machines and Neve Summing. Extensions are incorporated into the LUNA workflow. Instruments appear in a separate plug-ins list from insert effect plug-ins.
Track follows modes: Time and Tempo
Audio tracks can be in one of two Track Follows Modes: Time or Tempo.
A track in Track Follows Time mode maintains its original playback time, regardless of changes in the tempo of the session. All audio clips on the track, and elements associated with those clips, maintain their original time duration, including start and end points, edits, fades, and automation.
A track in Track Follows Tempo mode adjusts to the tempo of the session and any session tempo changes. An audio clip that is configured in Track Follows Tempo mode will automatically become shorter or longer if the session tempo is adjusted. All audio clips on the track, and elements associated with those clips, scale to the new tempo. Clip start and end points, duration, edits, fades, and automation all scale to the new tempo.
Sample rates, imported audio, and imported sessions
LUNA sessions are not locked to a specific sample rate. You can change the sample rate of a LUNA session after you create or import it, without changing the sound or playback speed of the session.
LUNA always records audio as 24-bit files at the current hardware sample rate. All internal files, exports, and mix operations employ a 32-bit floating point architecture. You can import audio of any sample rate, or play back an audio session at any supported hardware sample rate, and LUNA intelligently renders and manages the audio to play it back correctly. Audio that you import into LUNA is saved in the session file with the same bit depth and sample rate at which it was imported.
Focus Browsers overview
In LUNA, many operations open a Focus Browser at the left of the screen. For example, when you click the Preset button on a plug-in, a list of available presets appears at the left side of the screen. This methodology is much more conducive to fast workflows instead of burying functions within menus and submenus.
With a Focus Browser, you typically make a choice. For example, you choose an input to use for a track, or a preset to use with a plug-in.
Input Focus Browser
Expanding and collapsing folders in the Focus Browser
To expand or collapse a folder in a Focus Browser, click the folder name. For example, click the UADx folder in the Inserts Focus Browser to open or close the list of UADx plug-ins. To expand or collapse all folders in a Focus Browser, Option+Click on any folder name.
Note: The Expand and Collapse settings for a Focus Browser are saved globally across all sessions in LUNA.
Workflows provide common editing, arranging, and navigation commands on a toolbar that you can open under the main LUNA control bar.
For more information about workflows, see Using Workflows.
Keyboard shortcuts and menu reference
LUNA includes many convenient keyboard shortcuts for menu items and workflows so you can operate the system quickly. A complete list of all Keyboard Shortcuts and a full Menu Reference are available.
Keyboard Shortcuts and Menu Reference
LUNA key commands mapped to macOS shortcuts
Some key commands are mapped to shortcuts in macOS by default. These key commands must be disabled or remapped in order to use the LUNA key commands. These key commands and remapping instructions are listed here.
- Command+Spacebar (Toggle Record): By default, this key command is mapped to the macOS Spotlight search feature. You must disable or remap this feature to use this key command. To disable or remap this command, in System Preferences > Spotlight > Keyboard Shortcuts uncheck the key commands, or map them to different key commands. Refer to your macOS documentation for more information.
- Control+↑ (Increase selected track heights): By default, this key command is mapped to the macOS command for Mission Control. You must disable or remap this feature to use this key command. To disable or remap this command, in System Preferences > Keyboard, click Shortcuts and disable this key command, or map it to a different key command. Refer to your macOS documentation for more information.
- Control+↓ (Decrease selected track heights): By default, this key command is mapped to the macOS command for Application Windows. You must disable or remap this feature to use this key command. To disable or remap this command, in System Preferences > Keyboard, click Shortcuts and disable this key command, or map it to a different key command. Refer to your macOS documentation for more information.
- MIDI Keyboard Mode: MIDI keyboard Mode overrides some keys that are used as shortcuts.