Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

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Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by 3dbrainman »

I have a PC with AMD Ryzen 3950x processor running Windows 10 and Cubase 11. I do not have Thunderbolt port so I'm pretty much stuck with USB interfaces. I am debating between the Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS (USB 2.0).

I primarily use virtual instruments and do not really do any live recordings. I sometimes use live instruments parts, but they are usually pre-recorded elsewhere so I am only dealing with already recorded WAV files. I have a pair of large monitors but I primarily use open-back headphones (Sennheiser HD600) to monitor since my room is not properly treated.

Below are some points I have been considering so far:

-- I hear great things about the RME, but the price ($949) is nearly twice the cost of the Apollo Solo ($499).

-- In terms of sound quality, I watched some YouTube videos comparing the RME Babyface Pro and a different UAD Apollo. It is hard to tell from a YouTube video, but it seems like the RME has more treble while the UAD sound warmer with body or mid-to-low end. I might find the RME maybe a bit too harsh on the treble. I guess people would say RME has more "clarity," "crispness," and "transparency." Please tell me if I'm wrong, but that may be a byproduct of having more treble rather than having better sound quality per se than the UAD.

-- It is widely known RME interfaces are known for being stable on Windows which is a plus. Based on the internet, UAD is notorious for instability on windows (especially with AMD Ryzen CPU), although I have not heard any particular issues with the Apollo Solo USB which is a newer-released product.

-- I think one big advantage the RME has over the UAD is the better round-trip latency within the DAW, which matters in my setup. However, based on the performance I have seen on the internet, it does not seem the UAD Apollo Solo USB lags far behind in round-trop latency (only by around 3.5-5.0 ms). Also, I typically end up increasing the buffer size to 256 or even 512 anyways for my CPU to catch up as my project increases in the number of tracks, virtual instruments, and effects.

-- I understand that the Apollo has advantages of providing DSP for UAD plugins. I looove the UAD plugins especially the tape emulations and the plate reverb, but I already own a UAD Satellite Quad so I am pretty much covered there. However, a little extra DSP from the Apollo couldn't hurt!

Does anyone with experience with one or both of the above interfaces or other cousin interfaces by RME and UAD have any other points to add?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by resistorman »

You can’t go wrong with RME on PC. I’ve had problems with almost every other vendor, but never with RME.
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by Aled Hughes »

Regarding the price difference - the Apollo Twin is more comparable to the RME in terms of features and price rather than the Apollo Solo.
The RME has ADAT connections, giving it much more inputs and outputs than the Solo.

I have a Babyface Pro (not the newer FS model) and I’m very happy with it.
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by radsmith »

I’ve been in a similar situation. I’ve owned both an Apollo Twin and a Babyface Pro. If RME interfaces could run UAD plugins I wouldn’t bother with UA interfaces at all. The features and stability of the Babyface are just that good.

That said, the UAD plugins are great so I won’t be giving up my Satellite any time soon. My approach is to use RME for my main interface and use UAD like outboard gear for preamps and effects.

You may also consider the used market. A used Apollo Twin USB is around $600. This would give you the same converters as the Apollo Solo but two UAD cores instead of one. If you find a deal you can get a Babyface Pro (non-FS) for around $600 too.

One last important point: the Apollos Solo and Twin do not have ADAT out whereas the Babyface does. The ADAT out port is nice because it allows you to keep using the Babyface as an ADAT expander even if you change to a different interface brand or OS in the future. (Multiple Apollo interfaces can be linked together with Thunderbolt but it won’t work for your Windows setup. Also, the Apollo Solo does not support linking with the other Apollos.)

Hope this helps! Either way you’re going to end up with a great interface if you’re choosing between UA and RME.
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by CS70 »

3dbrainman wrote:I have both RME and UAD (a Twin) connected, they're both great interface.


The UAD is slightly more flexible in the sense that - even beyond the Unison emulations - you can load any plugins on the DSP when recording, while with RME you're limited to the built-in EQ, compression, and send/return delays and reverbs.

In practice it's unlikely you want to track with much more so it makes no difference.. but if you want to print a Lexicon 480L when recording, you can do it with the UAD, but not with the RME. Again, I personally never feel the need but ymmv.

Roundtrip latency is fairly irrelevant for analogue recording when you can load effects directly in the interface (thus bypassing the host while still applying effects), which you can do with both (with the difference above) . For soft synths it may matter more, but in practice roundtrip latency always depends on the size of the project and the number of effects already in there.. so with any native DAW if you have a busy project you will have to bounce it and track the new part over the bounce, then copy back into the project.

So I wouldn't get too much hang up in smaller differences: the important bit is that, on a simple project with a guide base and a soft synth, latency is low enough that you can play the synth in real time. And you can with both.

Sonic quality, they've both bucketloads and any difference you may have perceived is likely to be imaginary or insignifcant. Both will allow you top notch recording and mixing - assuming all the rest is top notch as well!

UAD has also Console (and Luna on Macs) which is a mini-recording environment which may facilitate recording. RME has TotalMix which is a monster of flexibility and allows you to overcome any DAW limitation when it comes to routing and hearing exactly what's going on. RME also comes with a bunch of excellent utilities (such as DigiCheck) that allow you to debug your system - should the need be - easily and effectively.

As of reliability with Windows, they both have been rock solid in my experience.

Where RME has more cred is their dedication to supporting the hardware for a very, very, very long time, and the fact that you can easily talk directly to the developers for help and, occasionally, inciting a bugfix. UAD (without me having explored much, admittedly, so I might be wrong) seems more like a traditional small corporate with very well defined support channels and less direct user interaction. But as said I might be wrong - I have had nothing to complain about the Twin. :D

And to be fair, the bigger cred is just due to length of service. I still have an UAD Solo 2 for laptop (in PCImcia card) which would still work perfectly... had PCs still PCImcia slots :D
So - so far I haven't been burned (or witnessed burning) by UAD - RME has just a longer track record.

The other aspect is price. UAD is slightly more MAC-centric (but in my experience works flawlessly with Windows) and certain devices (like the Satellite you have or the OX box) are priced very very steeply (I actually use the Twin to run UAD plugins because getting the interface was much cheaper than buying the Satellite!). Luna exists only for Mac, and I am not sure if that shows an intention by the company to progressively drop Windows - or they just haven't come around yet. RME is an incredible bang for the buck for what it does, because it does a lot. You have unparalleled control and facilities, not to say 24 channels in/out, ADAT, in/out voltage adjustment etc. But: if you don't need half of what the BabyFace can do, the UAD being half the price is a consideration.

Only you know your priorities, they're both great little interfaces!
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by Johnsy »

Here in the UK, the current 'street' price of the Babyface is very slightly lower than that of the Solo, so you're obviously paying a massive geographical penalty where you are.
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by 3dbrainman »

radsmith wrote:That said, the UAD plugins are great so I won’t be giving up my Satellite any time soon. My approach is to use RME for my main interface and use UAD like outboard gear for preamps and effects.


Thanks for the valuable input! From your experience, do you find any particular disadvantage or inconvenience in running UAD software for the satellite and separate software/drivers for the RME Babyface vs. having a more consolidated setup with UAD Satellite and Apollo in which they all run together in the same UAD software?
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by CS70 »

3dbrainman wrote:
radsmith wrote:That said, the UAD plugins are great so I won’t be giving up my Satellite any time soon. My approach is to use RME for my main interface and use UAD like outboard gear for preamps and effects.


Thanks for the valuable input! From your experience, do you find any particular disadvantage or inconvenience in running UAD software for the satellite and separate software/drivers for the RME Babyface vs. having a more consolidated setup with UAD Satellite and Apollo in which they all run together in the same UAD software?


There is no inconvenience if all you want to do is to use a UAD device for plugins, as it does not need to be the current ASIO interface to do its job as a DSP platform.

So if you have the RME set as ASIO interface in the DAW, so long you have the UAD software running in the background, you can add effects in a DAW's track insert box at your heart's content without the need to set the UAD as ASIO device.

You have to switch ASIO device in the DAW only if you want to use the UAD I/O (as opposite to "only" its DSP capabilities) - because in that case the DAW will need to see that I/O.
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Re: Apollo Solo (USB 3) vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

Post by Thor Velizelos »

I was also choosing between the Apollo Solo Usb and the rme babyface for my pc, Windows 10, cubase 10.5. I went with the Apollo Solo mostly because of the plugins which I agree are truly great and the lower price. The solo works really great for me, I dont care much about the external power supply it doesnt bother me. The only thing is that the Solo gets really warm pretty fast but its not a big deal and I think its the same for the thunderbolt version.
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