New Mac Pro, Apollo, VSTi Latencies

I took the plunge. I purchased the new “trash can mac pro,” sold my Motu hd192 Audio system, sold my UAD 2 Duo pcie card and changed everything over to the Apollo with the Thunderbolt card option. .

What I have now found in Cubase 7.5.30 with the audio buffer set to 256 is:

Input Latency when trying to play vstis is at 12.426 ms, and I cannot push a key on my controller without it taking way too long for a vsti to respond. Too long to use.

Here are some other findings:

It now takes up to FOUR TIMES LONGER to export audio files to mixdown. I can maybe understand what previously took 4-6 minutes without any UA plug ins, using the Apollo increasing to maybe 10-12 minutes with UA plugins, however the new export audio times are more than significantly higher.

Let me chart this out:

35 minute audio file bounce-1 track

  1. Mac Pro, 2009, 2.66 Quad Core Processor with Motu PCIe hd192 Audio Card, UAD-2 Duo
    max processing time for this bounce with UA plugins: 12 minutes

  2. Windows system with i7 Sandybridge processor, with Motu PCI hd192 Audio Card, UAD-2 Duo PCIe card
    max processing time for this bounce with UA plugins: 4 minutes

  3. Mac Pro, 2013, 3.5 Six Core, Xeon E5 with Apollo, thunderbolt card option installed, (THUNDERBOLT, supposed to be the fastest, “latest-greatest” technology for speed.)
    max processing time for this bounce with ONE UA plug in: 30 minutes.

5 minute audio file bounce-20 tracks

  1. Mac Pro, 2009, 2.66 Quad Core Processor with Motu PCIe hd192 Audio Card, UAD-2 Duo
    max processing time for this bounce with UA plugins: 2 minutes

  2. Windows system with i7 Sandybridge processor, with Motu PCI hd192 Audio Card, UAD-2 Duo
    max processing time for this bounce with UA plugins: 2 minutes

  3. Mac Pro, 2013, 3.5 Six Core, Xeon E5 with Apollo, thunderbolt card option installed, THUNDERBOLT, supposed to be the fastest, “latest-greatest” technology for speed.
    max processing time for this bounce with FOUR UA plug in: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

Why did I spend $5,800 on a new mac pro and $2,400 on a UAD Apollo system to INCREASE my work time with a system that was supposed to REDUCE my work times?

I’m at a loss here folks. I don’t know what is going on. I don’t get it. They say that it will take more time as the Audio and plug ins are both being handled by the Apollo, but FOUR TIMES THE AMOUNT OF TIME it previously took?

There has to be an answer here. Does anyone else have any experience with this?

A side note: I can use Digital Performer 8 with the Apollo and the VSTis play just fine, with the same audio buffer section.

I was under the impression that Thunderbolt would solve all of any bandwidth issues. Can someone help me figure this out?



Wow, man. I feel for you. Seems to me, from hearing similar experiences, that Thunderbolt is either way ahead of its time, or a really bad idea.

I have been working the past couple of days with the Dave and Dan at Universal Audio. They are basically telling me this is just the way the system works.

When I try to load a VSTi in Cubase, all is well, all loads, set the audio buffer setting to 256 and expect to play the vi without issue, just as I was previously able to do on my Windows pc and on my older 2009 Mac Pro.

The input latency reads 12.8 something ms. The striking of the key makes the vsti unusable for play. I can lower the buffer, but this runs me into danger of system overload.

There is only 1 vsti open and this is what I’m getting. With my older pcie motu interface and UA-2 Duo card I was able to play the vstis just fine in Cubase at a 256 buffer setting.

Guys, this should not be. I have a brand new Mac Pro Trash Can computer, a Universal Audio Apollo with the Thunderbolt connection and Thunderbolt is supposed to be 12 times faster than pci.

Have I replaced my mac for absolutely nothing? I can’t get it to work at a usable keyboard playing latency.

Chris from Steinberg says this is just how it is. Why is it that I can open Digital Performer, load a vsti, set the buffer to 256 and everything works as it is supposed to?

So, this is in addition to the export audio mixdown in the Cubase now being 4 times as long as it once was.

Is no one out there using Apollo on Thunderbolt be me?, and having these issues? Can anyone offer any ideas?




Can you tell me what you are bouncing to? i.e. what storage are you using with each of the systems you mention?

The problem is not Thunderbolt performance, however it could be the Apollo or it’s driver. As for ‘speed’, there is simply no way you would even be stressing a regular Firewire cable (400Mbs), let alone thunderbolt ( 10Gbps = 10240Mbps) with what you are doing. Thunderbolt is basically PCIe 2.0 over a cable. Note also that the Mac Pro does Thunderbolt 2 which is double that speed at 20Gbps, however the Apollo will probably only talk Thunderbolt 1.

To put this into perspective, a single 24bit 48KHz mono audio channel uses 24*48000 = 1.152Mb/s of data bandwidth, which means you could run over 8,800 24bit 48KHz mono channels over Thunderbolt 1. Firewire 400 could carry 347 channels.

Are you using an Apple Thunderbolt cable or a third party one?

If you do not use the UAD plugin, is the export faster?

If you unplug the Apollo and use the built-in audio, is the export faster?

If you connect the Apollo using Firewire, is the export faster?

Is anything else connected to the Thunderbolt bus? (i.e. are you daisy-chaining drives or displays with the Apollo?)

On your Mac, if you look in the System Preferences -> Network, are any Thunderbolt interfaces listed in the list of network interfaces? I would recommend deleting them. (Unless you are networking using Thunderbolt via TCP/IP to another Mac, you don’t need them).

What happens if you turn on Cubase’s Constrain Delay Compensation? Do you still have the same latency problem?

I may have somewhat of some bad news for you.

I recently seriously considered going to Apollo (from motu pcie cards just like you). I ended up going with lynx aurora converters. Why? Google UA Apollo FireWire speeds.

Basically, and thus was confirmed at the time by UA support, the thunderbolt protocol in the Apollo runs at FireWire speeds. The thunderbolt option basically just provides more bandwith for thruput, not increased speed, allowing for more plugins to be run inside your daw.

I know. It sucks. Maybe that has been fixed by now, but I opted not to buy one because I felt UA was not being forthcoming with this fact.

Hi Rich,

For what it’s worth, I am using Apollo on TB (Mac), and I’ve had these issues very intermittently - this has interestingly only happened with me since installing OS X Mavericks - but somehow after upgrading to the latest OS X Yosemite it has disappeared, or at least so far (couple weeks).

Thanks for the post.

This week, I loaded another file and Vsti and the issue was gone.

Im not sure what to do. I am considering whether or not to sell the Apollo. I read on another forum that the Thunderbolt in the Apollo is not true thunderbolt-- that’s thunderbolt over firewire and greatly reduced bandwitdth compared to true thunderbolt. Is this true?

So, I might have an Apollo for sale. Lol


Sold my Apollo quad for this exact reason. Got a rme interface instead. It flies.

I don’t know whether this is actually the case or not, but I will say that the Apollo w/ TB is rock solid for me. It may not have true TB speeds, but it does have greatly increased bandwidth for throughput compared to firewire 800. It is also much much more stable. In addition to using it in the studio as my main audio interface, I also use it live and it runs all of my band’s backing tracks, click tracks, in-ear mixes etc. Very reliable.

Apollo with thunderbolt is “true thunderbolt” if you use the latest drivers and firmware update.

See this:

Especially this:

All Apollo and Apollo 16 units ship with FireWire firmware so they can be connected and used with FireWire computers that do not have Thunderbolt ports. Be sure to install the Apollo Thunderbolt software and firmware to enable the latest Thunderbolt features and functionality.

There are separate download versions for the Apollo with thunderbolt, make sure you download and install the correct version.

If you are having problems I would recommend a complete uninstall and reinstall of the UA drivers, see this:

We have 12-core new Mac Pro’s running Cubase and Nuendo with Apollo interfaces, and we are not having latency problems. I recommend running projects from your boot drive, which is orders of magnitude faster than (most) external drives. Perhaps the drives you are loading your libraries from are slow? I would check their performance with a tool such as Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, free on the app store. Also make sure your external drives are not going to sleep.

Finally, I assume you are not software monitoring through plugins? That would add latency. If you want to play VI’s through plugins, route them through plugins on the virtual channels in the Apollo console - do not insert the plugins on the VI channels in your DAW.

the newest incarnation of the tb drivers turn the apollo into a “true tb” audio device.

i’ve the exact same setup as you and … i’ve not had an issue with cubase latencies. in fact cubase seems to let me push the amount of plugins and heavy processing without compromising vsti latency beyond what some other daws i have to work with do.

i’ve not made any scientific tests really because i’ve not had to. i’m not saying you’re old system was any worse though, maybe this setup is a downgrade but its one that works for me whenever i’m using cubase

Im curious as to how this has resolved as I’ve been thinking about upgrading to a similar system or at least the apollo. Are the new drivers working out for everybody?

Hi Rich!

I have the same problems. This is my setup:
Mac Pro 6-core (OX Yosemite 10.something, dont remember)
32 gb memory
512 gb flash
UAD Apollo 16 thunderbolt connection and Cubase Pro 8.0.5

Cubase and all plugins/drivers are installed on the flashdisk, and I have two external harddrives through USB 3.0.
Harddrive one is used for samples, komplete, trigger and so on, and the other is where all the project are stored and run from. Harddrivespecs: SATA 6Gb/s (SATA 3.0), 64MB Cache, 7200RPM, 3.5", Dual processor.

I have the same latency problems. Yesterday I recorded drums, acc guitar and vocals without problems on 256 samples. But when I was recording el-guitar I got a delay in the monitor. Tried to reduce the samples to 32, but still the same delay. Removed all my plugins and it worked fine, but that is not acceptable. I still got delay when I record midi trough Kontakt.

With a mac like that, and a DSP powered apollo, I absolutly crazy that I get this latency. What is your status on this issue Rich? Have you solved it?

When I had a Steinberg UR824 I could choose “direct monitoring” in the devices setup, but that option is not available now…

You might want to check specs with UA about the Apollo units. I almost made the same mistake, but I decided to go with a 2012 MAC Pro Tower so I could keep my UAD Quad card… and my E-SATA card. Just because somebody says Thunderbolt is the latest/greatest/fastest etc… doesn’t make it so in daily studio life as we end users know it. Thanks for your many trials and many combinations on both Mac and Windows.


Correct me if I’m wrong here, but your interface (or sound card) has nothing to do with your bounces or rendering.

I think you are wrong. The UA plugins runs from the power of the Apollo, so when you bounce, its still from the apollo, and the apollo is much slower than the new mac pro. Thats my theory…

The problem that I posted took me one minute to solve, just run the monitoring trough the apollo mixer. But, still having the same problems as you Rich with bouncing and with MIDI. When I set my samplerate to 256 I get 11,5 ms latency, but I can play the keyboard without any problems. It feels a bit slow, but its no problem playing fast… Any progress with you Rich?