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Review: UVI PX Apollo

May 25, 2016

Once upon a time, synthesizers could play only one note at a time. The quest to create a polyphonic synth—one that could play many notes simultaneously—presented first-generation synth designers with difficult challenges. One primordial polysynth was the Moog Apollo, a prototype instrument built in 1973 that two years later evolved into the desirable but notoriously unreliable Polymoog.

Late last year, French developer UVI converted a meticulously sampled collection of Apollo sounds into a software instrument that exceeds the original in every way. Like all UVI soundware, it needs host software to run—either UVI Workstation or Falcon.

FORWARD INTO THE PAST

Most people who purchase PX Apollo will run it on UVI Workstation, a Mac and Windows-compatible sample player that runs standalone or as an AAX, AU, or VST plug-in. Workstation is free to download, completely multitimbral, and includes dozens of outstanding effects.
In 2013, the nonprofit Bob Moog Foundation acquired one of only three known Apollos with the goal of restoring and preserving it in their archival collection. Once it was cleaned and repaired, the BMF possessed the only known working Moog Apollo in existence. Foundation personnel then sampled it in painstaking detail, capturing every note of every preset numerous times to allow for round-robin switching when you press a key repeatedly.

The BMF’s Apollo has 71 velocity-sensitive keys and 14 preset sounds. It also has 12 oscillators—one for each pitch in a single octave—and their frequencies are subdivided into enough pitches to cover the keyboard’s entire range, much like a Farfisa organ or ARP String Ensemble. It has a global filter, and you can split the keys to play bass with your left hand.

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