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The Apogee Duet

Review of Reviews: We’ve studied the most important product reviews so you don’t have to.

Type: Portable Two-Channel Firewire Audio Interface

Item: Apogee Duet

US $495 – $496

GB £339 – £389

Mic Scale

At a Glance: About the size of a small videocassette, the Apogee Duet is actually a portable stereo DAC, or Digital to Analog Converter, powered and connected simply by hooking up to your Mac. You can plug in microphones, guitars and keyboards and  make quality recordings of your music wherever you choose to play—tied into Apple’s Logic Pro, Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand software.

High Notes: Apogee has created a hard to beat two-channel interface that is perfect for roving musicians and home studio setups alike. Compact and powered by FireWire, you can pack up your studio and go anywhere your music takes you.

Off Pitch: The “lumpen clutch” of connector jacks and plugs unquestionably spoils the Duet’s graceful lines; the cable is heavy and cumbersome, causing the unit to annoyingly slide around the table. Also the connector plug can suffer serious strain when gravity takes hold. One reviewer noted that they’d be happier to have the Duet an inch taller, wider and deeper if it meant accommodating the jacks internally.

A Singer Says: “It is working just the way it should, fine. But no one on earth can convince me that the break out cable is a wise and user-friendly way to get use of this product.” (Tumer)

More: “Aesthetics- 10! God damn, this thing is sexy” (Mus0r); “Probably the most reliable and intelligent piece of hardware I own.” (Joko)

See Other Reviews

Apogee Electronics Website http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet.php

Review 1 http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=449351

Review 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABAcm-oZRJs

Review 3 http://www.macuser.co.uk/reviews/161004/apogee-duet.html

Review 4 http://www.darksonus.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=13478

Review 5 http://www.methodshop.com/gadgets/reviews/duet/index.shtml

  • I use to run an 003 Rack with Pro Tools LE. I sold the rack and used the funds to purchase an Apogee Duet, and Logic. Between the two workstations, I favor Logic more for its included plug-ins and MIDI capabilities that far exceed Pro Tools in my opinion.

    The problem I had with the 003 was that everything I recorded through the stock pre-amps had a grayish tinge to it, meaning my mixes always seemed muddy. No amount of EQ would fix the problem either. Upon further research I discovered other users were having the exact same problem. It turns out the issue is that Digidesign skimps on the AD/DA converters (analog to digital vice versa) and the stock pre-amps. I attribute most of the problems to the stock pre-amps, but even after running the mic through a TC Helicon VoiceTone Correct I was still left with a grayish tinge. Though, the VoiceTone pedal did help out a lot in clearing up some mud.

    All of the articles and information I found on the internet had pointed to Apogee as having some of best converters on the market. Score 1 for Apogee. What made me feel even better about making the purchase was Apogee uses the same pres and converters as they do on their Ensemble, which sells for around $2,000 at most stores.

    The proof is in the pudding. Everything I recorded through the Duet was absolutely pristine. My ears were relieved with hi-fi bliss. I didn't even use any plug-ins, EQ, or processing. I knew how great the sound was, but I needed proof from other ears. I had a songwriting project due a week from the day I bought the Duet. I already knew what song I was going to use, but I hadn't recorded it yet. I setup in my townhouse apartment living room with my laptop, a guitar, a mic, and the Duet to front it all. The only processing I used was a compressor and reverb. I also used some pitch correction (I'm actually a drummer, not a trained singer as much as I love it).

    I brought my project in for the class to listen to at our end of semester songwriting showcase. There were many, many great songs being played. The only production difference was that everyone else used the school's Pro Tools setup, which at the time consisted of either recording through an 002 Rack’s pre-amps or a C24's stock pres on an HD rig. I knew of the grey cloud that lingered in everyone else's mixes since it was oh so familiar to me. No one else seemed to notice. My CD was put into the computer to be played back. The roomed quieted with fatigued ears since I was second to last. My song played and everyone knew there was something different with the recording. The song ended and everyone offered the usual “great song, I like it, etc” My professor had a few nice things to say, but the huge payoff was at the end of his comments. He attributed the clearness of the mix to my level of production skills as a senior student. I was floored since all did was record my song in an untreated environment with different equipment, yet my mix was clearer and better than everyone elses’?

    If you research online, you will find similar stories of professionals using the Duet and having the recordings placed on TV, used on albums etc. The Duet is an absolute recording monster. I plan on upgrading to the Ensemble just to have more channels. I can't say enough good things about the Duet. Did I mention it was also made in the USA? No skimping whatsoever.

    As for the breakout cable. At first it may seem to be a bit of a nuisance, then it's a convenience. How? One session I may need the mic cables to plug in from the front of my desk, and the next I may need them to plug in from the back. The cable also packs down super-easy. The interface itself goes with me everywhere (you never know when inspiration will strike at broadcast quality). It's like having an oversized iPod in your backpack. If the cable isn't for you, then there's an after market breakout box available.

    The only complaint I may have is the Maestro software that's included with the Duet. I find it a hassle to have other software open up every time I plug the interface in, but on the plus side it is easy to use. I suppose it is also better than having extra switches, knobs, and faders pollute the sleek minimalist surface of the Duet.

    If quality, pristine clear sound, and affordable are on your list of priorities, look no further. This interface is for you. If you would like to here that song I turned in go to http://www.myspace.com/freaktify and listen to “When will the WAR be over”.

    Good luck with your future productions and may your mixes be pristine.

  • Simplicity: 10 Sound quality: 10 Design: 8 – if it weren't for the breakout cable it would've been an 11! This thing might be small but it packs a SERIOUS punch. It literally obliterated my old soundcard, an Edirol UA25.. The next time I'm in the US I'll pick up one of the Breakout boxes for sure. A beautiful piece of equipment that's well worth the investment!