Apogee Jam - Review, Details, etc.

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by HoldernessMedia, Jun 30, 2011.

  1. HoldernessMedia, Jun 30, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011

    macrumors regular


    Here is my video review/walk through for the Apogee Jam.

    Apogee Jam - Details, Review, etc. on YouTube

    I picked up an Apogee Jam yesterday, lucked out and found a Guitar Center in Orlando that had 1 left. I couldn't find them anywhere else, and it seems no one has them in stock again until late July/early August.

    I decided to make a fairly thorough review, and detail some of the things that have been a bit unclear about the Jam, or that at least I personally had a difficult time finding much information on. Here is the video, it is 4 parts, about 7 minutes long.
    (I will be splitting it up into 4 separate videos as soon as I have free time.)

    ** Detailed notes now posted below. For a quick review, read immediately below this sentence.**

    QUICK REVIEW - I love this thing. A self powered Apogee interface that works on all my devices, fits in my pocket, and weighs about as much as a big lighter.

    It worked immediately out of the box with my iPad 1, iPhone 4, and 2009 MBP. Literally just plug it in and that's it, in both iOS and OS X. *Works on both Snow Leopard and Lion.

    Sound quality on direct guitar is awesome on both iOS and OS X, very similar to my GIO and even my original Duet when recording direct.

    The only cons so far aren't really cons so much as unrealistic/wishful thinking on my part. Things like "it would be awesome if it had a built in mic, or a second input, or was not made of plastic." These things would be cool, but they would also make it cost and weigh more and be physically larger, which would make it a different device.

    Anyways I hope this is helpful, I ended up answering a lot of my own questions I've had about the Jam that I couldn't find definitive info on.


    General notes:


    - iPad 1st gen 64gb Wifi+3G - iOS 4.3.3 thru iOS 5
    - iPhone 4 32gb Att model - iOS 4.3.3 thru iOS 5
    - 15" MacBook Pro 2.8ghz 4gb ram mid 2009 - 10.6.8
    - 15" MacBook Pro 2.4ghz 4gb ram late 2008 - 10.7 Lion and above
    - 13" Macbook 2.16 ghz 2gb ram - 10.6.7

    - iPod Touch 3rd Gen. - iOS 5 beta 2
    - iPhone 1st gen - iOS 3.1.3

    - SOUND QUALITY - Awesome! Clean and powerful. I did a quick personal a/b/c on OS X between the Jam, GIO, and 1st gen. Duet.
    Granted this was a quick test, but there was no immediately perceivable difference between them at all!
    I recorded the same riff on each take, and tried to match gain as close as possible.
    The difference (if it's even TRULY perceivable) is so minimal that it's not worth worrying about it.

    - Self powered on both iOS and OS X (seems to be really low power draw, barely affects battery life so far with the iPad and iPhone.)

    - Came with 2 cables, 1 with a 30-pin connector for iOS devices, the other with a male USB end for Macs

    - It was immediately recognized by both operating systems, didn't need to do anything besides plug it in. The LED will flash green a few seconds after being plugged in, then go to purple until it is either being accessed by an app in iOS or Core audio in OS X.
    At that point it lights up green when in use.

    - ***Maybe it's just me, but I think it's important to note as some people may get confused. The Jam DOES NOT have a physical output jack, you plug your headphones or output cable into the regular headphone jack on your iPad/iPhone, or Mac.
    On Macs, you can choose separate audio input and output devices in most recording software, so you can use either the built in headphones or a different core audio device for output. (Example, in Ableton, choose "Jam" as your input device and "built in audio" or "duet", etc, as your output device. Same in Logic.)

    - Size and weight are awesome, like an oversized cigarette lighter, weighs nothing
    - Plastic housing doesn't seem as durable as the GIO or Duet, but at the same time it would be heavier and more expensive if it were built of different material so I don't see this as bad. Anyone who expects or wants something larger and heavier duty, that's what the larger pricier interfaces are for.

    I do plan on getting/making a small case of some kind for extra protection. I haven't looked to see if Apogee have a case for them yet, but it shouldn't be hard to find or make something for it.

    - Has 40db of gain, no trouble matching to different guitars output levels

    - I plugged an Audix i5 straight into the Jam using an XLR to 1/4" cable, and there's enough gain to get a nice clean recording. SM-58 was a good bit quieter but still could possibly be usable if you boost the recorded file by 15-25db afterwards.
    I'd like to see how it sounds with my OktavaModded MK-319 but I don't have an external power supply for the 319 at the moment.

    (Trying this out just makes me want the new Mic now, although a 2-channel self powered Apogee interface like a mini one/duet type thing would be even better. I wonder if it's even realistic to do so while still meeting the iPad power draw limitations?)

    OS X operation notes:

    - Jam is recognized as a core audio device with 1 inputs and 0 outputs

    - Jam works great in 10.6.8
    - Jam works great in 10.7 thru 10.7.2

    - The Jam worked fine using a powered Belkin USB hub on Macbook Pro (not officially supported by Apogee, but seems to work perfect, YMMV)

    - The Jam worked well as an aggregate device with my Apogee GIO (again, not officially supported by Apogee, YMMV)

    The settings for this aggregate device were:
    * GIO as clock master
    * Jam set to resample
    * Audio set to 44.1khz 24-bit

    Worked great on the following hardware/software configurations:

    - 15" MacBook Pro 2.8ghz 4gb ram mid 2009 - 10.6.8
    - 15" MacBook Pro 2.4ghz 4gb ram late 2008 - 10.7 Final GM Build of LION
    - 13" Macbook 2.16 ghz 2gb ram - 10.6.7

    iOS operation notes:

    - low battery drain on both my devices, barely noticeable
    - Since Jam is an INPUT ONLY device, you plug your headphones into the headphone jack on your iPhone/iPad as usual.


    - iPad 1st gen 64gb Wifi+3G - iOS 4.3.3 thru iOS 5
    - iPhone 4 32gb Att model - iOS 4.3.3 thru iOS 5

    DID NOT WORK on:
    - iPod Touch 3rd Gen. - iOS 5 beta 2
    - iPhone 1st gen - iOS 3.1.3

    Working/compatible apps so far (tested on iOS 4.3.3 thru iOS 5 on iPad 1 and iPhone 4)

    - Built in camera! Use the Jam to record using an external microphone.
    - GarageBand for iOS (iPad and iPhone)
    - Multitrack DAW
    - Studio.HD
    - Looptastic HD
    - Everyday Looper
    - 4-track
    - Ampkit (confirmed working by Youtube user "nikitamwaha" who responded to my video. Tested on an iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.3)
    - Pocketamp (confirmed by "nikitamwaha" on YouTube.)
    - Apple built in voice memo app

    Apps not currently working:

    - Amplitube
    - FIRE recorder
  2. macrumors newbie

    Perfect timing. I just picked up an iRig last night and I pretty much hate it. Noisy noisy noisy. It's just *okay* on a clean setting. Anything with distortion or effects and it's way too noisy.

    I got it since I'm going to be out of state on vacation for a week and wanted a portable amp to take with me. I'll still take it and hope that I can find a Jam while visiting the in-laws then take back the iRig.
  3. macrumors regular


    Yeah, the iRig was fun when I first got it, and it's useable if you're practicing but the noise level gets unusable. The Jam is a different device entirely, very clean and powerful signal. When you a/b it with the GIO it's basically indistinguishable, at least on my first day listening with it.
  4. macrumors regular


    Finally had time to list notes/details about the Jam, added to it to my original post.
  5. macrumors member

    I just picked up a Jam, will be trying it out all day, and I can post my impressions of it. I am doing an all bass guitar suite of a few well known songs, I could post some samples when I have them.
  6. macrumors regular


    Nice! Yeah, post back here when you can. :)
  7. macrumors newbie

    (first post on the forums - signed up specifically to post the following)

    Thanks Holderness for the detailed review and breakdown of all of the supported apps. I have been wondering if Everyday Looper was supported. I'm really happy to hear that it is.

    I'll definitely be picking up an Apogee Jam after reading / watching your review.


    Thanks again!
  8. macrumors member

    A sample.

    ***I need a simple place to upload the song, or else I have to decode in in a very low quality, and I don't want that. Any tips?***

    Ok, so here is (will be) the result of two hours of noodling around. I had to adjust my playing to the insanely clear sound of the Jam, that probably took up the most time.

    Anyway, all five tracks were recorded with my custom built, Swedish Unicornbass 5-string. I used the Reggae preset for the supporting low end, and custom presets for melody, and I believe the chords are the "floating bass" preset.

    You might just recognize the song ;)
  9. macrumors newbie

    www.sendspace.com is a solid website for uploading files to.

    looking forward to hearing the piece SwedishBassist
  10. macrumors regular


    Wanted to put up a reminder, since Apple has announced Lion's release tomorrow.

    I have tested the Jam with Lion GM build for awhile, it works PERFECT so have no fear about upgrading in this respect. :)

    DO check to make sure your other software and/or hardware will work though!
  11. macrumors member

    Sorry, has been out of reach for a while due to poor 3G connection. Will upload ASAP.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Does it work with 10.5.8?
  13. macrumors member

    I'm kind of shocked by your review.

    I've been waiting for a unit for 3 months, and keeps getting pushed back, and back, and back. I even had a retailer basically admit to me that an Apogee rep apologized to the sales force, and made it sound (to me) like it was a "lemon" that wasn't yet ready for release.

    If yours does as you say (not doubting you), then you may very well have the only working unit in existence! :D

    I'm seriously thinking about canceling my order and opting for ONE now. :mad:
  14. macrumors regular


    I don't have any machines running leopard anymore to test on so I can't help there. If I get a chance to try it on any machines running 10.5 I'll post back here.
  15. macrumors regular


    If I have the only working unit in existence, does that make the value skyrocket? Lol. Anyone care to start bidding? Bid starts at $1000 usd :)

    Joking aside, mine works great on all my devices.
    I wonder how many units were actual lemons versus how many people probably plugged the Jam in expecting it work with Amplitube and because it didn't, dismissed it as dead.
    Was it a specific batch of units that were defective?
  16. macrumors member

    You should take your Jam to the next antiuqe roadshow and ask them to give you an appraisal! :D

    I don't know. Apogee's we page for the Jam actually mentioned swapping units. If it was just the iRig thing (not improbable), that alone would not have caused repeated push-backs of the second release. It must be something else.

    Like I said, whatever the cause -- you are the guy who is winning! :cool:
  17. macrumors member

    Wouldn't you know -- earlier today I get an email advising that the Jam is finally shipping again! Wanted to pass this good bit of information along to everyone.
  18. macrumors member

    Once again I apologize. Was totally out of reach for a while due to NO 3G connection...
  19. macrumors regular


    Now that Garageband for iOS is Universal, can anyone confirm that the Jam is working on iPhone 4s and 5th gen iPod Touch?
  20. macrumors 603


  21. macrumors regular


  22. macrumors newbie

    More apps with apogee jam

    Rock Prodigy has developed a few apps that work with the apogee jam: Rock Prodigy, Dave Mustaine: Guitar Prodigy, The Offspring: Rock Prodigy and Grateful Dead Europe '72.

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