Apogee Duet: Quick review

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Joko, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. Joko macrumors 6502

    Joko

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    #1
    So I have a 17'' Macbook Pro running Logic 8 and an Apogee Duet interface.
    I came from using the Presonus Firebox and recently sold that and replaced it with the Duet. The difference is astronomical in my opinion. And the Duet is only slightly more expensive.

    The Duet is very versatile and completely configurable, the big volume knob is pretty awesome too. You can set it's button function to mute monitors but keep headphones live, very useful if you're doing self recordings. The volume is indicated on screen regardless of what program you're running, very nicely intergrated with Mac. Compare to the Firebox it's dynamic range and clarity of output far exceeds the Firebox. I found the Firebox ins and out would distort and compress very easily when pushing levels, I have yet to hear anything similar on the Duet.

    I read many great reviews before buying this, and now I know why. It has worked flawlessly with great sound.

    Probably the most reliable and intelligent piece of hardware I own.
     
  2. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #2
    I have yet to read a review that did anything but gush about how great the Duet is. I am looking for a DAC (I think), but all I want is a solution for good sound--I do NOT need recording capabilities. Given the pricepoints I've seen the Duet seems to be a good option @ a decent price, even for such limited use as I plan. I just need to confirm how exactly I can connect the AudioEngine A5's I just ordered > Duet > MBP. Since the A5's are already powered, I'll probably hold off on buying an amp for now.
     
  3. AnonymousOne macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2008
    Location:
    London
    #3
    Im Currently Using The Firebox, But Wanted To Upgrade To The Duet But It Lacks Midi Which I Need, So I Think I Will Go For The Ultralite.
     
  4. Ptown Bopper macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2007
    Location:
    upper NW corner
    #4
    Very easy: firewire out of MBP to Duet, headphone out of Duet to AE5's input (might need a phono to mini jack adapter). Duet ships with Maestro, a little interface program than runs everything. It'll sound great. If you're going to use iTunes make sure you turn off all the "enhancements" EQ's, etc. (in Pref's) and go in to Audio Midi and set it to 96hz/24bit (turn iTunes off first, reset Audio Midi, then restart iTunes).
     
  5. Tarkovsky macrumors 6502

    Tarkovsky

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    #5
    If you set it to 96khz you won't get bit perfect playback for non hi-res material.
     
  6. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

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    Mar 4, 2007
    #6
    Oh, o.k., it would be easy.. Just need to use a 1/8" audio cable to connect Duet > A5's. First thing I'm gonna do is buy a sub (probably the AudioEngine AS8). I just took delivery of my A5's this morning..they are GREAT, but I know I'll miss low end eventually. Thanks for the pointer.
     
  7. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030

    Drumjim85

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    Oct 7, 2007
    Location:
    DFW, TX
    #7
    So what are the specs of this unit?, and why does apogee not publish them?

    specifically: THD, Dynamic range, Jitter...
     
  8. mthao00 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    #8
    I love the Apogee Duet... Awesome piece of audio equipment, no doubt.

    mT :apple:
     
  9. Joko thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joko

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    #9
    Ah there is life in this thread yet! :)

    I think the Firebox is decent as an entry-level interface, although I found it scary how soon the headphone out began distorting.

    The Apogee just has so much depth of tone and dynamic range that it becomes very clear as to it's quality.

    I've just added the AKG C414 B XL-II to my setup, am very happy with the sound. It's a long way from my Firebox + Rode k2 recording setup.
    Next will be some killer mic pre + u87 ;) (maybe in 3 years)

    As for the MIDI, for me I use it very occasionally and plugging MIDI straight into usb is no problem.

    Not needing recording capabilities eliminates the break out cable which definitely does look cleaner. My cables hang over the back of the table when I record, I don't see them in my current setup. And just for the record, I've worked on glass and wood tables and the Duet is very safely fixed to the table with it's gel 'stoppers', no slipping and sliding and some may suspect.
     
  10. AnonymousOne macrumors regular

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    Feb 28, 2008
    Location:
    London
    #10
    Hmm. I may still consider the Duet as it sounds like a great piece of gear.
    The firebox is part of my first ever rig and it has served me well with a few minor problems.
     
  11. Joko thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joko

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    #11
    you won't be sorry, it's a beautiful piece of gear. My only very minor peev I have is that it launches Maestro automatically when computer turns on. Although I'm sure there's a way to change this..just can't remember how.
    Otherwise a great sound from a compact interface.
     
  12. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #12
    You should be able to change it in Preferences...an option to switch off Maestro launching at startup is in there according to posts in other forums..

    I'm so excited--my Duet is being delivered today! I've never bought a piece of audio gear like this before, so I'm a bit worried I'll be underwhelmed. PLUS, AFTER I ordered the Duet, I started reading about all sorts of kernel panic issues w/ the Duet, and also issues w/ MBPs not waking up from sleep, thus needing to be hard re-booted when connected to the Duet.. All I can say is that I'm glad I bought from a place w/ a great return policy in case either: 1) I do end up being underwhelmed; or 2) kernel panics do occur (I've only had ONE kernel panic in the 1 year I've owned my MBP, so experiencing them repeatedly would certainly be a huge turn-off to me; and I've never had any issues w/ my machine waking up).
     
  13. Joko thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joko

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    #13
    Thanks! Well good luck with it, if your experience is anything like mine, you won't be disappointed. Look forward to your post-duet delivery post :)
     
  14. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #14
    Got my Duet yesterday... Took it home after work (sneaked out early!!), it took only 5 minutes to install Maestro, re-boot, and hook-up Duet to my MBP & speakers.

    I have a very simple, entry-level system right now: MBP > Duet > AudioEngine A5's. I have connected my A5's to the Duet w/ a Y-cable (1/8" stereo mini, male on one end connected to the out on the back of the A5; 2 (L-R) 1/4" mono male connectors hooked into the monitor outs of the Duet breakout cable). I turned the MBP sound up to max (as I've seen suggested on another forum) using the Duet to control volume, and man, all I can say is WOW!!

    Obviously I thought getting the Duet would be a good decision, but man, I never thought I'd notice such an obvious increase in sound quality. I sampled various tracks (different genres & different bit rates--192kbps VBR, 256kbps CBR .mp3; ALAC) & all sounded terrific, though the output meter on the Duet surges to red on some of my tracks; mostly the non-ALAC ones.

    I left a playlist playing when I came into work so I can do a burn-in of the Duet. I can't wait until I get my powered sub next. Other than one of the screws of the breakout cable not screwing in (it just spins), I am so happy. Like I said, I was NOT expecting this noticeable of an improvement in sound quality. Then again, just 2 weeks ago I was running 2.1 computer speakers directly to the headphone/optical out of my MBP.

    Anyone who wants to improve your audio (even if you're not into recording/making music), I would suggest the Duet. Even for $500USD, it's worth it IMO.
     
  15. surripere macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #15
    I second that. Both the Duet and the Audioengines are great pieces of gear. Hah, I'm having the same discussion on head-fi. And I think I'm probably talking to you over there under a different name.

    I'd like to emphasize in case anyone else has this setup that this y-cable seems like the way to go; it's probably a pretty bad idea to run a cable from the headphone-out on the Duet to the audio in on the A5s, as you'd be amping the signal twice.

    Cubbie, when you said you turn up the volume all the way on the MBP, are you referring to, say, the iTunes application volume? The way I have my system configured, adjustments on the Duet read as adjusting the overall system volume for the MBP. I'm probably just misinterpreting what you said.
     
  16. Joko thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joko

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2008
    #16
    Good to hear you're enjoying it so far! Pity about the screw, I would personally take it back if possible, but if not, at least it doesn't affect the sound.
     
  17. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #17
    Yep; I have iTunes volume maxed, as well as the system volume (via Sound prefpane). I'm trying to figure out if I should max Duet volume & control volume via the A5 control, or whether I should control volume via Duet; it's just gonna take some experimentation.

    Yeah, someone in another thread suggested I hook-up via the headphone out of the Duet...that just didn't seem right to me after I thought about it, so I opted for the Y-cable; besides, I just ordered a pair of Denon AH-D2000's, so I'll want to use the headphone out w/out having to disconnect my A5's...
     
  18. surripere macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #18
    Hmm--I'm still confused. If you go the Sound pref pane and max the output volume, aren't you just maxing the output volume on the Duet? Adjusting the slider for output volume just controls the Duet output and vice versa, for me at least. Am I doing something wrong?
     
  19. thechidz macrumors 68000

    thechidz

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Location:
    New York City
    #19
    I love my duet...

    has anyone tried running it through Logic pro 7 yet? I have been using GB but want to start using my LP7, I just havent had the time to see if it integrates as well yet...
     
  20. Sir Cecil macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    #20
    Please try to aid an unknowlegeable here. Actually, I know my traditional audio well enough and have a very, very good 2-channel system comprising Musical Fidelity A5 amp, Musical Fidelity tubed A5 CD player, B&W 805 speakers and REL subwoofer.
    I'm less informed about the computer side. I'd like to play AIFF files from my Macbook Pro to the Musical Fidelity amp and B&W speakers and I don't want to lose quality. I understand I need an excellent D/A converter and I'm wondering if this Duet that's being talked would be ideal for the job.
    Can I realistically expect to match the sound my CD player is currently offering (which is outstanding) via this route? I'm interested only in 2-channel stereo music quality here, not multi-channel movies, games etc.
    Any advice appreciated!
     
  21. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

    cubbie5150

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2007
    #21
    Sorry, I was a bit imprecise... This is what I mean--->

    [​IMG]

    A buddy of mine (who is way more knowledgeable than me about these things) told me I should max-out both iTunes & internal speakers volume... I just blindly follow what he suggested!! I might've misunderstood what he said; I'll ask him as soon as I can to verify I understood...
     
  22. RedRedBlockhead macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    #22
    Hello Cecil. You don't need to use AIFF to get bit perfect playback as ALAC or FLAC, which are lossless encoding algorithms, will produce the exact same bitstream. What's more important is that you rip with a program like max (I set it to CD paranoia) which will resolve any jitter issues in the encoding.
    In terms of the apogee duet as purely a DAC, I think you'd be hard pressed to beat its value for money. As a bonus you could transfer your vinyls with it, though if you plan to do so read some of the tutorials over at head-fi.org.
     
  23. Sir Cecil macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2008
    #23

    Thanks for that. I'll investigate "Max."
    With the Duet, I see they talk only about headphone monitoring and direct connection to powered speakers. I see nothing about connecting to an amplifier (like my Musical Fidelity A5). Can it feed the the amp? I believe the Apogee mini-dac does this, but at twice the price.
     
  24. RedRedBlockhead macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    #24
    Yes it can feed an amp, which is exactly what I plan to do with it. With the output all the way up it's effectively a line out with unity gain (no attenuation). Most amps take RCA cables and the Duet only has quarter inch so you'll need two 1/4inch to RCA adapters. Mine arrives in the week. Can't ****ing wait.

    Over at head-fi I was advised that the mini-dac doesn't sound as good as the duet. What's interesting to observe is that you can get them second hand (I almost did) but no one is selling a duet.
     
  25. Sir Cecil macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 31, 2008
    #25

    Yes, my amp has high quality RCA connections. PLEASE post your observations when you've got yours up and running. I'm very keen to hear if it lives up to all expectations. Thanks!
     

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