Help!! High Self Noise on Apogee Duet using MBP

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by gnomeisland, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. gnomeisland macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    I recently got a Duet (found a good deal on eBay, which I may now regret) and so far I have loved it. Like many, it was more than I initially wanted to spend but the sound quality is amazing and the mic pre's are good enough that I saved myself the cost of getting a preamp so I felt that I came out a head.

    I sat down to record a couple of voice over samples this morning and was blown away by a ton of noise. At first I thought it was just because I was recording at my desk without any sound isolation but then I realized I was listening to the "wrong" channel--the one without the mic plugged in. Concerned, I switched to the channel with the mic and the same self noise was there. I tried unplugging everything so it was just the MBP and the Duet (no mics, no imputs, no outputs--just the breakout attached and my headphones) and both channels still get this horrendous self-noise.

    Through some experimentation I learned:
    • Channel one seems to be lounder than channel two (slightly)
    • switched phantom power on and off will momentarily silence the sound but then the noise comes back
    • the more gain the louder the noise (this may be obvious)

    I went back and listened to old recordings with the Duet and there is none of this noise. I am at a loss. Any suggestions/help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Drumjim85 macrumors 68030


    Oct 7, 2007
    DFW, TX
    maybe the buss power from fw800 is different than 400 (i have NO idea on this) and that could be causing issues? ...

    does apogee support the use of a fw800 buss?

    ya, fw800 isnt officially supported
  3. MowingDevil macrumors 68000


    Jul 30, 2008
    Vancouver, BC & Sydney, NSW
    Wrong, its supported. :D
  4. gnomeisland thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    I guess I wasn't clear. Its the an early 2008 MBP (Penryn) and I have the Apogee plugged into the FW400 port. At first I was using a LaCie plugged into the FW800 port but the problems persists without the drive as well.

    Any other suggestions?
  5. EchoElite macrumors newbie

    Oct 25, 2008
    possibly the power line is causing the noise in your equipment
  6. gnomeisland thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    Would this be a problem if the MBP is not plugged in? I've also tried the setup in several rooms in my apartment but to no avail.
  7. Plumbstone macrumors regular


    Feb 6, 2007
    Are you sure you are using the correct input? I am sure you are hooked up via the XLR connection but if you have the wrong setting set up in Maestro this can cause some problems. If you are using a microphone then your input must be set to XLR Mic NOT XLR Line (either +4 or -10).

    Mic level signals are much quieter so you'll need to really crank the gain up to get a decent signal if you are set to Line level. As a result you'll turn up any latent noise in the system as well.

    Hope this helps...

    1 more thing, it is often a dodgy power source which causes unwanted noise. Do you get the same noise when your MBP is unplugged? When your external HD is disconnected? bAre you using an external monitor?

    I use a Duet everyday in a professional environment and have always found it to be really quiet so if none of the above fix your issue then it's either the duet or your MBP which is faulty. If you can get your hands on another FW mac then you can see if it is your MBP which has the issue.
  8. gnomeisland thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    Plumbstone, I tried all those scenarios--including another FW Mac--and never found a fix. The sound would change slightly when the MBP was unplugged but it would not go away. I started emailing apogee support and they told me to send it in. Hopefully I have it back by the end of week without the noise problem!

    Thanks for your help, and thanks to everyone else who offered suggestions, I'll update this thread when I get my Duet back.
  9. tommyk1970 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2009
    Hi gnomeisland
    did you ever find out what was wrong with your apogee duet. I have the exact same problem. The noise is so bad I can't record vocals. The instrument setting seems to be ok.
  10. gnomeisland thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    Nope. Sent it in. Apogee kept it for a couple of weeks, swore they ran every test on it and couldn't find anything wrong. I can get to to acceptable levels to me but I still feel it isn't what it used to be. One thing they did point out is that break out cables can act as an antenna for interference. You want to keep every unused input at zero.

    Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with the duet. I love it when it works but it has some quirks that I really hate.
  11. siukwan38 macrumors newbie

    May 8, 2009
    hi gnomeisland,

    I've encountered similar problem when using the Duet with my white MacBook.

    Noise is heard during playback and recording via the mic preamp. After some trial and error, I find that it's the DVI cable which is connected to an external monitor (Eizo S2231W) that is causing the noise. When I unplug the DVI cable, everything work fine.

    Recently, I've tried connecting Duet to the latest Mac Mini via a FW800 to 400 plug, noise is no longer heard during playback, even when the same monitor is connected.

    I do encounter noise occasionally during recording, but it disappears as I unplug and plug again one of the speaker cables (which is connected to a pair of Yamaha HS80M). Sometimes it helps by simply separating the mic cable from the speaker cable a bit.

    Here are two samples showing the effect of re-organizing the cables, the input gain was 66dB for both files and they are taken out from the same rec. session.

    Right/Ctrl-Click to download:

    See if the above help.:)
  12. gnomeisland thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 30, 2008
    New York, NY
    Thanks! Tried different cable configs and one seemed to work. Not going to really mess with it at this point unless I have to again. I love the Apogee sound, but a little disappointing that the Duet is sometimes so susceptible to interference.
  13. greggert macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2008
    Apoge Duet noise and loss of level

    Did anyone ever solve this? I have the same problem too, and I have tried at least 4 different units, so they all do this.
    I'm using a 2007 MacBook Pro and a Rocstor hard drive. With just these plugged in, I get intermittent interference and noise on the preamps and huge signal loss. Then other times it is pristine and quiet without changing anthing. Basically completely unreliable. I love it when it works but this just isn't worth the hassle.
  14. Thomas2222 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2009
    Apogee Duet Defective, Noisy, lots of Hiss when recording

    I have the exact same problem with the Apogee Duet making tons of noise and hiss when I try to record. I tried this on three different setups, in two different locations, and it does exactly the same thing on all of them.

    The Apogee Duet is, in my opinion, totally worthless for recording.

    I sent the unit in for repair, and they sent it back to me with EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM. Lots of other people have sent their units back in, and received them back, multiple times, with exactly the same problem.

    Apple is censoring my posts on this subject on the Apple forums. I guess they don't want word getting out about this defective unit, and the crappy "repair" job that Apogee does on these defective units (i.e., repair made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in fixing the problem.).

    I would strongly advise anyone to avoid throwing $500 down the toilet on this over-hyped, overpriced PIECE OF JUNK.

    I'm seriously considering a class-action suit against Apogee, for all the people that got burnt with this unit, so they can recover the money they spent on a device that doesn't work as advertised. You would much better off buying a cheaper interface. I have a number of interfaces, and NONE of them make anywhere near the self-noise that the Apogee Duet makes. This has been a really frustrating experience, as I need this unit to record, and I have been unable to do so for months. Then to add insult to injury, I sent the thing back AT MY EXPENSE, and received it back with exactly the same problem. Other posters on the Apple forums, and many other forums on the internet, had the EXACT SAME PROBLEM, and sent it back MULTIPLE TIMES to Apogee, and received the same defective unit, with the same problem, back from them.

    If you like throwing your money down a toilet, and spending months dicking around with defective trash, then by all mean, get an Apogee Duet.

    This is by far the worst interface I've ever heard.
  15. Thomas2222 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2009
    Apogee Duet Phones Home

    Oh BTW, in the all the time I've wasted on the noisy piece of crap Apogee Duet, I also discovered that Apogee's Maestro software makes surreptitious network calls over you internet connection, without your knowledge or permission.

    If you download Little Snitch, then you will see the Maestro software phoning home. I haven't had the time to packet sniff to see what they are sending, because I've been too busy dicking around with the broken defective Apogee Duet that I shelled out $500 for.

    Overall, there is absolutely NO REASON WHATSOEVER to purchase this thing. There are obviously huge amounts of users who have this same problem, and I suspect many others have it but just don't realize it, perhaps because they are recording really loud instruments, and it drowns out the hiss, or allows them to record at a low level.

    If you are doing any kind of finer recording, or music that has silence in it, you will hear how much noise and hiss and static the Apogee Duet makes when you try to record.

    This has nothing to do with the breakout cables either: I tested by arming a record track, with the breakout DISCONNECTED, and it still makes the same hiss, noise and static that it does with the breakout connected. So the noise is coming from the unit itself.
  16. Dale Campbell macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2009
    That is just sensible studio practice even on big desks you keep the gain and faders down for any number of reasons, not least because if you or someone else plugs into that channel it could have ear splitting results.
  17. Dale Campbell macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2009
    Replied to your other thread also but just wanted to check what type of mic you are using? As this is a huge part of the sound, (I understand you say you get hiss without anything plugged in, but is that with the gain cranked up and phantom power on?)

    Personally I have used the duet with
    Large diaphragm condensor
    Small diaphragm condensor
    Various dynamic mics Audix, Shure, AKG
    And Ribbon mics.

    They all have different self noise levels, (the Neumann TLM103 has a very low self noise for example) so they all give a varying amount of hiss to gain.

    But even with the Ribbon mics I still found there was very little noise.

    I have used the duet on a white macbook and also my new unibody 15inch MBP, setup was quick and the results are the same with both. Even with the FW800 to FW400 on the new ubMBP.

    I have used this setup to record my own solo guitar pieces, and recorded other people including solo piano, (actually tonight I will be recording a choir with string section and soloists) as well as louder material.

    For anyone interested and without wanting this to sound like self promotion you can here samples of solo recording using the duet here
    for a quiet track select Evolve this was recorded in a large hall from about 3 m with a neumann tlm103 LDC and a golden age R2 ribbon in an M&S pair.
    The other tracks there are louder ones.
  18. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    I use TLM103 and PR40 (Heil) as well. Also, Symetrix 528E processor, Duet and Ensemble both with Mac Pro.

    Are you guys (with the issues) only experiencing them on your notebooks? I have a couple of "field" iMacs as well that we use with the Duels for Live performance and "DJ'ing". I have not used either of the units on my laptops though. Curious if that is the only area you guys are having issues?

    Do you have a desktop to try it with?

    I can't remember whether or not they are 2 or 3 prong plugs. Have you tried lifting the ground (cheater plug?)? Not that this is necessarily the safest way to reduce noise but it will isolate a ground loop if it's there.

    Curious about the laptop/desktop thing though. I may try to plug mine in this week to the MBP and MB to check. I have always appreciated the Apogee's low noise floor. In house, we do mainly voice over work, so it's all vocal. Noise is critical. But again, we are working with the Mac Pros and isolated sound booths.

  19. interestedabit macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2006
    Pretty much same problem here, going mad with this :/

    Macbook Pro -> Duet -> Yamaha HS50M. This works fine, everything sounds clear.

    Then... plug in my external monitor with dvi cable and the sound out the Yamaha speakers when idle or in use sounds like a swarm of bees. If I use power supply or battery with mbp the tone of the swarm changes a bit but still v noisy. Have tried using different wall sockets for each. Also have tried different types of cables from duet to speakers (ts -> ts, trs -> trs, trs -> xlr) with all the same results. I went to wikipedia to see ground hum definition and there are 2 mp3 files there for 50/60 hz and it is NOT that noise. Sounds more like a fax transmission after the initial connection beeps.

    edit: tried another external monitor and same issue..
  20. Dale Campbell macrumors member

    Mar 29, 2009
    Do you get the same noise using the headphones via the headphone out?

    Also do you get the same noise from the macs own out put to the speakers?

    There are also some pseudo-balanced cables you could make up but I these may not help.... if you haven't already read it its a good resource.
  21. interestedabit macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2006
  22. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

    Jun 6, 2005
    I found the same thing here. It's absolutely something that happens when the MBP is plugged into an external monitor.

    I called apogee about this about six months ago and the engineer suggested using a ground loop lifter, or some such thing. Alternatively, he suggested using a three prong>two prong adapter... the kind of kludge we used to use in our old home to plug in modern electronics to our decidedly non-modern two prong outlets.

    You know what? The kludge works perfectly. My external monitor (22" Westinghouse, FWIW) is plugged into my power strip (Furman Rack Mount thingy) via a two prong adapter and the noise is *gone*. I don't know if I'm going to kill myself, burn down my house, or blow out all my equipment, but it gets rid of the "swarm of killer digital bees".

    Funny thing though. The Apogee engineer told me that the reason was every consumer electronics device has to be designed to accept interference, and that's why they all have that little FCC marking on them, and there's nothing they could do about it. Sounds like BS to me (in fact, I know it is), and that the engineer was just shouting the company line regarding a known problem that they are unwilling or unable to fix.
  23. interestedabit macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2006
    Is a 3 prong (with earth I presume) to 2 prong safe?

    For example my roland Jv 1080 is a 2 prong ended cable (similar to my 1970s technics amp for example) so no earth I imagine..
  24. David Coltrane macrumors newbie

    Nov 6, 2009
    Solution for me, hopefully for you too!

    Hi all, having also been a victim of this issue (recording interference that would sometimes go away after making software changes and then return sooner or later) I recently discovered a solution:

    The setup is a single Sure SM 58 mic connected to XLR input 1 with no output through Duet (used solely as a recording device)

    I just simply:

    1 - set power to phantom on the mic's input (1)
    2 - set input 2 to "1/4 inch connector, instrument level" (although nothing actually physically connected)
    3 - set input 2 recording level to minimum

    never had a problem since...

    all the best:)
  25. lancew macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2010
    How to ruin a Duet in one simple move

    I had exactly the same issue as the first entry here I think and was gutted, seeing my recording hopes dwindle. I was recording voice and at other times acoustic guitar with a mic and started getting heaps of hiss from the duet. The duet became unusable. It turns out that my uplugging the mic with the phantom power still on may have ruined the duet and caused this extra hiss. I can't be totally sure that this is what caused the problems, but tallking with the guys in the shop it seems possible.

    So I'd say Don't unplug a microphone with the phantom power on

    I'll also add that buying the duet from a shop that specialises in recording equipment rather than an enormous Apple store as I was tempted to do has been awesome. The guys in Sound Devices (Sydney) have been excellent about this. The simple fact that they use this gear and really know what they're talking about made it a great place to go.

    Finally, I'll just vent a gripe that Apogee don't put any guidance or warnings about something like this with the package. The Duet comes without a single instruction. I expect a lot of people with little experience, like myself, will buy this cheaper interface. So I think the fact that unplugging a microphone can completely screw the whole thing should probably get a mention.

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