M-Audio vs Apogee?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by Benguitar, May 16, 2010.

  1. Benguitar Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #1
    Hello, I have been comparing M-Audio's interfaces to Apogee's.

    I've used an Apogee Duet for a few years now, Good interface overall, But I just recently noticed that some of M-Audio's interfaces seem to be a lot nicer for quite a bit less money..

    Here's a list of things that the M-Audio (in my opinion) does better than the Apogee Duet. (I'm talking specifically about the Fast Track Pro)

    1. No Breakout Cable (This is a big plus for me, I highly dislike the breakout cable, It makes my desk a mess and seems flimsy)
    2. TRS *balenced* outputs, (Another very nice plus, I use KRK Rokit5's so I'm running a 1/4in cable from a unbalenced output into a balenced 1/4in input
    3. USB, While I do already have FireWire, USB is really nice for compatibility with other machines
    4. Two headphone jacks
    5. More control (knobs for level control)

    So, I am wondering if I should possibly pack up my Apogee Duet and sell it on here or take it and trade it for a M-Audio unit at Guitar Center?

    If anyone knows of a better M-Audio unit or they can prove me incorrect about my opinions about the Duet, I'd really love to hear your answers.

    The only thing I've heard about the Duet beating M-Audio is that it delivers a cleaner and an exact recording of what you are playing, While the M-Audio 'doesn't sound as good.'

    I heard that information from Butch Walker on Apogee's website.
     
  2. deej999 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2009
    #2
    going from apogee to m-audio is like going from a Mac to a cheaper PC.

    The m-audio's have inferior preamps and quality.
    The integration of apogee with GB and Logic is better than m-audio.
    The apogee drivers are better than m-audio.
    Firewire interfaces are better than USB on the Mac. Always go firewire when possible.

    deej
     
  3. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #3
    Hmm, Interesting point, Duly noted.

    The main reason I ask this is because I recently have been doing some work at a corporation convention and they were using M-Audio FastTrack Pros with their MacBook Pros, And the front of house engineer I was working with said he loved M-Audio's stuff, They've never had a problem with it and he as well dislikes breakout cables and unbalanced outputs.

    I do use Logic, But I do find it a bit harder to believe that M-Audio doesn't work as well as Apogee, I'd imagine that M-Audio has better drivers/support because they are a larger company and are known to work hand-in-hand with ProTools.

    What about M-Audio's ProFire?

    http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/ProFire610.html

    Unbalanced outputs again?

    But still some advantages, It looks like it'd sit on a rack mounted shelf nicer than the Apogee when traveling, as well as the dual headphones and TRS in.
     
  4. paolo- macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 24, 2008
  5. joe.cavers macrumors regular

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    Sep 16, 2008
    #5
    Should point out a major major difference here also is that Apogee's converters are infinitely better than anything M-Audio offers.

    @the OP,

    That guy you were speaking to at the convention doesn't know what he's talking about. M-Audio stuff may work for him but it is definitely, in the grand scheme of things, CRAP.

    Check out www.echoaudio.com, the Audiofire 8 is an incredible card with converters rivaling Apogee's stuff and the drivers are rock solid.

    J
     
  6. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    "Check out www.echoaudio.com, the Audiofire 8 is an incredible card with converters rivaling Apogee's stuff and the drivers are rock solid."

    I'll second that.

    I've got an AudioFire8 and it's rock-solid.
     
  7. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #7
    Hmm, Very interesting, I'll look into that-

    Yeah, Well BOSS/Roland is considered to be sh*t but I've been using them for years without a problem, I actually switched over to TC Electronic and hated it, So I went BACK to Roland/BOSS units.

    I don't take to quick judgement of my friends nicely, But seeing that another person recommended the same device as you I'll take a look at it.

    Rack mounting is definitely a plus, But It seems to me that everything that is an actual rack is overkill for me.

    I don't need more than 4 inputs, and 2 inputs will work just fine.

    What I am mainly looking for is Balanced outs, I've emailed Apogee about this issue and I was wondering if Apogee could just make a different breakout cable, But I haven't heard back from them and I doubt I ever will.

    I do notice a '60 cycle hum' in my monitors so clearly I am being affected by the 'unbalance.'

    Interesting, As I said above, I'll look into it, I wonder if it has Apogee's price tag though..
     
  8. joe.cavers macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #8
    As an extra point, have you seen this?

    http://www.duetbreakout.com/

    I know it's extra cash on top of the Duet to pay for features you feel it should have anyway... but still possibly worth a look?

    Also, if you were considering the Audiofire 4 (the 8's little brother), you should know that although it's drivers are equally solid, the converters are noticeably less good.

    J
     
  9. Siriosys macrumors regular

    Siriosys

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #9
    After many months of research into the M-Audio, Lexicon, and Apogee products, I just purchased an Apogee Duet yesterday.

    I found, during my search for MY 'ideal' device that it was all too easy to get swayed by the various 'bells and whistles' that were on offer on various devices in an ever-increasing number. Things such as number of inputs, interface choices, controls etc etc etc.

    However, at the end of the day, it was my ears that made the decision for me when I played back my own recorded music.

    With the Apogee products, you're getting studio-quality D/A converters that are in active use throughout many recording studios at much higher specification levels than is normally available to consumers / prosumers. I think as has been mentioned before, the Preamps in the Apogee are of an excellent quality.

    I would have to agree that the FIrewire-only support of the Duet is a little limiting, however I can certainly testify to how robust the FW technology is and equally the number of quirks I've had with the USB bus being clogged.

    I noticed that with the M-Audio equipment the sound just wasn't quite as clean and involving as the Apogee's. Having said that, they do offer what appears to be good 'bang for the buck' with rich feature sets, but the sound, for me at least, was just not quite there.

    If it's at all possible, I'd suggest you NOT sell or trade your Duet just yet, but instead, purchase a 2nd hand M-Audio unit and spend some time recording with it to determine just how much of the 'feature set' you are enjoying that is not available to you with your current Duet.

    Personaly, I think the first thing you'll notice will be the difference in sound quality.

    Keep us posted on your progress - I'm interested in your experiences.


    Cheers
     
  10. ashjamben macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    Location:
    Shanghai, China
    #10
    from your initial post list of advantages of the fast track pro has over the duet, i'd recommend a focusrite saffire 6 USB.

    Like most people here i'll chime in with the same thing, your apogee duet is a lot better than an m-audio fast track pro. i have a fast track pro, it seemed perfect when i was on a budget, but regret it now. one word why, drivers. the drivers for the device are never up to date with what the specs say they can do. 96kHz sample rate? try 48kHz with the latest driver, which as of today (18/05/10) was last updated nearly 6 months ago. that's just not good enough for me.
     
  11. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #11
    Wowza! That looks like that would work perfectly! It reduces the breakout cable to just one cable, Which isn't 100% perfect, But definitely better! I may get one of those!

    Thank you for sharing your experience! After reading over people's replies again I believe I will most likely keep my Apogee unit and just invest in a breakout box.

    Here's a sorta off topic question.

    When recording in Logic, I try to adjust my Duet's inputs to a little bit below the peaking point. But every once and a while I'll hit a 'high point' and the Duet and/or Logic will distort that one part..

    What's the proper solution for this?

    I would also like to note that I'm using a Sennheiser e609 microphone to mic my guitar cabinet, as well as the line out on my amp which I am running into Logic's cabinet simulator.

    But, I'm ordering a Palmer Cabinet Simulator (rack mount) to simulate my cabinet for Direct Out recording.

    So I just thought I should also enlighten you guys as to what my 'situation' is.


    :)

    -Benjamin
     
  12. paolo- macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    #12
    Hate to point to obvious, lower the input. Just make sure you're recording in 24 bit. Not having to delete otherwise perfect takes will outweigh the little drop in quality, especially if you're ultimately bouncing in 16 bit.
     
  13. Leddy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    #13
    Hi Benguitar,

    I find it interesting that you compare the interfaces on everything but sound quality(!) - I realise this can be difficult to do, but try to get the opportunity to use both the interfaces on the same system and really listen to the sound quality. Ease of use/features is one thing, but you can't improve the initial sound quality.

    re. the recording/peaking conundrum - try inserting a compressor into your recording chain to lightly compress your incoming signal if you can't control the peaks through your gain settings alone.

    A modest compression ratio should be sufficient to even out your takes, and will maximise your level to disk. (- depending on the style of playing. Perhaps if the performance transitions from extremely soft to extremely loud, consider breaking the performance into two takes that you can capture with different gain settings.)

    Cheers.
     
  14. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #14
    Okay, Thanks~

    I'll try the compressor-

    Audio quality is debatable.. In the end, Your project is going to be compressed, and most likely turned into an MP3.

    So in most cases, I believe M-Audio would work just fine, As well as Apogee or any other brand, Excluding something you might find at Target, or Radio Shack.

    I plan on sticking with Apogee, The audio quality is good, But I have yet to be convinced that it is the 'best' or better than M-Audio's or Lexicon's.

    I don't rely solely on 'Good Audio Quality' although that is an important feature, I would also like the unit to be physically well thought out/designed.

    I think the Apogee lacks this..

    Unbalanced outputs are a big turn off for me, Especially coming from a company that charges so much for their products.

    By no means am I a 'Professional Sound Engineer' but I know a little bit. I'm stunned and very disappointed that Apogee would even CONSIDER using unbalanced outputs.

    I emailed them and they said they had to do it to keep the price under $500.00 and that most monitors had unbalanced inputs.


    .. Fail

    What serious audio engineer that is recording professionally is going to want to use unbalanced outputs?

    Maybe I'm completely incorrect but I still am very disappointed.

    It seems to me that Apogee relied more on making a 'budget' product so they cut corners.

    Would it not have been even cheaper to just have 4 cables in the breakout cable instead of 6?

    2 TRS outs

    2 TRS ins

    That way they could have simplified their Maestro drivers as well and just made a better product overall in my opinion.


    I'm still not a huge fan of breakout cables and personally I think the Apogee Duet would have been a fantastic product if it were simply made shorter and taller.

    Therefore you wouldn't have any need for a breakout cable.

    Also, If they made it Firewire/USB

    Then you could use Firewire if you had it, But if you didn't you could just plug it into two USB ports (one power/one data transfer) and run it that way if needed.


    After typing all of this, I'm going to reconsider using a different company. I'm going to ask some of my trusted friends who work professionally in the music business and see what they suggest.
     
  15. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

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    Jan 30, 2009
  16. joe.cavers macrumors regular

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    Sep 16, 2008
    #16
    Guess we're all waiting to see what you decided to do.

    What did your industry friends say?

    J
     
  17. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

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    Jan 30, 2009
    #17
    Ah thanks for reminding me, I've been really busy lately..

    I'll ask them shortly-
     
  18. djdavidgallant macrumors member

    djdavidgallant

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    Jul 11, 2009
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #18
    I have a M-audio Firewire 410. I only use it for the outputs.... The mic pre's are pretty *****ty.
    The apogee or a small presonus box would be my choice for decent mic pre's in a small box. M-audio has gone down the crap shoot along with many other companies, who only want to sell 'guitar center' worthy products to people who do not know what they are doing.
     
  19. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #19

    Hmm, Well, I'm sort of a novice when it comes to recording, But I'm trying to eliminate 'mics' from my rig completely. I'm replacing them with a Palmer Cabinet simulator with an 8 ohm load box. So I can record direct out with an XLR from the cab simulator without having to worry about white noise or bleeding from a microphone. :)

    I'm flip flopping between Apogee and switching to someone like Lexicon or M-Audio, Mainly because I feel ripped off by Apogee for them charging the amount of money that they do with a poorly designed piece of equipment.
     
  20. djdavidgallant macrumors member

    djdavidgallant

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    Jul 11, 2009
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #20
    Check out the Presonus Firebox. Both that and the MOTU have awesome mic pre's for cheap boxes.
    I heard the presonus boxes are very picky about computers though, and can have connection issues.

    I used to be a live sound engineer in a previous life(or my college job).
    I still have the M-audio firewire 410 for the 8 outputs, and a Protools Digi002 that I hook to a sound board for 8 channels of recording.
     
  21. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    #21
    Interesting, A guitar center pro-audio guy just recommended the same device(s).

    Although he said my 60-cycle hum is probably due to unfiltered power.

    Not my Apogee. :rolleyes:
     
  22. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #22
    I just bought the Firebox for $179 (b-stock) at Sweetwater. It's a steel compared to other firewire interfaces. The box I got was shop waorn but inside was a new unit. With the 2 year warranty I was not concerned about it being b-stock.
     
  23. Benguitar thread starter Guest

    Benguitar

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    Jan 30, 2009
    #23
    I think I may be switching over to the FireBox. :cool:
     
  24. pfjellman macrumors regular

    pfjellman

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    Mar 18, 2010
    Location:
    Oregon
    #24
    Just an FYI —

    I've been recording professionally for many years. Been using an M-Audio FireWire Solo now for awhile. It has worked great — wonderful sound quality, no issues now for 5+ years with the same unit, no latency, etc.

    I recently picked up an Apogee Jam so I could record guitar and other instruments into my MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad. The sound quality is great, no question about it. However, I've done many analyses of my recordings done with both interfaces, and honestly there is pretty much no difference. This is my personal opinion, and I don't claim to be 100% correct on this. It is just what I have personally noticed with my equipment and recording style.

    M-Audio devices are a bit cheaper, and I like their layout better than Apogee. No breakout cables, less clutter, and M-Audio build quality feels more substantial.

    That having been said, either company makes great audio hardware, so it depends on your personal preference for hardware style, how much you want to spend, and what features you need.

    If you'd like I can post up some riffs I've recorded, some with Apogee, some with M-Audio. You be the judge.
     
  25. spoonie1972 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Location:
    Toronto
    #25
    If we completely ignore brands and marketing, my take on converters is this:

    They all sound decent enough - but you won't know if they're "good" until you add take, after take, after take.

    Much like mic preamps - where it may seem there's nothing wrong w/ a mackie on-board preamp when you're simply playing or singing through it to record one take, as soon as you have multiple sources being slammed together - that's when its' weakness is truly shown. These things can be altered and to an extent fixed after the fact, but if you can start with something that doesn't require fixing, all the better.

    I spent a fair amount on converters awhile ago (mytek, lucid) and haven't looked back. There may be "better", or "more pleasing" solutions now, but i'm done spending money on these parts of my audio chain :).

    YMMV.
     

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