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Apogee Ensemble Converters compared to Rosetta 800

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by csi, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. csi

    csi Active Member

    Hey Fellow Audio Geeks!

    Thought some of you may be interested in the comparison of Apogees' new Ensemble to the Rosetta.

    I A/B's the two with the same track using Digital Performer sending the two tracks one to the Ensemble and one to the Rosetta. I used Mutt Langs' mix of his wife's song 'She's Not Just a Pretty Face'.

    First the inital sound: The Ensemble's converters are way different than the Rosetta's. The Rosetta is much more balanced, with clear highs and tight lows. The Ensemble's highs were like having a towel over the speaker - the highs were lacking terribly. The lowend wasn't muddy but boomy is a word that works. Because the high end was so off it really effected the imaging and since that is where most of the imaging comes from - that's a problem. The hat in the song was much more harsh than with the Rosetta.

    Before I purchased the unit I called Apogee and the rep said that the converters sounded very close to the Rosetta's...and, that with prices coming down on converters they were able to add the other functions (pre's an Instrument in's) while still keeping an affordable price point. Well, that was definitely not true. After I received the unit and before I A/B'd them, I spoke with a rep from Apogee and he basically described the sound of the converters just as I had above - highs lacking and lowend 'bigger' as he described. Wow, big change of description...I wouldn't have waited 5 months before mine finally arrived. Apogee feels that some people will want that lowend boom...hummm, I thought the object in audio was to have accuracy? If I want my audio to be colored I do by say a good mic pre or the like but not my converters that I am mixing with! Call me silly.

    On to the Mic Pre's - I have to say I thought they sounded pretty good. I compared my Portico 5012 by Rupert Neve to them and the highs were similar on the Ensemble, siblance was close to the same the lows on the Portico sounded fuller and the Portico seemed to have more 'glue' between the spectrum. Now mind you these were both recorded through the Ensemble's A to D's.

    Unfortunately I have not had a chance to test the Instrument in's so sorry I cannot give input there.

    Now some thing else that was interesting when I was speaking with Apogee...some companies will have better A/D converters and lesser grade D/A converters - obviously in the hopes of recording better quality sound. Well, the Ensemble's converters, again according to Apogee, the converters are the same in and out! Which means that the same lacking highs and hyped lows will be recorded. Can you imagine that mixing nightmare over an entire song using the boxes inputs - yikes! Break out the EQ and hurry!!!

    So, luckily I was able to test this and box it back up and send it back.

    A few other minor issues with the box. I couldn't use the lowest sample setting of 64 (for latency) without terrible clicks - 128 was the lowest. I could not use the highest setting either had to use 20xx (can't remember the last two digits) setting. Some times the Ensemble wasn't recognised...sometimes Maestro, the software that comes with it, was unavailable and I had to reboot. The two knobs on the front wiggle too much.

    So all in all I was not impressed. I hope this some how helps someone with making a decision if this box is right for you. It has a lot of flexibility to it that is for sure but Apogee cut the most important corner in my mind, the sound!!
  2. Very cool. Great review- I've been looking for some objective information on the Ensemble for a while now.

    If you're a member of the Stuido-Central forums, I'm sure that a number of people over there would really appreciate this post as well.
  3. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    Well, if you want to use something intended for the hobbyist level in the studio, you get what you got. The intended market for that thing is not the AD/DA16 and Rosetta 200 series market. The people in that market are more likely going to be making non-purist type music.
  4. csi

    csi Active Member

    Yes, I do agree with your statement - however, I have heard other 'less expensive' converters on the market that offer a much better sonic balance than these. I just expected it to be better coming from Apogee.
  5. sheet

    sheet Well-Known Member

    I can understand that. But, the fact is that there we are on the downside of innovation. We are an industry driven by the lowend, not the highend. Evey company in competition for those dollars makes a turd.

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