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Apogees ONE microphone?

Discussion in 'Microphones' started by Surkin, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. Surkin

    Surkin Active Member

    Hello, i just recently bought the Apogee One.
    I know its not the most expensive gear out there to record, but thats what i could afford. And now im wondering what sort of instruments are best to record with that built-in mic.

    I don't want to blow it up by recording a big guitar amp.

    Any one who was tried that interface?
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Don't turn the guitar amp up to 11.

    ACIDMAN Active Member

    Apogee ONE

    Hi Surkin ! All I can say is try it on everything !! I think you'll be very surprised at the results ( as would many a "pro" who wouldn't readily admit it).
    While you may not pick up all the nuances like a large diaphragm condenser would it's a very cost effective and surprisingly accurate piece of kit.
    20 years in the business has allowed me to compare A LOT OF KIT,from 2inch "reel to reel" analog to the latest digi gear. I've fooled alot of people with budget digi gear and come to relise that, to an extent, it's not what you use, it's the way you use it !!!!!
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Yup, that's what I've been saying for over 30 years. it's not what you've got but what you do with it. You need to learn how to master your tools. When you think it's the equipment that isn't delivering the performance you want, it usually isn't the equipment. Any professional can obtain a professional sounding product from virtually any kind of equipment no matter how crappy. If you understand it's dimensional limitations, you'll know what I can do & what it can't do. None of this is based on published specifications indicated in their marketing information. It only has to do with how it is perceived by you.

    It's all smoke & mirrors
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  5. Huxley

    Huxley Active Member

    Ideally, would it be better (sound wise) to buy an Apogee One, or buy an SM58 with a Apogee Jam acting as the interface/mic pre for capturing vocals and acoustic guitar?
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Huxley, the Apogee One is a complete self-contained item, with a nice little Chinese condenser microphone built in. The Apogee Jam, is simply a direct guitar input recording device. To use the SHURE, SM-58 with the Jam, you'd also need to purchase a quality microphone input transformer, such as a Jensen, Cinamag, Beyer, UTC, Triad, etc.. And whereas the amount of level required, may or may not be adequate? As it was designed for direct guitars. Not that it won't have enough gain? But that's not its intended function.

    So maybe the Apogee product line might not be right for you? It is a high-end item manufacturer, largely. And without the proper budget? Other items by other manufacturers might be more appropriate for your use. No doubt they make wonderful A/D-D/A's, aimed at the high-end users. They make the One, so ya can have their converters with a mediocre built-in microphone. For those that have very limited budgets but are attracted to the Apogee quality branding. That doesn't necessarily make it right. But it gets ya an Apogee. Kind of like knowing that the Mini Cooper is made by BMW but it's not exactly a BMW. It's a BMW for those that can't afford a BMW. So it's a sheep in wolf's clothing.

    I know how frustrating this can be. Folks like Steinberg and MOTU also make some very nice items designed to work with Macintosh's. I wanted some Apogee converters but I am strictly PC. And they don't support or have any drivers for PC's. Which I have personally complained to Bob Clearmountain about since his wife owns Apogee. To which he gave me the lame excuse that they only had 40 employees and we're a small company. Really now? And nobody knows how to write drivers for PCs? I guess not? Which like Shania Twain sang, that don't impress me much. Interestingly enough, Bob went on to tell me that he actually preferred some of the earlier Apogee miniature audio interface devices over the newer smaller ones they are now selling. What's that tell ya? But then again, Bob still likes recording and mixing on his personal SSL 4000 E. He hates API but doesn't mind using Neve. He can't get HIS sound out of an API. While others out there, including myself, absolutely love API as do many others. So this is all really just a matter of personal taste. Everything of this professional genre is all good. But it's not good when your sound depends on certain items that don't deliver what you want. Right now, I'd say, you have no idea what you actually want. Since you have not yet established a technique nor a sound of your engineering, of your own. So anything that has the features you need and want of a professional nature, will be able to provide for you, professional quality. The rest is up to your engineering technique. And without yet a refined technique, the sky's, the limit. So you shouldn't stress out as virtually anything professional will deliver professional results at the hands of a professional.

    Every piece of equipment made has its own particular character, flavor, color or lack thereof. When you're technique is not yet established? You don't have to worry. Everything is good. That is to say, I also have a crap, Avid/Digi M-Box 2 whose converters aren't awful. But I find their microphone preamp quite underwhelming. Nevertheless, it's still quite usable. I just don't care for it. It can't touch my API/Neve stuff by a long shot. But therein lies my frustration also. It doesn't like to take the feeds coming from my API/Neve stuff. It clips everything, right at its input. Because it's a lousy front end design. Here is where I actually considered opening up that box and completely eliminating everything up to the converter input? But I've not bothered as it is not my primary computer recording interface. My MOTU 2408 is. And it's strictly line level input. But it also clips everything beyond input levels above +20. Whereas my API/Neve stuff, can deliver an output of greater than +30. So I'm losing 10 DB of headroom. Which I don't appreciate much. Which was my personal reason for looking into the Apogee's to begin with. So instead, if I really wanted something good? I'd go with something like RME that are supported on PC's. There are others that are even better that I won't spend the money on LOL. So I have to use a workaround to retain that high headroom sound of top-of-the-line pro equipment, with my current MOTU 2408 at the expense of 10 DB more noise. That I can deal with.

    This is how professionals have to think their equipment purchases through. Sometimes I have purchased equipment not for its sound nor specifications but merely for the features I need it have. So that's a compromise I've also had to make in years past. When my budget was nil. Like it is today LOL. And I still enjoy listening to those recordings today I made on that compromised $3700 plus portable console I had back in the late 1980s. Notice there was no decimal point between 37 and double zeros. And that was a cheap portable mixer. With the world's cheapest single IC chip microphone preamps that cost all of $3.50 each. Back in the late 1980s. And I'll defy anyone to tell me that those recordings I made on that cheap mixer didn't sound killer. Because it's the engineering that makes the difference not the equipment so much so. Others will argue that. Because they demand the best and can afford it. But ya have to learn how to walk before you can run. You have to learn how to swim so you don't drown. You're not even yet up to treading water. So look for other items within the same budget as the Apogee One. Something that will allow for professional XLR output microphones to be plugged in. And hopefully 2 instead of 1. It's almost idiotic to get a device with only a single microphone input. That's crazy. Particularly at some point if you intend to purchase some decent outboard microphone preamps and microphones. Or an outboard mixer? Because you'll need stereo inputs, guaranteed. So don't fall short on something that might work for you now but not next week. We've had stereo since the 1930s. That means 2 inputs. And no less.

    I usually purchase everything in pairs. There is a reason for that.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  7. Huxley

    Huxley Active Member

    Thanks for that educated and experienced perspective Remy. I think I should have mentioned that my interest is less as an engineer, and more as an artist who wants to cut basic, but high quality song demo's. I'm merely interested in the quality of the SM58 vs the Chinese condenser in the apogee one. But, I guess I just answered my question... What I need is simply a way to record vocals, and a way to plug a guitar amp into a Mac for the occasion that I need to record an electric without mic-ing an amp and making a racket. I don't have a strict limit on price, I'm more concerned with having the ability to get a good sound. I understand what your saying about a good engineer being able to get a good sound out of near anything, however, I am not an engineer and want a solution that will reflect that, and give me what I want without much fuss. The Ones convenient enough, but I was just wondering as to its abilities to deliver what I know an SM58 can. And if it can't, is the trade off noticeable, as my recordings won't have much processing?

  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    You need attenuators, Remy. Get a pair of 12dB XLR in-lines and you could be pushing those API and Neve output transformers into saturation just as they were meant to be treated.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Everything I've heard about Apogee - from engineer friends who use them - is that the converters are absolutely top quality, but... the preamps are just "meh".... no real character or sonic thumbprint, very clean, sterile, cold, not a whole lot of balls.

    Which, some people like. They want that ultra-clean transparent sound.

    But, there are many who prefer a certain coloration when using pre's... those nuances that can make things sound rich, robust, warm, silky.

    And, if by chance that warm, rich, robust and silky sound is what you're after, Apogee is probably not your best choice.


  10. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Actually Bos, I have about 8, assorted XLR, fixed and switchable pads, that I use. Maybe more LOL? Yeah, more. So that was the scenario, prior to using those. For more color, I can also use my 15,000 ohm to 600 ohm, UTC bridging transformers, which I've rarely done having had the Neve since 1996. Which knocks down the level as well. Though from what I also understand, converters like the Lavery's also can't handle +24, +30 at their inputs? But I don't have those. So, I guess only really professional stuff can handle those kinds of levels at their inputs? But you'd think??? I would think a Lavery should be able to but apparently not? So it was only rhetorical, in my response. But thanks as always. You are the best! Everyone can always count on your expertise. So, I always enjoyed reading your responses to others as well. Even when I don't enter into the technobabble. There are few occasions LOL. I'm not always right but I'm never wrong. Which is in itself a non sequitur. I guess? LMAO.

    Donny I'm not exactly with you on the Apogee selection. Ya, while I agree with you about their microphone preamp, line level in and their converters are lovely sounding when fed by API, and Neve, SSL, Millennium, et al.. But One can't do that with the One.

    I understand what you're saying Huxley. And you did answer your question regarding the SM-58, in regards to the Chinese condenser microphone. It will NOT sound like a 58. It will sound more like a poor man's DPA which sounds nothing like an SM-58. However items made by Steinberg, Lavery, MOTU and others will be just as high in quality and more versatile with their XLR inputs than the Apogee One. It's like when I tell people that when the " Peak " light, lights, it doesn't mean that the audio is at its best LOL. Though one could misconstrue it to mean that. As being at its Peak. When it's actually not. In pro audio parlance, it means the opposite. So we kind of Speak in secretive terms.

    Many people also misconstrue what Pro Audio actually means. There is no real technical superiority of the Apogee product line over the Lavery, Steinberg and others. But one might think that since it must be the Apogee of pro audio? Meaning that Apogee won't deliver anything better than those others. Rest assured. So you needn't worry like that. So check out some of those others and purchase the one that has the features that you want. They all have great specs and will deliver great sound.

    Most of the time I purchase equipment based on the sound it delivers and not necessarily based on its specifications if it's already known to be a professional product. Which really has nothing to do with engineering technique in that respect. So no one product is anymore goof proof, than any other, within the same budget.

    Conversely, there basically are two different popular microphone preamp design concepts. One that is slightly more goof proof than the other. The very popular early Rupert Neve 1073 microphone preamp/EQ modules utilized, actually, a fixed, 20 DB microphone preamp. With the adjustable gain, in a secondary buffer amplifier section. This eliminates the need for the microphone preamp input pad switch. Since the microphone preamp, in and by itself, with its low 20 DB gain, means it will never overload, generally regardless of massive input levels. Mackie followed the same design concept, criteria. And has no pad switches. These preamps remained much more consistent sounding, that way.

    Whereas other microphone preamp designs are actually adjustable, within the microphone preamp. Those can be overloaded at its inputs and so require a pad switch. But those are the more fun sounding microphone preamps. How? Since the microphone preamp gain must be varied over a wide range. In techno babble speak, the negative feedback loop varies over a greater range. This changes the linear operational characteristics of the microphone preamp. We/I use this quite often. It lets you tailor the sound more so than those goof proof types. And within the real professional types that utilize all discrete transistor circuitry and not IC chips, it can make magic happen. They can remove the need for EQ, compression, limiting. And make things sound totally HUGE! So even sometimes when input levels are not excessive, I will engage the pad switch. Then I will gain up the microphone preamp, changing the negative feedback loop, within the operational amplifier. And with those circuits, when you begin to slightly saturate them and they begin to go slightly nonlinear. Sometimes, it'll blow your mind! I frequently do that with DI bass guitars, vocals, drums, electric guitars and acoustic guitars. I don't do that on brass, strings, woodwinds, Symphonies nor Opera's. Not when I'm recording an Opera.

    I hope that helps make ya a good decision?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  11. Huxley

    Huxley Active Member

    Yes, you've all been very helpful, I kind of want a clean sound over a warm sound so the mic pre's in the One sound about right, I think I will just add a Sm58, and bypass the built in mic. Thank you all for your knowledge and help.

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