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Logic / Apogee Duet II:

Discussion in 'Logic' started by haunted_apples, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. haunted_apples

    haunted_apples Active Member

    I'm seeking advice in my home studio upgrade, and I figure this is the best place to come for some help.

    From about 2004 until recently I have been recording with the original MBox and Pro Tools LE. While it served its purpose, I've been generally unhappy with the sound I've gotten out of it.

    I've recently decided to upgrade to Logic, but I'm having a hard time deciding on what to use for the Hardware of getting my instruments and microphones into the computer.

    I've heard from several people that the Apogee Duet II is the best route to take, but I'm wondering if this is really the best choice and the best price ($600 being the max i'm willing to spend :cool:).

    Is the Apogee Duet II really worth the money? I feel like the price is jacked up due to its transportability, and being able to transport isn't something that matters to me.

    As you can tell, I'm just a musician who wants to be able to record his music and have it sound good (better than the MBox!). I'm really not too knowledgable when it comes to the technicalities of recording and how the Apogee Duet II is preferable over others.

    Just looking for some advice on which direction to take and whether the $600 for the Duet II is related to its transportability/size/design or its actual quality!
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I happen to think that the Focusrite-designed preamp on the original Mbox was one of the best microphone inputs that Digidesign ever sold. Things went a bit downhill after that. What microphones you are using at the moment?

    You mention "instruments" and "microphones" in the plural, but how many input channels do you need on a new interface?

    Your original Mbox has an S/PDIF digital input as well as the two mic channels, so one of your options would be to get a new 2-channel pre-amp that has an S/PDIF output and connect it in via the MBox. A suitable unit might be the Audient Mico, which is currently just over $600 in the US. Using that, you would get two premium microphone channels (one channel can be used as an instrument input) in addition to the pair of microphone inputs on the Mbox, giving you 4 mic inputs or 3 mics and an instrument input.

    There are other 2-channel pre-amps available that include a computer interface of some sort (usually USB or FireWire). The Apogee Duet is a good-quality unit, but it is what its name says: a two-channel unit. The RME Babyface is another high-quality 2-channel pre-amp, but it's a little more than the $600 of your budget. I'm sorry to say that good quality comes at a price.
  3. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Logic does have integrated support for apogee products, some say that the RME sounds a little better. I haven't had them side by side.

    Either one should be great in a GOOD ROOM.
  4. haunted_apples

    haunted_apples Active Member

    Thanks for the responses! I appreciate it.

    Basically, I record all the instruments myself one at a time and then layer them. I will only be using one Condenser Microphone (a Shure KSM27) and all I need are two input channels on an interface (i record guitar tracks individually, an electric piano that plugs into two channels and electronic drums that plugs into two channels as well).

    I guess I'm just trying to figure out if the Apogee Duet II is really worth the $600 or if that price is due to its transportability/size/overall design...

    I'm surprised to hear that the MBox was a decent design. I have heard nothing but horrible things about it.

    Thanks again guys.

    For anyone wondering, here's one of my songs I recorded using the MBox/ProTools LE/Shure KSM27: Apollo by The Cidermill Drive on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free

    Just looking for a home studio update at an affordable price :cool:
  5. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I've listened to your clip. I think that you ought to hold off throwing $600 at an Apogee Duet or anything else until you have a few more things sorted out. The quality of the vocal channel is not suddenly going to show a dramatic improvement by using a different pre-amp, and the keys and electronic drums will be much the same as now.

    Not many recording engineers bother to voice an opinion on the original Mbox, or else they don't differentiate it from the Mbox 2 or 3, or forget that the older versions of PTLE that supported the original unit were not pristine. An original Mbox used with a DAW other than PT was a respectable item, sonically speaking.
  6. haunted_apples

    haunted_apples Active Member

    Thanks for the response.

    What exactly are the things I need to sort out?

    is there a way to hook up the MBox into Logic? I thought it was pretty tied to ProTools...

    Do you think a new microphone would be a better investment? any suggestions?
  7. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    What's been in the back of my mind for the whole of this thread is your statement in your first post about your use of PT+Mbox: "I've been generally unhappy with the sound". Before spending money on random items in the hope that the sound will magically improve, I think it may be worth your analysing what it is exactly that you are unhappy with, and why you blame the Mbox and/or PT for the deficiencies in the quality of sound. I'm not a PT fan myself, but in this case it's the least likely contributer to your sonic problems. Put it this way: if you parted with a not inconsiderable sum for Logic, you will certainly get improved facilities as a DAW, but you may not hear a lot of difference in the final mixes, unless you are heavily dependent on the available plug-ins.

    From what you have told us so far, the only microphone usage you have is for vocals, as all the other sound sources are input directly. This means that if your dissatisfaction includes the sound of an instrumental mix, you can look beyond problems with the microphone, recording room acoustics and your voice (!), and instead think about problems arising from the Mbox being fed with line-level inputs, your monitoring setup, your room acoustics and (importantly) your technique in mixing, applying effects and other aspects of managing the process from input of tracks to stereo result.

    These are not necessarily easy things to sort out, so don't feel as though we're telling you that you have overlooked something simple. I know that when I have been invited in to to budget studios to try to diagnose problems, one of the things I like to do is start from a set of reference tracks that I bring in along with a two-track mix that I know how should sound. This often shows up problems with the monitoring and the room acoustics, and in some cases I don't go further until those are seen to. I then carry out a mix, listening for problems in the DAW and any outboard hardware, aiming to duplicate the two-track sound. That done, I work back to the inputs, including pre-amps, cables, microphones before ending once again at room acoustics.

    So I think you should sit down and contemplate for a while before spending money. It may be worth getting hold of some of the raw tracks that are around for mix practice and see whether you are still unhappy with the result of these. If the results from other people's tracks sound OK to you, then you can examine your front end arrangements. Maybe this does end up as a need for a different interface box or a different DAW, but at least you will have been through the rest of the process in a little detail.

    I've not had the opportunity to connect an original MBox into Logic, but I don't know of any reason why it should not work.
  8. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Yep, what Boswell said, it takes time to develop recording skills, and music skills.

    If you are in a hurry, go to a commercial studio for best results.
  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    It's not the gear it's the technique utilized. I'm a professional engineer who can record & mix beautiful recordings on crap equipment. That's because I have technique and a good one. Although unlike many folks here, I'm not a big fan of any inexpensive "transformer less" microphone preamp when I want a quality sound. I use them when I have to when I go to my friends home project studios and they want to know what their equipment can really do and sound like. So I have fun making good recordings on equipment such as what you are using. In fact I have the lousier M-Box 2. The microphone preamps in that I think are awful but are in fact are 100% perfectly adequate for any general recording application. And although I don't care for it/those in comparison to what I like to hear or use, my recordings all sound wonderful regardless of what I'm using. So, yeah, don't throw your money away. If you already liked the sound of your recordings and wanted them to sound better, I might recommend the Apogee. And although newer ones are supposed to be better than older ones, that's not necessarily true anymore in today's economy. I know one particular guy who really likes one of the very first small Apogee units more than he likes the newest ones. And Bob is quite a successful engineer, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, husband to the woman who owns Apogee. And if you're that accomplished at what you do already, you may want one also. But if you're basically already recording with your quality equipment and are unhappy, it's technique that needs to be worked on. And hey! That doesn't cost nothin'.

    If it works, don't fix it.
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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