Apogee Duet

Discussion in 'Preamps / Channel Strips' started by DonnyThompson, Feb 4, 2018.

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  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
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    Akron/Cleveland, OH
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    Hi gang...thought I might give my initial impressions of the Apogee Duet Mic Pre/Converter that I've recently acquired, in case someone might be doing a search on the device.

    Apogee recently added Windows driver support for the Duet, ( available for download at Apogee.com) which was previously only able to allow the Duet to be used on a Mac. The new drivers for Windows are solid, installed easily, and the Duet integrated quickly and seamlessly with Samplitude Pro X.

    The Duet is a 2 channel USB mic pre/interface; it uses a breakout cable, with two multi-format inputs, allowing XLR, Line and Instrument Inputs. The format is chosen in Apogee's Maestro Control software. This is where you can also select other features such as 48v, Phase and set both input and output levels ( which are also adjustable on the Duet itself.)
    The breakout cable also provides two balanced outputs,which you could connect to your monitors,or, if you want, to another external device.
    The mic Preamps have a gain rating of 74db, providing plenty of input gain for both dynamics and ribbons. The Preamps are transformer-less, the sonic results being very clean... So if you're looking for a preamp with analog "character", this isn't the preamp you would want.
    The built-in 1/4" stereo headphone amp has quite a bit of gain.

    While my main motivation for getting the Duet was to take advantage of Apogee's well-known reputation for making great conversion, I really do like the mic Preamps; it provides me with options for tracking that I didn't have previously. I already had several different "character" pres, two solid state transformer based, and two tube models, (not including my Presonus VSL 1818, which was also functioning as my main interface)... And I had been thinking about adding a "clean" preamp for awhile now to round out my sonic options, so the fact that the Duet has two very clean hi-gain Preamps pleases me in that regard.
    The Duet also gives me the option of using the above mentioned external mic Preamps without using the Duet's Preamps. I can connect my ISA One, ADK AP1, or any other pre I have, and bypass the Duet Mic pres, sending the signal from an external pre directly to the Duet's conversion stage. The Duet model I have supports SR's up to 192k, though I doubt I would ever track that high, not in my current computer, anyway.
    The Duet can also be used with an iPad or iPhone...though I haven't tried it with either one of those devices yet.
    The other thing I like about this device is its portability. It weighs in at about a pound, so taking this and a laptop to a friend's house, coffee shop, hotel room, airport, etc. is super convenient. It would also be great for live stereo recording as well.
    I haven't had the occasion to do any of those things yet, but knowing I can is definitely a plus.

    I love how my ISA One sounds through the Duet's conversion, and being able to connect it and bypass the Duet's Preamps is a really nice option... Though I need to say again that the mic Preamps in the Apogee's are great... Beefy, clear, and quiet as the grave.
    This definitely steps up my game... along with my recently acquired ISA One.
    For the recordings I do at home, hardly ever needing 8-16 channels at once, I'm very impressed by the sonics that I'm now working with.
    Even playing back tracks and mixes I'd previously done using the Presonus for tracking are benefitting from the Apogee conversion. There is absolutely a greater clarity and definition there that I wasn't getting with the Presonus VSL. It's not a placebo effect, or "power of suggestion". The sonics I'm hearing ARE better. The difference is not subtle... At least not to me, anyway. I'm very accustomed to the way my rig and my room sounds. The Apogee absolutely does provide greater clarity, definition and a "bigger"sound than the Presonus does.
    On that note...
    I can't knock the Presonus 1818 I've been using for several years, it has definitely served me well, and for the money, it allowed me to do some great work along the way...but this recent gear update has most certainly stepped up the sonics of my gain chain to another level. If I'm lucky, maybe it can even help to pull me out of the creative slump-writer's block I've been dealing with lately. ;)
    If you are searching for a device with two very nice mic pres, great conversion, and, portability too, consider the Apogee Duet.
    That's all. :)
    -d.
     
    Boswell and pcrecord like this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
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    Quebec, Canada
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    Nice review Donny. I'm glad you are enjoying your new toy.. eh.. sorry tool ! ;)
    If you ever get time to make some A/B comparaisons, it would be good for newbs and amateurs to hear the difference.
    I'm going to post a new video that compare 3 DAWS in the next day or two. I bet it will get some attention !
     
    DonnyThompson likes this.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2012
    Location:
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
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    @pcrecord
    I like your vids, Marco. I think I was maybe one of your first subscribers!
    ("Hey! I know that guy! That's my pal Marco!") ;)
    Your vids are always clear and concise, pleasant to watch. You're a true pro and it comes across in your videos.
    I will probably get around to doing some A/B'ing of both the ISA and the Apogee in the next month or so, after I've had a little more time to do more with both of them.
    I tracked some quick and rough acoustic guitar yesterday, two separate takes, one with the ISA through the Apogee's conversion, and the other using the Apogee's mic pres.
    Both sounded great to me...the ISA had a wee bit more analog "vibe" to it, where the Apogee was ultra clean...but the ISA isn't really a preamp I would consider to be all that colored, either, certainly not like a tube pre or even a transformer based pre like a Neve ( or knock-off). The Focusrite is definitely "cleaner" than my ADK AP1 with it's various XFO combinations, and the Apogee is cleaner than the ISA, but not dramatically so.
    I also want to try some dynamics and ribbons through the Apogee, too... While the ISA does have a little more gain (80db), the Apogee Duet does offer a solid amount as well (75db) which I think is respectable for a pre of its size, design and portability.
    As a side note, I've done some reading (and video viewing) from this year's NAMM show; one of the newer contenders in preamp/interfaces that is turning heads is the Audient ID4 (? I think?). I'm gonna be watching them.
    FWIW, ( @audiokid @dvdhawk @Kurt Foster ) the biggest winner I've seen so far, in the area of new technology, is a new digitally controlled analog patch bay from Flock Audio. If you ( or Chris, Dave, or Kurt) get a chance, you should check it out. For those wanting to work with hybrid workflows, or even just to organize all their OB Analog pres, EQs, compressors, FX, etc ...( It even allows mics to be connected, (and goes as far as to provide 48v PP!), it seems like it would be a very cool centerpiece for studios who incorporate gear like that on their front-end for tracking. I don't have enough OB gear anymore to make it worth it for me...but guys like Chris and Dave do... I think they'll at least find it interesting. :)
    Anyhooo...
    So far, I'm very happy with the original purpose of getting the Apogee - which was first and foremost, as I mentioned, a step up in my conversion quality - but i have to say that as an unexpected side benefit, I'm also very impressed by the built-in in mic Preamps, too.
    That was a kind of happy little surprise that I wasn't expecting.
    :)
     
    pcrecord likes this.
  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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