The Firewire Apogee Duet was something I found and bought after doing a lot of research. This tiny silver looking box comes with 2 Microphone inputs (with Phantom Power) delivering world class Apogee Pre-amps, 2 Line-level inputs and 2 Monitor outputs, all bundled and tied up together in a single breakout cable.
Having a Mobile setup, i.e. a Macbook Pro [OS Mavericks (Late 2009, 2.8GHz Core 2-Duo, 8gb)], a Shure - PG27 Condenser Mic and a DT770 Pro BeyerDynamics Headphone, and being someone who always travels, I wanted a device that could integrate all my equipment at one place without cluster-confusion at the same time without compromising the quality for sound. This is where I found the existence of Duet.
Duet caught me immediately with its crystal clear AD/DA conversion. The sound is absolutely fantastic. Being a Logic 9 and Logic X user mostly, Apogee already has a place inside the Logic DAW option menus to control the Input levels. The dedicated Headphone input is also commendable.
The Giant wheel knob on the Device is easy to use and straight forward giving us several options (Can be used to adjust Input levels and control the main output volume levels etc). Especially found them helpful while switching between Headphone and Monitor Outputs to check the levels individually.
The Low Latency Monitoring option provided with the Stand-alone Maestro application provided by Duet is also helpful at times where you can listen to the recording that is coming directly from the Duet and not from the DAW.
This goes into your smallest travel bag, your laptop case or your work pouch. The idea of having a device that could accompany you without any hindrance and attend to all your primary recording requirements giving you a unique incomparable quality is something special, and Apogee Duet makes it a reality for me.
The Legacy Duet that I am still using has the updated driver for the latest Mac OS Mavericks, and this shows how consistent and alert Apogee products are when its come to updating. Stability has never been an issue for me with Duet. 2 to 3 crashes have happened until now, but only when the session was overloaded with more than 100 tracks. Can't blame just the Duet.
Duet initially became my recording companion on the Leopard OS, recording on Logic Pro 9. Most of my projects usually have almost 20-25 audio tracks with Sample Rate set to 44KHz. With my usual setting of the I/O Buffer set to 256 Samples (only while recording audio) and the Logic Software Monitoring enabled, the Duet provides me with 16.0ms roundtrip latency, which is fairly acceptable. I have to say that in this mode, Duet has never given me any kind of latency, and that is, even with any time or DSP based effects, for e.g., with delays and reverbs etc.
Aside from recording, Duet plays back my session like the playhead scrolling without any stops/pops/clicks. Unless your system does not have enough breathing power to play back the sessions. This depends on the amount of free RAM and other requirements etc. For e.g., My sessions are always hybrid modelled, i.e, a session having midi instrument tracks and audio instrument tracks together, and Duet does a good job in handling this, playing back for me realtime multiple midi instruments (usually around 10-15 midi tracks) and all my audio tracks.
All in All, Duet has read my biggest session till date having 200 tracks with 150 audio tracks and 50 instrument tracks without any overload warning or stop. (Note that while I playback after recording, the I/O Buffer is always set to 1024 samples giving a roundtrip latency of 50.8ms)
Setting up the Duet was simple and clean for me. Coming in a Rectangular shaped box, there is nothing that is not clear inside this while unpacking the Duet. 1 Firewire cable, 1 Breakout cable and the Duet itself. As mentioned in the Manual clearly, after connecting it via a Firewire (Gives you a Firewire 800 and 400 free cable each with the case) to my laptop, I had to install the dedicated driver provided on the apogee website and had to install the Maestro, to control Duet on a stand-alone basis.
Once opened with Logic Pro 9, it detects for the newly attached duet and then we are ready to adjust the levels and hit record. The functions of Duet are easy to understand.
Today I am using the Logic X on the Mavericks 10.9.4. Its been 6 years. There has never been any compatibility issues with me.
1) Amazing AD/DA Conversion giving crisp and clear recording.
2) Strong Outer-body, has withstood a lot of misplaces by me.
3) The cables provided within do not cuddle, clatter or has never been bent, destroying the connectivity.
4) Easy to use and understand.
5) Offers 44Khz to 96KHz recording and playback.
1) Moderate amount of heat exertion while recording and playback.
2) Only XLR Inputs and 2 Stereo Outs.
3) The Led levels sometimes portray peak levels even if the gain level is down.
4) Crashed once while recording in 96Khz.
The price I got this for (directly ordered from the website) was for $533. Some might argue that this is a bit overpriced as there are many sound cards out there that gives you more input and monitoring options. But for me, someone going for the perfect quality recording sound, I would say the price is justifiable for this being the main reason.
Apogee Duet was my first sound card. My first recording on a DAW was using this device. After being used to this quality, I have never been satisfied with the sound of other sound cards (not naming them), that comes in this same range of price and value.
After these many years experience, Apogee only amazes me with the numerous amounts of recordings I have made and it still does. The choice I made was perfect!
The Apogee Duet is an extremely famous interface. Unlike many interfaces that I enjoy reviewing, the Duet is famous not because of how much you get or the money. Two mic and two line inputs is hardly a sizable amount for what you are paying for this. No. It is famous because of its sheer pristine quality. With preamps offering 75 dB of gain or so each, you really cannot go wrong. The singular knob on the Apogee Duet is also midi assignable, so you can use it to control parameters in your favorite digital audio workstation. It is important to note that not only is this interface powered by firewire, it is also Mac only, so sorry to those of you who own windows pc's (I'm in that category, but when you work with audio, you tend to have a lot of friends who own Macs).
The beautiful Duet has very bright LEDs on the surface to indicate parameters. What is so special about the utilization of the Apogee Duet is the fact that it has only one knob, that you push to switch between the current parameters you are messing with. You switch between input gain 1, input gain 2, output from software, output from the hardware for monitoring, and the midi assignable function. What I find odd about the Duet is the situation with phantom power. I am not quite sure what drives it, but there does not seem to be any parameter assignable to it, and yet I know people who have used it for condensers. I for one have only used the Apogee Duet with dynamics, and I find that they give adequate gain for just about any dynamic out there.
It is as simple as plug and play. The manual is simple to use and everything about the Duet is elegant and simple.
I find the Duet to now be a steal when you consider that the Duet 2 is out on the market now, taking up the new sales segment. It is a fantastic deal, very elegant, and the quality is top notch.
2 inputs and 2 outputs, big volume knob selectable for input 1/input 2/output from software/output from hardware/selectable midi function.
Level LEDs switchable for input and or output.
Use it on my Mac Book pro as my interface when I travel. And more importantly to interface rental amps with efx via Apple Main Stage 2. More on that below...
As a recording interface I use it on Logic 9, or Pro Tools 9. And when dual booting the laptop into windows to use Samplitude/Sequoia via Parallels Desktop.
It's limited to record two tracks at a time, but for recording guitar on the go it's great. The inputs are switchable between instrument/line level and/or mic inputs. Works well for dynamic mics like the Shure SM57 or the Sennheiser 609, etc...
Downside is that it doesn't have phantom power for condenser mics which require it.
The set-up is a breeze install the drivers and Apogess Maestro control panel that lets you select levels, inputs, routing, whether audio will be send straight to the hardware outs or from the recording software.
And you're ready to record.
Since this is OSX only the only way to use it on a windows program is by using it through Parallels Desktop or VM Fusionware and run Windows on top of OSX with the Apogee running as default audio under WMD drivers.
The best part of this interface is using it with Apple Maisnstage, Apple's stand alone software-instrument/amp-sim/AU plug-ins rack.
You run your guitar into the front of your amp, run the efx send into input 1 on the Apogee, and output 1 back to your amp's efx return.
Then open Main Stage and select the Apogee Duet as the interface, choose input 1 as your in, and out 1 as your output (switch to mono).
And then you can add whatever plug-ins you like...delays, filters, reverb, etc...
The latency is pretty good in a serial loop and of no concern in a parallel loop. The best part is that the computer pretty much pulls all resources into running Main Stage at a higher priority than anything else so it's just about as solid as a hardware processor. Downside is that in order to switch stuff on or off you still will have to carry a midi controller. But hey it beats paying cargo for a fridge sized rack.
I needed something portable that yields high quality results. I use this mainly to do product demo videos. I wanted something that would mate perfectly with my MacBook Pro and Logic Pro 9 and the Apogee comes through with flying colors!
I use a 17" MacBook Pro with a 2.4 Core2Duo Intel CPU, 4 gigs of ram, a 500 gig 7200 rpm internal HDD and 750 gig external FW800 HDD for audio. My MBP runs Snow Leopard and Logic Pro 9.
The Duet features a firewire powered bus that is connected via a standard FW cable (2 FW cables included a regular 400 and a 400 to 800). It has a audio breakout cable snake that has two unbalanced instrument level IN's (1/4"), 2 XLR Balanced IN's and two 1/4" OUT's (RCA adapter incl. if you need it). The Mic IN's also have software assignable phantom power (48v).
The control functions are midi assignable.
The Duet has highly visible LED meters that monitor your choice of IN's or Out's. It features a large data wheel that controls the I/O. A push down click of the wheel chooses the functions...very simple.
When I bought the unit I downloaded the lastest drivers. They are very stable and feature very low latency. Included is Maestro, a slick little interface for the Duet when using any Mac OS X Core Audio application. Garageband, Logic, Logic Express and Final Cut Studio have a built in Duet control panel and support. I have not noticed any updates for the drivers.
You can only record 2 tracks at a time with the Duet, but plays back as many as your system can handle.
The Duet can record/playback at 24bit/96khz.
The Duet only works with Apple so no PC support. The unit is very simple to use and setup and the manual is clear and concise. The folks at Apogee provide free online support chat if you run into any issues.
This is a simple to use, high quality interface. I was first hesitant at the price but now realize it is more than worth the money. It's physical size has to bearing on it's huge quality results...brillliant!
I was running a Digi003 and a rack of decent mic preamps. With the Duet I don't miss that at all.
The breakout cable seems a little flimsy, but I have had no issues with it, so the point is really moot anyway. You can buy upgraded breakout cables.