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Apogee Ensemble ... Is this a mistake to get?

Discussion in 'GEAR Talk Forum' started by bvaughn0402, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. bvaughn0402

    bvaughn0402 Active Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm replacing an old MOTU interface, and I'm interested in the newer stuff out there.

    I have an iMac and am like 99% in Logic Pro X.

    I was looking at the Apogee Ensemble for it's low latency and amazing integration with Logic Pro.

    But others like the Presonus Quantum has me in debate ... lower price, possibly slightly better latency ...

    The Apogee has amazing latency regardless, Logic integration, and I love the guitar re-amp on the front (although I've read mixed reviews about sound).

    I guess I just debate 1) it is older than newer ones like the PreSonus, and 2) it is like $1500 more than the PreSonus.

    If you own the Apogee would you get it again?
     
  2. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    UAD Apollo is always my first preference , the world-class plugins not withstanding.

    You may also want to take a look at the new Apogee Element series which is modular and has even tighter Logic X integration I believe. And RME who has had the tightest drivers going now for a long time.

    I'm not familiar with the PreSonus but I believe Bill @wst3 might have one.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 at 10:54 AM
  3. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    I believe the Ensemble doesn't have drivers anymore, so your question might be moot.

    Also, its Logic integration is absolutely not amazing, it's just a control panel inside Logic instead of the regular Apogee one you can access from the Dock. It has no extra features. BFD.

    The Ensemble sounds excellent, but I ended up going with the Metric Halo 2882, which came out 16 years ago and is still going strong. The Ensemble sounded a minuscule amount better, in fact it sounded the best of several interfaces I had in for a round-up article I wrote a few years ago (like 11!), but the difference was too tiny to outweigh other advantages.

    Anyway, Apogee has current interfaces that are certainly worth considering, but I wouldn't invest in that one.
     
  4. Wolfie2112

    Wolfie2112 Senior Member

    Have you checked out the Apogee Element series? They are decently priced, and literally integrate into Logic Pro; it's parameters show up in the mixer/channel strips. I heard a lot of good feedback and ordered one yesterday. If you don't mind the minimalistic hardware component, it's the way to go. Also, the mic pre's are reportedly good...giving you 75 dB of gain (a big jump for me, the Steinberg UR22 is only 54 dB or something).
     
  5. wst3

    wst3 my office these days

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    You really can't go wrong with an interface from RME, UAD, or Apogee. I'm not sure I'd invest in something that is no longer supported, which is a pity, since the Ensemble is a great sounding device. But I'd be at least a little bit concerned about support for future versions of the OS and apps.

    Presonus - funny little company - they make some darned fine products. I have the previous generation interface, the Audiobox 1818 VSL. It sounds great, it works well, and the drivers (as of 1.8 I think) are rock solid and capable of really low latency. I have not yet auditioned the Quantum family yet, but I'd wager they sound as good as, or maybe even better than the Audiobox line. They have some pretty smart engineers stashed away in a cave somewhere.

    That said, I'm a little bit frustrated with their relationship with Apple. When I purchased my Audiobox it included a software tool called Virtual Studio Live (VSL), and I could access the Audiobox hardware from my PC, a Mac, or my iPad. Pretty darned cool! Especially since one of my uses is live theatre, where remote control is a real plus.

    Then Apple did something goofy and broke VSL on the Mac. So Presonus dropped it. One can still run version 1.8 and use VSL, or you can run the current version of the driver without VSL. In the studio I run the current version, since I don't really need VSL. But in the theatre I was running 1.8 so I'd have remote control. Then Apple released iOS v11, and that broke the app for VSL. So now I got nothing, and there are no plans to fix it.

    It's a minor bump in the road, but it is a bump. It doesn't apply to Quantum, and maybe never will. And I'm not getting rid of the Audiobox anytime soon, it still works, and sounds good.

    Even without plugins I think my UAD Twin USB still has the edge on sound quality. I've even tried using in from one and out from the other, but the Twin seems to win every time (not a terribly scientific test, I'll agree.) But the difference is not earth-shattering, and if I didn't love the UAD plugins I might not have the Twin.

    A brief word about microphone preamplifiers - the preamplifiers on any of the interfaces mentioned are good, really good. But they won't replace a great stand-alone microphone preamplifier. I only mention this because I know folks that thought (hoped) they were getting 8 world class preamplifiers for peanuts. They were slightly disappointed when they discovered that world class might mean different things to different people.

    The preamplifiers in my Apollo Twin and Audiobox 1818VSL are more than adequate for most tasks, and are certainly better than the preamplifiers found in many mixers. But they still don't hold a candle to my best preamplifiers, and I'm neither surprised nor disappointed. For reference I have a Millennia Media HV37, a pair of TAB/Telefunken U376s, and a handful of Melcor cards with a variety of opamps and transformers, and all of them sound different (and usually better) than the built in preamplifiers on my interfaces. Not night and day better, but certainly different, and I prefer them. I may have consumed too much kool-aid!
     
  6. samphony

    samphony Senior Member

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    I’m using Logic Pro on a Vader Helmet and a brand new Presonus Quantum. Couldn’t be happier. I can work in lower latency than i did with the Apollo But getting an Apollo is a way getting into UAD which I personally don’t need.

    I think you can’t go wrong with Apogee or UA or Presonus. Thunderbolt Interface are great these days.
     
  7. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    Agreed on Preamps Bill. The only thing I would add regarding UAD is that with the UA Unison preamp plugins that they can expand on the stock UA pres tonally.

    I also use external pre's. In my 500 series Lunchbox I have Rupert Neve Designs 511's and Hairball Audio Lola's that I proudly built.

     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017 at 12:03 PM
  8. storyteller

    storyteller Senior Member

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    I absolutely love Apogee interfaces - mostly for their A/D, D/A converters. The quartet and duet sound as good or better than the old Rosettas (I used a Rosetta 200 from early on in their lifespan until I purchased a quartet). I think the ensemble uses the same converters as the duet/quartet. That said, while Apogee is known for their OS X support, they just had a rather surprising announcement that they are updating a number of their USB products to have Windows 10 compatibility. It should give you an idea that they plan on supporting a number of their devices for the foreseeable future.

    Link to Apogee's announcement here: http://www.apogeedigital.com/blog/w...102854773&mc_cid=d5e9059dac&mc_eid=ceae859d73
     
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  9. wst3

    wst3 my office these days

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    Well that is rather exciting news!
     
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  10. wst3

    wst3 my office these days

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    Very true! I really like the 610 models a lot, I think they are very authentic. The 1073/1084 sounds awesome as well, but sometimes I think it sounds "better" than the real deal. What really amazes me at the moment is some of the guitar amplifier models, the 5E3 is borderline magic, and the Marshall and Ampeg models are nearly as sweet.

    I'm a wee bit jealous - partly because both are pretty cool, but mostly cause you had time to build the Lolas!!!
     
  11. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    Bill, you should also demo Greg's UBK Transformer plugins I think you would like what you hear.
     
  12. bjderganc

    bjderganc Senior Member

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    First of all, what are your I/O needs? Then for recording, quality of converters is important.

    You said that you work 99% in Logic? If you're not recording a lot, there is a good chance that latency on the Apogee Duet is identical to their more expensive interfaces, I/O and quality of converters being the main differences between them.

    Some companies boast "zero-latency," but many (most?) interfaces have this in the form of direct monitoring of the analog signal before conversion.
     
  13. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Millennia Media STT-1 with Telefunken tubes (or you can use the solid-state path) here.

    It's the shizzle.

    But I'm telling you, check out the Metric Halo interfaces. They're really good.
     
  14. OP
    OP
    bvaughn0402

    bvaughn0402 Active Member

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    Thanks everyone!

    Someone asked about my I/O needs. I have 2-3 vocal mics, 2 guitar mics, and 1 DI from a Mesa Boogie amp. Also, like I mentioned, the re-amping would be a cool add.

    I contacted Apogee about the Ensemble not being supported, and this is what they said:

    "Definitely not true at all. Ensemble Firewire (Silver) the product that was released in 2007 is no longer actively supported in later versions of macOS because as you know Firewire is no longer an active protocol on Apple computers.
    Ensemble Thunderbolt is the latest technology from Apogee with amazing mic preamps, fantastic converters and some of the lowest latency of any audio interface in history. It’s my favorite product in our lineup and a fantastic choice (hence the reason we’ve sold out so quickly and are struggling to build more fast enough)."
     
  15. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Ah, okay. Sorry for the misinformation.

    But FireWire does work on Apple computers if the company writes drivers for it. That means the product that was released in 2007 no longer works on current machines.

    Metric Halo has drivers for High Sierra, the macOS that just came out. They still support their 2001 interface.

    $2000 interfaces aren't disposable investments anymore. Those days are over.

    I'm not singling out Apogee. Digidesign did that several times with much more expensive Pro Tools systems. But that was when technology was advancing really quickly, before we reached the golden age of digital audio.

    Not to scare you, but today I'd even be nervous about investing in a Thunderbolt interface. It's still a current protocol, but it's being superseded by Thunderbolt over a USB-C connector. I'd also be nervous about investing in FireWire, though.

    The moral of the story is that nothing is good and everything is out to get us.
     
  16. storyteller

    storyteller Senior Member

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    Just to add to this, though - thunderbolt 2,and 3 are backwards compatible and I think only the connection at the end of the cable is changing to keep with the new USB-C standard. So just a thunderbolt to usb-c dongle should be all that is needed when the time comes for it. I love thunderbolt. I'm not too concerned about the dongle situation in the future though. However, I am concerned in the implementation of thunderbolt chaining and such with a unified connector chipset. They'll get it right eventually. That part just gives me pause since USB3 still has issues and now they are making a more complex chipset. But what can you do... :thumbsdown:
     
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  17. synthpunk

    synthpunk Senior Member

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    When my Vader helmet and Apollo Thunderbolt are obsolete in 5 to 7 years I'm trading them in for a fishing pole and retire :cool:

     
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  18. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    The operative word is *should.*

    And all you *should* need for the original Ensemble is a $30 Thunderbolt-FireWire adapter.
     
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  19. wst3

    wst3 my office these days

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    I have used trial versions of several of his plugins. They are very good. I haven't played with the Transformer plugins, but probably will now.

    I think they have some very cool ideas behind both software and hardware. I'm especially impressed that they still make hardware!

    And I'm not opposed to subscription plans, but I will need to do some reading!

    Still, I'm not in a mode where I feel like I need more plugins. If anything I need fewer<G>!
     
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  20. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    It's the old adage: the amount of work you get done is inversely proportional to the number of plug-ins you load.
     

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