AF’s Weblog

June 6, 2012

Apogee Mic Review

Filed under: Microphones — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 1:44 pm

To read the full article with sound samples see:  Apogee Mic Review

The invasion of smartphones and tablets has had a big impact on many different industries and the home-studio world is no exception. Many software and hardware products for iPhone and Android phones have been developed. Apogee, which has been married with Apple for several years, followed this trend by launching the JAM last year, an interface to connect your electric guitar directly to your iPhone/iPad. Now, the manufacturer comes back with the Mic, a condenser microphone for iOS and Mac.

There is a mic for this

Apogee Mic

With the coming of recording software programs for smartphones and tablets, like Apple’s Garage Band, it became crucial for Apogee to offer a microphone dedicated to these applications. So Apogee developed the Mic, a condenser microphone you can connect to your iMac (no PC support, as usual with Apogee) via a USB port, and to your iPhone/iPad via the Dock connector port. The first nice surprise is that both cables (USB and Dock) are included in the package! The Mic is provided with a small desktop tripod, which is not perfect (it could be a bit taller) but it exists!

As usual with Apogee, the metal construction is good and the look pleasant. The Mic is small and light but it gives the impression of sturdiness. The installation is very swift because the Mic is a real plug ‘n’ play unit: just plug it to your iThing, start Garage band  (or another iApp) and you’re ready to go! A small LED lights up as soon as the mic is ready to be used. The LED is also useful to adjust the input level: green = ok, red = overload. The small knob on the left side of the mic serves to adjust the gain (up to +40dB, according to the manufacturer), but having only two colors is a bit scarce to do it precisely. Moreover, Garage Band’s meters have a pretty long reaction time — not the best match at all! But for demo recordings, it will do.

By the way, please note that the Mic doesn’t support 3GS iPhones nor older models. It’s a pity because Garage Band and many other DAW software products support these iPhones… And I personally own an iPhone 3GS…

Now let’s have a listen…

Conclusion

Apogee’s Mic has a nice look and a good manufacturing quality. It’s self-powered, plug ‘n’ play, small and easily transportable… Almost perfect! We like the fact that it is sold with a small desktop tripod and two USB and Dock cables for direct connection to a Mac or an iPhone/iPad. PC users and older iPhone (3GS and former) owners will have to find an alternative solution. Double-bass players will find the low-frequency response too limited, but singers and guitar players will be very satisfied. The Mic could have more LEDs to allow more precise level setting, and a wind screen is required if you want to get useful vocal recordings. With the Mic, Apogee offers a mobile solution that is a bit expensive but guarantees good audio quality. The ideal tool for singers and guitar players who want to record demos with their iThing.

Advantages: 
  • Good audio quality
  • Nice look and good construction
  • Small and transportable
  • Sold with USB and Dock cables
  • Sold with a small desktop tripod
  • Supports iPhone/iPad/Mac
  • Neither battery nor external PSU required
Drawbacks:
  • A bit expensive
  • Only one LED for level setting
  • A wind screen is required for vocal recordings
  • Lack of lows in the frequency response
  • Supports neither 3G/GS iPhones nor PCs

To read the full article with sound samples see:  Apogee Mic Review

August 28, 2011

Apogee Duet 2 Review

About four years ago, Apogee launched a digital audio FireWire interface called Duet that offered two analog ins and outs. In the meantime, competitors have brought out some very interesting products, especially RME with its attractive Babyface. The brand with the violet logo couldn’t keep its arms crossed so they launched an improved version 2. The verdict?

The FireWire format, which disappeared from the MacBook some time ago only to reappear a few months later, seemed not to convince Apogee. Since the interfaces of this manufacturer are only compatible with Apple computers, they depend on the decisions of Steve Jobs and his friends. That’s why Apogee decided to change its strategy and add a USB controller to its compact interface One. The Duet 2 we review today went the same path — USB instead of FireWire. Is it the only change? No, but before we go any further let’s start unpacking the new Duet.

Unpacking

Apogee Duet 2

Let’s say it like it is: the Duet 2 impressed us as soon as we unpacked it. It looks very nice, professional and rugged. It is miles away from the plastic-looking One and it looks more modern and classy than the Babyface. In summary, it looks great and reliable, a bit like Apple computers… As for the weight and dimensions, the Duet is a bit bigger and heavier than the RME Babyface — its main competitor —, even if the difference is minor.

Along with the interface came a breakout cable with the mic/instrument inputs on big (huge!) XLR and 1/4″ TRS combo connectors, as well as outputs on 1/4″ TRS jacks for your speakers. A small aluminum box is available if you want XLR outputs and separate mic and instrument inputs. Why? For a more convenient fixed installation. Price? €81.33, VAT incl. It’s up to you…

 

Apogee Duet 2

On the front of the interface you’ll find a handy headphones out; The rear side includes a connector for the breakout cable, a USB port and the power connection. An external PSU is also provided but we didn’t use it since our MacBook Pro was powerful enough to feed the Duet 2. The interface has only the essential connections: neither digital nor MIDI ins/outs… A pity considering that the Babyface does have them.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Among high-end mobile interfaces, the Apogee Duet 2 has some important advantages against competitors, like its looks, the manufacturing quality, the OLED display, the soft limiter, and the quality of the preamps and converters. On the other hand, the interface has neither digital nor MIDI ins/outs and provides no processing facilities (EQ, reverb) while some others (e.g. the Babyface) do offer these features for the same price. Moreover, PC users won’t have the possibility to use the Duet 2 — typical Apogee. These are many cons but some Mac users will be seduced by the simplicity of the Maestro software.

Advantages:

  • Manufacturing quality
  • Nice design
  • Audio quality of the preamps and converters
  • USB powered
  • Great OLED display
  • Convenient encoder
  • Soft limiter
  • Maestro’s ease of use

Drawbacks:

  • Supports only Mac computers
  • Big XLR connectors on the breakout cable
  • No processing (EQ, reverb)
  • No digital in/out
  • No MIDI in/out

To read the full detailed review see:  Apogee Duet 2 Review

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