Apogee Duet Two Review It has solid aluminum construction and a 6 1/2 foot cable to help keep those unsightly connections away from your beautiful interface. Hopefully I’ve given you a reasonable overview of the ultra portable USB 2.0 audio interface.
The first Duet set for portable audio interfaces and the Duet 2 audio interface for the Macintosh from Apogee electronics adds some significant improvements. The new features include OLED metering, a redesigned mic PRE’s and converters, Soft Limiting, touch pads, higher sample rates and more.
In terms of aesthetics the Apogee 2 Duet updates the look of the box beautifully. It’s a black and silver design updating to the look of Apple’s newer products. This makes sense like the original Duet , the Duet 2 only runs on the Mac OSX platform.
An exciting new development on the Apogee Duet Two is the OLED screen. This full color screen gives you not only metering but also volume and other information. It’s small and easy to read but frankly it looks great.
Unlike the first generation Duet which used a firewire port the Duet 2 uses a USB 2.0 to deliver even lower latency. The USB bus also supplies power although an external power supply source is included if you need it. Most users however won’t need it unless they are using the phantom power option and outputting high volume levels through low impedance headphones.
The Apogée Duet 2 keeps the single encoding knob concept from the original Duet. Pressing the knob allows you to move between functions and then serves as a level control both for inputs and outputs. In addition, the Duet 2 also gives you two touchpads on either side of the knob which are completely customizable.
Not only can you substitute the knobs to function as mutes you can also have the knobs toggle as other functions that weren’t even available in the first generation Duet. These knobs can control such things as dimming the outputs, toggling the headphone source and summing your stereo system to mono.
To customize the settings you’ll need to use the included Maestro 2 software. Maestro 2 also allows you to setup latency free DSP monitor mixes when you record, which helps eliminate any annoying delay you’d normally get when monitoring through the computer.
The Apogee Duet Two still uses the breakout cable concept. If you’re only using the Duet 2 for headphone monitoring you can remove the cables since you don’t need it. When you’re ready to record or hookup some monitors you’ll find that the breakout cable has been improved over the first generation.
The Duet 2 now has a combination of XLR 1/4 inch inputs for both line microphones and instrument signals. Like the original Duet, the Duet 2 only allows you to record up to two tracks at a time.
So while not the best interface to use if you need to record large ensembles, that’s not what its designed for. This is a highly portable interface that was designed more for laptop musicians on-the-go.
For tracking a stereo keyboard or perhaps a singer and a guitar player at the same time, the interface works great. It’s also an excellent solution for musicians using a lot of virtual instruments and producers mixing in the box.
Apogee has focused their efforts on developing fantastic sounding mic PREs and converters to deliver outstanding audio fidelity. Another improvement is the 1/4 inch outputs on the breakout cable, they are now balanced for improved sound quality. This is especially important if your recording situation calls for longer cable runs.
The separate headphones and speaker outs is yet another improvement on the Apogee Duet 2 USB. Now you can assign the stereo headphones and the left/right speaker outputs to either of two stereo pairs or the DSP mixer. This opens up a couple new options for you.
For starters, now you can DJ with the Duet 2 by setting your main output to the club to one pair and your headphones to the other. This setup gives you a separate cue mix so you can cue up the next track in your headphones without disturbing the main outs.
Alternatively, you can also set up a cue mix for musicians completely separate from the studio monitor. Another major new development with the Duet 2 is the incorporation of Soft Limiting. Soft Limiting will round off transient peaks before they reach the analog to digital converter allowing you to record at hotter levels and giving you a warmer more analog sound.
Soft Limiting won’t save you if your inputs are ridiculously hot but if you have a reasonable level going to your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) it will keep a few transients from ruining an otherwise perfect take.
A couple more improvements to mention for the Apogee Duet 2 include a sampling rate up to 24 bit/192kHz on the redesign converters and improved Mic Preamps still with up to 75db of gain. Plus the Duet 2 has optional phantom power for microphones.
An accessory to consider with the Duet 2 would be the breakout box from Apogee. It’s a good option if you want to replace the travel friendly breakout cable with a sturdier and more robust connector for more permanent situations like studio use for example.
It has solid aluminum construction and a 6 1/2 foot cable to help keep those unsightly connections away from your beautiful interface. Hopefully I’ve given you a reasonable overview of the ultra portable USB 2.0 audio interface.
Apogee’s Duet Two smartly keeps the best aspects of the highly regarded original Duet but enhances them with an OLED screen, touchpads, improved audio quality and more.