So what you want out of a FireWire audio interface for the Mac is a device that is tiny, bus powered, gives you at least two inputs and is reasonably priced. Enter the Apogee Duet (the Duet moniker is supposed to clue you in to how it’s a dual-input interface). What the Duet can do for you is to record simultaneously on two channels, play back what it’s recording at the same time, do this at a 24-bit/96 kHz resolution and do it all while it looks really pretty.
To look at, the Apogee Q8 FireWire interface could not be more simple. If you are worried about what it will look like sitting next to your stylish MacBook, it’s going to be blend right in. With its beautiful aluminum casing, the rounded edges, and practically nothing on the device other than a large level knob and level metering, it looks like something that could have come from Apple. The microphone preamps are crystal-clear. Just as with the Apogee Ensemble, the Duet is able to integrate seamlessly with Apple software like Logic, Garage Band and Final Cut. The Duet happens to be one of the few FireWire audio interfaces out there that have their control functions integrated into all of Apple’s music production software. This doesn’t mean of course that you can’t use the Duet with non-Apple software like MOTU’s Digital performer or Cubase. Any software that supports core audio is going to work just fine with this FireWire audio interface.
On the front panel of the Apogee Duet are the headphone jack and indicators that show whether the phantom power is active. There is a FireWire port, and a port to attach a breakout cable to in the back. On the breakout cable are the combo mic line inputs, two high impedance instrument inputs, and two unbalanced line outputs. It does look kind of strange to have such an elegantly designed unit come with such a rat’s nest of cables emerging from the back. But there you have it. So what exactly does that huge knob in the center of the the top panel actually do? The endlessly rotating aluminum knob takes care of all the settings that you wish for. You can even press down the knob to scroll through several options on the screen. If you want, you can even have it operate as a MIDI controller wheel.
The most important part of it all – the sound – is simply superb. Only with the maximum settings in gain do you notice any hiss in the preamps at all. All in all, this FireWire audio interface is just a superb product, and it should be flying off shelves. It certainly deserves to.Tags: headphone jack, macbook, microphone preamps, music production software, space age design