A Singer-Songwriter Test Drives the Apogee Duet USB Audio Interface

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Before we get into why Apogee’s Duet for iPad/Mac should have been on your Christmas list, let’s get some facts straight about me, the writer of this fine article. First things first, I am a singer-songwriter. I get my kicks from melodies and lyrics that sit perfectly and great sounding rooms full of tight-lipped listeners. That dynamic place where private creation and public discourse meet-that’s where I live. I generally write by myself on an acoustic guitar with little more than a legal pad and a pen on the desk.

I’m pretty sure I have a low-grade, undiagnosed case of A.D.D.  I bought my MacBook Pro in 2008 and didn’t upgrade the operating system until a few months ago.  I am definitely not the guy you call when you have a computer question. I don’t fancy myself an audio engineer although I got a degree in Music Business/Studio Production from Belmont University. I love getting great sounds on a recording, but it’s neither my passion nor my bread and butter. All this to say, when I tell you that the new Duet for iPad/Mac sounds great and is easy to use, I know what I’m talking about, and you can rest assured that it will be easy for you to use as well.

What is the Duet exactly, and what makes it so great?  Thought you’d never ask. 

-It’s an audio interface with 2 combo inputs (xlr or 1/4”).  These inputs utilize Apogee’s renowned A/D (analog to digital) converters, quality mic preamps with a wide range of gain, and Soft Limit technology, which prevents digital distortion.  So, it doesn’t sound like you’re recording on your laptop or iPad.  It sounds like you’re recording through a pro quality board because you basically are.

-The Duet also gives you audiophile quality sound from your iPhone, iPad, Mac to your speakers or headphones.  So, when you’re mixing your demo, you know it’ll sound the same way on your car stereo as it does in your headphones or monitors.

-The Duet is a MIDI interface as well.  By providing a single USB port on the duet for MIDI it frees up a port on your Mac for hard drives and that sort of thing.

-The Duet is small and versatile enough to work in any workspace.  It’s every function is controlled by one single knob and two touch screen sensors.  It’s intuitive, sleek, and non-distracting.  Perfect for folks like me who are easily overwhelmed by extra bells and whistles.

-The new Duet can be used with iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone. No functionality is eliminated on iOS, and Duet will charge your iOS device while you’re recording.  So, you don’t have to worry about running out of battery life while you’re tracking. As if recording on a laptop weren’t convenient enough. Apogee has now made it possible for you to carry your studio in your pockets (you might need cargo shorts for the cables). Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that the future is now, this is amazing, and everyone should be impressed.

I have absolutely enjoyed my time with the Duet.  My home is a 400 sq ft singlewide trailer so my wife and I have to be careful with how we use our space. My “office” (which doubles as our closet and general storage room) is currently overrun with guitar cases, amps, and so much Christmas loot from our wonderful parents that I can’t see my once feng shui writing desk.  However, inspiration knows nothing of convenience, and I get a melody in my head. I have no choice but to take over the living room. Within minutes I have my shiny new Duet out of the box and plugged into my Mac Book Pro.

The instruction manual directs me to a site for all the drivers and firmware I’ll need to install the Duet’s software and make it my default audio interface. While these are loading I start banging out chords for this new melody, but before I get to what I think is the chorus, the downloads complete and my computer has restarted. I open Logic Pro, plug in my mic and headphones, and hit record. Just like that I’m recording a high quality work tape. I let it roll while I fight with this new idea. The Duet’s intuitive set up allows me to focus all of my energy on the creative process. The 1-3-7 thing I’ve got going feels too much like some Neil Young song-the name escapes me. I need to sit on it. The melody is solid though. Other interfaces I’ve used in the past take days-even weeks-to get comfortable with; however, I’m only 30 minutes into my first go with a Duet, and we already feel like old friends.

Joseph LeMay is a 23 year old singer songwriter from Dyersburg, TN. He and his wife live in a trailer in the woods between two towns you’ve never heard of. Look for his debut record this spring, and look for Joseph on twitter and Instagram (@josephlemay), Facebook, and www.josephlemaymusic.com.

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