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Apogee Ensemble TH vs Universal Audio Apollo 8p Audio Interfaces
Old 2nd November 2016
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Apogee Ensemble TH vs Universal Audio Apollo 8p

Hi,

I am putting together a little home studio and I am trying to decide between the Apogee Ensemble TH and Universal Audio Apollo 8p interfaces. I'll be using them with a macbook pro retina and pro tools.
Has anyone here used or heard both? Is there any difference in sound quality of their mic preamps? Are their headphone outputs good enough to drive AKG Q701 and Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO 250OHM headphones?
The Apollo 8p is $570 more expensive then the Ensemble TH in my country. Is there a particular reason for it being so through some extra features or sound quality that the Ensemble TH does not have?
Thank You

Thorn
Old 3rd November 2016
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorns View Post
Hi,

I am putting together a little home studio and I am trying to decide between the Apogee Ensemble TH and Universal Audio Apollo 8p interfaces. I'll be using them with a macbook pro retina and pro tools.
Has anyone here used or heard both? Is there any difference in sound quality of their mic preamps? Are their headphone outputs good enough to drive AKG Q701 and Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO 250OHM headphones?
The Apollo 8p is $570 more expensive then the Ensemble TH in my country. Is there a particular reason for it being so through some extra features or sound quality that the Ensemble TH does not have?
Thank You

Thorn
I own the Ensemble Thunderbolt (is this what you mean by TH?) so my opinion is going to be biased. I'm very happy with it. Sound quality is fantastic, drive has been rock solid, I'm a guitarist so the dedicated guitar inputs (for using an amp sim or for re-amping) were a big selling point for me.

If I set my recording buffer to 32 samples and my sample rate at 96k my latency is an astounding 1.1ms. AT 64 samples it only goes up to 1.8ms. !28 is in the 2's. Apogee's online support has been fantastic for helping me figure out how to use the thing LOL!!!!!

With the Apollo I'm guessing the extra cost is due to the onboard DSP - which is to power UA's plugins instead of using your system's CPU. I you are, or want to become invested in UA's plugin ecosystem (many of which are fantastic) then that might be the way for you to go.

On the other hand if you're heavily invested in different native plugins (Waves for example) and don't wanna change everything up, I'd go with the Ensemble. Apogee's preamps and converters sound great and, even playing MP3's using iTunes, the Ensemble made an immediate improvement in the sound over my old Focusrite interface. Superior converters I'd imagine.

Either way you'll end up with a fantastic interface.
Old 3rd November 2016
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by noisenet View Post
I own the Ensemble Thunderbolt (is this what you mean by TH?) so my opinion is going to be biased. I'm very happy with it. Sound quality is fantastic, drive has been rock solid, I'm a guitarist so the dedicated guitar inputs (for using an amp sim or for re-amping) were a big selling point for me.

If I set my recording buffer to 32 samples and my sample rate at 96k my latency is an astounding 1.1ms. AT 64 samples it only goes up to 1.8ms. !28 is in the 2's. Apogee's online support has been fantastic for helping me figure out how to use the thing LOL!!!!!

With the Apollo I'm guessing the extra cost is due to the onboard DSP - which is to power UA's plugins instead of using your system's CPU. I you are, or want to become invested in UA's plugin ecosystem (many of which are fantastic) then that might be the way for you to go.

On the other hand if you're heavily invested in different native plugins (Waves for example) and don't wanna change everything up, I'd go with the Ensemble. Apogee's preamps and converters sound great and, even playing MP3's using iTunes, the Ensemble made an immediate improvement in the sound over my old Focusrite interface. Superior converters I'd imagine.

Either way you'll end up with a fantastic interface.



Hi,

thank You for the detailed reply. Originally I was leaning towards the Ensemble (yes, I meant the thunderbolt version) but after You mentioned the onboard DSP on the Apollo I started reading more about it and became quite intrigued. I am not really invested in any native plug ins at the moment so that wouldn't be much of a problem for me. And after I went through some of the plug ins UA offers they do sounds quite good.

I wonder with the headphone outputs. I'd assume they should be similiar on both the Ensemble and Apollo. Have You ever used high impedance headphones and found the unit to drive them sufficiently without the need of a dedicated headphone amp?

Again, thank You for the info.

T.
Old 4th November 2016
  #4
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thorns View Post
Hi,

thank You for the detailed reply. Originally I was leaning towards the Ensemble (yes, I meant the thunderbolt version) but after You mentioned the onboard DSP on the Apollo I started reading more about it and became quite intrigued. I am not really invested in any native plug ins at the moment so that wouldn't be much of a problem for me. And after I went through some of the plug ins UA offers they do sounds quite good.

I wonder with the headphone outputs. I'd assume they should be similiar on both the Ensemble and Apollo. Have You ever used high impedance headphones and found the unit to drive them sufficiently without the need of a dedicated headphone amp?

Again, thank You for the info.

T.
If I remember correctly, the Ensemble Thunderbolt marketing materials specifically mention the headphone amp being plenty powerful enough to drive high impedance headphones. I use the 80 ohm DT770's, I'm a guitarist and metalhead, so of course I'd like 'em louder LOL!!, but to make em any louder I'd prolly blow my eardrums out. They're loud enough that I've recorded with a Marshall halfstack (with volume around '3') nexto and pointing right at me and been able to hear the rhythm tracks enough to comfortably track, so I'd say they're loud enough LOL!!!!!!

Again, I'm very biased towards the Apogee and think it's a fantastic interface, tops in my book. But I've seen enough positive things about the UA to know it's also top notch!

One word of caution - I hear great things about UA's plugins but they're far from cheap. Ya might be getting into an expensive crack habit LOL!!!!!!
Old 4th November 2016
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by noisenet View Post
If I remember correctly, the Ensemble Thunderbolt marketing materials specifically mention the headphone amp being plenty powerful enough to drive high impedance headphones. I use the 80 ohm DT770's, I'm a guitarist and metalhead, so of course I'd like 'em louder LOL!!, but to make em any louder I'd prolly blow my eardrums out. They're loud enough that I've recorded with a Marshall halfstack (with volume around '3') nexto and pointing right at me and been able to hear the rhythm tracks enough to comfortably track, so I'd say they're loud enough LOL!!!!!!

Again, I'm very biased towards the Apogee and think it's a fantastic interface, tops in my book. But I've seen enough positive things about the UA to know it's also top notch!

One word of caution - I hear great things about UA's plugins but they're far from cheap. Ya might be getting into an expensive crack habit LOL!!!!!!


I've been actually looking at the DT770's at the moment as I need a closed back headphone for recording vocals. Are You happy with them? Do they bleed slightly or there is no sound coming out of them when You have them on? Have You tried the 250OHM model? Not sure which one of these two should I get.

And yes. I have noticed that the UA plug ins are quite expensive. So that is one thing that I am taking on account as well. At the moment UA have a deal when a UAD-2 Satellite Quad comes for free with every new Apollo rack which sounds very tempting.
Old 11th November 2016
  #6
Here for the gear
Was in the exact same situation but i chose the ensemble as i've used a duet 2 prior and was used to it and knowing i can bypass the pres and also its reamp feature set.

Didn't want to go down the UA plugin rabbit hole because i might have spent more than i needed on plugins. badddd self control.

the 8P's unison preamps though really had me thinking for a moment.
Old 11th November 2016
  #7
Was in a similar dilemma between these 2 Interfaces but chose the Apogee Ensemble TB because for me it offered more of the features I needed.

I work in a hybrid situation a lot so the inserts on the first 2 channels are really handy to patch in hardware on the go.

Having a D-Sub for analogue outputs 3-10 was better for me also.

IMO a much better /user friendly software GUI/console & with Apple/Mac totally rock solid & seamless integration with Pro Tools on both MBP & Imac.

Sonically they are probably too close to call ,but I just liked the sound of the Apogee better, Seemed to me a little fatter & tighter, but that's probably more in my imagination
Old 5th January 2017
  #8
Here for the gear
 

preamps

Anyone else has opinions on their preamps? I'm really curious about de differences in their sound.
Old 5th January 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by noisenet View Post
If I remember correctly, the Ensemble Thunderbolt marketing materials specifically mention the headphone amp being plenty powerful enough to drive high impedance headphones. I use the 80 ohm DT770's, I'm a guitarist and metalhead, so of course I'd like 'em louder LOL!!, but to make em any louder I'd prolly blow my eardrums out. They're loud enough that I've recorded with a Marshall halfstack (with volume around '3') nexto and pointing right at me and been able to hear the rhythm tracks enough to comfortably track, so I'd say they're loud enough LOL!!!!!!

Again, I'm very biased towards the Apogee and think it's a fantastic interface, tops in my book. But I've seen enough positive things about the UA to know it's also top notch!

One word of caution - I hear great things about UA's plugins but they're far from cheap. Ya might be getting into an expensive crack habit LOL!!!!!!
Not working for UA but I'm in the ecosystem. It's only when you're in it that you realize that their plugins are not expensive at all when you wait for the right sale and vouchers in your UA account. My two last plugins cost me 24$ and 44$. Both retails at 199$ for someone visiting the UA webstore "from the outside". But if you're a compulsive buyer and can't wait for sales and promos, they'll drain your credit card for sure.

KA
Old 15th April 2017
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Igotsoul4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry_roure View Post
Anyone else has opinions on their preamps? I'm really curious about de differences in their sound.
This is my main concern. I have a hard time believing that any interface preamps can breach the prosumer barrier. I also have a hard time knowing that my interface will be a brick in 10 years or less. Where do the pre's fall in hall of the greats? Are they as good as an SSL 9000 preamp? Part of me thinks it would be a better investment to buy an 8 channel convertor and legit preamps.
Old 16th April 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Igotsoul4u View Post
I also have a hard time knowing that my interface will be a brick in 10 years or less.
Which is the case with any interface period including your computer.

Quote:
Part of me thinks it would be a better investment to buy an 8 channel convertor and legit preamps.
But then you'll have to buy something to plug that converter into. Something that will be a brick in 10 years or less. This recording business get's expensive after a while. Just the other day I had a thought...... "Why don't I just worry about music and pay a studio to worry about all this other stuff?" Tempting at times. Anyway my apologies for the diversion. No I don't have any version of the Apollo but I have seen many testimonies here on the ability to change pre-amps via software, in particular the ability to change to the UA 610 which seems to get a lot of praise. My only reservations on that is they haven't seem to come up with any other pre-amp emulations that I know of thus far. I will say this in closing, I really like and use their plugins (via a card).
Old 16th April 2017
  #12
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alndln View Post
My only reservations on that is they haven't seem to come up with any other pre-amp emulations that I know of thus far.
Hmm... I'm seeing:

Neve 1073
Neve 88RS
UA610A
UA610B
API Vision
Manley VoxBox
SSL 4000E

That's a lot, and they seem to keep coming out with new ones. Neve 1073 is my current favorite on my Apollo.
Old 25th February 2018
  #13
Gear Head
 

Anyone that has samples between those two interfaces?..Im interested too about these interface..Although apogee seller told me that apogee ensemble and apogee element has exact same converters thats a lie..ensemble has much better converters and same preamp with element..But what the difference with apollo 8?
Old 25th February 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dimosz View Post
Anyone that has samples between those two interfaces?..Im interested too about these interface..Although apogee seller told me that apogee ensemble and apogee element has exact same converters thats a lie..ensemble has much better converters and same preamp with element..But what the difference with apollo 8?
How do you know, that's a lie
Even Apogee officially stated (I won't search for that now, it's somewhere in announcement thread), that Ensemble TB and Element line-up has the same converters and preamps.
Even published specs are exactly the same.
They were able to cut down Element price, because they've omitted controls, analog I/Os and simplified chassis and front panel.

Michal
Old 26th February 2018
  #15
Gear Head
 

Someone tested them both on his studio and ensemble is much better
Better dyanmic wide soundstage..complex highs much open
Old 26th February 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dimosz View Post
Someone tested them both on his studio and ensemble is much better
Better dyanmic wide soundstage..complex highs much open
Frankly, those are just someone's anecdotal thoughts like from audiophile magazine.. Where they tell you expensive sounds always better, even if it will be the completely same thing in fancier package.

Personally I would rather trust the vendor and his published specs. They are in pro audio business for very long time with very good reputation, and have no reasonable reason to claim the same converters and report some bogus figures, when it wouldn't be true.
On top of that, it would be probably quite a shame for them, when someone would teardown those units and found there are different chips and circuitry. Or make some comparative measurement to find out, it's not true.
AFAIK only change is at Element headphone amp, which uses driver circuitry like in their Groove, which was released after Ensemble. So it's rather evolutional step.

Michal
Old 9th May 2018
  #17
Gear Nut
 

Element uses an AKM DAC, while Emsemble 2 uses the ESS Sabre32 DAC. This was confirmed with my conversation with an Apogee tech.

He said that their conversion quality is basically identical though.
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