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New Apogee Duet vs Apogee Ensemble (FW400) Converters
Old 6th February 2015
  #1
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Jodd's Avatar
New Apogee Duet vs Apogee Ensemble (FW400) Converters

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.. Essentially is it worth upgrading to the Apogee Ensemble (The older FW400 version) if I won't be utilizing the extra inputs or outs? Primarily track vocals.. maybe some bass guitar or electric here and there... rarely would need to use more than one input at a time.. Are the converters in the NEW Duet for iPad and Mac actually better than the Ensemble? Although the Ensemble is a bit more expansive would I actually be taking a step back by going the route of the Ensemble as opposed to the Duet?
Old 6th February 2015
  #2
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The converters and mic pres in the current-gen Duet are technically better than the ones in the original FireWire Ensemble. They are closer to the designs in the current-gen Ensemble Thunderbolt. Plus, the new Duet gets lower latency than the Ensemble-FireWire and actually plugs into new computers since it's USB 2.0 instead of FireWire 400.
Old 6th February 2015
  #3
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonSpacht View Post
The converters and mic pres in the current-gen Duet are technically better than the ones in the original FireWire Ensemble. They are closer to the designs in the current-gen Ensemble Thunderbolt. Plus, the new Duet gets lower latency than the Ensemble-FireWire and actually plugs into new computers since it's USB 2.0 instead of FireWire 400.
If you don't mind answering (and am sure it is system dependent), how much worse is the latency on the Ensemble FW800... and does it have to do with the drivers? thanks!
Old 7th February 2015
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lestermagneto View Post
If you don't mind answering (and am sure it is system dependent), how much worse is the latency on the Ensemble FW800... and does it have to do with the drivers? thanks!
Both are Apple Core Audio interfaces, and by the time we got to designing the Symphony I/O and Duet 2 (released in 2010-2011), FireWire Core Audio and USB Core Audio had already flip-flopped in efficiency in favor of USB. Here's an old comparison chart between Duet-FireWire and Duet-USB, but the numbers should be about equivalent with the Ensemble-FireWire.

Duet (FireWire) vs. Duet 2 (USB)

Roundtrip Latency performance
Duet-FireWire
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 4.6 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 7.23 ms

Duet-USB
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 3.6 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 5.8 ms

As of last year Apple has fully removed FireWire from their computers in favor of Thunderbolt, and they're not really continuing to develop FireWire Core Audio - which is why everything we've released has been USB or Thunderbolt for the last five years.

-Edit-

And just for another point of reference, Ensemble Thunderbolt gets:
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 1.1 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 4.31ms
(which is pretty awesome)
Old 7th February 2015
  #5
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lestermagneto's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonSpacht View Post
Both are Apple Core Audio interfaces, and by the time we got to designing the Symphony I/O and Duet 2 (released in 2010-2011), FireWire Core Audio and USB Core Audio had already flip-flopped in efficiency in favor of USB. Here's an old comparison chart between Duet-FireWire and Duet-USB, but the numbers should be about equivalent with the Ensemble-FireWire.

Duet (FireWire) vs. Duet 2 (USB)

Roundtrip Latency performance
Duet-FireWire
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 4.6 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 7.23 ms

Duet-USB
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 3.6 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 5.8 ms

As of last year Apple has fully removed FireWire from their computers in favor of Thunderbolt, and they're not really continuing to develop FireWire Core Audio - which is why everything we've released has been USB or Thunderbolt for the last five years.

-Edit-

And just for another point of reference, Ensemble Thunderbolt gets:
32 buffer @ 96kHz = 1.1 ms
64 buffer @ 44.1kHz = 4.31ms
(which is pretty awesome)

Wow, thanks so much for the info Don! Sincerely appreciated!
Old 7th February 2015
  #6
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Jodd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonSpacht View Post
The converters and mic pres in the current-gen Duet are technically better than the ones in the original FireWire Ensemble. They are closer to the designs in the current-gen Ensemble Thunderbolt. Plus, the new Duet gets lower latency than the Ensemble-FireWire and actually plugs into new computers since it's USB 2.0 instead of FireWire 400.
Thanks! Great feedback.. looks like I'm going to stick with the Duet...
Old 7th February 2015
  #7
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jodd View Post
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.. Essentially is it worth upgrading to the Apogee Ensemble (The older FW400 version) if I won't be utilizing the extra inputs or outs? Primarily track vocals.. maybe some bass guitar or electric here and there... rarely would need to use more than one input at a time.. Are the converters in the NEW Duet for iPad and Mac actually better than the Ensemble? Although the Ensemble is a bit more expansive would I actually be taking a step back by going the route of the Ensemble as opposed to the Duet?
The Duet drivers are EXTREMELY buggy. I'd stay far, far away right now. The output gaps constantly, and Apogee ignores the tickets, because they don't have any solutions or suggestions at all. The Duet is basically unusable junk at this point.
Old 8th February 2015
  #8
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I have two Apogee "Duet for iPad and Mac"s and have never experienced any of the issues listed above. I've used these Duets with 5 completely different set-ups: iMac (2011), Mac Pro (trashcan), and three different Macbook Pro's. I've never had a single issue. My software is always up to date, though - that may be an issue that kafka is having. It is extremely important to install the correct Apogee software for your system.

Just wanted to add that in as a positive review, in opposition of kafka's negative review.

In addition to the Duets, I also run an Ensemble Firewire (bought in 2009) and a Symphony at the studio. I must admit, the newest Duets do sound a bit better than the firewire Ensemble. Seriously, they do.
Old 8th February 2015
  #9
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Jodd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by slammy80 View Post
I have two Apogee "Duet for iPad and Mac"s and have never experienced any of the issues listed above. I've used these Duets with 5 completely different set-ups: iMac (2011), Mac Pro (trashcan), and three different Macbook Pro's. I've never had a single issue. My software is always up to date, though - that may be an issue that kafka is having. It is extremely important to install the correct Apogee software for your system.

Just wanted to add that in as a positive review, in opposition of kafka's negative review.

In addition to the Duets, I also run an Ensemble Firewire (bought in 2009) and a Symphony at the studio. I must admit, the newest Duets do sound a bit better than the firewire Ensemble. Seriously, they do.

I've never had any issues with the Duet either. I used to have the Ensemble for my studio and used the Duet at home. I recently sold the Ensemble and in the interim began using the Duet at the studio. It worked really well but I just figured I would need something comparable to the Ensemble down the line. Looked around and didn't really see anything that blew me away so I thought about getting another Ensemble. Thanks for all the feedback though. I actually ended up ordering an Audient ID22. Heard a lot of great things about the DAC, so can't wait to see how it stacks up against the Duet.
Old 9th February 2015
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
The Duet drivers are EXTREMELY buggy. I'd stay far, far away right now. The output gaps constantly, and Apogee ignores the tickets, because they don't have any solutions or suggestions at all. The Duet is basically unusable junk at this point.
Thats not true the drivers are very stable, it's not worse then others usb interfaces.I just switched to test to my other interfaces close to its price the difference of conversion its shocking Apogee converters are top notch !
Old 9th February 2015
  #11
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lacnadon View Post
Thats not true the drivers are very stable, it's not worse then others usb interfaces.I just switched to test to my other interfaces close to its price the difference of conversion its shocking Apogee converters are top notch !
Good for you. But they're not working for me.
Old 14th February 2015
  #12
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PrichA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Good for you. But they're not working for me.
Hey Kafka,

Out of interest do you have the Duet 2 power adapter plugged in? I've found that it causes the Duet 2 to become buggy when it's not needed. You might want to leave it out of your equation if you do have it in.

Otherwise to echo the other guys I have 0 issues with my Duet 2 and it sounds like a dream.
Old 14th February 2015
  #13
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kafka's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrichA View Post
Out of interest do you have the Duet 2 power adapter plugged in? I've found that it causes the Duet 2 to become buggy when it's not needed. You might want to leave it out of your equation if you do have it in.
I've tried it both with and without the adapter. Thanks.
Old 10th June 2015
  #14
I also had a lot of problems with my Duet 2, so I sold it and got a Twin.

Now I'm looking into the Ensemble 2, but am wary due to my past experience.
Old 14th April 2016
  #15
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Has anyone owned both a Ensemble FW and a Duet 2? I have a Duet 2 but was considering the older Ensemble because it's affordable and has more inputs. Obviously the Thunderbolt one would be nice but it's kind of pricey.
Old 20th May 2016
  #16
Here for the gear
I have the firewire duet and couldn't be happier with the results. I've tried the Focusrite 2i2, Saffire 40, Presonus Firestudio Mobile and they were all decent for the price. I picked up the fw duet on CL for $125 and sounds better to my ears than all the other interfaces I've tried. I don't see the need to spend that much more for a few ms of less latency and a smidge of sound quality (duet 2, apollo, motu, RME). Maybe others are number chasers and it's easy to fall into that trap but my advise is to spend time honing the craft rather than comparing numbers. Recently recorded a piano using an AT2035 with the fw duet and sounded so nice. If and when it breaks down, I will look into the USB duet 2.
Old 5th August 2016
  #17
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PrichA's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnyill View Post
Has anyone owned both a Ensemble FW and a Duet 2? I have a Duet 2 but was considering the older Ensemble because it's affordable and has more inputs. Obviously the Thunderbolt one would be nice but it's kind of pricey.
I've owned both Ensemble and Duet 2. If you want more inputs and outs get en Ensemble. I've had no issues or notable quality loss when i incorporated Ensemble into my studio years ago. There's definitely a different sound, i think the highs on the Ensemble are less hyped than the Duet 2.

You could always use the Duet 2 to record back into your DAW after analog summing if that's what you're doing with the Ensemble.

Regards
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