Apogee Electronics Element 24 by Obagam
I read a lot of opinions here about the Element and not a whole lot of real facts. The first thing I kept reading in this forum was that they use the same converters found in Duet 2/Quartet. This is WRONG. They are the same components found in the new new Ensemble Thunderbolt and it has the same headphone output technology found in the Apogee Symphony Mk2 and Apogee Groove. So you get all this amazing technology at a lower price point because everything is controlled by software via computer or mobile app.
I like having a mobile option when I step out of the studio and to me the Duet 2 was perfect. It is showing its age and the Element was the next best option. I love being able to have super low latency using Thunderbolt. I can run plenty of channels and tons of plugins with no CPU lag or the usual crackles and pops on 32 buffer. My current go to plugins are by Acustica, Equilibrium EQ, Fabfilter, Waves and Slate Digital.
I have a pair of 600ohm Beyerdynamics DT880 modded with Mogami cable. The headphone output auto switches to 600 ohm and they sound absolutely breathtaking. If you have an interest in the Apogee Groove, it's an excellent choice. The Element, Groove and Symphony MK2 use the same headphone output technology.
The monitor output is the same as found in the new Ensemble Thundebolt and it sounds amazing. I appreciate the fact that you can stack units and build your studio out accordingly with the Elements.
The Element 24 is perfect for mobile use. It fits in my backpack and its foot print is smaller than my macbook pro 15".
My only gripes are the fact that it's not buss powered. Having to plug it in is very inconvenient. Thunderbolt 3 should carry more power so will this soon be a focus for Apogee? I was tempted to get the Zoom Tac 2R because of this. The mixer can also be confusing to work with in the beginning but after spending some time you get used to the workflow. I like how you can work with the hardware directly from Logic Pro X. The wireless control option through mobile app is a great feature! I wish it had DB25 for quick use with API lunchboxes but it's still usable. I'm also amazed the outputs are not DC coupled like the competing UAD Apollos.
Overall, I love the sound quality, the simplicity and the speed of thunderbolt. I'd like to hear a comparison with the new UAD Apollo but based on specs it looks like the elements have better AD/DA specs and headphone output. There's no in depth AD/DA specs from UAD which is pretty shady I think. You can only find them here: http://media.uaudio.com/support/down...are_Manual.pdf. Compared to the Element, they don't even come close. I highly recommend the Element series for seasoned studio veterans and anyone just starting to build out a studio.