The Apogee Duet 2 is simple and very quick to set-up. It doesn’t come with a CD but a program downloaded from their website called Apogee Maestro 2 needs to be installed. It also comes with a breakout cable, which splits out to two XLR female jacks and two instrument cables (XLR/JACK).
When I first tested the Apogee Duet 2 I was blown away with the pristine quality. Also the ease of setting the gain with the large silver dial, which is also very well built. The whole device is very well built with a very sturdy casing. Mostly everything you want to access you can access through the Duet 2’s silver dial. Before I was using the Apogee Duet 2 I was using the Line 6 Toneport KB37. The difference in quality was huge. The Duet 2 sounds very large and is equipped with very clean preamps.
If you work from an apple computer and are looking for a small audio interface with exceptional audio quality then this is for you. The only drawback I would say is the limited amount of I/0. The price may seem like an investment but if you are passionate about creating pristine audio tracks then it is defiantly worth it. You will be blown away with this tiny box!
I'm in love with the sound coming from the headphones and xlr balance outs. They are better than the focusrite Saffire 56 Liquid pro. I heard a noticeable improvement in quality straight away with the Duet 2.
There's no midi in/out on this card, but what you pay for is the sound quality of recording and playback.
This is an amazing portable sound card and I would be able to record and mix with confidence with this as my mobile setup.
Totally impressed with the controls too, they're stepped in 1 db increments so when it comes to replicating settings, job done easily.
The look is terrible imho, I don't like the metallic edge it looks cheap and tacky and I'll rather an elegant glass face instead of it being recessed with metallic border.
Overall, the drivers are quite stable now, and the firmware update has remedied initial issues with the duet being not recognised on your computer.
A modern marvel of audio engineering and a pleasure to mix with it.
Sounds fantastic, it has very detailed and transparent pres and converters. I upgraded from a 003 and was amazed at the clarity while tracking and mixing. I started hearing things I couldn't hear before and could actually make some detailed comparisons for the first time. Some have complained about it being more harsh, I don't really hear it that way. I hear it as more clarity on the top end, great for your modern day sound if that's what you are after. Plus you can always warm it up with an external pre, maestro will let you switch between line and xlr.
Good meters and programmable buttons so you don't have to always use the maestro software. Separate mixes can be sent to monitors and headphones. Plus it now has balanced outs so I wouldn't hesitate to run it out to some outboard gear and back in.
The usb 2.0 is nice and has good latency but occasionally my Macbook won't recognize it. Although I haven't had the problem since I've been plugging it in after the computer was on and made sure not to use the use hub.
I would definitely recommend it unless you need to ever expand past the limited 2 channels.
I did love Duet II, it's great for home studio's and if your only ever really needing two channels at a time for recording. But it can get stereo mixes done and done well. The only real issue I had with it was it often wouldn't register with my mac and would often find myself unplugging it, and plugging it back in a couple times before it was recognized. This got to be kind of annoying, but not the biggest issue.
I loved the 4 meter display and how easy it was to set it up and customize the two buttons on the front if you wanted to clear meters, or mute the whole track, or more. I am trying out the RME Babyface right now, and am not seeing a whole lot of different in sound quality. The only thing I noticed about the babyface was that it sounded a little bit thicker, and had a smoother top end, and more detailed low end, but the difference was so small, that unless you had two recorded examples from each, you would probably never notice the difference.
For it's price though, i think all in all it sounds fantastic. Theres not a lot to complain about except the recognition bug which lots of people seem to be having. Other than that, there are better interfaces, just not for 600 dollars. This could easily pull off professional sounding recordings.
Conclusion: Sounds fantastic, and is easy to use. The only people who will notice the difference in recordings with the duet and recordings in a studio, are in the vast minority and the difference in sound is nothing to worry about.
Last edited by Nunuchi; 4th March 2012 at 03:05 AM..
Reason: Crappy Grammar.
The construction of the unit is solid. Nice weight to it.
The 4 outputs is a huge bonus because it allows me to give the singer a different mix via a pre-fader send routed to outputs 3/4.
I wish there was a way to angle it up a bit. Propping it up on something to tilt it is hard because the phones jack is on the bottom.
My MAJOR ISSUE is static. Not audio static, but static charge. I never feel a "zap" but very often (almost daily) the Duet would loose contact with my mac the instant I touch the rotary wheel. I spoke with tech support several time and they said it's a known issue. My solution was to cover the wheel in masking tape (because it's non-conductive). Since doing that, I haven't had the issue. Although it looks awful and cheap with masking tape on such a sleek interface.
Sonically, I love it. The preamps and DIs sound great.
The Maestro software is easy and intuitive. Works great with itunes and other mac audio sources.
The breakout cable is nice quality and well made.
The only reservation I have from HIGHLY recommending this to someone is the grounding/static issue.
Last edited by nashbbq; 4th March 2012 at 03:23 AM..
Reason: added content
I just got the Duet II, moving "up" from Saffire Pro 40. The difference in sound is quite noticeable on my Adam A7s, the low mids and highs are clearer. Preamps are a tad warmer, the four meter display is great for monitoring and the Maestro software is simple and intuitive (in specially compared to the Saffire Pro 40). I do miss more ins/outs or at least a digital interface and I found the price a bit high at first, but after hearing it all those thoughts went away. It might just be my Duet, but I have a small problem when changing volume: I can hear an around 100hz buzz while the display notifies of the change. When the notification disappears, so does the buzz. I contacted Apogee Customer Support, they responded very fast and we're trying to find the cause of this. Also, after recovering from sleep the Duet fails to reopen and I have to shut down, unplug and plug it a couple of times in order for it to work. Happened once just before a gig and my heart was racing thinking it won't start again.
Still, it's an interface I would definetly recommend, has pristine sound quality and looks and feels great near an earlier gen Macbook Pro.
The Apogee Duet 2 is a 2 in x 4 out USB audio interface, which comes with a breakout cable for all its I/O. It is designed beautifully and sits very nicely alongside any Mac. The primary difference between the Apogee Duet 2 and the original Duet is that the Apogee Duet 2 is USB while the original Duet is Firewire. Given the potential for incompatibilities between firewire interfaces and the computer’s firewire chipset, having a USB interface is beneficial. However, some users of the Duet 2 have reported problems with the Duet 2 drivers. I have found no such problems, using the Duet 2 with my MacBook Pro.
In terms of sound, the Duet 2 is very clean, and clear. Apogee claims that the mic preamps and converters have been redesigned, implying a step up from the original Duet mic preamps and converters. My test recordings of the Duet 2 appear to show that the Duet 2 is very clear but also potentially very bright compared with other interfaces I have used in the past. More A/B tests would need to be run with other interfaces in order to confirm if this is true. If true, then it would be a bit disappointing, given Apogee’s claim of improved mic preamps and converters.
All in all I would say I am happy with the Duet 2, but I wonder if we would be better served by a more transparent, flat sound (assuming my perception that the Duet 2 is overly bright holds true in A/B tests to come).
The Review: Best bang for your buck in it's price range.
As the previous owner of the Duet, and a current owner the Duet 2, i have to say I love what Apogee has done. If you need a good vocal interface or a basic two channel set up, look no further then the Duet or Duet 2. It has beautiful recording capabilities, enough gain to power some of the biggest gain hogging microphones out there (such as the Sm7b), sleek design, and great one wheel control over your gain and monitoring outputs with a simple push and turn action. They cleaned up the breakout cable section on the Duet 2, giving us two neutrick style connections rather then four break outs like in the previous version, as well as add two touch screen user assignable buttons to the front of the LED screen, and a longer cable to reach to the computer.
I along with many others have had some issues with getting it to read to the computer. It doesn't happen often for me, and I have always been able to correct the problem within five minutes or so, but it can get really annoying when it happens. They say an update is in the works, so i guess we will find out.
So I'm sitting here working on a track, I plug in my Duet so I can hear it on my monitors but guess what?? It wont connect again. Now I have to stop what I'm doing, close everything down and restart my MBP for this thing to work.
This happens way too often and it's been months since the last update which didn't help very much. At first you simply couldn't hot plug this thing at all, now it works two out of three times.
As great at it sounds, it's a constant annoyance to have to restart my MPB every time I want to work on a track with my monitors or my AKG K702 headphones which need a good headphone pre to drive them.
Another thing is that the audio always has some type of hiccup a couple of minutes after you finally get it to connect. Forget about using this for live shows.
We shouldn't have to deal with this type of **** after paying $600 for a 2 in / 4 out audio interface.
Duet 2 could have a been a nice 4 output soundcard, where 3-4 are the headphones out.
Instead, it is a fragile interface lacking proper drivers. I stopped using the duet 3+ months ago. Today I decided to listen to some music while in the bedroom with the duet using some headphones. Plugged it in and the 'A' stays dotting away forever... plug, un plug, same old issue. Old by technological standards because this thing is so new it is ridiculous.
I checked the website and the last driver update is from October 2011. Apogee knows a lot of their customers have this issue. But they don't address it. My last email change with apogee what they were mostly worried about was if it was still under warranty. How could it not be I wondered since I had just bought it. This shows the mindset of a company. I've since switched. I can't bear the idea of dealing with scathing tech support after spending 600$us on a two channel interface.
I do not regret having dumped the duet 2 and today I was just reminded of why. Despite being limited in connectivity - no digi in/out - the duet could have been a great little DAC, portable et al. Instead drivers killed the product. No one should have to reboot a computer to be able to work with an sound interface. Life's too short for this nonsense.
The Apogee Duet 2 has to be one of my best purchases since my UAD-2 Solo.
What is the Duet 2?
In a simple answer: It's a 2 In / 4 Out Compact USB Audio Interface with Two High Quality Mic Preamps or Line Inputs. The Duet 2 A-D and D-A converters are claimed to be of very high end quality.
I purchased the Duet 2 in June 2011, and was lucky enough to get my hands on a unit as soon as they became available here in the UK. Having just purchased the previous generation Duet a couple of weeks before, I was delighted to hear about the newer updated Duet, and with my retailer being very understanding, I was able to swap my purchase for the newer Duet 2.
The first thing I noticed was the weight of the packaging compared to the Duet 1. The Duet 2 packaging box just felt more robust and better designed, leaving a positive impression for what awaited inside.
Holding the Duet 2 in my hands, I could feel that extra weight, it felt more substantial and more grippy. The sleek black surface and the big shiny silver knob just made me want to plug it in and see those colourful OLED's light up, and of course I couldn't wait to hear the improved converters and Apogee's claim on their world-class microphone preamps.
The first thing I did was to install the Duet 2 software and driver / firmware updates from Apogee's website. I plugged in the Duet 2 into my Macbook Pro computer via the supplied USB 2.0 cable and launched both the Maestro 2 software and Itunes. I spent the next two hours or so just listening to my favourite recordings using my Sony MDR-7509 headphones and testing the Duet 2 mic preamps using my Rode K2 Valve Microphone. My first impressions - WOW.
I immediately noticed the pureness of the audio converters inside the Duet 2. The headphone amp is super powerful, with high headroom and performs ultra quiet. Listening to many of my favourite CD's right from the 80's to current pop, I could hear details that I may have never noticed previously using other audio interfaces. In many cases I was able to accurately pin-point sounds in the stereo field just using my headphones. I was just amazed by the unforgiving nature of the Duet 2 D-A convertors, it just won't let you enjoy lesser quality recordings, and so many of the modern over compressed mixes didn't impress me much either. You can hear subtle distortion, background noise, hum noise, hiss, instruments clashing with each other, poor mixing techniques, over use of EQ, and so many other minor flaws in recordings.
The Duet 2 really shines when you listen to the many great recordings and professionally mixed and mastered CD's, and it just sounds absolutely incredible. The converters are extremely quiet and dare I say - very open and transparent. Moving on, the microphone preamps are just beautiful, open and airy. You get the impression that Apogee have really stepped up with the sound quality with these preamps. With my K2 microphone plugged in, spoken words sound huge, clear and radio ready. The preamps are so clean even when you take the gain up to 60db, they can be used for just about anything that needs a delicate capture.
Finally, the user interface of the Duet 2 is very neat and easy to operate. The one knob function is genius. The OLED is great to look at, especially at night and certainly usable for indication of levels. My only gripe being that the two touch pads on the Duet 2 surface could have been back light illuminated for use in low light conditions. However the mute function is very handy and being able to clear the meters or assign other functions is just great. The break-out cables are tidy in use, but perhaps could be more robust. I must also add that the Apogee soft-limit works very well at rounding of transients and being able to sneak a few more db's into my recordings, and yet still produce a musical sound.
Overall, I love this unit. For the price, you really do get that high end sound for your money. It's a dream come true for low end project studios and home studio setups. You get the same sort of sound as the big studios in a compact little box at a lower price point...Wonderful
Thank you for reading my Duet 2 review, and I really hope it helps anybody out there make a better purchase decision.
Everything continues to shrink in audio but always seems to get better. The Apogee Duet 2 is the perfect example of this progress. It takes a multitude of audio sources (instruments; line in; mics and gets them into your Mac with little fuss. The sound is oustanding: as clean and detailed as any other converter i've used (Saffire Pro, HD24, Audiofire). The added benefit of the Duet is that it perfect for using in more casual environments like the workplace or your personal office. The big silver knob is the perfect volume control when you are listening to iTunes. In DAW-land the knob navigation actually works really quickly to access your input gain and output levels. The display always shows the VU meters for the inputs and outputs until you adjust the knob where it switches to whatever IO you are adjusting.
A few negatives have cropped up during use. The drivers seem to be flakey: you need to reboot your Mac when you want to reconnect the Duet a second time. This behavior started with the launch of Lion but Apogee has been good about communicating with customers that have the issue. A recent beta has mostly solved the issue. One oversight i can't forgive is that you can't use the 1/4" TRS connector as a line-level input. You have to use XLR connector if you are using an external preamp or other source like a keyboard. Seems silly.
The Duet is an extremely robust US-made piece of high-quality audio input that is pro-sounding enough for nearly any studio that only needs a few ins and outs but the constant driver issues make it unreliable for anyone who values their time.
Last edited by spiral; 2nd September 2012 at 09:29 PM..
Reason: Continuous driver issues
I've done recordings with several audio interfaces within different price range. If you need something very compact then Duet 2 is your thing. It sounds absolutely amazing and it's worth every penny.
If you usually overdub and not planning to record a drum kit, Duet 2 is a perfect choice. 2 inputs are enough. It doesn't have a MIDI in/out, but if you don't have much of an external gear it is not really necessary. You can always plug in any cheap usb midi interface. No change in sound quality. The converters are top of the tops.
Very easy to use, perfect for musician or electronic music producer.
Download and install Maestro 2, plug in your guitar and usb midi keyboard and record.
I have been using my Duet 2 for well over a year now, first on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Upgraded later to 10.7 Lion. And right now it runs on my brand new Macbook Pro Retina with 10.8 Mountain Lion.
On the forums I saw some complaints concerning the drivers for the Duet 2, but these havent caused me any issues.
The sound quality is perfect! Used it both with KRK Rokit RP6's and Dynaudio BM6a mk2's. Perfect perfect perfect!
I got the Duet2 yesterday for my mobile setup. i love the sound, crisp, wide, detailed.
I ran it with Ableton live8, 2.7GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7 Macbook Pro 2012 (non retina) 8gb RAM,128GB SSD,Mountain Lion 10.8.3
No problems with setting up, worked straight away.
I got some latency issues when i tried to record some vocals. i know i can always turn off the monitoring and just record, but i cant record vocals unless i can hear myself.
This wasn't a problem in pro tools 8 (Mbox2) where i used to just mute the track and record.
I'm going to try to trouble shoot the latency issue later on today, to see if i can reduce the latency. usually it can be sorted out with some tweaking,but even if i don't manage to reduce it, i think i will end up keeping it to use for listening back to music.
As far as sound quality, this is one of the best if not the best in this price range.
I have a duet2 running on a macbook pro retina. There are troubles on the usb ports. It needs about 20 minutes to begin flashing the "A" and after 5 minutes or so sunddenly starts working properly. I contacted several times the assistance and they gave trivial suggestions that were useless. I tried the duet2 on different Macs ( no retina) and it worked fine. I discovered Duet2 uses 500 ma and Usb3 in mac book retina are rated for a maximum o 500 ma. So that apple ports are non standard ( an usb3 has to give 900 ma) and that explains why the Duet takes so long time to charge. I will try an Y usb power cable to connect both usb and boost some power. I think that could solve the issue.
The soundcard works fine...when starts working. I am disappointed Apple made that kind of ports and did not told anyone. So Apogee (a dedicated Mac developer) that did not warn. I bought the make book pro retina expressely to use Apogee duet2 and now have to find by myself a solution (...and none told me how). Next week I will receive the Y usb power cable by a mail order and make a try. The cable costs 2 euros and shipment 5. I will let you know what happens.
after months of pondering over what unit to get, i finally made the choice of a duet 2.
SOUND QUALITY: let me just run through the awesomeness of the unit before getting into the issue i faced. The clarity, definition, imaging and depth of the sound just almost instantly sky rocketed. I was previously just listening through the macbook soundcard, and wow, what an advancement. I mean i've worked in studios with rosettas, the avid hd cards n etc.. and always came back home to check the mix i did to see how it translated to my headphones (Shure SRH440)... and was always feeling that the depth was lacking and the mix was a bit dull and undefined on the cans. I was unable to hear the verbs and the delays n all that cool stuff, and i just attributed it to the headphones i was using, thinking it was just how they sounded.. but man, i was in for a surprise.
With the duet, it almost feels as if i was back in the studio listening to my mixes, all the delays, all the verbs right there. You can hear every detail of the mix. Stereo imaging is as clear as it can get on headphones, all toms sound like they're where they're supposed to be and not just like a farty blow emanating from some unknown central source. The low end, and the highs, tight and crisp as far as the headphones allow them to be. The mids, beautifully defined. Overall, awesome unit.. loved it, easy as **** to use, awesome sound quality.
Havent tried a mic with it just yet, am hoping to do that soon. Recorded DI bass with it, sounded quite nice, also DI guitars. Both the DI's actually sounded fairly clean in the sense that through the duet, the captured sound was the exact tonal quality of the bass and the guitar (for ex, if the guitar sounds tight in the low end and crisp in the highs through an amp (at flat settings, none of it was compromised in the DI recording).
A WARNING FOR ALL USERS WITH SNOW LEOPARD: update your software to 10.6.8 before installing the software. I have a macbook, with snow leopard, and at the time of installing the duet, which i purchased just a few days ago, I was running 10.6.6 and f*ck dude, I was hurdled with problems. I installed the previous drivers which i found off the apogee site, and connected the unit, and was running maestro 1.9, everything was fine, the laptop recognised the unit, so the protools and logic BUT maestro did not. The purple A kept showing on the unit. Sound was passing through the unit, just that i was unable to meter it off the duet. Anyways, took me about 2-3 hrs but i finally did an update to osx 10.6.8 (snow leopard) which is what the latest drivers require to run, and bam, it worked instantly.
As a recording engineer of classical/acoustic music, I can attest to what a great product the Apogee Duet is. The preamps are cleaner and more nuanced than any other sub-$1000 interface I've used. You can't ask for better converters than Apogee. From their original AD16x/DA16x all the way to their new Ensemble Thunderbolt, Apogee converters will blow you away time and time again, and the Duet2 especially is no exception. Bravo!!
This is one of the best things I have ever bought after the duet firewire that i still have and use. I haven't given it full marks on a couple of points because you can obviously buy better(?)/different ad/da converters with better(?)/different preamps. Perhaps also a gripe of mine is that there is no way of easily integrating outboard gear for mix duties. 2 more outputs would make this audio interface complete for me...preamps are really good but i do end up using outboard preamps bypassing the duet's and just using the duet's ad, though i regularly still use the in-built ones and don't particularly feel that I am missing out on much.....For tracking and just listening to music this is a great piece of kit. Headphone amp is quite good.
There is an obvious difference listening to music through the duet compared to just through my computer outputs. I would love some esoteric ad/da but they cost a lot. The duet does a lot for 500 odd quid.