Apogee Electronics Jam by JoeSciacca
When it comes to tracking ideas you just want something portable, easy to use, and of course good sounding. Since you never know when creativity strikes all of these requirements are mandatory. With today's technology these shouldn't be too difficult to realize, but many times with the consequence that the product becomes way too expensive.
With the Apogee Jam all of these requirements come to place. A tiny little box (portable), with great A/D converters (good sounding), with a minimal user interface (easy-to-use), at a reasonable price (not expensive).
I casually found the Apogee in the nearby Apple Store and since I've already had read and heard a lot of other praised Apogee Products (One, Duet, Ensemble, etc.), and the price (119 Swiss Francs, 99$) wasn't to outrageous I thought it could serve as a replacement for my good old Line6 GuitarPort, that unfortunately can't be connected to neither iPhone or iPad to do guitar idea tracking while on the road or at home.
Scenario 1: Guitar, Apogee Jam, iPhone 4, Garage Band
Since i've discovered Garage Band on my iPhone it has become my creative playground for collecting new ideas with the smart instruments. To be able to track guitar ideas alongside nicely completes the mobile studio and since the iPhone mic sounds useful there is just no more excuse to get rid of your Fostex four track cassette recorders.
You plug, you play. Just create a new Amp simulation track in Garage Band push record, and there you go. Set the level of your guitar with the turning wheel on the side of the Apogee Jam so that the control led don't start blushing (red) at you and you're fine. As for the latency the experienced among us will sense that slight lack of responsiveness, but that's not that much of an issue and completely gone if you plug into an iPad2 or iPhone 4S. - And yes, it work's with your bass guitar as well!
Conclusion: Go collect ideas for your next smash hit wherever you may are.
Scenario 2: Guitar, Apogee Jam, iMac 21", ProTools
Since Scenario 1 sounded too good to be true I took the ride to break some boundaries and connected the Jam to my iMac and instead of using Garage Band I fired ProTools 10 to do some Guitar Tracking with Eleven Free. Just to see if it would work.
Well this will require you to be more skilled in configure your DAW. Since the Jam has no monitoring output, you can't set it as the main playback engine like you would with Apogee One. Instead you use the ProTools Aggregate I/O and activate it there. Check the enclosed image to see what I mean. Despite this little setup detour the tracking in ProTools runs smoothly and rock solid with no clicks, buzzes, and other undesired artifacts.
Conclusion: The Jam sounded so great through the Eleven Free Plugin that I thought it would be nice if I'd let the music do the talking. Check the ApogeeJamMix in the Attachments.
Apogee Jam Mix Credits
- EZ Drummer (Standard) Plugin
- Cheap Bass Guitar (99$), through the Apogee
- Duesenberg Starplayer, Seymour Duncan Jazz-2, through Apogee
- Eleven Free Plugin, Vintage Crunch
- Guitars, Bass, Drums, Record, Mix by me (Joe Sciacca)