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Apogee Duet Kicks Ass


jp11801
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      • Ok so I spoiled the entire review/impressions thing with the title but I am just that enthusiastic about this new piece of gear from apogee
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet.php
The unit itself is designed for the recording musician on the go. The unit is powered by the firewire port and that port also serves as the digital in as well. There are NO other digital inputs on this unit and it is designed for Mac users only. The analog ins and outs are acessed by a breakout cable. The analog outs are 1/4 mono females and are meant to be hooked up to powered monitors for audio playback of tracks you have recorded or to monitor recordings as they happen. There is also a 1/4 stereo headphone jack that produces pleasant but not outstanding sound. I hooked this up to my system with a little ghetto magic from Radio Shack, I purchased cheapie 1/4 mono to rca adaptors from them and then was able to use my regular rca. This unit does not provide balanced outputs.

After a quick download of the software from the apogee site I was up and running.
Right from the first note this bar is a kick ass winner. The unit throws a wide soundstage actually wider than my current favorite the Wavelenght Cosecant. Images are incredibly detailed and have extremely defined placement on the stage. Bass is deep and tight and kept suprising me over and over again while I listened to this dac. Now I did switch to a poorly recorded/mastered track Jump (Van Halen) from the hits cd and yes the sibilance and bright highs are oh so present but switch to a good recording Eric Clapton unplugged or Kind of Blue and it sounds killer. This dac reminded me in a way of the Ayre cx7e cd player in that is has great prat with a highly defined stage and killer bass. This to me is saying alot since the ayre is $3k and the apogee is $500.

What could account for such great sound in a small low priced box ???? :doghuh:

We'll I don't know too much about components and layout and why certain choices make great sound but my conjecture is
  • uses just one digital input firewire so it can optimize for this
    • power is provided through firewire port

    [*]is shiney and we all know shiney sources sound better

    I have owned the transporter, ayre cx7e, wadia 302, exemplar 2900, apogee mini dac and the wavelenght cosecant and beleive this unit holds its own with this group. It is probably not as good as the exemplar or ayre but I might pick it over the transporter, mini dac or wadia 302

    I'll be doing some more listening this weekend but so far I am really impressed by this dac. I am lukewarm on the headphone section as it is ok but not what a typicall user here might be looking for.

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I'm still trying to get you to give me your fracken address so I can send you the last cable you hand me build! :stick:

LOLROTF! That's classic ;D

Since you're sending him a box anyway, why not build him a nice, short 15 pin DB25 to RCA adapter for him?

duetgallery2lg6e46415su5.jpg

Makes me wonder if Apogee is using some sort of custom drivers for asynchronous digital transfer via Firewire. Heck, disabling the power from Firewire and rigging up some sort of outboard battery PS, etc, will elevate it further. The possibilities are endless :)

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On jp's recommendation I picked one of these up in my never ended quest to find a source as good as the Cosecant for less money. I don't know if I found it but I am closer than I was yesterday. This dac is by far better than the Cayin I auditioned a few weeks ago. This dac is really giving the Cosecant a run for the money. To me it has a slightly warmer sound but still incredibliy detailed. The bass response is to me where it is clearly a winner. I've volume matched as best I can without a meter (picking one up tomorrow) and on every track I play there is very noticable difference. The bass just goes deeper. I mentioned the volume matching because being off a bit can create the illusion of deeper bass so I will wait for the meeter before passing judgment.

It's difficult to get out of my head the fact the Cosecant retails for $3500 while the duet retails for $500. Something this relatively inexpensive shouldn't sound this good. At least that's what I keep telling myself. As I listen, I'm asking myself whether I can live with this sq as part of my system and the answer keeps coming up yes. At the moment I'm going strictly with my speakers but will give Tom H's 650s with my GE Senn cable a try later.

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buy a mac.

Yes, even a 1st gen g4 mini is more than enough computer to use with the duet for music serving. You should be able to score a g4 mini for under $300. Another $200 for a 750gb drive ,and you have one hell of a music server for $1000.

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Yes, even a 1st gen g4 mini is more than enough computer to use with the duet for music serving. You should be able to score a g4 mini for under $300. Another $200 for a 750gb drive ,and you have one hell of a music server for $1000.

That actually sounds pretty good..espcially since my desktop is loud as hell with its fans.

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Pico is more portable, more flexible, and probably has a better headamp.

Duet has an ADC, firewire, mac only, can't be used stand-alone.

The Duet isn't meant to be portable (I realize that pretty obvious). To use the Pico in a home set up you would have to run it from the headphone out which I am guessing would be a compromise. The Duet has a volume control but you can set it so it is disabled (0 db). I plan trying the Pico as my office source. I am also curious as to how it will compare with the Duet and will know pretty soon. I didn't buy the duet for a headphone amp and I would be shocked if the Pico wasn't better.

Vicki, I would love to have a mini meet. I just have to see if I can put it together before MOA.

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With my increased use of (iMac)SB3/840C combo, the capability of Duet really intrigues me. I could get a long FireWire cable and use it with the iMac since it is in the same room as my headphone gears.

Of course, the better solution would be if I could find Squeezebox with great analog outputs.

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I wonder if anyone will have one at Voltron's. I bet the Duet compares favorably to the Exemplar. Gene and maybe Al as well will have mac notebooks for the Duet. I will bring mine so there will be two.

Mike, if I drive I'll bring both my eXemplar Denon 2900 and a SACDMods Eastsound E5. If I fly, people will have to be happy with my iPod and AE-2. Of course, it's no longer a $1400 eXemplar. I had John Tucker put in the latest mods and now it's an $1850 eXemplar. :)

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The Duet isn't meant to be portable (I realize that pretty obvious).

well yes and no it is meant to be very transportable and would function in a similar fashion to the pico with a laptop. The Duet is really meant for musicians that record through an apple computer and it's ins/outs are set up for that purpose as is the firewire power solution so you can run off the laptops battery while recording.

The fact that our hobby can use it is a cool happenstance as it was not designed with our community in mind it was made for the recoding musician. This makes it really easy to record anywhere all you need is a mike and you can lay down multitrac recordings sans power outlet.

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