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Apogee Ensemble Reviews
This interface is underpriced. 4 pristine clean apogee mic pres and those convertors are Jaw-droppingly good!!! This is not quite symphony class but I\'m not working on Starwars movies just yet.
Maestro eliminates any latency issues with hardware routing. Simple!
This isn\'t Just an amazing interface for the price. It\'s the absolute best interface aside from the symphony IMO.
First of all, the unit itself looks beautiful. Brushed metal with the calm blue LEDs that are both useful and visually appealing. In short, the box looks great.
Setting up the unit was easy. One quick driver install with gives you a control app that allows you to control all the Ensemble's settings quick and easily.
The Ensemble was tested with Logic Pro 7.2 and A/B'ed it against a dual G5 2.0 ghz's digital out to a digital receiver and the analog out as well as vs. an M-Audio Audiophile Firewire interface's analog outputs.
So the big question is, how does it sound, and how does it compare to other Apogees?
Just to qualify, I have experience with the following converters: Apogee PSX-100 SE, Apogee AD-8000 SE, Digidesign 192, Digidesign 96, Metric Halo, but I'll compare the Ensemble directly to the Apogee PSX-100 SE and AD-8000 SE.
There are three things I think of when it comes to the "classic Apogee sound".
First of all, rock solid timing, which can especially be heard in rhythm heavy audio,
Second the tight focused bass.
Third, there's a special something in the midrange that I like to call "The Avril Lavigne"/Matrix sound, it's that radio friendliness that works great for rock/pop. People tend to either love it or hate it. The classical folks and the ruler flat crowd tend to not be as thrilled. Anyone who has used the classic Apogee units know what I mean.
So does the Ensemble deliver like the classic Apogee that we know and love?
1. Timing - The rock solid timing is definitely here. What sounded pretty tight and solid with Logic Pro running without the Apogee ended up sounding stiff. Coming out of the Ensemble, the rhythm tracks got their groove back. You could really feel the swing. It just felt "right". So check on #1.
2. Tight Focused Bass - What sounded a muddy and unfocused in the lows and mid lows without the Apogee all of a sudden tightened up coming out of the Ensemble.
3. The Apogee Midrange - Here on this board, I read a lot about folks who love open airy converters with rule flat response, criticize Apogee for not sounding as open and airy and rave about the Lavrys. I think for these people, they will definitely approve of the Ensemble. Sound from the Ensemble feels very open, wide, airy, transparent and bright without sounding shrill. If someone asked me to describe it in terms of subjective qualities, I would describe the sound as clear as air and pure as water.
So what is my final conclusion? In short, I'm jealous. Completely and utterly jealous. Why? I remember back in the day when Apogee Rosetta converters one way (ie, A/D or D/A) for two channels cost as much if not more than the Apogee Ensemble which gives you many more channels. For the folks out there now, never has getting great converters are an even greater price been easier. For anyone starting out and running Logic (the integration with Logic btw is rock solid and beatiful), all they need is a MacBook and the Ensemble and they have a portable rig that rivals the sound of systems costing tens of thousands of dollars. Apogee is one of the Holy Grails of A/D/A conversion. Never has The Holy Grail been more attainable.
In short, if you want a killer bang-for-the-buck converter with multiple-in's and outs to run a Core Audio-based setup that's got tight clear focused bass, rock solid timing and a clear transparent pure as water and light as air sound, then definitely check out the Apogee Ensemble.