Indablog - Indaba Music
News, Sessions and oddities from the Indaba Community
Tuesday June 30, 2009 at 10:09 AM
Broke-ass bedroom recordists of the world: your prayers either have
just been answered or else are in need of some serious refactoring:
the audio conversion wizards at Apogee have announced the One, their
new USB desktop audio interface. Everybody and their brother is making
those things nowadays, of course, but this particular product is more
exciting than most of its competitors because of who designed it:
Apogee rules the roost when it comes to high-end professional audio
converters. (To be fair, there are converters of marginally better
repute made by companies like Lavry and Crane Song, but those are
outlandishly expensive mastering-grade boutique devices — to put
things in perspective, I don’t think I know anybody who has ever seen
one in real life.)
As you may remember, Apogee turned a lot of heads when they released
the Duet in 2007 because it made all their engineering prowess more affordable
than ever — it went for half as much as its predecessor, the Mini-Me,
which had a four-digit price tag — rather uncomfortable, since it was
a junior device of sorts, and the same dough could buy you a mid-grade
eight-channel workhorse from a company like MOTU. By all accounts, the Duet
sounded phenomenal considering its $500 price tag, which was very low
for Apogee, if perhaps a bit more than comparable non-primo
With the One, they’ve again cut the price in half,
essentially chopping the Duet in half and adding a built-in condenser
mic to create a barebones product clearly aimed at singer-songwriter
Thus, the same caveats apply as with the Duet: it’s Mac-only,
CoreAudio-only so it won’t work with Pro Tools, connections are made
through a strange breakout cable to keep everything looking pretty,
there’s no S/PDIF I/O so it’s not really all that future-proof, and
the outputs are unbalanced. It also has some new compromises: since
it’s a one-input interface, you won’t be able to do any stereo
recordings (you can still do stereo stuff in the box, of course, since
it does have two outputs) and since nitpicky details are scant so far,
I can’t tell whether it will accept line-level inputs (if I’m
remembering correctly, there was also some ambiguity about this with
the Duet prior to its release; it turned out that the instrument
inputs could indeed take line-level signals, but the impedance was
switchable using a software control panel — again, a strange but
aesthetically streamlined solution).
There might be more as-yet-unannounced cool stuff under the hood,
though. For example, the Duet included novel features like a
multifunction control knob that could be used to as an input gain
control, output volume control, and MIDI continuous controller, and
also a cool reamping loopback mode that negated the need for a Radial. As somebody who doesn’t
need one of these things, that’s the part that I’ll be most interested
in. But those of you who have lost your job and want to record forlorn
songs about your woes that will stand the test of time may want to
tighten your belts one more notch, save a few more pennies, and then
start getting excited.
Thursday September 11, 2008 at 05:00 PM
Reviews and news of music equipment old and new.
Review of Budget Audio Interfaces – by Josh
This week, we’re going to take a quick look at a few audio interfaces. For those just getting started with computer recording, an audio interface refers to the hardware that you use to record and playback sounds. Most computers come with some sort of basic audio recording capabilities, but stock sound cards are invariably noisy and of low quality. A simple upgrade of less than $200 can vastly improve the sound of your compositions and collaborations here on Indaba. Here’s a look at a few options if you’re looking to upgrade your original card, or just want to add a low-cost portable system to your current set-up. I’ve chosen to look at 2 channel interfaces that are ideal for recording one instrument or voice at a time, and are less expensive than comparable 3+ track recorders.
M-Audio Fast-Track Pro – $200 – User Reviews
The Fast-Track USB is a small, external interface with two phantom powered inputs and near-zero latency. It will allow you to record two instruments or mics at once, and also has nifty features such as midi in/outs, digital SPDIF in/outs, and a nice package of included software. This is a good deal for an inexpensive interface that also has phantom power—-important because most condenser microphones require power. If you have an external mixer or preamps with phantom power, you could opt to save a little dough and get the ultra-budget M-Audio Fast-Track USB ($99), which does not have phantom power built in. The advantage of buying an M-Audio product is that it is the only third-party interface that can use Pro Tools, in the form of the M-Powered Pro Tools software. Pro Tools is considered the industry standard audio editing and recording software by many professional engineers and musicians, and this card gives you the opportunity to learn the program. However, the Pro Tools M-Powered software is not included and will add an extra $250.
Tascam US-144 – $150 – User Reviews
If you will never need to use Pro Tools (there’s plenty of other viable software options) consider the two-channel Tascam 144 which has similar features to the Fast-Track-Pro but costs less. The software bundle and features aren’t as extensive as the Fast-Track, but if you don’t need the extras this could be a good choice.
Alesis iO|2 – $160 – User Reviews
Another good option is the Alesis iO|2, which has a sleek, low-profile design that makes it great for portable use. It comes bundled with Cubase LE software so it’s a full workstation right off the bat.
Any of these interfaces will be a significant upgrade over the sound card that comes with your computer. My recommendation is to go for the M-Audio Fast-Track if you think you may want to use Pro Tools at any point; the Alesis iO|2 if you want an inexpensive interface with software included to get you going; and the Tascam if you don’t need any included software. There are other options out there too…I’d like to hear your comments if you’ve had experience with these three, or other comparable audio interfaces.
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