NAMM: Apogee Electronics are known for providing some of the best analog-to-digital (and back) conversion in the business, period. It’s this critical step in working with digital sound that draws the attention of many golden-eared producers and engineers. Apogee does digital audio very, very well. But many people think of their hardware as a front end to a Pro Tools HD setup (or other digital system).


Now imagine for a second that, instead, you walk into a studio and see Logic Pro running with all Apogee hardware on a Mac. I think that might get your attention even if you never need 192 simultaneous audio channels. And it’s all because of a new hardware-software combination, pictured. Here’s the latest:




Apogee has introduced two products especially for the Mac: the 36-channel Ensemble audio interface, and 96-channel PCI Express Symphony card. They’re both designed for the Mac, and Ensemble is built with special Core Audio features and Logic Pro integration.


Now, if you’re the kind of person who’s considering buying three Symphony cards for 192 channels of I/O, please stop listening to me right now. I’m almost positive I’m one of the last people who could possibly give you advice, as I sit here in my hotel room monitoring a new piece of music through my PowerBook’s headphone out jack, okay?


I can say, though, this is a big step for Logic, the Mac, and Apogee. The integration sounds terrific: the software features exclusive Logic Pro integration for “multiple low latency mixers, an input and output routing matrix, and a universal control platform for using Ensemble in combination with other Apogee hardware.” That hasn’t been possible with any other system I’ve seen — and it would appear to be thanks to Logic’s unique architecture and the multichannel capabilities of Core Audio in Mac OS X.


It’s also a major shot across the bow of Pro Tools, which has maintained its hegemony in large part due to the combination of Pro Tools hardware and software. (Even, ironically, if many studios bypass the A/D and D/A converters on their very expensive Digidesign hardware to use devices like Apogee’s.) Logic Pro has made a lot of headway in the last couple of years, as have Nuendo, Cubase, SONAR, Digital Performer, and even software like Ableton Live. But there’s clearly a need for turn-key, high-end hardware solutions. (As a reader thoughtfully points out, I should note that thanks to the collaboration between Yamaha and Steinberg, Nuendo is also able to offer real hardware/software integration. And accordingly, Nuendo is also starting to make real inroads into studio use, often at significantly lower cost and with unique capabilities compared to Pro Tools setups. So I think it’s clear that hardware/software integration is an important component of broadening this market.)



I’ll be sure to put Apogee on my list here at NAMM to see what their take is, and look forward to hearing Apple’s impressions of this deal now and over the coming months. I’ll keep you posted.


In the meantime, if this is something of use to you, go check out the products and let me know what you think! (After all, part of why I enjoy running this site is I get to hear from people who actually are qualified to speak about topics which I’m not! Viva collective intelligence!)


Apogee Electronics Symphony PCI-Express Card


Apogee Electronics Ensemble, Featuring Logic Pro Integration


Oh, and PC users, I promise some Windows love this week. Wait until after I’ve gone to the big Microsoft-Intel party. In fact, they’ll probably be happiest if I write while I’m drinking their complimentary cocktails. (Especially if they laced it with some reality distortion PC love potion. Except I have to meet with Apple first . . . well, see how it turns out.)

  • ticcthesoulrebel

    This is Big really big .Before this if you wanted high end sound for Logic you really only had two choices ,Motu or Digidesign. Most accounts say that they are close in quality(hint:same coverters) but most hi-end studios had Logic as a front end for Pro-tools HD.
    I think Apogee can change that when ever i go to mix a song, every high-end studio has apogee converters to go into and out of the pro-tools rig. Now you just have to get one interface this is great why do you need pro-tools Hardware :p
    This is Big

  • trotz

    but it can not qualify as being the only "turn-key, high-end hardware solution". High end digital mixer Yamaha DM-2000 shows tight integration with Nuendo offering the same number of channels with RME Audio cards (bundled with Nuendo).

    I think one should know Nuendo's possibilities such as:

    [LIST] external FX integration that lets you use DM2000's internal FX as latency compensated send/returns inside Nuendo's mixer
    [LIST]Studio Manager integration that allows total recall of every mixer parameter "per project"
    [LIST]Control surface with LED strips, 25 automated faders and rotary encoders and "selected channel" extra controllers
    [LIST]expandable analog modelled DSP FX, etc…

    I hardly fail to see this as a high-end hardware solution and it has been available for quite a long time for everybody to know about it. Try to do different cue mixes with eq, compressor and fx loops at less than 1ms. latency by using only a computer and a soundcard and I will tell you how easy that doesn't qualify as a high-end solution.

    Your dislike for Nuendo-Yamaha or maybe simply lack of knowledge (as I have found in the DAW reviews failing to acknowledge the latest Nuendo 3.x achievements) shouldn't hide other simpler, well-stated facts.

    BTW I also love Apogee's products, just happen to know Yamaha's product line also. :roll

  • ticcthesoulrebel

    This is Big really big .Before this if you wanted high end sound for Logic you really only had two choices ,Motu or Digidesign. Most accounts say that they are close in quality(hint:same coverters) but most hi-end studios had Logic as a front end for Pro-tools HD.
    I think Apogee can change that when ever i go to mix a song, every high-end studio has apogee converters to go into and out of the pro-tools rig. Now you just have to get one interface this is great why do you need pro-tools Hardware :p
    This is Big

  • admin

    All good points about Nuendo; it wasn't dislike at all — I just failed to fully contextualize this as I got a bit carried away. I do think the Nuendo/Yamaha hardware integration is important, for the same reason as I think the Apogee solution is: there are a lot of potential customers, in a lot of different lines of work with different needs, who have at least perceived that their only choice is Pro Tools. Ironically, for some of these people, that means they avoid the computer route altogether — they're afraid of making the investment. So I'm not even "slamming" Pro Tools here; I think in the long run additional competition is a sign of maturity in the market and could be good for everyone, Digidesign included. (Looking on the video side, for instance, Final Cut Pro hasn't fully supplanted Avid in pro video editing — it's broadened the market.)

    And I think you're spot on in terms of why Nuendo + Yamaha is so cool. In fact, it proves the point: Nuendo 2 and Nuendo 3 have been steadily gaining ground in studios, and will continue to. (I'll be interested to see what the buzz level is over at their booth . . .)

    Anyway, I'm not a Nuendo user, and haven't reviewed Nuendo (nor am I likely to, as it's not my major area of expertise, as I indicated here).

    I probably should be more careful of the term "high-end," too, except I have no other way of distinguishing the person who's creating some loops on their laptop from the person who does this 5 days a week in a multimillion-dollar studio!

    I will take issue, however, with a computer card disqualifying something as "high-end," as there are plenty of situations where sub-1 ms latency isn't a deal-breaker. But this only goes to show, again, the term doesn't mean anything: you either need something, or you don't. And once you've seen the facts (plus non-factual evidence, like whether you *enjoy* working in Nuendo or Logic more, which shouldn't be discounted, either), you ought to be able to make that call.

    Peter

  • trotz

    All good points about Nuendo; it wasn't dislike at all — I just failed to fully contextualize this as I got a bit carried away.

    Don't we all do that? 🙂

    I will take issue, however, with a computer card disqualifying something as "high-end," as there are plenty of situations where sub-1 ms latency isn't a deal-breaker.

    I understand your words. Maybe my point was more to place Yamaha/Nuendo as also being hi-end rather than dismissing every other soundcard only solution.

    I'd like to add that Cubase SX and Nuendo share the same code maybe more than 95%. Everything I said about Nuendo is also applicable to SX, which is a widely available high end 😉 solution.

  • donnacha costello

    Nice news for logic users. However, I can't stand to use logic or sonar or cubase or performer etc etc. The only DAW I ever liked is PT so it doesn't really matter to me what hardware developments there are if I have to change DAW to take advantage. I got my digi converter as part of an upgrade path earlier this year but I realise by now I should have gone for apogee and I'm going to switch. I was previously using digi 888|24s with my PT mix system and perhaps it's just me but I think they sounded better at 48k than my digi 96i I/O does at 96k. Apparently many mastering engineers feel that wordlength is more important than sampling frequency and in this case I would agree. Anyhow, regardless of hardware, I'll be sticking with PT due to the software and plugins, it's the only way for me.

  • Good post!

  • BYJU JOHNSON

    I want to work both Protools and Ensemble,

    Is it possible?