Selecting a quality audio interface can be a challenge for even the most seasoned audiophiles and recording enthusiasts. For one, there seems to be an ever-growing number of interfaces on the market. Moreover, manufacturers are always updating their interfaces to ensure that they are compatible with state-of-art recording gear. It can also be challenging to see through over-the-top marketing rhetoric. If you are not what to look for, you can easily miss out on features that would have elevated your recordings.
Apollo Twin vs Apogee Duet 3
Every musician is going to have their own opinion, but we put the Apogee Duet and Apollo Twin up against each other in hopes of identifying a clear winner. Below you will discover our thoughts on the Apogee Duet, the Apollo Twin, and some audio interfaces in general.
Best Professional Audio Interface
Best Audio Interface For Mac
1. Apogee Duet 3 – New Version of the Popular Audio Interface
If you’re a musician that uses Windows 10 or an Apple computer to record your music, you need to check out this phenomenal two-in, four-out audio converter. The Apogee Duet 2 is a compact audio interface with a durable black and chrome chassis. It has a single knob and four colorized OLED audio meters. There’s also a headphone jack on the front and sockets for the power cord, USB cable, and four-output breakout cable on the back.
If you are an audio engineer or musician, then you know about Apogee Duet. It is one of the most popular audio interfaces on the market. The latest version, Duet 3, was released a few months ago and has been getting rave reviews. So, is it worth the upgrade? In this article, we will take a look at the features of Duet 3 and compare them to UAD Apollo Twin X to help you decide if it is worth purchasing.
Apogee duet 3 had a lot of upgrades over the previous version. The most notable one is the addition of Thunderbolt connectivity. This means that you can now connect Duet to your computer with a single cable, which makes for a much neater and organized workspace. Another big upgrade is the redesigned front panel, which makes it easier to use and gives you more control over your audio.
The Apogee Duet comes with complimentary recording software called Apogee Maestro 2. This program allows users to use their Macbook (or other iOS product) to dictate the Apogee inputs and outputs. The system is capable of capturing high-quality analog vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums, and more.
Inputs, Outputs, and Channels
The Duet comes with a four-piece breakout wire. It enables users to generate simultaneous outputs for independent speakers, PA systems, and other outboard equipment. The breakout wire consists of four 2 2/4-inch analog outputs. The Duet also boasts an independently controlled 1/4-inch stereo headphone jack. The setup makes it easy for recording artists to use click tracks. Plus, it eliminates the need for excess wires.
On the other end, the Duet boasts a pair of combo inputs. Combo inputs are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow musicians to connect everything from microphones to mixing boards. Some audiophiles are hesitant to jump on the two- and even four-input bandwagons, as these sorts of audio interfaces are not suitable for recording live bands. However, if you’re a solo artist or a mixer, you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference.
It’s worth noting that the two analog inputs harness 48-volts of phantom power. Phantom power enables artists to feed microphones, instruments, and other line-level devices into the Duet without the need for any additional bulky devices.
The main differences from the previous model Apogee duet:
- A completely new, redesigned microphone preamp and processor converters.
- Balanced outputs.
- Audio recording at 24-bit, 192 kHz.
- New, redesigned and improved cable.
The Duet is compatible with macOS Catalina, iOS 13, and Windows 10. Its full-color OLED display makes it easy for users to track and adjust their inputs in real-time.
It uses a USB 2.0 to send high-speed messages to Mac and Windows PCs. Users can also use lighting and 30-pin cables to form a direct digital connection between iPad and iOS devices. The included software can be used with just about any CPU. It enables users to use their computers to control all of Duet’s hardware parameters, such as low-latency monitoring.
According to the manufacturer, the Duet pairs well with GarageBand, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools. Users can find easy-to-follow video tutorials at the Apogee Digital homepage.
Apogee Electronics has been specializing in studio converters, i.e. digitization and playback devices, for many years. Apogee Duet is the most popular product of the company. The manufacturer strictly emphasizes assembly and development in the USA. in the third generation, the Audio interface received a new processor that allowed it to work with iOS devices. Also added a USB input for connecting a USB-MIDI keyboard or DJ controller.
We can certainly see how this little piece of equipment could appeal to Apple product enthusiasts. The minimalist black and silver interface compliments Macbooks, iPads, and iPhones. Moreover, the chassis is durable enough to take on the road. Since the unit only boasts one knob and a few touch buttons, it’s unlikely to incur many surface damages.
It’s worth noting that the Apogee’s role in several Grammy- and Oscar-winning recording has made it a favorite among both beginner and professional producers. In reality, the AD/DA converter is capable of turning high-quality analog recordings into high-resolution digital files. It’s powerful enough to be used in commercial recording studios. We’d be happy to recommend it to any newbie recording artist who’s looking to upgrade their home studio on a budget.
Some producers are not big fans of the Apogee’s smooth preamps. The interface’s recording program tends to erase audio inconsistencies. Still, we love that the colorized OLED allows you to track your input and output levels. You can even customize the touchpad control with a little help from the Maestro 2 Program.
- Boasts two independent preamp channels
- Four output channels made possible through a splitter
- Made in the U.S.A.
- AD/DA conversion for high-resolution 24-bits/192kHz recordings
- Serves as a direct connection to any Window, Mac, iPad, or iOS device (lighting and 30-pin cables sold separately)
- Comes with a USB 2.0 connector
- Software enables users to control the input parameters, including low latency monitoring
- Gorgeous colorized audio input registers and a stainless steel input dial finish of the aesthetic of this sleek, compact audio interface box
- USB connection is not as fast or accurate as the Apollo’s Thunderbolt connection
2. Apollo Twin MKII Duo – Best Overall
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get your hands on an Apollo Twin MK11. This compact and portable audio interface looks a lot like the Apogee. However, the chassis is a bit more dynamic. There are numerous buttons, colorized meters, and a stainless steel knob on the top.
The Apollo comes with a comprehensive real-time analog classic plug-in bundle. The provided set includes coveted compressors, guitar, bass amp emulators, and equalizers. For example, the included UA 610-B Tube Preamp and EQ have been used by industry legends, including Duke Ellington and Coldplay. It provides live tracks with the warmth and body offered by traditional tube amplifiers. Another included plug-in is the Marshall Plexi Classic Amplifier. This plug-in injects tracks with a classic rock and roll aesthetic. Other preferred plug-in offerings include the Teletronix LA-2A Classic Leveling Amplifier, the 1176SE/LN Classic Limiting Amplifiers, and the Pultec Pro Equalizers. The included plugin collection is extensive.
Console is the brain of the Apollo system, it provides access to all the parameters and settings of the mixer, and also allows you to load models into Unison preamps and UAD-2 plug-ins in the inserts of each channel. But that’s not all, not so long ago Universal Audio released LUNA-its own free software recording environment based on Apollo DSP technology. LUNA is an original DAW with built-in algorithms from Rupert Neve Designs, its own virtual instruments and professional studio cassette recorders based on UAD technology. And while uads are compatible with other DAW’s, uas note that only they know how to optimize their plug-ins and the DAW itself, as well as properly link them to Universal Audio interfaces for maximum efficiency.
A Stronger Connection
The Apollo uses a 2-by-6 Thunderbolt cord to connect to both Mac and Windows. The next-generation 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion system produces incredibly high-resolution recordings. However, audiophiles do not always agree that it produces higher quality signals than that of 20-bit/92 kHz streams. Either way, both the Apogee Duet and the Apollo Twin produce 24-bit/192 kHz streams.
The Apollo uses two Unison-enabled mic preamps to create unmatched A/D and D/A conversions. The company’s flagship offers paved the way for the MK11 Duo. The consumers have spoken, and they like what Unison is doing.
Of course, those conversions would be nowhere without the help of the UAD-2 DUO Core processing system and the LUNA Recording system. These programs help transform this simple audio interface into a fully-integrated music production workstation.
The Apollo’s Unison-enabled preamps inject recordings with the impedance, gain stage, and other unique characteristics that were offered by the audio hardware they were modeled after. You get a diverse lineup of sound profiles without having to spend money on all sorts of bulky audio equipment.
features of the Apollo Twin:
- Three versions of the device (Solo, Duo and Quad) with a different number of DSP;
- Built-in talkback microphone for direct communication with musicians;
- Additional digital optical input (8-channel ADAT or 2-channel S/PDIF);
- Work with UAD plug-ins in VST, Audio Units, RTAS and AAX 64 formats in all major DAW.
Twin X is available in DUO (2 chips) or QUAD (4 chips) variants, depending on the complexity of your projects and the number of plugins you have available, you may need more or less processing power. Otherwise, both versions of the interface are completely identical. Compared to the previous generation: Thunderbolt 3 connections and new high-quality DAC / ADC with a dynamic range of 127 dB.
- Comes with an expansive bundle of UAD analog emulation plug-ins
- You connect the Apollo through Thunderbolt
- Features two Unison-enabled mic preamps and A/D and A/D converters
- Compatible with both Mac and Windows computer interfaces
- Compatible with UA’s LUNA software
- Much pricier than the Apogee Duet
- The plugins are pricey.
How Do the Apollo Twin and Apogee Duet Compare?
The Apollo Twin stands out in terms of versatility, as it can be paired with both Mac and Windows computers. Of course, there’s no denying the fact that this audio interface offers an unmatched array of sound profiles. Users can easily inject their recordings with sounds that have been carefully harvested from industry-defining preamps. The Apollo manages to offer these unique sound qualities without sterilizing or decolorizing recordings.
With that said, the Apogee doesn’t fall far behind the Apollo. The USB 2.0 creates more latency than the Thunderbolt cord. Both the Apollo and the Apogee have just two ins and two preamps. While the Apogee has four outs (via breakout cable) and one independent headphone jack, the Apollo has six direct outs.
The Apogee stands out in terms of affordability. It’s an obvious home recording studio upgrade for anyone on a budget. Given this interface’s impressive converting capabilities, we’d be hesitant to refer to it as a budget audio interface. It’s capable of taking audio files to a place that even the most impressive CPUs cannot go.
If you’re someone who only records when inspiration strikes, you’ll appreciate the streamlined connection ports offered by the Apogee’s breakout cable. Hi-fi enthusiasts sometimes complain that the Apogee’s sound is uncolored. However, this may feel like a bonus to individuals who are easily sidetracked by the technical side of the recording process.
Apollo Twin Duo vs Apogee Duet. Choosing an Audio Interface
Before we point out the differences and similarities between the Apogee Duet and Apollo Twin, let’s talk about audio interfaces.
Why Do I Need an Audio Interface?
Audio interfaces are designed to work alongside computers. These machines come with a set number of audio inputs and outputs. The inputs allow you to convert raw analog files into digital codes. Meanwhile, the outputs allow you to send signals to speakers, headphones, and other exterior inputs. You’d be hard-pressed to find a producer (professional and otherwise) who doesn’t use one of these in conjunction with their computer-based audio recording software.
If you’ve ever played a game of telephone, you can probably already visualize what it looks like to transfer sound through a less then phenomenal conduit. Just as professional musicians carefully vert their instruments, producers subject their audio interfaces to incredible scrutiny.
How Many Inputs Do You Need?
For years, musicians considered eight-input audio interfaces to be standard. According to the experts over at Roland, eight-input interfaces allowed four-piece rock or jazz band to easily secure live recordings. However, you don’t want to be tricked into thinking that all input-heavy setups are better. An audio interface’s fidelity is usually only as good as its preamps. Most interfaces only have two mic-ready preamps regardless of their number of inputs. Oftentimes, those eight inputs are reduced into just two readable signals.
How Many Outputs Do You Need?
You also have to determine what devices you will be using to projecting your music. Many audio interfaces have a set number of outputs and headphone jacks. These various outputs allow you to send signals to speakers and other sound projectors. Given that audio interfaces have built-in preamps, many people use these gadgets in lieu of traditional stereo equipment.
If this is something you plan to do, you need to take stock of how many speakers you will be using. Then, look for an audio interface with an equivalent number of outputs.
If you plan on using your audio interface to project live music to PA speakers, you may need more than the standard two to four outputs. Keep in mind that output-heavy audio interfaces tend to be pricey.
If you’re planning on using your interface in a studio setting, then you are going to need at least three outputs. After all, you’ll be sending a signal to at least two speakers and one pair of headphones. If you plan on using click tracks during recording, you’ll also want to make sure you have independent control over each output. This way, your metronome output will not interfere with your ability to listen in on your recordings in real-time.
What Are You Connecting To?
Compact audio interfaces are super practical. However, audio interfaces are usually only compatible with a limited number of audio editing programs and computer operating systems. Check to be sure that the audio interface you choose can be used in conjunction with your home computer system and your preferred audio recording program.
The interface-to-computer connection you’re using is also going to impact the quality of your recordings. In most cases, you’ll be choosing between USB (Universal Serial Bus) and Thunderbolt cords. Many audiophiles make the argument that USB cords transfer data at slower rates. However, Thunderbolt-compatible interfaces tend to be much pricier.
What’s Your Setup Look Like?
Are you planning on taking your audio interface on tour? Choose a product that has a chassis that is rugged enough to handle the road. A durable metal chassis is going to hold up better than a plastic one. Since you’ll be plugging into a laptop or desktop, you don’t need an interface with all sorts of physical bells and whistles. Most producers find it easier to work directly through the computer.
What’s Your Budget?
As with all audio recording equipment, a bigger budget will score you a more dynamic audio interface. Cheaper models tend to produce less colorized, more sterile recordings. Less expensive connections also tend to generate more latency. Delays can make recording and playback super frustrating.
Keep in mind that an audio interface is an integral part of any home recording studio. You need to invest in a quality piece if you want your music to sound better than a typical computer recording.
Is an audio interface going to produce better results than my computer?
Audio interfaces serve as an intersection between your computer and whatever inputs you’ll be using. It doesn’t matter if you’re producing tone-toned acoustic tracks or layered instrumental compilations. So long as you’re using quality outputs, you’re going to notice a difference in the quality of the music you produce with the help of an audio interface.
An audio interface also serves as an irreplaceable bridge between particular inputs and computers. For example, it’s not as if you have the option to plug your electric guitar directly into your Macbook.
Apollo Twin Duo vs Apogee Duet
Dynamic range compression is the process of reducing a signal’s dynamic range, or the ratio between the quietest and loudest audio volumes of inputs. Compression can be applied to vocal and instrumental tracks. When applied delicately, compression can improve the overall quality of recordings.
Both the Apollo Twin and Apogee Duet can be paired with compressors. However, the setups vary dramatically. Consider that the Apollo has a 127-decibel dynamic range. Meanwhile, the Apogee Duet has a 114-decibel dynamic range. An audio compressor will enable you to smooth the highs and lows within those dynamic ranges.
The Apollo Twin enables you to use plug-in compressors that are comparable to traditional hardware compressors. The plug-ins are enabled through the Twin’s onboard DSP chip. An input signal runs through the onboard preamp before it is converted into a line-level signal. Then, it is compressed by a plug-in and converted into a digital file. Since the files are compressed before they are converted into digital files, there’s no need for additional outboard compressors.
The Consensus UAD Apollo Twin
The Apollo Twin comes with an impressive lineup of compressor plug-ins, including the Teletronix® LA‑2A and 1176 Compressors, the UA 115B & 176 tube compressor set, the Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor, the API 2500 Bus Compressor, and much more.
You can also pair it with your choice of outboard compressor. Most recording experts recommend that you do this using
(a form of mixing through the master output). Just keep in mind that you can only use one element of outboard hardware with your Apollo Twin.
On the other hand, most people opt to use outboard compressors with the Apogee Duet. After all, it features two dedicated analog input connectors (XLR and ¼”) for things like mic preamps, compressors, and EQs. You can always purchase a Breakout Box if you want to tack on additional outboard accessories. Breakout Boxes features two ¼-inch inputs, two XLR inputs, and two balanced XLR outputs.
If you wish to connect an outboard compressor, you must connect the compressor output lines to the Apogee’s XLR input jacks (line level). You may need to use 1/4-inch to male XLR cables to bridge the connection. Once your outboard compressor is connected, you need to adjust the line level within the Maestro. Check out this video to see the process in action.
Of course, the Apogee’s Soft Limit is sometimes perceived as a built-in limiter or compressor. Soft limit prevents the sort of digital clipping that causes distortion.
You can always download the Sypmphony ECS Channel Strip, ModComp, ModEQ 6 + ModComp bundle, or Clearmountain’s Spaces. These digital compressor plug-ins for your MAC DAWs.
With all that said, we think it’s safe to say that the Apollo Twin makes compression much easier. It comes with dozens of digital plug-ins, including loads of classic emulations. Not to mention, you have the option to plug in one outboard compressor. The Apogee Duet is also compatible with outboard and plug-in compressors. However, the process is a bit more complicated. There’s no doubt that compression will improve the volume control on your vocal tracks. It’s nice to know you have options with both audio interfaces.
Conclusion – Apogee Duet 3 vs Apollo Twin
There’s no question that both the Apogee and the Apollo are excellent audio interfaces. If you have room in your budget, we recommend that you opt for the latter. The Apollo Twin will most definitely elevate your recordings. Between the impressive plug-in bundle, reliable Thunderbolt connection, durable and informative chassis, and the dynamic component program (Luna), this interface has plenty of leverage over the Apogee Duet.
Of course, the Duet is still an excellent pick for any producer who prefers to use Mac and iOS systems. While the sound is a bit more sterile, recordings still have plenty of depth. Of course, the system is the top choice of many professional recording artists.
Drop your audio interface questions in the comment section below, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.