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Thread: Apogee Quartet Review by Lynn Fuston

  1. #1
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    Default Apogee Quartet Review by Lynn Fuston

    Apogee Quartet Review
    By Lynn Fuston

    Imagine a very high quality four-channel preamp, complete with DIs. Then throw in 24-bit, 192 kHz converters and a monitor controller capable of handling three sets of stereo speakers or 5.1 surround. Add to that Optical Ins (x2), MIDI capability and a WC Out. Plus a very powerful headphone output to boot. Bundle it all in a sleek polished aluminum package and sell it for less than the cost of a nice four-channel preamp. If you can imagine all that, you’ve just realized the value of the Apogee Quartet.

    This compact unit looks like a monitor controller, with all the switching concealed in the glass faceplate and a single alpha knob on the front. Clearly inspired by Apple’s design team, its clean lines and silver finish look perfect next to an iMac/Mac Mini or even an iPad (as pictured) and due to its larger back panel, it thankfully doesn’t rely on breakout cables like its siblings, the Duet or One. It requires its own power supply but it won’t activate until connected to a USB-2 host, like my Mac Mini or iPad or iPhone: I used it in all three configurations. Each of the four XLR/ ” combo inputs will accommodate line in (switchable +4 or -10), Mic (+48V/polarity both switchable) or Inst, with accompanying lighted logos on the front panel. The Maestro software (required) allows control of all switching and routing along with selecting sample rate and Soft Limit On/Off and has metering and a mixer built in, as well as allowing grouping of inputs for level control. Three programmable touchpad buttons allow for multiple user selections like Mute, Dim, Sum to Mono, Clear Meters, Engage speaker set.

    I connected it to my 64G iPad 4 using the supplied cables (Apogee’s own mini-B USB-to-standard USB Type A, or the Apogee-to-Apple 30-pin for my iPhone 4 with the 30-pin-to-Lightning adapter) and recorded into Auria (or any other recording program) and monitored over headphones. I recorded drums and piano separately in the studio and was honestly startled by the results, very pleasantly so. For this recording I was consistent with my belief that the most critical part of the signal path is right up front: having a great drummer and good sounding kit will get you 70% of the way there. So I used an Audio-Technica ATM25 on the kick, an SM57 on the snare and two Neumann U47s for overheads. All these went straight into the mic inputs on the Quartet. I set the levels and hit record, with no EQ or processing. Very impressive. Would I love to have my other favorite outboard processing on them as I recorded? For a real record, you bet? There’s not an easy way to do that since the preamps are built in and there is no insert path available. But the sounds were solid and I could easily modify them in software or by routing out for EQ or compression. On piano, a Yamaha C7 with the lid removed, I used two DPA 4041 mics into the Quartet. (Sound sample, as 24/48K, linked below.) With this solo piano piece, again, I was very impressed. This was after a session where I was tracking drums and piano with Groove Tubes VIPRE, Shadow Hills Gama, API 512 and Gordon Mk V preamps. While the Quartet is certainly not in the same sonic league as those (or price league--the Gordon and VIPRE cost 2-4 times as much just for ONE channel), the fact that the Quartet was respectable by comparison says a lot.

    For a remote recording rig, combined with an iPad, it is a stellar and very compact option. This is the first USB all-in-one rig that I’ve encountered where I truly felt like I could make a record and not feel like apologizing for any audio compromises. It’s that good. Combined with another one or two 8-channel Lightpipe interfaces, it could easily be the heart of a great full band tracking setup.

    I’m extremely impressed with this little box, with great sounding preamps and converters and all of it packaged in a unit that works with iOS and is under $1400. Apogee has a winner with the Quartet.

    http://apogeedigital.com/products/quartet.php

    List price: $1395

    Sound sample: Acoustic piano recorded through Quartet straight to iPad4.

    http://www.3daudioinc.com/apogeequar...artetpiano.wav

    Originally published in Pro Audio Review, January 2014.
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  2. #2
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    Nice. Is that a female playing the piano?
    Quarter Note Recording
    Kinston, NC
    www.quarternotestudio.com
    QNS on Facebook

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    Quote Originally Posted by QNote View Post
    Nice. Is that a female playing the piano?
    No. A very sensitive male. Why do you ask?
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

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    Some acoustic guitarist are known to have long nails. I could have been one of them.
    Henry Grimmius
    Fresno, CA

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    No. A very sensitive male. Why do you ask?
    I was trying to show off my skills... and I failed!
    Quarter Note Recording
    Kinston, NC
    www.quarternotestudio.com
    QNS on Facebook

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    We've had our Quartet for a year and a half. It's been really solid and reliable.

    Neil McTavish
    www.briaghamctavish.com

  7. #7
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    Looks good, would be interested to try one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    No. A very sensitive male. Why do you ask?
    ..
    V

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by QNote View Post
    I was trying to show off my skills... and I failed!
    What particular "skill" is that, Prentice?
    Lynn Fuston
    3D Audio

    Making beautiful music SEEM easy since 1979.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3daudioinc View Post
    What particular "skill" is that, Prentice?
    Inside joke. Your post initiated a small "battle of wits" here in my department. I was conversing with another instructor (in jest) about how I could tell a male musician from a female musician by just hearing their performance. Your timely posting was going to "seal the deal" for me. But, for some reason, your answer resulted in much laughter around here. LOL!
    Quarter Note Recording
    Kinston, NC
    www.quarternotestudio.com
    QNS on Facebook

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