For this month’s installment of Beat Artillery, I’m turning my attention to the new Apogee Mac-based Audio Interface that was just released called Quartet. Basically… Quartet is in-between the Duo and the Ensemble in i/o and has a price tag of around $1,300.
If you’re not familiar with Apogee, basically they’re the ones who everyone trusted for a/d and d/a sound quality back when ProTools hardware sounded like garbage. Even today, they’re still renowned for having some of the best converters for really accurate digital sound recording and reproduction. That’s their main selling point when you talk to most people.
However, what I think is pretty cool about this device is that it can act as a 5.1 mixing system (with its 6 available analog outputs) or as a monitor switcher between 3 different sets of monitors. No need for a separate hardware switcher! (I didn’t trust any of the switchers on the market when I was looking for one years ago so I had someone build me a custom, completely passive speaker switcher with really high quality transformers.)
One thing that I’ve never been able to wrap my head around is the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one connectivity protocol over another… in this case, USB2 vs USB3 vs FireWire 400 vs FireWire 800 vs Thunderbolt. The Apogee Quartet is USB2, and Apogee claims that this is only because their technology allows for them to use such little bandwidth of the USB2 capabilities. And that putting any other type of connectivity on this box would be a waste of money and would only jack the cost up. My concern is really with track count. I’d really love to see some research on how the varying connectors effect track count and your computer’s ability to process and spit out audio. I haven’t done too much searching, but if reading audio from a FireWire or Thunderbolt drive is faster than USB2 (say), then why wouldn’t the audio interface’s connection make much of a difference??? They claim latency is near non-existent, but I’m more concerned with being able to play back 100 audio tracks without buffering.
But I guess that’s why I’m a producer and not a scientist.