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Apogee Introduces Quartet: 4-In, 8-Out Audio Interface

Rounik Sethi on Sep 04, 2012 in News 11 comments

Following on from the tease announcement last week by Apogee, the Quartet has been officially unveiled. With these specs the Quartet is going to find its way onto many musicians gear lust lists!
Following on from Apogee's teasing introduction of a "new product" last week, the team from Santa Monica, California, today unveiled the Quartet. In fact, Twitter, Facebook and online forums have been buzzing with guesses on this product's feature set … and it's no secret most musicians were hoping for a 4-input audio interface - basically a big brother for the popular Duet 2. 
Sleeek and sexy: The Quartet is asking to be in prime position on your desk.

Sleeek and sexy: The Quartet is asking to be in prime position on your desk.


The result, from looking at the specs, this audio interface packs a lot more punch than expected. I'd be shocked if the AD/DA sound quality on the 24 bit/192 kHz Quartet was anything less than pristine, such is the expectation that accompanies Apogee products these days. Main features include: 4 mic preamps, 8 digital inputs, 8 analog outputs, MIDI I/O (via USB), Wordclock output, 2 OLED displays  and 6 touchpads. It can even be integrated with Duet 2 and Ensemble to create a super interface with 6-in x 12-out / 12-in x 8-out respectively. Apogee have evidently packed a lot inside this USB 2.0 interface with a list price of $1,295.

Sleek and sexy, but highly practical with the number of Ins and Outs!

Sleek and sexy, but highly practical with the number of Ins and Outs!


As soon as we get our hands on a unit you can expect an in-depth review!

In the meantime, below is the full Apogee press release and links to the Quartet:
The Quartet next to an iMac, iPhone and Apple's Magic Trackpad.

The Quartet next to an iMac, iPhone and Apple's Magic Trackpad.


New Product Alert - Apogee Quartet 


Apogee introduces Quartet
The ultimate desktop recording solution for Mac

Santa Monica, CA - September 4, 2012 - Apogee Electronics today unveiled Quartet, the ultimate desktop audio interface and control center for Mac. Featuring four inputs, eight outputs, MIDI, top panel display and control, Quartet sets a new standard in performance and connectivity for the modern studio.
With ample input and output connections, the signature single controller knob, QuickTouch pads, and Apogee’s conversion technology, Quartet delivers where it counts; sound, functionality and usability.

Quartet connects to any Mac via USB 2.0 high-speed for extremely low-latency and stellar performance. From MacBook Air to Mac Pro, Quartet easily connects at amazingly high-speeds no matter the machine or sample rate; 44.1-192kHz.

Quartet’s four combination inputs offer microphone, instrument and line input with an exceptional gain range of up to 75 dB, leaving plenty of headroom for demanding microphones and sound sources. For additional channels, Quartet’s eight digital inputs create the option of connecting an external interface, like the Apogee Ensemble.

Quartet’s six balanced outputs deliver options for the video producer to mix in surround, the live performer to send multiple mixes to monitors and front-of-house and the mixer to send a mix to outboard compressors and EQs. Using Apogee’s Maestro software, the outputs will also split into three stereo pairs for connecting three speaker sets for auditioning mixes across various types of studio monitors.

A first for an Apogee audio interface, Quartet includes a USB MIDI connection for connecting a keyboard, synth or DJ controller. This feature consolidates all gear connections away from the Mac, making Quartet the control center for any studio.

“We are excited to announce Quartet”, says Apogee CEO and Co-Founder Betty Bennett. “Quartet offers a highly requested I/O configuration, award-winning sound and sleek design, all at an affordable price. We have listened to our customers and have designed Quartet with their requests in mind. At Apogee, we are all about delivering the absolutely best in sound, design and functionality and believe Quartet is a winner on every front.”


Quartet Highlights:
  • Best-in-class sound quality with Apogee AD/DA converters
  • 4 Analog inputs with world-class mic preamps
  • Monitor control - up to 3 speaker sets
  • USB 2.0 High-speed Mac audio interface
  • ADAT/SMUX digital inputs
  • MIDI input (USB-A type connector)
  • 8 Analog Outputs:
  • 6 Balanced line outputs, +20 dBu maximum output level
  • 1 independent 1/4" stereo headphone output
  • 2 top panel high-resolution OLED displays
  • Controller knob
  • 6 touchpads for direct selection of inputs and outputs
  • 3 assignable touchpads
  • Quartet works with any Core Audio compatible application including: Logic, Pro Tools 9 and 10, Final Cut, Ableton Live
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Features & Specifications:
  • 4 Analog Inputs: Combination line (balanced +20dBu max), Mic/Instrument (+20dBu/+14dBu max)
  • 4 Microphone preamps with up to 75dB of gain
  • 8 Digital Inputs: ADAT/SMUX Input, 2 Toslink connectors, 44.1kHz to 96kHz 
  • 8 Analog Outputs: 6 Balanced line outputs, +20 dBu maximum output level, 1 Independent 1/4” stereo headphone output
  • MIDI I/O (USB-A type connector)
  • Word clock output
  • USB 2.0 High-speed Mac audio interface
  • A/D and D/A conversion: 24 bit/192kHz
  • 2 top panel high resolution OLED displays
  • Controller knob
  • 6 touchpads for direct selection of inputs and outputs
  • 3 assignable touchpads to control:
  • Mute Outputs
  • Dim Outputs  
  • Sum to Mono
  • Clear Meters
  • Engage Speaker Set (allows monitoring of up to 3 pairs of speakers)

Price: $1,295 US, €1,295 EUR

Worldwide Availability: September 2012

Visit the Apogee Website for pricing and availability.




Rounik is the Executive Editor for AskAudioMag.com & the quarterly print magazine by the same name. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic (and a self-confessed Mac fanatic) he's taught teachers, professional musicians and hobbyists how to get the best out of Apple's creative software. He is a Visiting lecturer at Bath Spa Univers... Read More

Discussion

lostinthesound
Quite a lovely bit of kit, though I'll be sticking with my trustee Duet 2 for a bit. Nontheless, Apogee proves once again that they're the best in the business when it comes to quality and aesthetics with regards to their audio interfaces. Cheers.
G.F. Big
I am in the market for a 4 mic pre interface, but the USB connection is really dumb, imo. So, I'll pass.
Rounik
why do you think the USB connection is dumb?

I've had extremely good results with USB 2.0 on my Duet 2 than firewire 400/800 on Duet 1 and other devices...

Apple actually improved the performance of USB 2 on Mac OSX a couple of years back, which has resulted in it being much more robust and usable for pro audio interfaces IMO.

Now, while I haven't got hands on with the Quartet myself, I'd be surprised if Apogee haven't tested it thoroughly and found that USB 2.0 will do the job on this device... can't wait to find out for certain!

G.F. Big
What buffer size can you use for tracking audio? Why not a Thunderbolt connection? Seems backward looking.
Rounik
I usually use 128 or 64 on Duet 2 no problems.

Personally, if USB 2.0 works well I'd rather use that than have a more expensive Thunderbolt interface that might be overkill for a 4 channel interface.

USB 2.0 is compatible with USB 3.0 too...
lostinthesound
Agreed. The Duet 2 is outstanding in terms of speed, A/D D/A quality and that dreaded "L" word "Latency."

Furthermore, when they tested the Firewire connection of the Original Duet vs. Duet 2's USB, Apogee found that the USB transfer rate was actually higher than that of Firewire.

Yes, Thunderbolt–while in theory would be great–would be cause for an increase in retail cost in addition to alienating consumers who do not own a thunderbolt equipped Mac. I do believe the higher end Apogee products are Thunderbolt equipped.

USB 3.0 is great, but suffers when it comes to performance/compatibility with regards to peripherals outside of the realm of hard drives.
TV
Apogee has the bandwidth specifics on their website explaining why they went with USB. It's far from "dumb."

T.
G.F. Big
How does it work with a bunch of other peripherals plugged into the USB jacks? I am generally hard-pressed for USB inputs.
Rounik
I've only tried my Duet 2 plugged direct into my Mac's USB 2 port... wouldn't suggest connecting it to a USB hub which is bus powered!

I generally have about 2-3 USB devices connected (inc. duet 2) and haven't noticed any issues.
G.F. Big
Huh. Just about everything I read says to avoid USB2 for an audio interface. Anyways, thanks for informing me otherwise.

How many audio tracks do you usually record simultaneously?

Cheers,

G.F. Bigggggg
lostinthesound
There are options if you're running short on USB real estate. If you have a MacBook Pro (2011 or better), there is now a high speed hub that runs from your Thunderbolt port and has USB and other connections. Since it's hubbed via Thunderbolt, there is no noticeable loss of signal/latency when using it drive your USB devices. A generic Google search will give you some options to pick from.

As far simultaneously recording multiple tracks, I'm afraid I don't have a number as I personally produce electronic music, so I usually only record one track at a time whether it's for sampling purposes or to record midi data from my keyboard. In terms of total number of tracks within a project, I've pushed upwards near 60 or so (20 of which were soft synths) and didn't experience much slow down.

Cheers.