It looks great. It’s bigger than I thought it would be, but still a nice size. With it’s simple controls and silver, rounded body, it looks right at home with my MacBook Pro.
Ease of set up. No problems. Downloaded the latest software package from Apogee’s site, installed it, rebooted, and then plugged in the Duet. A dialog came right up asking whether to use it as the default audio device and Logic Express found it with no problems either.
Ease of use. I worried about it only having one knob, but it seems like that’s all I need. Pressing the knob toggle between the two inputs and the outputs which is quick and easy. Having meters and clip indicators on the unit is really nice when adjusting levels. Another nice feature is that adjustments on the unit are mirrored in a transparent popup on the Mac display, which is a nice touch.
Sound. Very pleased. Being the pessimist that I am and not being a person with “golden ears”, I wasn’t expecting to hear anything really noticeable, but I was pleasantly surprised. The most noticeable thing was the lack of apparent noise when there’s no signal and listening with headphones. It’s so dead quiet that I wondered several times if it was still in the signal path. And music played through it sounds great too.
1. Open Logic project file: “07 New Day”.
2. Drag the Marquee tool (Command-click tool) over the High Arpeggio region from bar 5 to bar 7. Verify that before releasing the mouse button, the help tag reads “5 1 1 1 7 1 1 1”, indicating that Marquee selection goes from bar 5 to bar 7 and is thus 2 bars in length.
3. Click the Marquee selection with the Pointer tool to create a new region that should be exactly 2 bars in length.
4. In the Arrange area’s local menu bar, choose Region > Add to Apple Loops Library.
The dialog should offer the choice of “Loop” or “One-shot”.
The choice of “Loop” or “One-shot” is grayed out.
I posted about this on the Logic Pro Help forums (run by Mr. Nahmani; not Apple) and Mr. Nahmani kindly pointed me to an earlier thread that explains the problem and how to work around it. Basically, the bug is that the help tag is indicating that the region is 2 bars in length, when in fact, it’s actually a bit shorter. The remedy is to tweak the region a bit to make it shorter and then to make it exactly 2 bars in length.
I hope this helps other folks who run into this problem. And I hope Apple fixes this bug.
Ah, what audio interface to buy for doing some simple 2 channel recordings into my MacBook Pro?
There’s the Presonus Firebox ($300), which I borrowed from a friend. Sounds pretty good, although the preamp gain (45 dB) is not stellar and no inserts for sticking something like a compressor. It seems to work pretty well in Leopard, although it sometimes disappears and I’ve had to replug it or reboot the computer to get it to show up again. Bus-powered, but you have to plug it in when you first connect it; otherwise it flashes and makes a loud, disturbing clicking sound. No meters; just clip LEDs. Most annoyingly, sometimes when I plug it into my MacBook Pro with OS X 10.5.2, I get a kernel panic:
Presonus has a higher-end model called the FireStudio Project, which looks nice on paper. Goes for $500. More channels (more than I need). Better preamp gain (60 dB vs. 45 dB for the Firebox) and dynamic range on the A/D converters (114 dB vs. 108 dB for the Firebox). Has inserts and meters and an interesting-sounding software bundle. Unfortunately, it seems to have a lot of problems with Leopard and/or the new Firewire chipset on newer Macs:
Another option is the Apogee Duet ($500). I can’t find reliable-looking specs on the preamps or A/D converters (BSW claims the preamps have 75 dB of gain), but there seems to be a favorable impression of the sound quality (similar to its big brother, the $1900+ Ensemble) and the usability and aesthetics. Haven’t heard any complaints about Leopard or general stability. It looks pretty nice and even has meters with 7 LEDs. No inserts though. And it’s Mac only and Core Audio only. I have a Mac, so that’s not too bad, though it might be nice to have something that works with a PC in case I’m out of the house and jamming with other folks.
This past weekend was quite a musical one for me. On Saturday, I went to a surprise birthday party for my old friend Nick that I played in a couple of bands with. The party was attended by several musicians who have played with each other in various configurations over the years and so naturally the guitars came out and many tunes were played. And I got to see a bunch of folks that I have not seen in too long. Great fun.
On Sunday, I braved driving through the rain to jam with Vlad, a colleague that I know from my time at Yahoo. It was so much fun that I lost track of the time and stayed long enough for my wife to freak out. Realizing this on the drive home and then realizing that my cell phone battery was dead, I went through the frustrating experience of getting change and then trying three separate banks of pay phones, none of which were in operating condition, before giving up and driving home. I guess these days even 8-year-olds are probably carrying around cell phones so the phone companies don’t bother with maintaining pay phones anymore.
When I got home, I located my Logic Express CD with the serial number and fired it up on my MacBook Pro for the first time. There are some pretty nifty loops in there (including drum, guitar, bass, harmonica, and others) so that should be fun, although I was fairly overwhelmed by the user interface. I wonder if there is a good book out there that explains Logic Express, or if I should check out the alternatives like Cubase.