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Duet 1 issue in High Sierra, Need new audio interface


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My Apogee Duet 1 has lasted me over 6 years without any issue whatsoever.  However, it's software, Meastro 2 will not detect it since upgrading to OS High Sierra.  It appears in System Prefs, and the speakers and mic connected through it still play and record, however there is no way to control the volume or mic sensitivity without Meastro 2.  I did the full array of troubleshooting with Apogee Tech Support to no avail. Therefore it has to go, unless I downgrade my OS which I don't want to do.  

 

Apogee lets you trade in your old Duet for $175 if you buy the latest Duet for $595.  My old Duet is in like-new condition, not a blemish, so I'm sure I could get that much for it on my own.  

 

I'm not hung up on Apogee, and I imagine there are Audio Interfaces out there that match the Duet's quality for less than $595.  I'd prefer it to be simple, like the Duet, without knobs and dials that I won't need.  I record vocals on a single mic, that's all.  However, I don't need the portability of Duet, so bigger would be OK.  

 

Any recommendations? Looking forward to hearing from you guys!  Thanks!  

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Check out the Apogee Element 24, I just got one and it's fantastic. It's around $600, and it doesn't have fancy knobs or anything...it integrates right into Logic and is all software controlled. Plus, the pre-amps and converters are stellar (same as the Symphony series).
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Thanks.. I like it. At the same price, it's better than Duet since it'll be stationary, but I'd prefer something cheaper as long as it's on par with Duet's quality.  

 

Unfortunately the Element 24 requires a Mac with a thunderbolt port, so it's out of the question since I have a mid-2010 Mac Pro tower.

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Steinberg UR 22 is on par as far as quality goes, much cheaper, but doesn't have any bells and whistles (DSP like Apollo, or fancy interface like Apogee). It's class compliant, so it should work. period. it doesn't need drivers if I recall correctly. (big + for future support).

 

line-ins and preamps are clean and fine (on the mk II, bad reviews are all for mk I which had issues), but still, for 100ish you could buy a 500ish mic preamp that stays with you forever no matter the interface, and will probably be better than anything on a 500ish interface.

 

Then you have RME, which I'm personally a fan of, and was my original replacement for Duet.  (+ the support for FF400 is still running strong despite the fact its a decade old interface), but the smallest, BabyFace (Essentialy a duet but beefed up) costs a bit more $$$ than the duet.

 

I'm still stuck on RME, my girlfriend's got an UR12.  I used RME, M-Audio, Digidesign, Apogee Ensemble II, Antelope Orion, Apogee Duet 1, Focusrite Scarlett... And probably some i don't even remember, and so far i can say that RME is my choice. I was very impressed by the Ensemble II though, worked super stable, can't say that for Orion... 

 

Never used UAD though, so I can't comment on that, fwiw I heard enough good reviews to have considered it.

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So will a separate $100 mic preamp improve quality when used in conjunction with the UR22?  If so, how?  

I don't think a 140 dollar interface is gonna have amazing converters and circuitry to warrant spending more money on a separate mic pre.

Enjoy the interface and if you want better stuff, go RME or UAD Apollo or Metric Halo.

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So will a separate $100 mic preamp improve quality when used in conjunction with the UR22?  If so, how?  

I don't think a 140 dollar interface is gonna have amazing converters and circuitry to warrant spending more money on a separate mic pre.

Enjoy the interface and if you want better stuff, go RME or UAD Apollo or Metric Halo.

Try it before you trash it! I pitted it against RME and it stands its ground, it really is a formidable interface for what it costs. 

i also ran Tubetech MP1A through it and it worked just as well as it did through my RME.

I also had the original Duet and UR22 is in my opinion cleaner and way more stable, despite 5x less money. (Also works on iPad since its class complaint)

 

Thank you Ploki !!  I just ordered the UR 22!

 

So will a separate $100 mic preamp improve quality when used in conjunction with the UR22?  If so, how?  

Depends, if you need a clean preamp, then no, since UR22 is fairly clean and should work very well with most microphones. If you need a coloring preamp, you'll be spending more in the 500ish- 2000ish. Still, before any of that, I'd go for room treatment and microphone itself. 

Then if you need specialty microphones like ribbons, they usually are very picky about preamps. (Ironically, my RME FF400 preamp works better with ribbons than the 3000$ TubeTech MP1A)

In my opinion and my experience, the priorities to change/improve sound go like this

Room/vocal booth treatment > Microphone > Preamp > interface (assuming its a modern half-decent interface with balanced connections)

I experimented a lot because I borrowed some gear next to mine for a few session, so I did a lot of back&forth with AKG C12, sE Gemini, sE 5600a, TubeTech MP1A, RME preamp, Focusrite Preamp.

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So will a separate $100 mic preamp improve quality when used in conjunction with the UR22?  If so, how?  

I don't think a 140 dollar interface is gonna have amazing converters and circuitry to warrant spending more money on a separate mic pre.

Enjoy the interface and if you want better stuff, go RME or UAD Apollo or Metric Halo.

You are correct. I had a UR22 for many years until recently...when I upgraded my monitors and bought the Apogee Element (thanks to Jay Asher's advice). Although the UR22 has nice pre-amps and solid drivers, the converters and sound quality aren't even in the same universe as the Apogee; and the pre`s are stellar. If Thunderbolt is out of the question, I would definitely go with the Apollo or Babyface (they were my second pick). But if budget is your main concern, the UR22 is fine.

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I have been happy with my Duet 1 for almost 7 years and if it wasn't having issues since the High Sierra upgrade, I'd be sticking with it.  I'm not looking to upgrade, just get roughly the same quality for my vocals and pay less.  

 

Of course, one has to sacrifice something when paying less, and I'm willing to sacrifice the beautiful, slick design and smallness of the Duet which takes up so little space on my workdesk.  The UR22 isn't that much bigger, but I wouldn't care if it was the size of a shoebox. 

 

Ploki, thanks for giving me confidence in the UR22 and for your explanation of the priorities to optimize sound. 

 

triplets, thanks for your contribution as always. I'm glad my post started a little debate, I learned from it.  

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I don't think a 140 dollar interface is gonna have amazing converters and circuitry to warrant spending more money on a separate mic pre.

Enjoy the interface and if you want better stuff, go RME or UAD Apollo or Metric Halo.

You are correct. I had a UR22 for many years until recently...when I upgraded my monitors and bought the Apogee Element (thanks to Jay Asher's advice). Although the UR22 has nice pre-amps and solid drivers, the converters and sound quality aren't even in the same universe as the Apogee; and the pre`s are stellar. If Thunderbolt is out of the question, I would definitely go with the Apollo or Babyface (they were my second pick). But if budget is your main concern, the UR22 is fine.

I worked with RME directly and via monitor controller, built in output mac, UR12, and the difference you are describing

- is not there

- can easily be measured with a reference microphone (~120€). which i didnt do because i dont care. (still, for quantifiable things, ears are irrelevant because they're a shitty testing instrument and our brain are subjected to various confirmation biases, justifying your purchase is the least of them)

this was a treated room and Focal Twins and JLAudio F112, and Tascam VL X5 (cheapo reference)...

 

However, MK I UR22 had terrible noise issues.. That were fixed with MK II. So you might have been hearing that. (legitimately)

Duet 1 was a decent interface, but the preamps were noisy as f*%@ (UR has better preamps), and don't even dream of driving a gain-hungry mic with Duet 1... 

(edit: on top of that, it didn't even have balanced outputs!)

You  are forgetting one thing: UR22 has absolutely nothing on it, its a spartan utilitiarian interface. for 140€.

BabyFace while amazing has tons of additional s#!+ on it via breakout cables, UR22 has 4 channels, baby face has 22...

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Compare your mixes on a high end Apogee, Apollo, and the UR22 (or any other interface in it's price range). The differences are there; I loved my UR22 (had a MK I&II) until I got my head out of the sand and did my research. Plus, the mic pre's are amazing...the pre gain on the Element is an astonishing 75dB, whereas the UR is 54dB. The DA converters are just night and day! But if you don't need that type of clarity in your mixes, there's no need to switch. But for me, it's made a world of difference.
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Compare your mixes on a high end Apogee, Apollo, and the UR22 (or any other interface in it's price range). The differences are there; I loved my UR22 (had a MK I&II) until I got my head out of the sand and did my research. Plus, the mic pre's are amazing...the pre gain on the Element is an astonishing 75dB, whereas the UR is 54dB. The DA converters are just night and day! But if you don't need that type of clarity in your mixes, there's no need to switch. But for me, it's made a world of difference.

can i ask you what kind of monitors are you driving with that?   Because my focals go up to 40khz, have insane tweeters and can reproduce sound extremely accurately, are seated in a treated room, but I'm faling to notice the drastic changes when i change converters.

anyway:

UR22 - 2in, 2out. (4 chans). 140€. price per chan: 35€.

Element 46 - 12 in, 14 out. 26 chans. 933€. price per chan: 35€.

You'll be glad (or not) to know that both use AKM chips on the input stage. (output is different). Apollo 8 uses AKM on both ends, while Apollo 16 uses ESS (as does Element and Ensemble 2). Ensemble 1 used CS (as did old Echo Audiofire and a few other). Analog stage is also important.

My decade old FF400 has "astonishing" 65dB of gain.

old reference for some interfaces:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/geekslutz-forum/542009-audio-interfaces-their-ad-da-chips-listed-9.html

chip is obviously not the only element here, but saying UR22 has a poorly designed analog path is just slander.

And now you apparently used both MK I and MK II? Surely you must have noticed the terrible noise mkI had? 

I was never ever saying that having a better converter is not an improvement, but unless we're talking at least 100€/chan and a stellar clock, the difference simply isn't as drastic as you imply it is (wont be even when we go 100€/chan and a stellar clock). How converters perform is completely measurable (jitter, channel separation, THD+N) objectively, while human ear is subjective at best and unreliable even if you ignore the confirmation bias. (at worst)

 

Also, mic pre's "amazing"? In what way?

My RME FF400 preamps are amazing as in: 

- they drive ribbon microphones better than that FetHead (supposedly great for ribbons)

- they are squeaky clean

 

they suck compared to the TubeTech MP1A as in:

- they have no color and are bland

- they don't add sparkly dust to the highs with high-end tube-microphones

 

MP1A sucks for ribbons though, its noise af and can't drive them properly for s#!+. (but has astonishing 70dB of gain, while RME only has 65dB)

 

New Apogees are amazing though, you can't go wrong with them, so don't misinterpret me.

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Ploki, with all due respect, I'm not going to give a detailed explanation. I'll just say that the new Apogee Thunderbolt Element series had the best coverer, clock, and pre-amps in its class. No, I did not have any sound issue with ether of the UR22's.....they served their purpose well. In my studio, I do hear a difference on my Yammy HS8's and to me the Apogee is a clear improvement. If you disagree, I don't really care...just telling you my experience.

 

The Element 24 cost me $600 CDN, a real bargain for the same "guts" as the Apogee Symphony.

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Ploki, with all due respect, I'm not going to give a detailed explanation. I'll just say that the new Apogee Thunderbolt Element series had the best coverer, clock, and pre-amps in its class. No, I did not have any sound issue with ether of the UR22's.....they served their purpose well. In my studio, I do hear a difference on my Yammy HS8's and to me the Apogee is a clear improvement. If you disagree, I don't really care...just telling you my experience.

 

The Element 24 cost me $600 CDN, a real bargain for the same "guts" as the Apogee Symphony.

Yamaha HS8. Nice monitors, however, this is a budget monitor, and from experience i can tell you that Focal Twins (that i currently work on) are another ballpark.

Not even my first monitors, i've worked on plenty others and heard plenty monitors. I also have a reasonably decent hearing, for my age (upper spectrum).

edit: But they're not the best... because they can't be. I like them and i cant afford anything better at this point.

 

Given your monitors I sincerely doubt your room is treated as its supposed to be (My monitors budget was half my room treatment budget and it still has issues).

So excuse me if I take your experience over something that can be easily measured with a grain of salt, compared to measurements.

 

No, apogee does not have *best* of anything, its very good, as I already said, but when you come to high end stuff there is no *best*, there's only different. RME in terms of flexibility and driver stability is better than Apogee anyway, even if it may have worse converters. that's why there's competition.

 

I get that you have to justify your purchase somehow though, but hey, I love it that you lecture me about "clarity" in my mixes while working on a pair of budget monitors.

Here, have fun with it:

https://cdn.zmescience.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Cognitive_Bias_Codex_-_1802B_biases2C_designed_by_John_Manoogian_III_28jm329.jpg

(since you're talking about bargain, you can find yourself in the green zone.)

 

I'll bet you my kidney that in a good room with good monitors, you can do a 10times better mix on built-in output than on apogee symphony with budget monitors and s#!+ room treatment. Because that's how sound works. Read Nika Aldrich - Digital Audio Explained to learn more about digital audio, you don't have to take my word for anything, it's not like I made this s#!+ up.

 

Out of curiosity, why is High Sierra important?

it kills the driver, you have to bug apogee but if they dropped support they'll likely say "its been discontinued"

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Out of curiosity, why is High Sierra important?

 

it kills the driver, you have to bug apogee but if they dropped support they'll likely say "its been discontinued"

I meant, why is the upgrade to High Sierra important v.s. sticking with Sierra? Genuinely curious why the latest OS is worth the price of a new interface.

 

Like other posts, Apollo Mk2 and Babyface (Pro) would be my recommendations.

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I meant, why is the upgrade to High Sierra important v.s. sticking with Sierra? Genuinely curious why the latest OS is worth the price of a new interface.

 

Like other posts, Apollo Mk2 and Babyface (Pro) would be my recommendations.

 

if you're asking if there's anything specific in high sierra that's better for audio, then no.

 

it has a few in the long run neat features such as the new file system, but you upgrade because eventually you'll have to if you want to keep up with logic and all.

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Ploki, So I got my UR22, and I have a concern, that it doesn't seem to have any software like Maestro where you can control the levels on the screen. I don't want to have to reach for the knob every time I need to adjust the mic IN level. I need to be able to adjust it by exact numbers on the screen for my work flow when I'm recording. Does UR22 lack that ability?

 

Also, the UR22 seems to have something on it that keeps it from clipping. Like, it compresses those peaks so they don't clip. What are the implications/drawbacks of this? I always used to keep the mic sensitivity at the highest possible level without it clipping at the loudest point of vocal delivery.

 

I feel you MonkeyMonkey, High Sierra made my Duet unusable, but like Ploki said you're going to have to upgrade eventually.

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I believe it lacks that ability unfortunately.

 

if you have mic at a similar spot you shouldn't have to anyway, record 24bits (not 16) and peaking at -20dB should do you fine.

 

By the way (a little late for that - but maybe you can still return your UR22) - i remember logic having native support for Apogee interfaces, have you ever tried accessing these functions inside logic instead of going through maestro? I just thought of this now, sorry.

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Ok, well this is getting interesting! I don't know if you saw but I added to my last post how, I like that the UR22 squahes the peaks while recording so they don't clip, and they still sound natural to me, although I'm sure they wouldn't if severely squashed.

 

What do you mean I shouldn't have to anyway if the mic is in a similar spot? And what do you mean by peaking at 20dB? When my vocals are being recorded the meter should be peaking that low?

 

My whole reason for keeping the mic sensitity as high as possible without clipping is to keep as much unwanted sound out as possible. My studio isn't sound proof. There's the sound of A/C and computer.

 

I don't know about logic's native support. I would have to look into that! If it's as smooth in Logic as it is in Maestro it would have been pretty dumb of me to have been using Maestro all these years, toggling between the two! :-)

 

Thanks Ploki!!

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Ok, well this is getting interesting! I don't know if you saw but I added to my last post how, I like that the UR22 squahes the peaks while recording so they don't clip, and they still sound natural to me, although I'm sure they wouldn't if severely squashed.

 

What do you mean I shouldn't have to anyway if the mic is in a similar spot? And what do you mean by peaking at 20dB? When my vocals are being recorded the meter should be peaking that low?

 

My whole reason for keeping the mic sensitity as high as possible without clipping is to keep as much unwanted sound out as possible. My studio isn't sound proof. There's the sound of A/C and computer.

 

I don't know about logic's native support. I would have to look into that! If it's as smooth in Logic as it is in Maestro it would have been pretty dumb of me to have been using Maestro all these years, toggling between the two! :-)

 

Thanks Ploki!!

 

Ah!

 

Well microphone gain is just gain! You should not go into red or clip at all, by 20dB i mean that logic meters when you record (and have fader 0 or have input monitoring enabled) don't hit over -20dB (or -10dB, anything under zero is fine, but it is better to keep some headroom instead of going too hot)

 

More gain or not (recording hotter at higher levels) will not affect your surroundings at all, they will just get boosted along with your voice! If you have issues with ambient noise, try isolation techniques. (IsoVox box, or a DIY approach of a similar concept with rockwool and acoustic foam).

 

As far as Logic hardware control goes, they supported Apogee for years (since LP8 that i know of!) and you dont need maestro but you need drivers, and the control is somewhat limited, if i recall correctly (it's been a while since i owned a Duet)

 

Howeever any interface with digital control (unfortunately your UR22 doesn't have that) can be controlled like this:

https://i.imgur.com/N9BfHau.png

 

(19 and a small knob at the top is hardware preamp gain of my RME)

 

it works for all interface that have digitally controlled preamps, and I'm wondering whether it should work with your apogee or not despite meastro. For Apogee IIRC you also had +48V and phase flip (Which is unavailable on my RME directly from logic)

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Cool!!! I had read that generally you want to keep the microphone Gain as high as possible, any idea why some would believe that?

 

omg that's true huh (about the gain not affecting the surrounding noise)... lol! Glad you brought this to my attention so I can quit obsessing over keeping the Gain high!

 

Wow, Aha! Audio Device Controls in the Channel Strip...That number is pretty much all I needed to be able to control :-)

 

I'll try it with the Apogee and let you know, although it still wouldn't solve the problem of not being able to control the overall output. When Maestro was working, you could control it from there and also with Apple's main ouput control, but neither is possible since upgrading. It would go only up to a moderate volume when turning volume all the way up in apps like itunes or logic, and the main Apple output control would only mute/unmute. With the UR22, Apple's output control is grayed out, but you can control with the Output knob.

 

I might be able to get used to the UR22. It'll just take a little time, and sometimes a change is good!

 

By 19 you mean -19dB right?

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Cool!!! I had read that generally you want to keep the microphone Gain as high as possible, any idea why some would believe that?

 

omg that's true huh (about the gain not affecting the surrounding noise)... lol! Glad you brought this to my attention so I can quit obsessing over keeping the Gain high!

 

Wow, Aha! Audio Device Controls in the Channel Strip...That number is pretty much all I needed to be able to control :-)

 

I'll try it with the Apogee and let you know, although it still wouldn't solve the problem of not being able to control the overall output. When Maestro was working, you could control it from there and also with Apple's main ouput control, but neither is possible since upgrading. It would go only up to a moderate volume when turning volume all the way up in apps like itunes or logic, and the main Apple output control would only mute/unmute. With the UR22, Apple's output control is grayed out, but you can control with the Output knob.

 

I might be able to get used to the UR22. It'll just take a little time, and sometimes a change is good!

 

By 19 you mean -19dB right?

 

that "19" on top is +19dB, its preamp gain control for my RME. It wont be available on the UR22, it would be on the Duet and a few other interfaces.

 

I mean, you generally should have a reasonably high input gain, but with 24bit recording peaking anywhere between -20 and -10 already is reasonably high. i just checked the current project im editing and I recorded it so it peaks at -17dB. :)

 

So if you record in the same setting at all times, you can pretty much "set and forget" your preamp gain.

 

Yeah with UR22 everything has to be done on the hardware, not with apple buttons or inside logic. I never did enjoy how Duet handled apple's own volume buttons though... It has its own overlay if I recall correctly.

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Ok bro, check this out... When you're recording a low part of a song and the mic gain is low, the ratio of background noise is higher, because you have to manually turn up those parts so they sit right in the mix.

 

To set the monitoring level I drag the volume automation all the way up to 6.0 then boost the track a few more dB in the Gain utility. Adjusting mic gain (high as possible without clipping) simultaneously keeps my monitoring level constant in the headphones while minimizing that noise ratio. If I just set it and forget it, when I start singing a low part I'm no longer able to hear myself as loudly as I'd like. So I'd have to adjust the monitoring level instead.

 

You see, I have to adjust something regardless, whether it's the monioring level or the mic input, so it might as well be the mic input so I can minimize the A/C, speaker buzz, computer noise, ceiling light dimmer buzz, etc.

 

Your approach, of course, is the right one in a sound proof environment. I'm going to fix/replace this buzzing speaker and put the computer back in the closet once I'm finished renovating it!

 

You are correct about the Duet having it's own overlay for the volume control which was annoying. I like the simplicity of the single physical UR22 Output knob. So for me, there are pros and cons between the two interfaces, but I think I'm going to stick with the UR22. :-)

 

So do you know what it is with the UR22 that squahes the signal peaks so they never clip?

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So do you know what it is with the UR22 that squahes the signal peaks so they never clip?

 

Probably a built-in limiter.

 

Remember that when you crank your mic pre, ambient noise and circuit noise increase.

 

If you need to crank your headphones, use a gain plugin on the track. Don't crank the mic pre.

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Ok bro, check this out... When you're recording a low part of a song and the mic gain is low, the ratio of background noise is higher, because you have to manually turn up those parts so they sit right in the mix.

 

To set the monitoring level I drag the volume automation all the way up to 6.0 then boost the track a few more dB in the Gain utility. Adjusting mic gain (high as possible without clipping) simultaneously keeps my monitoring level constant in the headphones while minimizing that noise ratio. If I just set it and forget it, when I start singing a low part I'm no longer able to hear myself as loudly as I'd like. So I'd have to adjust the monitoring level instead.

 

You see, I have to adjust something regardless, whether it's the monioring level or the mic input, so it might as well be the mic input so I can minimize the A/C, speaker buzz, computer noise, ceiling light dimmer buzz, etc.

 

Your approach, of course, is the right one in a sound proof environment. I'm going to fix/replace this buzzing speaker and put the computer back in the closet once I'm finished renovating it!

 

You are correct about the Duet having it's own overlay for the volume control which was annoying. I like the simplicity of the single physical UR22 Output knob. So for me, there are pros and cons between the two interfaces, but I think I'm going to stick with the UR22. :-)

 

So do you know what it is with the UR22 that squahes the signal peaks so they never clip?

 

What triplets said, probably a built-in limiter. (and everything else that triplet said)

 

 

However it doesn't work that way - gain just boosts input levels of the microphone along with everything that's coming to it. (if anything, its then harder to use a denoising utility on the recording because the noise level is not constant anymore - if the level is constant denoisers like RX work wonders - its also harder to use a gate and stuff like that)

 

its by far better practice to adjust the monitoring level when recording!

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I get that you have to justify your purchase somehow though, but hey, I love it that you lecture me about "clarity" in my mixes while working on a pair of budget monitors.

 

I'm not lecturing anybody, just telling you that my mixes are now more transparent, and they sound great (and improved over my previous mixes) on the editor's Amphion's as well. I love my HS8's, and tried a TON of monitors and just happen to love their sound. BTW- get off your high horse, there is no prefect set of monitors...it's whatever suits your taste; there are still top producers mixing on old NS10's. I love my Apogee, my mixes are better (and the post production team is happier), life is good.

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I get that you have to justify your purchase somehow though, but hey, I love it that you lecture me about "clarity" in my mixes while working on a pair of budget monitors.

 

I'm not lecturing anybody, just telling you that my mixes are now more transparent, and they sound great (and improved over my previous mixes) on the editor's Amphion's as well. I love my HS8's, and tried a TON of monitors and just happen to love their sound. BTW- get off your high horse, there is no prefect set of monitors...it's whatever suits your taste; there are still top producers mixing on old NS10's. I love my Apogee, my mixes are better (and the post production team is happier), life is good.

 

whatever dude.

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