Apogee's Duet (US$495) and Quartet ($1395) are the respective steps up from Apogee's ONE, a single input interface with a built-in condenser mic. You can check out the review of the ONE here, but suffice to say it's a high-quality interface for those looking for a compact and portable recording solution.
With Apogee's premium reputation and price, I wanted to put the Duet and Quartet through a real-world recording environment test, with people who really know what to expect when it comes to recording audio. To help me do this I enlisted the help of three professionals who work in the music business day-in and day-out.
Jonathan McMillan, a Canadian born, London-based mix and mastering engineer based at Blue Pro Mastering. Matt Weeks, London-based session musician and producer at WeeksWeeksWeeks. And finally, Paul Evans, a London-based session drummer, producer and programmer. With these three guys, there are years of professional recording experience in hand. The four of us spent the morning at Smokehouse Studios to see just what the Duet and Quartet have to offer.
Where the ONE is a sturdy and solid piece of kit, there's no doubt that the Duet and Quartet take things to the next level. Both interfaces look and feel professional and premium. Where the ONE is made from plastic, the Duet and Quartet are encased in aluminum akin to Apple's Mac lineup.
Via breakout cable, the Duet has 2 inputs (XLR and 1/4") and left and right (1/4") outputs. The inputs operate at 24-bit/192kHz recording. There's also a headphones output directly on the Duet interface, totaling 4 outputs with independent speaker and headphone outs. This multitude of outputs can be controlled and customized in Apogee's Maestro App. For example, a drummer could send himself a click track while sending the backing track to the front-of-house. All the spec details on the Duet can be found on Apogee's website, here.
The Quartet has 4 inputs ((XLR and 1/4") and an additional 8 channels of digital input via optical connection (ADAT/SMUX), if you have an additional analog-to-digital converter kicking around. The Quartet has 6 balanced (1/4" TRS) outputs, which means you could hook up three different stereo monitor sets. All the spec details on the Quartet can be found at Apogee's website, here.
Both interfaces have MIDI input via USB -- which the ONE missed out on -- high resolution OLED displays, assignable touch pads to speed up your workflow, and USB 2.0 connectivity, which Apogee says provides more than enough bandwidth to handle the talk between interface and Mac.