Apogee Boom brings its DSP-powered plugins to a budget-friendly audio interface

Onboard audio processing usually costs twice as much.


You might know Apogee for its pocketable headphone or guitar interfaces. Or maybe its microphones. But ask a bedroom producer and most will tell you they know the company for its audio interfaces and software tools. Today, the company unveils the Boom ($300), a new 24-bit/192kHz desktop audio interface with both studio and mobile creators in mind.

Like the popular Duet series, the Boom incorporates a dedicated hardware DSP so it can run Apogee's Symphony ECS channel strip plugin directly on the interface. This can help take a load off of your CPU and also help reduce latency. DSP-enabled interfaces aren’t uncommon, but the Boom is considerably cheaper than most entry-level offerings with similar onboard hardware. A copy of the ECS plugin comes bundled in with the Boom via the companion software. You'll also be able to pick up a "native" (separate/DAW-friendly) copy for half-off - $50 - when you register the device.

The Boom has a pretty standard 2-in/2-out configuration with one XLR-combi input and one 1/4-inch input for instruments. For outputs there’s a pair of 1/4-inch outputs and a headphone jack around the back. The rear placement of a headphone connection always seems a little unhelpful as you fumble trying to find the port, especially if you use your headphones for other things so end up doing this often. There is a gap at the base of the Boom you can feed the cable under which makes things a little neater, but a port on the front seems more practical.

The new Apogee Boom audio interface is pictured with the headphone cable running through the gap in the base.
James Trew / Engadget

Fortunately, the Boom is USB-powered so there’s no need for a separate power supply. There is iOS compatibility, too, but given the USB port does double-duty for data and power, this is limited to the iPad Pro as the iPhone won’t be able to drive it, even with a camera-connection kit. Of course, a full-size interface like this doesn’t make much sense for a phone anyway, but in case you were wondering, now you know.

While there's only one XLR input, the pre-amps are plenty loud enough and can drive hungry microphones like the SM7b easily. Using the Symphony plugin's EQ and compressor allows you to fine tune that sound (whatever the mic/instrument). There are a bunch of presets that should cover the most popular recording scenarios, but you can obviously EQ and compress things to your own personal preference, too.

For musicians, this can really help you perfect a mix without having to interfere with any plugins you might have running in your DAW. But for podcasters and streamers in particular it means you can control how your voice sounds without a DAW or other host application running at all — your mic simply presents the EQ'd signal as the standard output. For now it's only Apogee's ECS channel strip that will work with the Boom, though the company confirmed it's entirely possible for its other plugins to be brought over to the DSP side of things.

Apogee’s desktop products often feature a sleek design and the Boom is no different. The purple-colored steel casing gives it some reassuring heft while the single rotary dial is a neat solution to controlling multiple things (two channels of gain and two effects).

At $300, it’s a shade over some of the most popular interfaces like the Scarlett 2i2 and UA Volt - both of which come in under $200. However, with that DSP Apogee might be pitching this as a simpler alternative to the like of the Apollo Solo ($499) also from Universal Audio or the MOTU UltraLite-MK5 ($595).

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