Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

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Ceylon
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Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by Ceylon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:33 pm

I've sold off a few guitars and started investing in a bit of recording equipment. Apart from a MIDI keyboard and a drum machine/sampler, I want to get an interface for recording vocals, guitar, bass and so on. I don't have tons of money and I'm not ALL that serious about making it either as a producer or recording musician. It's all for hobby use, so stuff doesn't have to be top notch, but for the money I have, I obviously want to get the better option.

So, I can either get a brand new Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 with all the bundled software for about 100€ (I have a close relative who runs a music store and can let things go for more or less what he pays) or a second hand Apogee Duet 2 in good condition. I'd be running it into a PC that is really on the lower end of what a recording computer ought to be, but which will have to suffice for now, and I got Cakewalk (Platinum SONAR) to play with, plus a bunch of other stuff that came with the Akai MPC Touch.

So, is there anyone here who has used both interfaces and could tell me a bit about the differences about them? I have a feeling the Apogee is the better one, but it's also made to be used primarily with Macs, so how does it do with a PC? Which is more user-friendly? Which sounds better?

I'm a total beginner here and have invested in this stuff partly to learn it all, so explain to me like I was 5, please.
My band: http://soundcloud.com/skalgrus

Let's get our shit together and become a band! Or maybe even musicians!

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by mbene085 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:48 pm

The apogee hardware (preamp, converter) is orders of magnitude superior to the focusrite.

The duet, without hesitation.

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by Ceylon » Tue Nov 13, 2018 6:19 am

I guess it's a moot point because even with Apogee releasing new Windows-compatible drivers, the Duet 2 seems to still not be able to run with a Windows 10.

Focusrite it is, then.
My band: http://soundcloud.com/skalgrus

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:12 am

Well, if you can stretch the budget a bit and get to the Focusrite Clarett range, you might find yourself with something that is Apogee quality.

I had a Duet for a while and liked it, I didn't like the form factor, though. I bought a Scarlett for here at work, I don't use it much. It's a nice and well made box, no one uses it much here and I can't say much about how it sounds. I think it's the same pre-amp and converters that they used in the Saffire line, though, and I do have a Saffire product at home.

And I have never loved the sound of that.

I have a Clarett on the way. I'm hoping this gives me much better sound.
"Larry Ray Vaughan"

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by mbene085 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:14 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 7:12 am
Well, if you can stretch the budget a bit and get to the Focusrite Clarett range, you might find yourself with something that is Apogee quality.

I had a Duet for a while and liked it, I didn't like the form factor, though. I bought a Scarlett for here at work, I don't use it much. It's a nice and well made box, no one uses it much here and I can't say much about how it sounds. I think it's the same pre-amp and converters that they used in the Saffire line, though, and I do have a Saffire product at home.

And I have never loved the sound of that.

I have a Clarett on the way. I'm hoping this gives me much better sound.
I've used a Scarlett and found the preamp to be a weak point. The DI also leaves something to be desired.

Sacrifices have to be made at that price point, for sure, and I'd take one over the little Tascam US-122 I got at a similar price point 15 years ago (which is just a long way of saying that things have come a long way in 15 years for budget recording).

The Clarett range is definitely a big step up. Those preamps (like the Apogee's) are in the category of "this will never hold you back." People can get super caught up in the preamp arms race, but you could record absolutely any mic through those (well, maybe if you invest in a Cloudlifter for ribbons and SM7b's) and nobody would ever think, "man, that preamp really ruined that."

I've listened to stuff a friend recorded with his Scarlett, and to be honest, there were times I thought, "man, that preamp really ruined that," particularly with respect to signal:noise ratio. He's told me that he's got the gain maxed or nearly maxed for certain dynamic mics (and not special cases like the SM7), and that last bit of gain he's wrenching out of it really seems to skyrocket the noise floor.

He recorded a hip hop vocal with some low-end dynamic (MXL or something) with the gain cranked and still had to boost the gain in his DAW to get it to a usable point. It was just a mess.

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:18 am

Yeah, my Saffire device is unusable the last 30% of the preamp range. I don't know why I've kept it around as long as I have, frankly, I guess I do most of my guitar recording direct in and otherwise use a lot of software instruments.

I never even considered the Scarlett for that reason.

I'm curious about the Clarett and ribbon microphones. Focusrite specifically says with the Clarett that it has enough dynamic range to handle even quieter ribbon mics, thus making something like a Cloudlifter unnecessary. I have no idea if that's true, and I won't be buying a ribbon mic any time soon to find out, but that's what they say.
"Larry Ray Vaughan"

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by mbene085 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:28 am

That's interesting. I mean, I've heard ribbons and SM7's straight into a super hot pre like an API and it worked fine. That would be great if they could offer that kind of gain (and noise floor) at that price point.

If you're investing in a decent ribbon, it's not like a Cloudlifter is a prohibitive extra expense, though. But owning a proper ribbon always seemed like getting a finicky pet to me, like a parrot - you've got to be ready for that lifelong commitment of the TLC it's gonna take!

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Re: Apogee Duet 2 or Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?

Post by Larry Mal » Tue Nov 13, 2018 5:35 pm

Yeah, a very expensive ribbon is not on the list. Who knows, though. I'll do a little write up on the Clarett. Focusrite makes good stuff, and the Scarlett is a handsome box and they feel very good.
"Larry Ray Vaughan"

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