Apogee Intros Quartet for Mac

This week, audio recording equipment manufacturer Apogee Electronics unveiled a new desktop audio interface and control center for the Mac, called Quartet.

The first USB MIDI interface from Apogee, the Quartet features a signature single controller knob, four inputs, eight outputs, MIDI, and top panel display and control.

Quartet connects to any Mac via USB 2.0 high-speed for extremely low-latency and stellar performance. Quartet connects at high-speeds no matter the machine or sample rate; 44.1-192kHz.

Quartet’s four combination inputs offer microphone, instrument and line input with a gain range of up to 75 dB, leaving headroom for microphones and sound sources. For additional channels, Quartet’s eight digital inputs create the option of connecting an external interface, like the Apogee Ensemble.

The Quartet’s six balanced outputs deliver options for the video producer to mix in surround, for the live performer to send multiple mixes to monitors and front-of-house and for the mixer to send a mix to outboard compressors and EQs. Using Apogee’s Maestro software, the outputs will also split into three stereo pairs for connecting three speaker sets for auditioning mixes across various types of studio monitors.

The Quartet’s USB MIDI connection consolidates all gear connections away from the Mac, making Quartet the control center for any studio.

Quartet works with any Core Audio-compatible application including Logic, Pro Tools 9 and 10, Final Cut, and Ableton Live.

Features & Specifications:

  • 4 Analog Inputs: Combination line (balanced +20dBu max), Mic/Instrument (+20dBu/+14dBu max)
  • 4 Microphone preamps with up to 75dB of gain
  • 8 Digital Inputs: ADAT/SMUX Input, 2 Toslink connectors, 44.1kHz to 96kHz
  • 8 Analog Outputs: 6 Balanced line outputs, +20 dBu maximum output level, 1 Independent 1/4” stereo headphone output
  • MIDI I/O (USB-A type connector)
  • Word clock output
  • USB 2.0 High-speed Mac audio interface
  • A/D and D/A conversion: 24 bit/192kHz
  • 2 top panel high resolution OLED displays
  • Controller knob
  • 6 touchpads for direct selection of inputs and outputs
  • 3 assignable touchpads to control:
    Mute Outputs
    Dim Outputs
    Sum to Mono
    Clear Meters
    Engage Speaker Set (allows monitoring of up to 3 pairs of speakers)

Availability and pricing: The Apogee Quartet will be available later in September, at the manufacturer’s recommended price of $1,295 US, €1,295 EUR.

23 thoughts on “Apogee Intros Quartet for Mac

  1. Yes, this is definitely too expensive. Personally I have problems with apogee drivers which are OK for logic, but veeery buggy on ableton live…
    And… Hum… Midi USB ??? Come on…

  2. You know what I simply don’t get? Why do manufacturers constantly try to push USB 2.0 for larger audio interfaces, especially for Mac OS X?

    Yes, I understand that it is neat to just plug in an interface via USB and to be able to use an interface without an external power supply. But honestly, when you are traveling, 1-2 inputs seem completely enough for me.

    MacBooks only feature 2 USB sockets, meaning that you have a constant shortage of USB bandwidth when solely relying on USB devices. Now that’s something you have to live with when you are underway. In this case, a USB audio interface is simply the best solution (when no external power is needed).

    But when you are in the studio / at home, you have power connections available. So here it makes far more sense to have a Firewire interface that needs external power supply but does not compete for bandwidth with other USB devices (and Firewire is faster than USB 2.0 anyway).

    I do not complain about the existence of USB audio interfaces. It simply annoys me that manufacturers try to do something with USB (= larger interfaces) that simply makes more sense with Firewire, especially when you consider the USB shortage on MacBook laptops.

    1. Realistically, they are catering to what people want to buy. If people buy USB interfaces, that’s what companies are going to focus on.

      I prefer Firewire, but Firewire never seemed to be fully embraced by PC manufacturers.

      1. Yeah, I guess you’re right with that. The companies do what they think will result in the best sales.

        But still – this Apogee interface for example is a Mac only interface. And still they insist on USB despite the fact that every Apple computer, be it a MacBook, a Mac mini or a PowerMac, has a Firewire socket (or a Thunderbolt socket that can be used for Firewire connections).

        I see that Firewire was never very popular on PCs, unfortunately. But on Macs the thing looks slightly different in my opinion…

    2. I have to sympathize a bit with manufacturers on this one. Firewire is great for audio interfaces, but Apple has clearly pulled the plug on firewire, and nobody knows what’s going to happen with Thunderbolt. The recent surge in USB interfaces from high-end manufacturers is basically a hedge on future tech. USB will be around for a while, so any tech investments they make into making good USB interfaces will be likely to pay off.
      I’ll be sticking with my tried and true FW interface for a good long while – I’ve had some nasty experiences with MIDI over USB.

  3. Steep prices, but they are obviously marketing to a certain demographic. Of course, if you’re in business the high price is just a tax-deductible expense, and it’s worth it for clients to see you pull out a piece of gear which is known for a high level of quality.

    It’s like driving a Ferrari; nobody is going to bother you with questions about fuel efficiency or engine performance, everyone understands that you have a lot of money and like to drive fast. It is not necessarily the best driving experience: the point is that it does the talking for you. If you show up with some budget audio interface, you will have to explain that it delivers sufficient quality, meets certain specifications or whatever. You pull out one of these things and people take the quality for granted. Which in turn means you can charge a higher price for your services.

    1. … I should say, meaning if you’re buying a top dollar interface for a mac…. why settle for something so basic. I’ve never used Apogee although I believe they have always been excellent quality products…. but that reputation seems to have been born back when the competition came from some pretty ordinary products.

  4. Couple of things..

    1. USB 2.0 after osx 10.6.4 is much faster than FireWire (and more stable) don’t believe me, test yourself
    2. Apogee, including some other manufactures, no longer make drivers. They rely on Apples class compliant audio driver which.. in itself.. is extremely buggy but does not require them to rewrite drivers every time an OSX drops. Only downside is, if Apple changes something about the driver they then have to wait for apple to fix it.
    3. No current Mac Laptop has firewire anymore and Thunderbolt is to expensive to develop.. don’t believe me? call UA, Apogee, Belkin, Magma Chassis among anyone else currently developing TB technology.. you think $1295 is high? try the $2000 price tag it would have been with thunderbolt.
    4. this device requires a power supply.. whats your argument about bandwidth?
    5. Enjoy your UA apollo in 4+ years when the processing that cost nearly half of your device is now obsolete

    I’m a HUGE fan of things that are what they are.. this IS an audio interface and nothing more. Not a control surface with faders and knobs and other doodads, not an effects processor etc etc

    It IS expensive but, when you look at the cost of two duets, plus USB midi (which by the way saves a USB port), monitor controller, 8 total outs… it’s right in line with their other stuff.

    I initially had a lot of the same thoughts as you but after speaking to some colleagues, an apogee sales rep, and taking a step back and re-evaluating this product i realized how much sense it actually makes

    1. I just want to say a few things to your points:

      1.) “USB 2.0 after osx 10.6.4 is much faster than FireWire (and more stable) don’t believe me, test yourself”
      First of all: what FireWire connection do we talk of? FireWire 400 is slower than USB 2.0 can be, but FireWire 800 is faster. There are enough benchmark tests around the net to prove that.

      3.) “No current Mac Laptop has firewire anymore and Thunderbolt is to expensive to develop.”
      While I can’t say anything regarding the costs of developing for Thunderbolt, there is a simple adapter to use any FireWire 800 device via the Thunderbolt socket:

      4.) “this device requires a power supply.. whats your argument about bandwidth?”
      Erm, yes that’s exactly my point. What’s the point of an USB 2.0 audio interface if you need a power supply anyway. My point of view is:
      – USB audio devices for portable interfaces (bus powered)
      – FireWire audio interfaces for the studio (power supply)

      Look, I can only talk for myself: I have a MacBook which only features 2 USB sockets – which I need for a lot of things, like mouse, a keyboard, external hard drives, a external disc drive and my Access Virus TI Snow. There is simply no bandwidth left for a audio interface that would need a whole port on its own. I already have to use 2 USB hubs to use all of my devices. Would I add a USB audio interface to this collection I could be sure that it would result in a problem when recording multiple sources.

      To make it short: in my opinion, FireWire interface make far more sense for Apple laptops and computers. They have the required connections and at least I am happy about every device that does not need USB.

  5. First: USB 2.0 sucks, if you only have the Quartet maybe all the marketing bullshit they print is OK but if you have a couple of hard drives, keyboard, mouse, tablet and whatnot, the bandwidth of the port will suffer and you too… USB 3.0 would have been a better choice but I sincerely hoped for thunderbolt.

    Second: The price is way too expensive, even for best classs apogee converters. For that kind of money you can save a bit more and get an Universal Audio Apollo or a RME.

    Apogee shut itself in the foot with this one. i was waiting to get my hands on one but now I am shooting for UA.

    1. who uses USB hard drives?

      just saying, the other things you mentioned use little to no bandwidth at all. And it’s not just their marketing. There is a reason USB2.0 is the standard right now in audio interfaces from quartet, to lynx hilo, to symphony io, to Lynx Aurora LT-USB, Focusrite Scarlett stuff, to RME (UFX supports 30in and 30out) all at sub 5ms delay..

      and if any of us care to know.. 1ft of travel is 1ms.. so if a person is standing 5 feet away from their guitar amp that is close mic’d and a USB2.0 interface has sub 5ms of latency.. they’ll head it in their headphones before they hear the amp (blurb stolen from a gear slutz post who stole it from an article from tape op)

      i’m not trying to defend apogee here.. i’m defending the lack of information towards USB 2.0… in the world of digital audio stability is king. Why jump to USB3.0 that is new, untested with audio, and provides no latency improvement (even if its not needed.. i guess bragging rights counts??) or TB which would put this in an entirely different price point. What do you think is taking UA so long on their TB port for Apollo.. it’s to expensive to make right now and still a new technology.

      call apple.. ask them what performance benefits came out of USB 2.0 after OSX 10.6.4

      you’ll be surprised.. its not the same USB2.0 from years ago.

      Don’t like it..dont buy it… Just don’t knock the technology until you get your facts strait

      1. can you please give us a reference to your claim that audio lags 1 ms for every foot of audio cable? I was under the impression that audio is traveling at the speed of light within the conductor medium, which is much faster than 1 foot per millisecond.

        1. 1ft per 1ms in air… if it moves faster through cable fine… it still proves that in normal circumstances sub 5ms of latency is completely reasonable given standing 5ft from an amp isn’t unheard of.. the point was to shut down some of the concerns of latency over USB if the time it now takes for audio to travel to software and back over USB are sub real world situation times.

          Sound travels at 1,126ft per second in air… 1.126ft per Ms

          just over 5ms to travel 5 feet..

          USB latencies through software monitoring are down below 5ms and often around 3.5ms

  6. nice interface. the price is high but still priced competitively compared to other apogee products.

    i miss PCMCIA interfaces. how many synthtopia readers remembe those days?

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