Choosing an iOS Guitar Interface

And then the computers came. The MDM style products still made great converters for the budding multichannel audio interface market, but Apogee decided to make their own. Way early to the digital party, and way late to the interface party, Apogee priced about on par with their name and reputation (the same way Focusrite did, although Focusrite having already established varying lines for varying budgets in the pre computer days, did the same on the DAW side as well), but their drivers and implementation were nowhere near as mature as even the “budget” companies’ offerings. As a predictable result, sending products to market before many of those who needed to be in the loop had a chance to test them, Apogee released some sound cards (and yeah, I will happily use that term interchangeably with “audio interface”, sue me) that absolutely tanked. Apogee was bit hard coming up short against the ASIO wall, and on this market, they never really seemed to recover and went off to hide in the Mac world.

Lucky for us! That means that some of the more desktop style I/O’s are available for iOS, where there is less chance of incompatible hardware, making it a lot easier to build for, and no pesky ASIO

Like the similar Presonus and Focusrite models, the Apogee Duet and Quartet are dual use dektop and mobile. Unlike those however, they are Mac side only and not Windows (I did see some press announcement that finally, Apogee have joined the 21st century and as of November, should have some Windows drivers, not holding my breath and given Apogee’s track record, would wait about 6 months of ASIO success before really being able to recommend these for that use).

As a harbinger of things to come, the ONE makes the untrue claim right out of the gate, and I quote from the website “The only interface that charges iOS devices while in use and can also be battery powered.” Sorry, there are other interfaces that can meet both requirements (and ones that don’t NEED to be battery powered as well). On the other hand, this is certainly a contender. Stereo ins on a breakout box, 1/8″ headphone out, a bit of metering, power input and also doubles as a USB interface for Mac desktop, and maybe someday, Windows…more on that below.

The Duet has two inputs and four outputs, which could possibly, through some tricky use of Audiobus or other routing solutions, help to deal with some of the routing issues in our existing iOS guitar software. It also has MIDI over USB. It also claims desktop level +20dBu outputs! Yowza! I have read that it offers pass thru charging to the iDevice as well. Which also brings up the point that this device needs a power supply to work with the mobile gear. Something I don’t see mentioned enough is its handy, multifunction knob for setting in and out levels. Very large, clear and seems to be made in a way that you don’t need to duct tape the knobs in place like some of the other devices…cool! Like the iRig pro, the inputs are Neutrik style Combo connectors, nice! The Duet also has some seriously serious looking metering.

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