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Apogee duet questions

Discussion in 'Studio Techniques' started by Lauren2010, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. Lauren2010

    Lauren2010 Member

    I am waiting delivery of my new i7 17" MBP and Logic Studio. I'm recording acoustic folk mostly.

    I currently have a m-audio fast track pro USB interface, a Shure SM57 mic, and a Shure SM81 condenser mic.

    Is the SM81 good enough a mic to use with the apogee duet to hear a substantial improvement (as compared to using that same mic with the m-audio device)? Or would I have to also get a better mic, if I decide to get the apogee duet, in order to hear any quality difference?

    Also, I already ordered an external glyph GT 050Q 500gig (firewire 800) drive. I assume I can daisy chain the apogee duet (fw 400) after the glyph drive with no problems for either device?

    The glyph supports eSata, so I could go that route, but right now I'd like to stick with firewire unless there is an issue with daisy chaining the glyph and the apogee.

    thanks in advance
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    If you accept a generic answer:

    1. Room acoustics
    Without them, you cannot hear your monitors properly.

    2. Good monitor boxes
    Without them, you cannot hear your interface properly.

    3. Good Interface/Preamps
    Without them, you cannot hear your microphones properly.

    4. Good microphones
    Without them, you cannot hear your voices and instruments properly.

    5. Good recording environment
    Without that, it is hard to record your acoustic music properly.

    No matter where you start and how much you invest, finally those five must live together like a happy family.

    The Duet is at least a class higher than the Fast Track, maybe the best sounding interface in its price range. You should definitely hear a difference.

    But the Duet is built as an extremely small good sounding interface for desktop and mobile use. It has only 2 inputs and unbalanced monitor outputs. Your choice. I don't know how your record and how you plan your final setup including monitoring while recording, but 2 in/outs are really not much.

    It is rather a question of the right mic, this is automatically a better mic. A guy who knows what he does can record beautiful tracks with cheap equipment while another guy produces just crap with top gear. Happens all the time.

    However, the less you know, the less experience you have, the more help you need from your equipment. But if you get really good, you may want to squeeze the last 10 percent out which can cost you thousands of Dollars. It is not easy to keep the balance.

    Get your good interface, whichever you take, and start experimenting. Try your mics on vocals, instruments, in different positions and so on. Learn about recording techniques. Listen and think about your dream sound. Do you come close? What are you missing? Power, clearness, softness? Then think if you can blame a mic for that. Maybe the banjo sounds dull itself? No mic can change this. Is the voice too sharp? Yes, a microphone can change this.

    If you are not sure where to search for problems or improvements, this is quite normal. You can post sound snippets here in the forum, in the LUG are many experienced people who can tell you what they hear and what to do about. (Btw, I don't understand why this is not done regularly. Are you all that shy?)

    Ouch ...
    tick ... tick ... thinking ...
    ... I would not count on that.
    Does anybody know how a Duet and a harddisk behave in a daisy chain? And what about the 400/800 thing?
  4. rzzz

    rzzz Member

    the Duet and La Cie 1 TB F/W 800/400 work well here- iMac <>La Cie<>Duet.

  5. juniorspecial

    juniorspecial New Member

    I have Duet, and I'm very pleased with it. It replaced a first generation MBox, and sounded substantially better.
  6. Lauren2010

    Lauren2010 Member

    Thanks for your replies

    I have received and configured my new MBP. Love it so far. Apple makes amazing products.

    I also sprung for the duet and now have it connected via firewire 400 to an external glyph drive which itself runs off firewire 800 to my MBP. So far I was able to run iTunes over the duet and through a cheap pair of Jensen JPS 45 powered speakers. The sound coming out is pretty awesome despite the fact these speakers are not designed as studio monitors. They'll have to do for now because of budget reasons. And my pathetic spare bedroom will also have to do as a studio.

    I hope today I will lay first vocal and acoustic guitar tracks on my new setup with my SM57 and SM81 mics to see what my initial impressions are. I hope I like what I hear because I don't want to spend any more money on new mics. I'll let you know what happens.

    Thanks again

  7. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Microphones do not know bedrooms because they cannot see them ;)

    And unless you have a Japanese Futon, a bed can act as an absorber for deeper frequencies, which is good against a booming A-string for example.
  8. Lauren2010

    Lauren2010 Member

    No mattresses in this room, but great idea.

    My first impressions of my new rig as I record my Taylor acoustic with the duet and the SM81 mic are very favorable. A significant improvement over past efforts using different rigs/mics.

    Will be trying the vocals with my SM57 today hopefully.

    A long long time ago I recorded with a Teac A3340 tape deck. I loved the sounds coming from it with a cheap Ovation acoustic guitar and SM58 mic. Is there any way to achieve that "tape" sound using stock Logic plugins? I like the new sounds from the duet, but I'd still like to make it sound more like tape (sans hiss).
  9. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    If you recorded with high levels on the tape deck (what I assume), you may have heard "tape saturation". This is similar to limiting but instead of pushing down loud parts they just don't go louder and get a little distorted:
    Saturation plugins are available, but there is a pretty good sounding tool already in Logic: the Tape Delay without delay. First, put a Gain Plugin into the channelstrip because later you are going to increase the signal level. Then take the Tape Delay plugin, set delay and feedback to zero, output fully wet, dry to zero. Now increase the input level by the Gain plugin until the Tape Delay starts to saturate. Then pull the output fader down to get the correct level again.

    If you are not sure about the sound of saturation, you can try with the Test Oscillator: Sine wave, reduce the frequency to a less annoying value. Insert a Tremolo into the channelstrip. You get a clean soft pulsing tone which is good for testing the saturation behavior of the Tape plugin in the way I described above. You can also set the Test Oscillator to pink noise to hear the effect on the full frequency spectrum.

    Saturation with the Logic Tape Plugin on sine wave and pink noise.
    4 bars off, 4 bars on, ...
    Output with equal peak level.
    Ear friendliness of the example: Good. (About –11 dB, you can leave your volume at a normal level ;))

  10. Lauren2010

    Lauren2010 Member

    Thanks Peter I will try that.
  11. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    Off topic but anyway:

    <boring acoustician mode on>

    Mattresses for the most part use closed cell foam I believe nowadays but I am not 100% sure about this. Just as a point of information open cell foam is what is required within the studio environmant as the sound needs to get "lost" somewhere. It's easy to tell the difference as air will pass through open celled foam and not through closed cell foam (i.e. try breathing through it... but be careful not to kill yourself)

    </boring acoustician mode off>

    Sorry about that!

  12. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    But I think a "normal" bed with everything on it and probably a duet of girls (to stay on topic) should work as an absorber. It should hinder the room modes in some way, is this not the case?

    At least when the room is small and the bed is big, ideally when the room is smaller than the bed :)
  13. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    For sure most non-wall vaguely absorptive extra surfaces are likely to improve the sound. Look (hear?) what happens to most terrible sounding smaller venues when it's a full house - the room is tranformed with the stage sound being soaked up and you can hear the PA without tons of extra horrid reflections. In fact sometimes in these situations the PA becomes magically underpowered as so much sound energy is soaked up.

    I just thought I'd bore everyone to tears about open and closed cell foam.


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