(Just launched) Apogee Duet 2
Jun 27, 2011 at 9:22 PM Post #31 of 70
Curly, thanks for the initial impressions. Looks forward to more.
Have to admit I thought the original could be a bit aggressive with the wrong setup, so more punchy/edgy has me slightly concerned, but if anything like the first there was high bang for buck. 
Jun 28, 2011 at 10:22 PM Post #32 of 70
Curly, thanks for the initial impressions. Looks forward to more.
Have to admit I thought the original could be a bit aggressive with the wrong setup, so more punchy/edgy has me slightly concerned, but if anything like the first there was high bang for buck. 

To be fair, I was making two possible mistakes.  Firstly, the interconnects I was using were dug out from my "random cable" drawer and may have been a hinderance.  Hopefully, I'll have some time to pick up something else tomorrow.
I was also doing a bit of reading and came across some information regarding the original Duet.  Apparently, I had misinterpreted the "instrument amp" setting in the original Maestro software and, apparently, it just knocks 20db off the volume.  As I personally thought the volume maxed in line out mode wasn't ideal for using the Duet as a DAC I was running it in instrument amp during my comparisons.  Maxed in line-out, I completely agree that it sounded too "aggressive" so I'm assuming this is how you ran it.  The Maestro 2 software for the Duet 2 has no such setting, so I went by the recommended hookup to a "home theater" and ran it at maximum volume.  This, obviously, was not comparing apples-to-apples.
Since I'm waiting for new interconnects before doing any further DAC comparisons, I've been using the built-in headphone amp.  I maintain that it's very, VERY good.  Given that the Duet 2 does up to 24/192 as a USB DAC and functions as a nice performing amp I'd say it presents a good value as an all in one solution.
Jun 29, 2011 at 4:33 AM Post #33 of 70
I have had my Duet 2 since last Wednesday, and in comparison to my prior Apogee ONE, it is a considerable improvement as a DAC/headphone amp and as a DAC/preamp for my Speakers. As a headphone amp, the Duet 2 has considerably more clean output at much higher volumes, and is also much more controlled in the bass regions.  Additionally, going from the ONE to the Duet 2 has brought a considerable amount of clarity to the reproduced sound through my speakers, both in terms of tonal clarity, and in terms of microdynamic detail and a considerably more three-dimensional soundstage.  I am using the headphone out as a preamp going into my unbalanced speaker amp (using a custom 1/4" to RCA adapter cable), in order to bypass the breakout cable (which is not as detailed as the Duet 2's converters are capable of).  Using the custom cable, I am getting a very detailed, three dimensional sound out of my speakers similar to my recabled K701 and recabled HD580 through the Duet 2.  If I use my older interconnects through the breakout cable with adapters, the results are still good, but not quite as open or detailed.  I also have found that the included USB cable isn't awful unlike the ONE's included cable, but upgrading it to a Kimber Kable CU B Bus usb cable (with the ferrite beads removed) has brought extra microdynamic and spatial detail through that the included cable did not provide.  In terms of driving capability with my K701's and HD580's, the Duet 2 drives both very well, with the K701 being a good match with the Duet 2 as the Duet 2 has very deep, controlled bass, and very clean overall sound, and the HD580 being an even better match, due to the Duet 2's good control over the HD580 in the bass regions with a nice full, very detailed sound.  My HD 598's aren't quite as good of a match with the Duet 2 as it is with my Corda Stepdance through the Duet 2, but the Duet 2 is still better with all three IMHO than the Corda Arietta, due to more detail and three-dimensional sound coming through the Duet 2 vs the more two-dimensional sound of the Arietta.  Overall, I think the Duet 2 is a very good value, and is a considerable upgrade over the Apogee ONE. Additionally, the DAC of the Duet 2 is somewhat more impressive to me than the ADC side of the Duet 2, which is also a considerable upgrade over the ONE.  The DAC simply sounds very detailed and clear no matter which output you use, but the headphone jack is more detailed than the breakout cable due to the more direct connection (and better cabling in my case).
Edit: I forgot to mention that the ONE in comparison is less detailed, more two-dimensional and even somewhat muddy sounding as a headphone amp and as a preamp compared to the Duet 2, not to mention very weak as a headphone amp in overall power compared to the Duet 2.
Jun 29, 2011 at 8:56 AM Post #34 of 70
Curly, I did run the Duet maxed. At the time I compared it to several Parasounds (1100 HD, 1500 and 1600 HD), so aggressive reaction may be a little unfair.

88, interesting results of breakout v. headphone jack.

One aspect I've always missed about the Duet is how it made the Etys ER4Ss sound. Best I've ever heard them (clarity and extension). Plenty of times I've wondered how JH1xs would respond. Anyone spend much IEM time with the Duet 2?
Jun 29, 2011 at 9:40 AM Post #35 of 70
How did you find the Duet compared to the Parasounds? I remember it being a bit cold, similar to the DA10. Would've been a nice match with the Audiovalve RKV probably, if I'd had both at the time. However, I think I'd probably still take the DAC-1600 now which cost me about the same, if I were to only consider it as a DAC.
Jun 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM Post #36 of 70
Well, I've never heard the Parasounds sound bad with anything. If it wasn't for the 16-bit limitation I'd still have one ... or four. At least one other member thought they a little thick though.

The Duet could sound cold (and maybe aggressive) with the wrong pairing. I felt that way with the TTVJ FET-A and suspect the problematic B22, but in most cases it performed admirably and well above it's price point (not to mention its recording & needle drop advantages). In a land of home & work computers, iOS and Android tablets, etc., the OS X requirement is the aspect to give me pause (been using the iPad for digital out a bunch lately), but still have almost picked up the Duet 2 twice now, and may still. DAC hunting and little new in this price range ever sounded this strong (if like Duet 1). Just pair correctly.

As a JH3A preorderer, I've often wondered if a JH1x and Duet wouldn't make a whole lot more practical sense. Just add a MBA. Memories of the Etys pairing linger.
Jun 29, 2011 at 10:45 PM Post #37 of 70
I have to somewhat take back my comment about the headphone jack vs. the breakout cables.  I think there is a slight volume difference between the two outputs, with the headphone out being a bit louder, and at times a touch more harsh at higher volumes than the breakout cable outs.  The Breakout cable has a detailed, smooth sound with most of the attributes of the headphone out minus the slight harshness at higher volumes and a bit more voluminous bass response (which could also be due to the difference in cables), with the added benefit of better perceived channel separation.  I think I needed to break-in the breakout cable before judging it critically, and now am slightly preferring that route to my speaker rig as a preamp.  Also, using the breakout cable route, at a volume of -20 on the duet, the Arietta is a touch more natural sounding, and slightly smoother than the Duet' 2's headphone out, but the two are very close, and both are usable with my HD580's and K701's.  I'll post more impressions later on in the week after the breakout cable and my old interconnects break in for a while, but the Duet 2 makes for a very nice DAC and preamp either way it is hooked up.
EDIT: I figured out what was going on with the headphone out.  The headphone jack is very revealing of flaws in the music that is being played on it, so much that it was showing some harshness in music I had previously used as reference recordings to compare equipment.  Switching to more pristinely recorded material, the original comments I made hold about both the headphone jack powering headphones and the headphone jack acting as a preamp.  However, the Duet 2's breakout outputs are very good, even with unbalanced connections using a TS to RCA adapter plug and RCA cables.  The performance should increase further when using dedicated TS to RCA cables, or when using TRS to XLR cables with a balanced amp.
Jul 1, 2011 at 3:59 AM Post #40 of 70
One advantage of keeping the old duet and buying the new duet would to have two set ups for two different headphones. You can use the firewire and usb out of the same computer set up.
Jul 1, 2011 at 3:09 PM Post #41 of 70
never thought about that.   AND I wonder if you could conceivably double your MIC/LINE ins if running simultaneously(probably not much interest in that since this is not a recording forum but.....)....Now Im really thinking about this unit. 
Jul 1, 2011 at 3:13 PM Post #42 of 70
Device aggregation would probably work better between the ONE (USB) and Duet 2 (USB) than the Duet (Firewire)  and Duet 2 (USB), as Apogee has stated in other forums and in the duet 2 manual that aggregation works best between like devices (USB and USB), not USB and Firewire.
Jul 2, 2011 at 12:23 AM Post #43 of 70
Device aggregation would probably work better between the ONE (USB) and Duet 2 (USB) than the Duet (Firewire)  and Duet 2 (USB), as Apogee has stated in other forums and in the duet 2 manual that aggregation works best between like devices (USB and USB), not USB and Firewire.

While comparing the Duet to the Duet 2, I originally tried to keep them plugged in simultaneously.  Amarra, however, kept wanting to output to the Duet 2 no matter how many times I set up the original for sound output.  Of course, this could have just been one of Amarra's... special moments. :wink:
Jul 2, 2011 at 12:41 AM Post #44 of 70
I don't own Amarra, but Decibel has plenty of its own "special moments".  The ONE and Duet seem to be able to coexist with my audio playback software, but I haven't tried aggregating them yet.  I'll probably try that sometime this weekend as I finally side-graded to Logic Express 9 after using an Academic version of Logic Studio 8 for several years.  At least Logic Express 9 is more stable.
Jul 9, 2011 at 6:50 AM Post #45 of 70
Hi everyone, I am interested in the duet 2 for use with a macbook air, a midi keyboard and some active monitors and possible the es5. Will the software work with os x lion? Does it have optical inputs besides usb and I guess midi? Can the xlr outputs (i guess they are on the breakout box) be controlled by a volume knob or some software volume? most active monitors dont see to have their own volume control. Thanks in advance for any information, Greetings, Anouk,m

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