First, the good. The Apogee Duet (Rating: 6/10) sounds phenomenal. Apogee has been a long time leader in professional studio gear, with a particular emphasis on great digital/analog conversion. The Duet lives up to that heritage with crystal clear sound, and a wide dynamic range on the microphone preamps. They’re lovely.

Unfortunately, the rest of the package doesn’t live up to that audio performance. First, unlike all of the other interfaces I tested for this roundup, the Duet doesn’t come with any bundled software beyond its own control app. At this price, that’s difficult to swallow, especially for the beginner. I also wasn’t a fan of the physical design of the unit. The main box is good-looking and sleek, taking design cues from Apple with a big silver knob and a smooth black surface. But to keep the box so small and sleek, the Duet relies on a separate breakout cable for its two microphone and two audio inputs. The result was a mess of cables running across my desk, which seemed to defeat the purpose.

If you don’t mind all the cables and have your own software, or if you are just looking to upgrade your signal chain, the Duet sounds great. But it feels a little caught between various markets to me—too expensive and lacking for a beginner, too awkward for a more serious musician.

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