Ensemble (Thunderbolt)

Connecting Apogee Thunderbolt to Macs with USB-C ports

All Apogee Thunderbolt interfaces can be connected to Mac computers with USB-C Thunderbolt 3 using Apple’s adapter:

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-to-thunderbolt-2-adapter

Thunderbolt 3 is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 1 devices so any Apogee Thunderbolt device will work through this adapter with no reduction in performance, latency, or sound quality.

Note: Some 3rd-party venders sell a Display Port adapter. Though the plug is the same size and shape as Thunderbolt 2 & 1, these adapters do not support Thunderbolt.

 

How do I redeem my Eventide Ensemble bundle?

For a limited time (July 10th 2018 thru January 10th 2019)
Customers who buy a new Apogee Ensemble or Element Series Thunderbolt audio interface from an
authorized Apogee dealer get a Discount Coupon good for a free six-month subscription to the Eventide Ensemble bundle (a $180 value).

To receive this promotion,

  1. Purchase a new Ensemble Thunderbolt or Element 24,46 or 88 from an authorized Apogee dealer
  2. Register the product on the Apogee website and opt-in to receive your license code via email
  3. Use the link in the email to redeem your code from Gobbler.com (Each unique license is embedded in the link within the email. You cannot redeem the plugins unless you click through this link in the email.)
  4. Login to register your Gobbler account and click on ‘Redeem’
  5. Download and installer the Gobbler client
  6. Use the Gobbler client to download, install and activate the plugins.

For additional questions about this Eventide Ensemble bundle, please visit Eventide’s FAQ’s.

 

Mac Audio Optimization Guide

When streaming audio through an interface connected to your Mac, there are many factors that can cause the audio to have artifacts such as pops or clicks, stutters, or dropouts as you play or record. Use this guide to optimize your Mac computer to reduce the chances of this from happening.
  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Energy Saver set Computer Sleep to Never. Make sure “Put hard disks to sleep when possible” is NOT checked.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Network and make sure to remove any unused Network Adapters.  For example remove “Bluetooth PAN” “Thunderbolt Bridge” “Firewire” et al.  Having a port that shares a Bus with your Audio Hardware here can limit its bandwidth.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall make sure Firewall is Off.

  • In Apple Menu > System Preferences > Users & Groups > Admin Account > Login Items and remove any Startup items. None of these are crucial to your system so you can remove them all. Take a screenshot of the items if you’d like to restore them at a later time: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201361

  • In Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility select Macintosh HD and click First Aid (Repair Disk Permissions on older Macs). Repeat this for any other Hard Drives you have connected.

  • If you are using a USB Audio Interface, such as Duet, try all the USB ports as one may work better than another due to how the internal ports are hubbed.

  • Be sure you have tried another USB, Thunderbolt or Firewire Cable.

  • In System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Privacy Tab > Analytics (could say Diagnostics and Usage), un-check the boxes for Share Mac Analytics, Share with App Developers, and Share iCloud Analytics. You may also want to disable Locations services found in this same Privacy Tab to further reduce background network traffic.
After these steps please RESTART the Computer.

While you are recording:

  • Check that any Virus Scanners or Backup software (i.e. Hightail or Carbonite) that run in the background are disabled.  High background activity especially over the Network can cause glitches.

  • Close any unnecessary applications while recording (i.e. Skype or Browsers you are not actively using.)

  • Be sure that you record to a separate Hard Drive from your System/OS drive.

Volume and Gain are changing by themselves – Auto Gain Control

If your Apogee’s Input Gain or Output Volume are changing on their own, this may be caused by a 3rd-party program like Skype, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and others.

How is this possible? All modern Apogee interfaces have input gain and output volume that are digitally controlled rather than an analog potentiometer that must be physically turned. The advantages of digital control are many:

  • Improved Sound Quality (turning the gain doesn’t cause a “scratchy” sound, and enables the advantages of our Step-Gain preamp technology)
  • Settings can be saved to presets that can be recalled later.
  • You can also control these settings directly from recording applications like Logic or Garageband’s Device Control feature instead of having to open a separate app.

Unfortunately, other applications are also able to take over these controls in an undesirable way. Most often the culprit are Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) applications like Skype or GoToMeeting, or video conferencing apps like Google Hangouts, as well as Video Podcast features like Facebook Live.

These apps want to optimize the sound as much as possible for phone & video calls or recordings. This feature is usually called “Auto-Gain Control” and is actually pretty great when the computer’s built-in microphone and speakers are being used. However it’s very disruptive when you want to manually set the levels of your own interface and have them stay there.

Sadly, many of these applications do not provide you with the ability to turn off this Auto-Gain Control feature.

There are many applications out there, but there are a few that are most popular that we’ll briefly cover:

SKYPE: Can disable auto-gain 👍

The more recent versions of this app provide the ability to turn off AutoGain Control. The example below shows the Mac version. The iOS app is restricted to only using the built-in iPad/iPhone mic and can’t use external sound cards.

Google Hangouts: Cannot turn off auto-gain 👎

On a Mac, Hangouts typically needs a Chrome or Safari browser extension installed. None of the settings menus provide an option to turn off auto-gain. Even worse: even if you are not in a hangouts session but your web browser is open, the hangouts plugin will still be active and can adjust the gain on you. If you are in a DAW or recording program at the time, this is obviously bad. Turn off or disable the extension to avoid this:

Safari Browser:
 

 

Chrome Browser:
 

 

Facebook Live: Cannot turn off auto-gain 👎

The Facebook Live interface only allows you to select your interface, there are no audio options beyond that so if it is adjusting your Apogee’s levels there is no way to turn it off.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes. At least on a Mac or PC there are 3rd-party programs that stream through Facebook Live, or Twitch, or YouTube, and has extensive audio features. Apogee does our Facebook Live streams using an open source broadcaster software called OBS. There are many other such programs out there so look around to find one that serves your needs.

On an iPad or iPhone, you are limited by the capabilities of the iOS operating system and the app you are using, so there are usually even fewer options to get around the auto-gain problem.

The ability to disable Auto-Gain should be added to these apps by the developer. Please contact the maker of the program or iOS app you use and ask them to add this feature in a future update. Getting many requests from customers is the only way developers will know there is a demand for this.

 

*If you know of a better way around this problem, please contact our Support Team and let us know!

Logic Direct Monitoring

What is Logic Direct Monitoring?

 Hardware – Software Requirements

  1. Element Series + Ensemble Thunderbolt with July 2017 software and firmware updates
  2. Requires Logic Pro 10.3.2 or greater
  3. Direct Monitoring feature enabled only with a single Apogee interface – Direct Monitoring is disabled when multiple Apogee interfaces are connected.

Setting up Logic Pro to use Direct Monitoring

  1. In Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio > General, check Software Monitoring.
  2. In the Logic Pro menu bar, choose Record > Auto Input Monitoring if the setting is unchecked.
  3. Configure Logic Pro for use with an Apogee Element Series or Ensemble Thunderbolt interface
  4. In Logic Pro, choose View > Show Mixer if Mixer isn’t displayed.
  5. In the Mixer pane, choose View > Channel Strip Components, then select Audio Device Control if it is unchecked.
  6. At the top of the Channel Strip, Audio Device and Monitoring controls should now be displayed.

Are Bus Sends active in Direct Monitoring Channel Strips?

Yes, Logic Pro Bus sends operate as expected when the Channel Strip is in Direct Monitoring mode, allowing the user to send the signal to a reverb or other effect. Note that the send is delayed in relation to the Direct Monitoring signal, but this delay is rather inconsequential in the context of a reverb send.

What about plugins?

Plugins appear active but aren’t processing the Direct signal. Plugins DO process the Bus sends (i.e. reverb sends). Also, when audio is played back from tracks through the Channel Strip, plugins process the playback signal.

 Can I engage Direct Monitoring on Multiple Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output?

Yes, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on as many Channel Strips as there are hardware inputs. For example, an Element 46 has 4 analog and 8 optical inputs – thus, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on up to 12 Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output.

Can I create create Direct Monitoring mixes for multiple hardware outputs?

Yes, it’s possible to create up to 4 stereo mixes using Ensemble Thunderbolt and 3 stereo mixes using Element Series interfaces. Note that it isn’t currently possible to route a hardware input to two different mixes. Also note that it’s not possible to route a Direct Monitoring mix to Element Series optical outputs.

How does Direct Monitoring interact with Apogee Control low latency mixers

  • Direct Monitoring mixers are in addition to Apogee Control mixers. Users may employ both if they so desire.
  • Apogee Control low latency mixers. This means that, practically, users should employ one approach or the other.

Do Apogee Thunderbolt products (Element, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII, Thunderbridge) work with the 2016 MacBook Pro?

Question:

Do Apogee’s Thunderbolt products (Element 24, Element 46, Element 88, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII Thunderbolt, and Symphony 64 Thunderbridge) work with the 2016 MacBook Pro?

 

Answer:

Yes. The 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, shown here, includes Thunderbolt 3 ports. You will need to use an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to connect a current Apogee Thunderbolt device. As discussed in this post, you can NOT connect Apogee Thunderbolt devices to the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook because it only has USB-C and does not support Thunderbolt. It should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly like USB-C ports and their cables also look similar. This can get a little confusing, so here are a few basic rules to help clear up any questions about connectivity:

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have the same-size port and the same-size connector for their cables. Since USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly the same, you will need to make sure your Mac has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities before using it with an Apogee Thunderbolt device and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports, such as the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, can use it’s Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to any Thunderbolt 3 device, USB-C device, and Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 device if you use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with only USB-C ports, such as the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, can NOT connect to any Thunderbolt device, even when using adapters. It can connect to USB-C devices and other types of USB devices, using the proper adapters.

 

Click here for more information on the differences between USB-C ports and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

 

 

 

 

Do Apogee Thunderbolt products (Element, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII, Thunderbridge) work with the latest 12″ MacBook?

Question:

Do Apogee’s Thunderbolt products (Element 24, Element 46, Element 88, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII Thunderbolt, and Symphony 64 Thunderbridge) work with the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook?

 

Answer:

No. The 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, shown here, do not include a Thunderbolt port. They only have a USB-C port. The Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters will not work with these MacBooks, despite using the same-size connectors. Apogee Thunderbolt devices will work with the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, as discussed in this post. It should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly like USB-C ports and their cables also look similar. This can get a little confusing, so here are a few basic rules to help clear up any questions about connectivity:

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have the same-size port and the same-size connector for their cables. Since USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly the same, you will need to make sure your Mac has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities before using it with an Apogee Thunderbolt device and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports, such as the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, can use it’s Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to any Thunderbolt 3 device, USB-C device, and Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 device if you use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with only USB-C ports, such as the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, can NOT connect to any Thunderbolt device, even when using adapters. It can connect to USB-C devices and other types of USB devices, using the proper adapters.

 

Click here for more information on the differences between USB-C ports and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

 

 

 

 

Popping noises on the analog outputs

In rare cases, Ensemble Thunderbolt will generate short pops or clicks through the analog outputs. This would occur even if there are no inputs connected, the unit is hardware reset and on it’s internal clock, and is disconnected from the computer.

This is resolved with a firmware update that is part of the Ensemble Thunderbolt July 2016 software. Download it here: Download

  • Run the Software Installer.pkg that is inside this downloaded file. It will require your computer to restart.
  • Connect Ensemble via Thunderbolt cable to your Mac computer. You will be prompted to update the firmware.
  • If you are not prompted, the Ensemble Thunderbolt Firmware Updater can be manually run from your Mac’s Applications > Utilities folder.

When the firmware has completed it’s update, verify the version by opening the Apogee Maestro 2 software. Go to the Apogee Maestro 2 > About Apogee Maestro 2 menu. A properly updated Ensemble Thunderbolt will have Firmware 1.0.0.5 and FPGA 0.32 or higher.

Is Ensemble compatible with Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11)?

Yes! Ensemble Thunderbolt and Ensemble FireWire are both fully compatible* with Mac OS X El Capitan (10.11 to current).  Please be sure to download and install the latest El Capitan compatible software package for your product from Apogee’s site.

*  Although Ensemble FireWire is not “officially supported” after OS X 10.10.5, it is still compatible with OS X 10.11 and should work just like it did on OS X 10.10. You can download the latest installer for Ensemble Firewire and use it on 10.11 even though it says “Mac OS X 10.10 and 10.9 only”.

 

Click to find the latest Ensemble Thunderbolt Software Installer

Click to find the latest Ensemble FireWire Software Installer