Best Thunderbolt interface in it’s price range
“Had this baby for over a year and haven’t had a single problem with it. Blazing fast, built like a tank and sounds pristine….”
“Stepped up from a Apollo twin and there’s definitely a big difference – you can hear so much detail and recording comes out crystal clear”
Phoenix from Florida
“I purchased the Ensemble Firewire interface 6 years ago from Sweetwater and it has performed well in my in home studio. After reading about Apogee’s new Thunderbolt version I contacted my longtime sales rep, Nate Edwards, to discuss the product. As usual, Nate provided a detailed first hand perspective on the Ensemble Thunderbolt and I decided to make the switch.
The Thunderbolt version is a significant qualitative step increase vs the Firewire version. Mic preamps, interface options, ease of use and conversion, latency elimination, etc, are all improved. However, the biggest difference/benefit to me are the results. Whether you are listening to the Thunderbolt in a live setting or its recorded output, the fidelity of the music is greatly improved. Transparency, soundstage, imaging, make this a true “prosumer” device at a reasonable cost. It is the most “analog” sounding digital recording interface I have heard outside of a professional studio.”
John from Chicago, IL
The New Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt.
“First off, I have have to say that I typically never write gear reviews. However, this has been the only piece of equipment that I had purchased recently that is worth mention. I have done an extensive amount of research before taking the plunge with this interface…The seamless integration between Pro Tools and Apogee have opened new doors to my sound quality as well as the ability to be mobile with the Apogee Ensemble that is (In my opinion) far superior to that of the Digidesign’s 192 A/D converters. My mixes have opened up and the 8 mic preamps sound fantastic. In fact, I even sold off my Focusrite ISA 828 that was light piped into the 192. The preamps sound crystal clear with TONS of head room due to its gain staging as well as a sweet top end that doesn’t have any harshness when tracking. This alone is well worth the money spent. I have been going back and forth between this and the UA Apollo but, in all honesty, I am glad that I made the decision with sticking to Apogee. The Apollo in its own right is a really cool interface. However, if you are anything like me, you will look past all of the gimmicky bells and whistles of the plugins that they make you believe that you are purchasing with the unit. Truth be told, you are only getting a very small taste of the plugins that UA offers and that by purchasing the Apollo, you are now committed to buying the “Higher End” plugins that you initially thought came with the interface. This is a great marketing gimmick as I feel that by dropping $2K-$2500 on an interface, it had better come with everything that is pictured on the box. Now that I got that rant off my chest…
It truly is a wonderful interface. Latency is almost non-existent and there is TONS of IO to keep the most demanding studio nerd at bay ( If IO is an issue, you can run up to 4 Thunderbolt Ensembles simultaneously!). Also, the added talkback mic is VERY underrated. It is the same exact mic that is integrated in the Apogee One. I’ve already used this handy little mic as an ambient room mic during a drum tracking session and squashed the crap out of it with my EL8X Distressor for an added effect and mixed it into the drum bus. I am not going to go into full detail about the specs as anyone with a brain stem can read the description section for themselves. At $2500, there really isn’t more that a project studio can ask for. If you are serious about your sound and stand behind your work (Pro or not), you can count on the Apogee Ensemble to deliver the goods.”
Mike M from S.F. Bay Area, CA
Performance, Reliability, and Quality.
“After weighing other options in this price range, for me it came down to three things: cleanest possible conversion, uncolored/honest built-in pres, and high performance (low latency). The UA Apollo line seems pretty decent at being both an interface and a DSP plugin engine; the Antelope Zen is an I/O monster. But what sets the Ensemble apart is that it doesn’t try to be too many things to too many people. It doesn’t have DSP plugins or 5000 inputs, but what it does offer is literally stunning performance and high reliability. This is what I wanted for my home studio. What I got is 8 of the cleanest pres I’ve ever heard, plus guitar I/O and re-amping that really does add value.
I researched THD+N and Dynamic Range, but I don’t care much about the science (and the Apogee comes out on top of everything but its expensive cousin, the Symphony, anyway). What really blew me away was my first mic test, recording an acoustic guitar with a U87 into one of the built-in pres. I couldn’t believe the headroom, clarity, and honesty of what I heard back in my headphones. And the latency doesn’t even exist. I stacked CPU-intensive plugins and ran at 32 samples, and CPU didn’t spike above 10%.
Bottom line, if you’re having a tough time choosing at this price point, go with this one if you want an interface that focuses more on top-quality conversion and performance.”
Jake from Philadelphia
Sounds Like Heaven!
“The Apogee Ensemble sounds amazing! It’s incredible how crystal clear it captures sound, the mic preamps are outstanding, love the high resolution OLED display (it shows the levels of analog inputs and outputs, including the headphones), ultra-fast latency in LOGIC thanks to the Thunderbolt connection. The monitor speaker outs and the two headphones sound loud and accurate, yet I haven’t had ear fatigue after long sessions. Has tons of expansion possible thanks to two ADAT ports (think 16 more input channels). It’s a joy to listen to and records with pristine quality. Love the Apogee Ensemble!”
Camilo from New York
Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt
“I have owned many interfaces and converters, including the AD/DA16X Series, Rosetta 800, as well as the original Ensemble Firewire. This unit is a game changer! 1.1 Ms round trip at 32 samples 24/96 is not hype, it is the real deal. The Converters sound like the Symphony series to my ears, and this box has ALOT of functionality. I could go on and on, but the reality is that track counts, plugin counts, etc are pretty much a thing of the past with this interface, and a powerful MAC (I am running the new Mac Pro 6 core with this…). I know it is alot of $$$, but worth it. You will not need anything else for a LONG time”
Brad Hagen from Carlsbad, CA