Digidesign 003/ProTools or Apogee Ensemble/Logic?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by guitarplayer, Jan 16, 2008.


  1. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    After hearing the difference a good preamp/converter made on my last recording project I'm revamping my recording chain! My budget is around $2500 for the best preamp/converter/mic combination I can get for that price range. I think I've decided to go with a MacBook platform for my DAW system (which I'm not including in the $2500 since I'll have to replace my computer anyway).

    I've been reading and hearing about the Ensemble/Logic combination. Everyone I've spoken with who has used it says it sounds GREAT! But...I've been reading and hearing that Logic Pro requires a HUGE learning curve. I've been using Guitar Tracks Pro with my PC which has been very intuitive.

    I've also had recommendations for the Digidesign 003 and ProTools. I've been told ProTools is MUCH easier to learn.

    My goal is simple TRACKING of acoustic guitar, guitar cabinets, vocals, drums, keyboard, etc. At least right now I don't plan to do a lot with midi or virtual instruments, etc. which I hear Logic is good at. I simple want to record the cleanest and most musical (large warm, clean with a lot of detail) tracks possible within my budget of around $2400.

    I've been leaning toward Logic/Ensemble because of the recording quaility and Sw/Hw integration but I'm concerned about warning about the learning curve required for Logic. Just wanted to get some feedback or other recommendations. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. Zero Point

    Zero Point Member

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    Ensemble is an entirely different class of gear man. The hardware is leaps and bounds over the digi. Ensemble uses Cirrus Logic AD and DA chips. Too expensive for me... but there's nothing quite like it under 6 grand ;)

    How about the Ensemble and MOTU Digital Performer? :D

    Logic seems to have that same old midi sample rate sync problem that it had way back when it was emagic.

    -ZP
     
  3. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I'm not familiar with Digital Performer but I've heard good things about it. I suppose the only advantage to buying Logic is that it's suppose to have support for the Ensemble to make it easier to integrate the two. I'm not sure that's worth basing the entire decision around but I suppose it's a factor. Is Logic Pro really that hard to learn for basic tracking? I'm relatively new to the whole recording experience (about 3 years so far using PC DAW and Guitar Tracks but at this point in my short experience my goals for recording are simply to capture the Cleanest, Warmest and Detailed tracks. I don't expect to do a lot of processing during the mixing stage. So far the most I've done is add a small amount of compression and room affects or reverb. I don't need most of what Logic or any really high end software can provide. I wonder if Garage Band will do everything I need. I doubt it has the level of quality plugins (compression, etc) as Logic, Pro or DP.
     
  4. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    Get the Pro Tools rig if you are going to swap sessions with other Pro Tools users. That's the *only* reason to rely on Digidesign hardware (unless you can afford an HD rig.)
    If it's just for your own purposes, you will have considerably better sound quality with the Apogee rig. No comparison in quality between the Apogee converters and Digi.
     
  5. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    To compare Pro Tools and the Ensemble is silly. Pro Tools is a DAW with associated hardware. Ensemble is a converter box.

    Converters that you can in fact use with Pro Tools.

    For the scenario you've outlined PT probably is simpler.
    You can use Ensemble via the lightpipe I/O.
     
  6. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    Noooooo... The Ensemble is an interface with high quality converters.
    http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/ensemble.php

    I think the OP was deciding between an 003 with PT and an Ensemble with Logic. So Logic would be the DAW software.

    I'm a Pro Tools user myself. But only because of convenience. If I weren't tied to Digi hardware/software, I'd use the Apogee stuff any day of the week for the sonics.

    Just a matter of using whichever tool fits his uses best.

    Like I said, if he needs easy session swapping with other Pro Tools users, then it's a lot easier to do it with a Pro Tools setup. But for the $$$, if he's looking for quality over convenience, it's got to be the Apogee with Logic, DP, Cubase, Nuendo, or whatever DAW software he wants to use (other than Pro Tools.)
     
  7. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    Was I not clear? Ensemble is converters. That's what I said. Converter implies interface.

    My point is that you do NOT have to use the Digi converters. You can use an Ensemble with PT.

    PT is easier to use than Logic.

    He can have his cake and eat it too. PT- Easy to use DAW, and Ensemble high quality conversion. Get it?
     
  8. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    I guess I misunderstood you. It sounded as if you were saying the Ensemble was strictly a converter (like some of the units out there that are stricly A/D or D/A for monitoring, etc.) No harm done...:BEER
    Yes, he can absolutely use the Apogee with Pro Tools, *IF* he also buys a Digi interface. I was under the impression that the OP was asking a matter of "either/or."

    I was just saying that if he's got a choice of one or the other (and not both based on budget), then he should consider what is most important to him. Convenience or quality.

    And that's not to say that Pro Tools LE can't be high-quality. Like I said, I use it to make my living. But I get a little aggravated knowing I have to use their hardware when there's other stuff out there that sounds considerably better! But, I digress...

    I'd LOVE Pro Tools to no end if they'd improve the converter & pre-amp quality of their interfaces to match the quality of others in the same price range. I'd be glad to pay a little more if they had hardware that was prices between LE stuff and HD.
    I actually like how simple the software is to use, event though it seems to get a bad rap in the online recording community for being cold & sterile (which I just don't get.)
     
  9. Zero Point

    Zero Point Member

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    Um. Unless things have changed though, you have to use digidesign hardware with pro tools le and m-audio hardware with pro tools m-powered...

    And obviously a PT HD card for full blow Pro Tools HD.

    -ZP
     
  10. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    No. You can connect about any converter you want via the lightpipe I/O.

    It's been that way since Digi 001. I used to use a Lucid with 001.
     
  11. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    Sorr for coming across harsh. My Wife and Daughter are crawling up my rear!

    :BEER

    Cold and sterile has nothing to do with software..........bus summing on the other hand....

    Me and my partner are thingking about checking out one of the new Tridents so we can use more outboard gear and enjoy the fat juicy console experience.
     
  12. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    And he may not even need Lightpipe depnding on how many tracks he wants to do at a time. You can also use S/PDIF connections from an external converter or clock to some of the Digi interfaces (especially the Firewire interfaces.)

    However, you are limited to recording only the number of tracks your Digidesign interface will support.

    If I were dead-set on using external (non-Digi) converters with Pro Tools LE, I'd consider getting M-Powered and the M-Audio Lightpipe I/O. Then get an Ensemble, Rosetta, whatever. But then we are back to the age-old Pro Tools gripe. You only get the 32 tracks with LE/M-Powered, and you MUST run their hardware to use it.

    Hell, I use M-Powered, and I baically have to have TWO "dongles" connected. My software won't start if both the interface AND the iLok are connected..
     
  13. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    Yup. Digi needs to go over themselves.
     
  14. delichef

    delichef Member

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    FWIW, I just ditched my 002 setup for a Logic/Duet setup and couldn't be happier. I think ProTools is nice, but their hardware just doesn't compete with similar stuff in it's price range. There are workarounds like the ones mentioned above or BlackLion mods....but it seems to be a slippery expensive slope just to keep using their software. I wanted to be able to work on drum parts while away from my music space on my Macbook Pro...can't do it...solution? buy a micro for $250. Why do I need the hardware attached to launch the app again?

    It was these types of things that ultimately drove me away. I liked the software fine, the AIR plug-ins are nice (I had strike and velvet)...but being stuck with the hardware was really annoying. I think with your budget, you're not getting the most for your money with the PTLE options at this point in time. Like the above poster said....if you share files with other PT users, or have a studio you like working with that doesn't support anything but PT....then you do what you gotta do. But, in my humble opinion (having just gone through this)....there are better choices that will allow you more flexibility later. With ProTools you start building a house of cards....you get the m-audio with the Apogee, you get a micro to work remotely, you wanted more tracks so you buy the Musician Pack Upgrade or whatever it is....all of a sudden you have this extra crap that ate into your budget that you never wanted in order to work the way you want to, which lessens the amount you are able to spend on the pieces that actually matter. With your budget, i'd keep it simple...Ensemble is a good piece of gear that would require a lot of money to upgrade past...so it should hold you for quite awhile.

    It sounds like your biggest concern about going with Logic is the learning curve....in my opinion, it's not what people make it out to be for the average user. It's not like you'll launch the app and it's all in a foreign language and nothing resembles a standard DAW. For basic tasks, it's pretty straightforward and easy to pick up. There's a lot of depth in the app and you can decide how far into it you want to get....but for tracking and audio routing it works like most major audio apps. Any app takes some time to get comfortable and find your workflow, but it's not like you need a master's degree to use Logic.

    Good luck with your purchase!
    - alex
     
  15. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    Thanks for all of the good advice and insight. alexgrignon - I've considered the Duet but I think I need at least 3 inputs to track my drummer. I love the size and looks of it and the fact that it provides the same sound as the Ensemble but for a lot less. Btw, IS there a way to record a drummer with the Duet that will allow me to record 2 overheads and the kick drum?

    As far as Logic, I've seen the interface and it looks like for basic tracking that it wouldn't be rocket science. I realize I would probably be using only a fraction of its capabilities but since they cut the price in half $500 is doable and comparable to other DAW software. Thanks again!
     
  16. Jayson Chance

    Jayson Chance Member

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    From what I've read on recording forums, the Duet has the "famous" Apogee conversion, but is not quite to the standard of it's more expensive counterparts. After all, why would anyone buy a Rosetta 200 if they could just drop $500 on the Duet?

    The only way I can think getting three tracks at a time done with the Duet would be to use some sort of external mixer for the drums. But you *still* wouldn't have three tracks. You'd only have two, with one of them being a blend from the mixer.

    If you don't think you'll ever need to record more than 4 tracks at a time, you might consider something like the new M-Audio Fast Track Ultra, or maybe the M-Audio Firewire 1814.
    That is, of course, if you wanted to go the Pro Tools route.

    I think your original idea of Logic and an Apogee Ensemble would be something you would grow into, and you'd have your top-shelf sound processing right off the bat. You'd then just need to make sure you could enhance that with good instruments, mics, and pre-amps. And of course, you'd need to make sure you had a decent machine.
     
  17. delichef

    delichef Member

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    Yeah, I decided to go with the "two good channels" approach and the Duet fit perfectly for that. The only drawback was I had to go completely ITB. But it's just me and I use BFD2 for drums so it was a good fit. If you're tracking drums or several musicians at once, then the Duet probably isn't a good fit for your needs since it can only do 2 ins at one time.

    I don't look at the Duet as trying to compete with the higher-end units...I look at it more as a really well made lower end unit. It doesn't have a ton of features, it sounds fantastic and it works really well.

    Cheers,
    - alex
     
  18. js54

    js54 Member

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    I just recently switched from PTLE/Mbox to Logic/Ensemble and what a difference!!

    I wish the Duet was out when I changed, I have 2 Mic-Pres that never get used, but its nice to have em if you need em.

    Since I did Logic and the Ensemble at the same time, the first thing I noticed was the plug and play aspect of the setup. It worked perfectly right out of the gate. My PTLE setup took a week to get up an running - and I'm using a MAC...WTF!?!? Everytime I launched PTLE, I would have to cross my fingers and hope it would work....sometimes, it didnt and then I would have to re-install, set up a new user account...go through the headache of re-authorizing my plugs....ughghgh!! The Apple/Logic/Ensemble is a joy and have not had one problem....yet.....

    The sound quality was night and day (granted, the 003 "should" be a step up from the Mbox, so its not a direct comparison for your needs). The point is, all the reviews and feedback about the quality of the Ensemble are true!

    Plus I hated working with the Digi hardware, for some reason, it would constantly choke (it was USB, not Firewire....I know the 003 is FW), but I talked to some guys when I was deciding and even with the 002/003, they would get these nasty "Interrupt" msgs. I got a really good deal on my Ensemble, so the few extra bucks it cost was worth it over the 003.

    As far as Logic goes, I'm still on Logic 6 and its not that hard to learn. If you know PTLE, you should be fine. There are some online lessons and books that can help you get the basics down. I do miss PTs audio editing functionality...much better than Logic at first...but now I'm getting used to it....should be right the first take any way...;) But Logic 8 is supposed to be easier to work with, especially for audio tracks....so it might be a moot point.

    To me, if you run MAC and dont have to share a lot files with other PT users, its a no brainer...go Logic 8 and Ensemble or Duet.

    Logic has most if not all the plug-ins you could possibly need for a long time and the sound quality of the Apogee stuff is, by all accounts far superior to PT/Digi.

    As far as tracking drums.....sheesh....thats a whole 'nother issue - lot of gear needed and if you dont have a good romm...??? I do EZ Drummer and it sounds great and if I ever need to do drums, I can take my tracks to a REAL studio with all the right gear and get a real drummer to play to the click. So maybe the Duet might be the way to go.

    Good Luck.
     
  19. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    Thanks for the input! So far from everything I've read and heard it seems like the Ensemble/Logic may be exactly what I'm looking for as far as bang for the buck. I called a local pro audio dealer and he said it's got a GREAT sound and he's getting some in Monday. I'm excited about getting it! I'll keep everyone posted as to how I like it when I do! Thanks!
     
  20. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Supporting Member

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    I've been talking to a guy who has a studio who is going to record my band. He uses PTLE and is trying to get me to do the same, his reason being that most studios around the country are using Pro Tools and that if I want to be able to file share, I need to use Pro Tools. But after what I'm hearing about the Ensemble and Logic 8 combination, I'm not so sure.

    He is telling me that Logic is some of the most difficult software to use for recording. I don't know if I should trust him -- he is a Guitar Center manager, after all.

    I think the bottom line in the whole thread is that we all want the best quality for the money. Sounds like Ensemble and Logic 8 are going to be the best thing going as far as sound quality is concerned. OR, am I really going to notice the difference b/w the Ensemble and the Digi 003 stuff?

    I want to make a smart decision with my purchase of gear and need all the answers I can get before I do. BTW, I'm running a Macbook Pro and mainly using Garageband, with an MBox 2. Never really delved into the Pro Tools software that came with the MBox 2 as I never needed to until now. I don't want extremely difficult software to deal with, but I'm willing to make that sacrifice for sound quality, which ultimately is the most important aspect of production for me.
     

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