As far as portability goes the Apogee ONE USB Audio Interface is already a winner. Lightweight, USB-powered and small measurements (almost as small as an iPhone) make it a no-brainer to take with your Macbook wherever you go. Please note that this is a Mac-only audio interface, so useless in Windows. The One sports a sleek design with an eye-catching big, silver knob to control mic and output volumes. But is it worthy of bearing the Apogee name? Can such a small box deliver a proper studio sound?
Sound & Mic Quality
The Apogee ONE is a large step up, sound quality wise, from your internal headphone jack on a Macbook. Besides eliminating any hard drive noise or AC hum that you can sometimes get when directly plugging headphones in your laptop, the One has a great sound, very useful for producing music or listening to your iTunes library with more overall clarity. The ONE offers 24 bit audio at sample rates of 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz which should be enough for decent monitoring through your headphones.
The ONE also has an internal microphone with decent enough sound quality for voice and acoustic recordings. It’s easy enough to switch to the mic and control the volume by pressing in the control knob. Combine the Apogee ONE with a special stand and the internal mic is great for a quick recording session or podcasting. However, when you’re looking for something more you can make use of the microphone preamp with phantom power and a wide gain range (to 63 dB) by connecting an external mic through the included breakout cables.
The Apogee ONE provides you with 2 types of breakout cable connections. One for an external microphone and one external instrument input where you can connect your guitar, bass or synth to. These connections are solid and provide a high-quality way of recording your performance or samples into your Macbook. The Apogee ONE is a breeze to set up within Garageband, Logic, Reason or any other Mac DAW by the way as it’s only a matter of plugging the device into one of your free USB ports, plugging your headphones in the 1/8″ jack and off you go.
Apogee One vs Apogee Duet
A choice which a lot of Mac musicians make at one time is that of between the Apogee ONE and Apogee Duet(2). When you’re going for the ONE you mainly choose for maximum portability and a friendly price, a great entry-level audio interface. The Duet 2 gives you more durability, more in and outs, slightly better latency and therefore makes it more suitable for when you’re recording more instruments at a time or generally demand more from your interface. It does come at an almost 2x higher price tag though.
There is no flexibility in working with your Mac’s internal audio output. Sooner or later you’re going to demand a noise-free output and ways to capture that musical idea or podcast through something other than that crappy internal mic. The Apogee ONE seems tailor-made for a Macbook and when you’re serious about creating music or an audiophile that wants a portable solution, the ONE is the soundcard / microphone you should get.