Tsound Productions Duet Breakout
The Apogee Duet provides a great way to get in and out of Apple's Logic Pro, GarageBand and iTunes software using Apogee’s world-class converters. The only downside to the product is the shoddy, confusing and generally tangled mass of cables provided by the manufacturer (see Mix’s Apogee Duet review in the July 2008 issue).
However, as a potential work-around, Tsound Productions’ new Duet Breakout box offers an easy, affordable solution for getting in and out of the Apogee Duet, letting you bypass the original snake supplied by Apogee. The box comes in two flavors: the unbalanced version ($95) offers separate TS and XLR inputs on top and either TS or RCA outputs on the back. The balanced version ($210) offers TS/XLR combo inputs on top and transformer balanced TRS outputs on the back. On the front, both versions have the multipin connector necessary to interface with the Apogee Duet. For this test, I used the balanced version of the Duet Breakout.
The Duet Breakout’s construction is solid. The inside has a handmade, but well-done look with tie wraps that hold Jensen JT-11 transformers securely in place. The connectors are securely bolted to the box and should offer a lifetime of service even under many repeated ins and outs. I wired the Duet to my laptop’s FireWire port then used the included (and sturdy!) multipin cable to attach the Duet to the Breakout. I then attached the balanced outputs of the Breakout to my Focal CMS 65 speaker’s balanced XLR inputs with a turnaround cable. I had previously installed Apogee’s Maestro software on my laptop, so as soon as I plugged in the Breakout/Duet combo, Maestro instantly opened and I was ready to go. I was quickly able to play back tracks in iTunes or GarageBand through the beautiful sounding Apogee converters. I then plugged in a mic and did a quick voice-over to Logic Pro. It was simple and easy, and there were no ugly cables to contend with!
The Breakout is a great product that any Apogee Duet owner will appreciate. The connectors are sturdy and the box is well laid out. The only downside is that the silk screening on the box is poorly done and comes off with your fingernail. For those wanting different connector options, Tsound offers a free gender change from TS to RCA and an XLR output option; see Tsound's Website for details. The Duet Breakout is a must-buy for any Duet owner looking to simplify their setup and beautify their desktop.
Other than that, this box is a must-buy for any Duet owner looking to simplify their setup and beautify their desktop.
Kevin Becka is Mix magazine’s technical editor.