I had a feeling this was coming. Apogee’s all-in-one recording interface, the Ensemble, was long overdue for an update. It’s, what, 7 years old by now? Really, by this point any hardware with a Firewire interface screams “legacy product,” just begging for a USB3 or Thunderbolt upgrade. And since Apogee and Apple are inseparable besties, for the most part, the upgrade path is clear. Say hello to the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt.
There’s a lot of changes under the hood, some of them boilerplate like better conversion. But two new features in particular stand out. First of all this new Ensemble sports double the preamps: 8 instead of 4 in the original, plus guitar direct ins for guitars. I hope that those first 4 XLR/TRS combo jacks mean that the preamps are bypassable though. If you have the scratch to drop on a $2500 recording interface, it’s likely you also have a few high end pres in your collection. Although I suppose you could just line into the balanced insert returns.
The real selling point seems to be Apogee’s claim that the Ensemble has “The Lowest Latency of any Audio Interface.” That’s… quite a claim, isn’t it. The delay between your hands and your headphones is a mere 1.1 milliseconds round trip, when the unit is set to the 96kHz / 32 buffer setting. Only hands-on testing will tell if that low buffer will choke your CPU, but Apogee has a great track record and I’m certainly eager to see one of these units in action.
For more info head to Apogee’s website.