Ensemble (Thunderbolt): General

Why is Element Thunderbolt 1 and Ensemble Thunderbolt 2?

The Element units are Thunderbolt 1 chipset, while Ensemble Thunderbolt and Symphony MkII are Thunderbolt 2 chipset.

It is important to clarify what the “speed” designation really means, as it can be a bit misleading.

 

You can see from this link:

https://www.macworld.com/article/2083257/what-you-need-to-know-about-thunderbolt-2.html

 

Thunderbolt 2 is an update to the original Thunderbolt specification and takes the original’s two 10 Gbps bi-directional channels and combines them into a single 20 Gbps bi-directional channel. The amount of data able to go through a Thunderbolt connection hasn’t increased, but the throughput of a single channel has been doubled.

 

Because the Elements are a lower channel count device that only needs 1 lane of bandwidth making them Thunderbolt 2 would have no effect, only cost the user more.  It would not lower latency, only make the Elements able to pass more channels, which are not present.

 

On the Ensemble Thunderbolt and Symphony I/O MkII it is much more important to have Thunderbolt 2, because those units are passing far more channels, up to 64 channels with two Symphony I/O MkII units in multi-unit mode.

 

Thus you will find exactly the same roundtrip latency time on Elements as Ensemble Thunderbolt, regardless of Thunderbolt 1 vs 2.

Why does my Ensemble Thunderbolt needs to be replugged every time I turn it on?

Are you powering the Ensemble On/Off just from the front power button, or cutting power completely such as via a Power Strip or Power Conditioner?

The Thunderbolt card in the Ensemble is separate from the rest of the circuitry of the Ensemble.

When you power off the Ensemble Thunderbolt via the soft button on the front, the Audio Device circuitry turns off but the Thunderbolt card remains active. This is so any other devices daisy chained to the Ensemble remain connected to the computer.

If you power off the unit by fully removing AC power, pulling the rear plug or powering off a power conditioner, you may find that afterward you need to Wake this Thunderbolt card again, by reconnecting the cable to it so the card knows to look for a computer.

 

Follow the recommended power up method here: https://knowledgebase.apogeedigital.com/ensemble-thunderbolt/power-up-order-for-ensemble-thunderbolt/

Connecting Apogee Thunderbolt to Macs with USB-C ports

All Apogee Thunderbolt interfaces can be connected to Mac computers with USB-C Thunderbolt 3 using Apple’s adapter:

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-to-thunderbolt-2-adapter

Thunderbolt 3 is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt 1 devices so any Apogee Thunderbolt device will work through this adapter with no reduction in performance, latency, or sound quality.

Note: Some 3rd-party venders sell a Display Port adapter. Though the plug is the same size and shape as Thunderbolt 2 & 1, these adapters do not support Thunderbolt.

It should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly like USB-C ports and their cables also look similar. This can get a little confusing, so here are a few basic rules to help clear up any questions about connectivity:

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have the same-size port and the same-size connector for their cables. Since USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly the same, you will need to make sure your Mac has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities before using it with an Apogee Thunderbolt device and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports, such as the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, can use it’s Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to any Thunderbolt 3 device, USB-C device, and Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 device if you use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with only USB-C ports, such as the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, can NOT connect to any Thunderbolt device, even when using adapters. It can connect to USB-C devices and other types of USB devices, using the proper adapters.

Logic Direct Monitoring

What is Logic Direct Monitoring?

 Hardware – Software Requirements

  1. Element Series + Ensemble Thunderbolt with July 2017 software and firmware updates
  2. Requires Logic Pro 10.3.2 or greater
  3. Direct Monitoring feature enabled only with a single Apogee interface – Direct Monitoring is disabled when multiple Apogee interfaces are connected.

Setting up Logic Pro to use Direct Monitoring

  1. In Logic Pro > Preferences > Audio > General, check Software Monitoring.
  2. In the Logic Pro menu bar, choose Record > Auto Input Monitoring if the setting is unchecked.
  3. Configure Logic Pro for use with an Apogee Element Series or Ensemble Thunderbolt interface
  4. In Logic Pro, choose View > Show Mixer if Mixer isn’t displayed.
  5. In the Mixer pane, choose View > Channel Strip Components, then select Audio Device Control if it is unchecked.
  6. At the top of the Channel Strip, Audio Device and Monitoring controls should now be displayed.

Are Bus Sends active in Direct Monitoring Channel Strips?

Yes, Logic Pro Bus sends operate as expected when the Channel Strip is in Direct Monitoring mode, allowing the user to send the signal to a reverb or other effect. Note that the send is delayed in relation to the Direct Monitoring signal, but this delay is rather inconsequential in the context of a reverb send.

What about plugins?

Plugins appear active but aren’t processing the Direct signal. Plugins DO process the Bus sends (i.e. reverb sends). Also, when audio is played back from tracks through the Channel Strip, plugins process the playback signal.

 Can I engage Direct Monitoring on Multiple Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output?

Yes, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on as many Channel Strips as there are hardware inputs. For example, an Element 46 has 4 analog and 8 optical inputs – thus, it’s possible to engage Direct Monitoring on up to 12 Channel Strips and mix them to one stereo output.

Can I create create Direct Monitoring mixes for multiple hardware outputs?

Yes, it’s possible to create up to 4 stereo mixes using Ensemble Thunderbolt and 3 stereo mixes using Element Series interfaces. Note that it isn’t currently possible to route a hardware input to two different mixes. Also note that it’s not possible to route a Direct Monitoring mix to Element Series optical outputs.

How does Direct Monitoring interact with Apogee Control low latency mixers

  • Direct Monitoring mixers are in addition to Apogee Control mixers. Users may employ both if they so desire.
  • Apogee Control low latency mixers. This means that, practically, users should employ one approach or the other.

Do Apogee Thunderbolt products (Element, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII, Thunderbridge) work with the latest 12″ MacBook?

Question:

Do Apogee’s Thunderbolt products (Element 24, Element 46, Element 88, Ensemble Thunderbolt, Symphony I/O MkII Thunderbolt, and Symphony 64 Thunderbridge) work with the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook?

 

Answer:

No. The 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, shown here, do not include a Thunderbolt port. They only have a USB-C port. The Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters will not work with these MacBooks, despite using the same-size connectors. Apogee Thunderbolt devices will work with the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, as discussed in this post. It should be noted that Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly like USB-C ports and their cables also look similar. This can get a little confusing, so here are a few basic rules to help clear up any questions about connectivity:

  • USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 have the same-size port and the same-size connector for their cables. Since USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports look exactly the same, you will need to make sure your Mac has Thunderbolt 3 capabilities before using it with an Apogee Thunderbolt device and an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports, such as the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, can use it’s Thunderbolt 3 ports to connect to any Thunderbolt 3 device, USB-C device, and Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 1 device if you use the Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter.
  • A Mac with only USB-C ports, such as the 2015 and 2016 12″ MacBook, can NOT connect to any Thunderbolt device, even when using adapters. It can connect to USB-C devices and other types of USB devices, using the proper adapters.

 

Click here for more information on the differences between USB-C ports and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

 

 

 

 

Is it ok to leave my Apogee device plugged in and connected to Mac?

Yes, it is perfectly fine for any of our devices to remain plugged in and connected to your Mac (or iOS device). There is no harm in the device remaining powered up while you’re not using it.

Duet, Quartet, and Ensemble Thunderbolt’s 1/4″ and XLR inputs explained

When using Duet2, Duet for iPad & Mac, Quartet, and Ensemble Thunderbolt, it is important to remember that any of the dual XLR-1/4″ combo jacks are set up so when the input is set to ‘Mic’ or ‘Line’ (+4dBu or -10dBV), only the XLR part of the jack will receive signal. This means that you will need to use an XLR cable or a cable with an XLR adapter connected to it.

The same is true in reverse- when the input is set for ‘Instrument’, only the 1/4″ part of the jack will receive signal.  This means that you will need to use a 1/4″ cable.

 

Here are some examples for setting up different types of input sources on Duet, Quartet, and Ensemble Thunderbolt:

 

Mics

Connect your Mic using only an XLR cable (no 1/4″ adapters or cables) to the XLR input jacks on your Apogee device.

Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder, go to the ‘Input’ tab and ‘Analog Level’ drop-down menu for whichever input you’re using to ‘Mic’.

If you’re using a condenser mic that requires phantom power, engage the ’48′ button on the input you’re using.

Gradually bring the input level in Maestro up until you get a good level from your input source. Make sure the meter isn’t going into the red.

 

 

Guitars, Basses, Keyboards, Hi-Z Mics that have 1/4″ cables, such as harmonica mics:

Connect your Instrument using only a 1/4″ instrument cable to the 1/4″  input jacks. (be sure that you’re connecting to the 1/4″ inputs on the combo XLR-1/4″ jacks and not the 1/4″ output jacks)

Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder, go to the ‘Input’ tab and ‘Analog Level’ drop-down menu for whichever input you’re using to ‘Instrument’.

Gradually bring the input level in Maestro up until you get a good level from your input source. Make sure the meter isn’t going into the red.

 

Sending Line-Level audio to your Apogee device and bypassing it’s mic-pres

Connect the output from your line-level piece of gear (such as a compressor or external mic-pre) to the XLR input jacks. If your Line-Level device only has 1/4″ outputs, you will need to use balanced 1/4″ to male XLR cables. You can’t use the 1/4″ input jacks on your Apogee device, as they are only used for guitars/basses/keyboards.

Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder, go to the ‘Input’ tab and ‘Analog Level’ drop-down menu for whichever input you’re using to ‘+4dBu’ (for use with professional audio gear) or ‘-10dBv’ (for use with consumer audio gear).

 

What is the ‘A button’ (device ID) in Maestro for?

Most Apogee products that use the Apogee Maestro 2 control application will include a ‘Device ID’ button that can be found in multiple Maestro tabs under a graphical icon for the connected Apogee device. You will usually see this button as an ‘A’.

Here is an example of what it looks like when you have a Symphony I/O connected:

img-0

 

The purpose of this button is to quickly identify which Apogee device you’re adjusting parameters in Maestro for. When you click on the button, it will light up the front-panel of the corresponding Apogee device so you can see which device you are adjusting parameters in Maestro for. Click the button again and the device will no longer be identified.

Since multiple Apogee devices can be connected and appear in Maestro at the same time, it can sometimes be confusing to know which device you’re adjusting parameters for. Having more than one Duet or Quartet connected to a Mac may not be as common as having multiple Symphony I/Os or Ensembles connected, but the ‘Device ID’ buttons are there for each product, just in case.

 

A typical use-case:

You have 2 Symphony I/Os connected to one Mac and both are showing up in Apogee Maestro. You can go to the ‘Device Settings’ tab in Maestro and change the peripheral prefix of the 2nd Symphony I/O to ‘B’ (or any other letter you want). Now, when you click the ‘B’ button (Device ID) in Maestro, the 2nd Symphony I/O will become identified.  If you click the ‘A’ button, the 1st Symphony I/O will become identified.

 

Ensemble Thunderbolt – Factory Hardware Reset / Initialize

Factory Hardware Reset / Initialize

Ensemble’s running on the Apogee Control software
  1. Open Apogee Control
  2. Go to the File menu > Open Snapshot Template
  3. Choose any of the template choices and click Load.
Ensemble’s running the older Apogee Maestro 2 software:

To return Ensemble to the factory default settings:

  1. Start with Ensemble turned off.
  2. While holding down the Output Controller knob, turn Ensemble on.
  3. When the Apogee Splash screen clears and the Display shows the Level Meter screens, let go of the Output Controller knob.

You’ve successfully reset the Ensemble Thunderbolt.

Here’s a video demonstrating this: