Symphony I/O: General

How do I move to a new computer with my Symphony I/O MKI series?

When considering the move to a new computer there are a number of considerations.

  • What connection, or Audio Interface Mode, are you currently using?
  • How many channels of I/O are in your Symphony I/O MKI?
  • What ports will you have on the new Mac?
  • What OS version will be on the new Mac?

Symphony I/O MKI can be connected to your computer three ways, via USB AIM, Symphony AIM with a Symphony 64 PCIe card or Thunderbridge, or PT HD AIM with a PT HD card like HD Native or HDX.

USB AIM – Direct connection over USB cable

If you currently use the USB AIM the move is simple.  All Macs will have USB ports.  So you only need to confirm the new computer will have macOS 10.15 Catalina or lower.

If you are looking at a newer Mac with macOS 11.0 forward the MKI USB mode is not compatible, so you might consider moving your cards to a Symphony I/O MKII chassis.

Note – Symphony I/O in USB AIM can use a max of 16 inputs and 16 outputs at 96k. You are able to prioritize your i/o by customizing the routing in Maestro.

Please Contact Support if you have questions about moving from a MKI to a MKII chassis, and to check your I/O Modules are compatible.

Symphony AIM – Symphony 64 PCIe/Thunderbridge

If you currently use the Symphony Mode, you will need to consider two factors, ports or PCIe slots on the new computer, and OS compatibility.

Symphony 64 PCIe and Thunderbridge are compatible up to 10.14 so the new computer must be able to run 10.14 Mojave or lower.  Some newer Macs like the 2020 MacPro Tower cannot roll backwards so please check OS version of the new computer to be sure it can run 10.14 Mojave.

Since many newer Macs do not have PCIe slots first check if your new computer has a Thunderbolt port.  The Thunderbridge can connect directly to this port, or if you have the Symphony 64 PCIe card it can be placed in a Thunderbolt housing.  We recommend the Magma ExpressBox single slot housing, but you could look at other larger housings with more slots if you have other PCIe gear you wish to use with your new computer.  Avoid the Sonnet brand single card chassis, as it does not have enough power for Symphony 64 card.  Multi-rail Sonnet chassis are OK.

If you wish to use a newer OS version, like 10.15 Catalina or higher, you can not use the Symphony 64 PCIe or Thunderbridge.  Thus you can either use USB mode (note channel count and Sample Rate limitations above) or move to a MKII chassis with direct Thunderbolt connection.

Please Contact Support if you have questions about moving from a MKI to a MKII chassis, and to check your I/O Modules are compatible.

PT HD AIM – Symphony connected to Avid HD card

In this mode the Symphony I/O MKI is only emulating an Avid I/O device, and connecting to your Avid HD card, such as Core, Accel, HD Native, or HDX.  Thus, please check with Avid for the compatibility of that Avid card you have with the new Mac.

Power Supply Information: Symphony I/O (mk1)

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The Symphony I/O (original mk1 model) uses a special power supply board that is separate from the main board and it has the following specifications:

NOTE: This part is not available for purchase from Apogee

How to set the Symphony I/O to auto power on

To configure Symphony I/O to power on as soon as AC power is present on the rear panel AC input, follow these steps. Auto Power is useful in circumstances where an external power switch is used to power on multiple devices, such as a rack of Symphony I/Os with a master power switch.

1. Disconnect Symphony I/O’s AC input.

2. Remove the top cover as described in Installing I/O modules.

3. Place a jumper across pins J18 (whose location is indicated below).

4. Replace the top cover before applying AC power.

5. The front panel power switch remains operational.


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.

Can MkII i/o modules be used in the older Symphony I/O?

No. The newer MkII modules are only supported in the Symphony I/O MkII.


Supported i/o modules for Symphony I/O (original):

– 8×8 AES/OPT (original)
– 8×8 AES (original)
– 8×8 OPT (original)
– 16×16 Analog In/Out (original)
– 16 Analog In / 16 Digital Out
– 16 Digital In / 16 Analog Out
– 2×6
– MicPre


The only restriction for which i/o modules can be placed in the primary slot or the secondary slot is when using the MicPre module, you must have an 8×8 (original), 16×16 Analog In/Out (original), or 16 Analog In/16 Digital Out module in the primary slot and the MicPre module in the 2nd slot.


To see i/o module compatibility for the newer Symphony I/O MkII, click here.



Setting up and configuring Symphony I/O for Pro Tools HD

A Symphony I/O in Pro Tools HD mode is compatible with the following:

  • HDX
  • HD Native PCIe
  • HD Native Thunderbolt
  • HD Core/Accel/Process PCIe


For the rest of the instructions, we will refer to whichever HD card(s) or HD Native Thunderbolt box you’re using as “the HD card”.


1.  Confirm that you have Pro Tools HD v8.1.1 or higher installed on your Mac or PC, along with the applicable HD driver (a separate install) and a connected iLok with HD license.


2.  If you’re using more than one Symphony I/O, make sure the unit that’s going to be connected to Port 1 has two I/O modules installed, as explained in greater detail here.


3.  Power up the Symphony I/O and make sure it’s in ‘Pro Tools HD’ mode by pushing in and holding on the right-side front-panel encoder and scrolling through the different modes until you get to ‘Pro Tools HD’ and then push in on the encoder again to restart the unit in ‘Pro Tools HD’ mode.


4.  You can not daisy-chain Symphony I/Os off of Avid interfaces or other Symphony I/Os. Since the Symphony I/O can contain 32 channels of I/O in one unit, it needs a dedicated port on the HD card. Connect the first Symphony I/O to Port 1 of the HD card (if you’re using an Avid or Digi interface and you already have it connected to Port 1, you can connect the Symphony to Port 2 of the HD card). Connect any additional Symphony I/Os to the next port on the HD card(s). Keep in mind that each Symphony I/O will need its own port on any HD card.


5.  If you are using only one Symphony I/O and no other Avid or Digi interfaces, you can skip to the next step. If you’re using multiple interfaces, you will need to connect them all via Loop Sync, using BNC cables. Connect the Loop Sync output of the 1st interface to the Loop Sync input of the 2nd interface.  Connect the Loop Sync output of the 2nd interface to the Loop Sync input of the 3rd interface and so on.  Once you come to the last interface in the chain, send its Loop Sync output to the Loop Sync input of the 1st interface.  If you’re using a Digi Sync I/O or an Avid Sync HD, you would do the same thing, except you would treat the Sync I/O  or Sync HD as the 1st interface and start by sending its Loop Sync output to the Loop Sync input of the 2nd unit and so on until you bring the Loop Sync output of the last unit in the chain to the Loop Sync input of the Sync I/O or Sync HD. Your Sync I/O or Sync HD must be connected to your HD card using the serial cable that was included with it to use it.


6.  Make sure all Symphony I/Os and any other HD interfaces are connected properly and powered up and then launch Pro Tools HD.


7.  After Pro Tools HD has launched, click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘Playback Engine’. Confirm that HD, HDX, or HD Native is selected as the ‘Current Engine’.  If it’s not, select it and click ‘OK’.  If it wasn’t already selected in the Playback Engine and you had to select it, you will need to quit/relaunch Pro Tools after doing so.


8.  Click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘Hardware’.  Confirm that the expected interfaces show up in the correct order under the ‘Peripherals’ column in the upper left-side corner.  Keep in mind that each I/O module in a Symphony I/O will show up as one Avid HD I/O.  Once you have verified this, click ‘OK’ to exit.


9.  If you are not using a Sync I/O or Sync HD, you can skip to the next step.  If you are using a Sync I/O or Sync HD, click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘Peripherals’ and go to the ‘Synchronization’ tab.  Under ‘Synchronization Device’, select ‘Enable Sync HD’.


10.  Click on the ‘Setup’ menu in Pro Tools and select ‘I/O’.


11.  Once the I/O Setup opens, select all of the channels in the left-hand column and hit ‘Delete’ on your keyboard.  After you’ve deleted them, click the ‘Default’ button in the lower part of the screen and confirm that the “Compensate for delays…” checkbox is checked. Follow the same steps for the input, output, bus, and insert tabs in I/O Setup. Once you have gone through these steps in each tab, click the ‘OK’ button to confirm changes and exit.


12.  You are now ready to use Symphony I/O with Pro Tools HD.

*  Keep in mind that the first 2 analog outputs of Symphony I/O will default to a -20dB level for using the Symphony I/O as a monitor controller. If you are using an external monitor controller and would like all of the Symphony I/O’s outputs to be at 0dB line level, first make sure your external monitor controller is turned down all the way.   There are 2 ways to set the main first 2 analog outputs to 0dB Line Level:  you can raise or lower the level of outputs 1-2 from the front-panel by using the left-side knob to set the control for speaker (the speaker icon will be visible) and then using the right-side knob to raise the level to 0dB (make sure you’re not setting the headphones to 0dB) or from launching ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder, going to the ‘Output’ tab, scrolling all the way to the right until you see the Main Output control knob (with the speaker icon), and clicking on the drop-down menu and changing the selection to ‘Line’.

*  If you would like to change the headphone routing on the Symphony I/O, you will need to launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder and go to the ‘Output’ tab. Scroll all the way to the right until you see the 2 headphone level knobs.  Click on the drop-down menus next to them and you will see a list of all the available outputs you can send to the headphones.



How does the routing for the Symphony I/O 2×6 I/O module show up in Pro Tools HD?

When using a 2×6 i/o module in a Symphony I/O (MkI or MkII), the 2×6 i/o module shows up as a 16ch Avid HD I/O in Pro Tools HD. Here is how the I/O corresponds with the ProTools I/O (Note that PT inputs 3 through 6 are nothing. This is so all the input and output channel numbers line up with each other when using hardware inserts):


Pro Tools Inputs 1-2             Line Inputs 1-2
Pro Tools Inputs 3-4             N.A.
Pro Tools Inputs 5-6             N.A.
Pro Tools Inputs 7-8             AES Inputs 1-2
Pro Tools Inputs 9-16           Optical Inputs 1-8

Pro Tools Outputs 1-6          Line Outputs 1-6
Pro Tools Outputs 7-8          AES Outputs 1-2
Pro Tools Outputs 9-16        Optical Outputs 1-8




What is ‘VBus’ and how do you use it?

Apogee’s VBus creates virtual hardware buses to allow expanded routing of audio within one application or between different audio applications. For example, it’s possible in Logic Pro to record a submix of multiple audio tracks onto a new audio track as described below. It’s also possible to route between two audio applications by selecting a VBus output in the source application and a VBus input in the destination application.

VBus is only available in the Symphony system. You must have either a Symphony 64 PCIe or Thunderbridge and at least one Symphony I/O, AD16x, DA16x, Rosetta 800, or Rosetta 200 to use it.


To use VBus:

If you have a Symphony system and everything is connected and configured properly, launch ‘Apogee Maestro 2’ from your Applications folder and go to the ‘System Setup’ tab.  Go to the right-side of the window and click the drop-down menu under ‘VBus’ to select how many channels of VBus i/o you would like to use.  As soon as you engage VBus, quit all open applications and restart your Mac.

In order for VBus I/O to appear in your audio application’s I/O list as VBus In 1-2, 3-4, etc, it’s necessary to specify the use of the Symphony driver’s names in the application’s I/O list. For example in Logic Pro X, open Mix>I/O Labels and option-click on all the I/O found under the Driver’s I/O Label column.

As an example of how to use VBus, let’s record a submix of drums onto a new stereo audio track in Logic.  In Logic’s Track Mixer, set the outputs of the individual drum audio tracks to VBout 1/2.  Create two audio tracks (or one stereo track) and set their inputs to VBin 1 and VBin 2. Record-enable the new track and commence recording. The new track will record the mix of the individual drum tracks.

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:



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.


Connecting 2 Symphony I/Os to a Symphony 64 Thunderbridge or PCIe card

Before going through the setup steps, be sure to confirm that you have the matching software and firmware installed. Both units need to be on the firmware from the same installer release for them to sync properly. Connect both units to your Mac via USB (use a powered hub if your Mac has USB 3.0 ports), launch the Symphony I/O Firmware Updater from your Utilities folder and confirm that the firmware is up to date for each unit. Select ‘Symphony I/O 1‘ in the drop-down menu of the firmware updater app to check the 1st unit’s firmware versions. After confirming the firmware is up to date for the 1st unit, select ‘Symphony I/O 2‘ from the drop-down menu and confirm the firmware is up to date for the 2nd unit as well. When you’re finished, quit the firmware updater and follow the steps below.


To connect 2 Symphony I/Os to a Symphony64 Thunderbridge or PCIe card, follow the steps below in the exact order:



– Connect the Main Port of Unit A  to Port 1 (chs 1-32) of the Thunderbridge, using a PC-32 Symphony cable.


– Connect the Main Port of Unit B to Port 2 (chs 33-64) of the Thunderbridge, using a PC-32 Symphony cable.


– Use 2 BNC cables to connect the Loop Sync output of Unit A to the Loop Sync input of Unit B and the Loop Sync output of Unit B to the Loop Sync input of Unit A. Make sure you’re using the LOOP SYNC jacks and not the Word Clock jacks.


– On Unit A, press in and hold on the front-panel right-side encoder knob until you come to the Audio Mode menu. Scroll until it says ‘Symphony‘ and then push in on the encoder knob again to restart the unit in Symphony mode. Do this to Unit B as well.


– Launch Apogee Maestro2 from your Applications folder, go to the ‘System Setup‘ tab and make sure the  “USE LOOP SYNC” check-box is CHECKED. Quit Maestro.


– On your Mac, launch ‘Audio MIDI Setup’ (Applications> Utilities> ‘Audio MIDI Setup’). Make sure ‘Symphony64’ is highlighted on the left-side device column. On the right-side, set the ‘Source‘ to ‘Ports 1-2: Chs 1-64‘. Quit Audio MIDI Setup and restart the Mac.


– Once the Mac restarts, you need to wait until the units have finished configuring before launching Maestro or ANY other software. This can take a couple minutes. You’ll hear relays clicking back and forth and you’ll see the “!” icon on the front-panels appear and disappear. When this stops after a minute or so and both units are configured, Unit A should say ‘INT‘ and Unit B should say ‘LOOP‘.


– As soon as both units appear to be configured and Unit A says ‘INT‘ and Unit B says ‘LOOP‘, launch Maestro and confirm that both units show up as expected.