ensemble thunderbolt

Why are the input and output level/volume popup indicators not showing up?

Several Apogee products have pop-up level indicator graphics that will appear on the desktop of your Mac when the input and output levels are adjusted from the device or from the Mac’s keyboard volume buttons.


If the pop-ups aren’t appearing, there are a few things to check:

Launch ‘Apogee Maestro 2’ from your Applications folder, click on the ‘Apogee Maestro 2’ drop-down desktop menu and select ‘Preferences’. Confirm that the ‘Display pop-ups’ checkbox is checked. If you don’t see this option, then pop-ups aren’t available for the product you’re using.


If you’ve confirmed that the ‘Display pop-ups’ checkbox is checked and you’re still not getting the pop-ups, try the following:


– Unplug/replug your Apogee device

– Restart your Mac

– Launch ‘Activity Monitor’ (Applications> Utilities> ‘Activity Monitor’), click the ‘View’ drop-down desktop menu and select ‘All Processes’. Type ‘apogeepopup’ in the searchbar in the upper right-side corner of Activity Monitor. Once you see ‘ApogeePopup’ displayed in the list, highlight it and force-quit the process by clicking the ‘X’ button in the upper left-side corner of Activity Monitor. Wait a few seconds and you should see the popups again after adjusting input/output level.


*Note for Duet Firewire and Ensemble Firewire customers*

There was a known issue with pop-ups not working for Duet Firewire and Ensemble Firewire when using any version of Mac OS 10.8. It is recommended that you use either a version of Mac OS earlier than 10.8 or later than 10.9.



Using Ensemble Thunderbolt with Quartet to expand inputs

Quartet’s optical connections offer 8 additional ADAT/SMUX digital inputs. With Apogee’s Ensemble Thunderbolt interface connected via optical, it’s possible to record up to 12 mics at a time (4 inputs on Quartet + 8 inputs on Ensemble Thunderbolt).



To setup Quartet and Ensemble Thunderbolt (or any ADAT/SMUX equipped 8 channel interface) for this application:


1. Connect optical Toslink cables between the interface’s ADAT/SMUX outputs and Quartet’s Optical inputs. At sample rates of 44.1-48kHz, all eight channels are transmitted over one Toslink cable – one cable between the interface and the Optical IN 1 is sufficient. At sample rates of 88.2-96kHz, channels 1-4 are transmitted over one cable (connected to Optical IN 1) and channels 5-8 are transmitted over a second cable (connected to Optical IN 2).


2. Connect a BNC cable between Quartet’s WC Out and the Ensemble Thunderbolt’s word clock input.
3. Setup Ensemble Thunderbolt’s routing for direct analog to digital routing:

  • First, disconnect your Quartet from the Mac.
  • Connect your Ensemble to your Mac via Thunderbolt and power it on.
  • Launch ‘Apogee Maestro’ from your Applications folder.
  • In the Device Settings tab, ensure that Optical In and Optical Out are set to ADAT/SMUX
  • Go to the Output Routing tab. You are going to route the 4 mixers to different pairs of ADAT/SMUX outputs.
  • Click in the routing grid to move the routing markers so that ‘Mixer 1’ lines up with ‘ADAT 1/2’.
  • Click in the routing grid to move the routing markers so that ‘Mixer 2’ lines up with ‘ADAT 3/4’.
  • Click in the routing grid to move the routing markers so that ‘Mixer 3’ lines up with ‘ADAT 5/6’.
  • Click in the routing grid to move the routing markers so that ‘Mixer 4’ lines up with ‘ADAT 7/8’.
  • Now go to the ‘Mixer’ tab in Maestro and click in the Mixer list in the upper left-hand corner of the Mixer tab to enable all the Mixers so you can see all 4 Mixers in the tab at the same time.
  • In ‘Mixer 1’, option-click the first 2 analog inputs faders to bring their faders up to ‘0’. Hard-pan input 1 all the way to the left and input 2 all the way to the right. Engage the solo buttons (‘S’) for both these inputs.
  • In ‘Mixer 2’, option-click the faders for inputs 3 & 4 to bring
    their faders up to ‘0’. Hard-pan input 3 all the way to the left and
    input 4 all the way to the right. Engage the solo buttons (‘S’) for both
    these inputs.
  • In ‘Mixer 3’, option-click the faders for inputs 5 & 6 to bring
    their faders up to ‘0’. Hard-pan input 5 all the way to the left and
    input 6 all the way to the right. Engage the solo buttons (‘S’) for both
    these inputs.
  • In ‘Mixer 4’, option-click the faders for inputs 7 & 8 to bring
    their faders up to ‘0’. Hard-pan input 7 all the way to the left and
    input 8 all the way to the right. Engage the solo buttons (‘S’) for both
    these inputs.
  • Go to the System Settings tab and set the Ensemble’s sample-rate to what you intend using Quartet at and then set the Clock Source to ‘Word Clock’.
  • Now, quit Maestro and disconnect the Ensemble from your Mac. The Ensemble should remember these settings.
  • Connect your Quartet back to the Mac via USB.
  • Launch your DAW and now the Ensemble’s first 8 analog inputs should be routed through the Ensemble’s first 8 ADAT/SMUX outputs into the Quartet’s ADAT/SMUX inputs.

The gain of the Ensemble’s mic pres may be controlled from the front panel by pressing the appropriate input select button and then adjusting the left-hand input encoder to the desired gain setting. To adjust other input parameters for the Ensemble, press and hold on an input select button to enter the input parameter menu where you can adjust things like engaging 48v phantom power, soft limit, group, insert, hi-pass filter, and polarity reversal.


4. To check input levels for Quartet, open Maestro, click the Input tab and check the ADAT (SMUX) meters.


The Ensemble is frozen in the middle of boot-up with the Apogee ‘A’ logo and/or 3 dots on the screen

If the Ensemble Thunderbolt ever gets in a state where it seems to be “frozen” and the front-panel display is stuck on either the Apogee ‘A’ logo with version numbers, 3 dots on the screen, or any other kind of half-loaded display, try the following steps below in this specific order:

– Quit all apps

– Unplug Ensemble from power and from Thunderbolt

– Connect Ensemble to power

– Connect Ensemble to Mac via Thunderbolt

– Power up Ensemble

– Launch the ‘Ensemble Thunderbolt Firmware Updater’ app (Applications>Utilities) and confirm that the firmware is up to date. If it’s not, run the firmware updater.

From now on, when connecting the Ensemble, always connect it to power first before connecting it to Thunderbolt as described in this article: https://knowledgebase.apogeedigital.com/ensemble-thunderbolt/power-up-order-for-ensemble-thunderbolt/

Gain Staging – How to set proper levels with your Apogee product and recording software

Use the following steps to set input and output levels on your Apogee interface. 

Before launching your recording software:

1. Turn down the speaker/headphone output level of your Apogee interface.

2. Connect your audio source to your Apogee interface. Make sure to use the proper inputs.

• If you’re using a microphone, plug the microphone into the XLR input.

• If you’re using a guitar, bass, or other high impedance instruments, plug them into the 1/4″ instrument input.

• If you’re using an external mic-pre or another piece of line-level gear, use the XLR inputs.

Quick Tip: Some keyboards and synths can be plugged into either the Instrument or XLR inputs. You might have to experiment with what sounds better.

3. Launch Apogee Maestro and go to the input tab. Make the appropriate selection in the Analog Level drop-down menu for the input channel you are using.

• Microphone (Mic) – depending on the Apogee interface you are using, you would choose Ext Mic/Ext Mic 48v (ONE) or Mic (Duet, Quartet, Ensemble, SymphonyI/O with MicPre module). You will need to engage the 48v button for if you’re using a mic that requires phantom power.

• Instrument (Inst) – Guitar/Bass/some keyboards

• Line Level (+4dBu/-10dBV for balanced/unbalanced connections) – This setting is used when connecting external microphone preamps and other line-level gear.

NOTE: If you have the ONE, a line-input is accommodated by choosing Ext Mic and turning the input gain all the way down.

4. Set the input gain of your Apogee interface.

There are two ways you can adjust your input gain:

• By adjusting the input software encoder in Maestro

• By turning the physical knob (encoder) on your Apogee interface (make sure you’ve set the knob to control the input channel and not the output level. See your User’s Guide for more information on setting this).

Quick Tip: Ideally, the level in the input meter should be as high as you can get it without hitting an “over”. If you see red in the meter, you know you need to turn the input gain down. In some cases you may need to adjust the output of the audio source you are using. You may need to move your microphone closer to the sound source or further away. You may need to turn the level of your guitar or keyboard up or down.

Launch your recording software, create an audio track, and put the track into input or record mode. It is a good idea to leave the fader of the track you are recording and any Master Fader for the mix set at their default setting.

5. Adjust the output level of your Apogee interface.

• Gradually increase the output level of your Apogee interface so you can hear what your input source sounds like in the speakers or headphones.

• After you get the output set to a comfortable listening level, listen for any distortion in the input audio.

• If the audio sounds bad, you may have something set wrong. Go through steps 2, 3, and 4 to trouble-shoot the problem.

Note: Two common issues are that the sound is too quiet or that it’s distorted. It may be a simple case of needing to turn the input gain up and the output level down or the input gain down and the output level up.

How to do parallel drum compression in Logic?

Part 1


Part 2

When using Apogee interface with Cubase, Sonarworks, output volume level goes to max.

Symptom: When opening a session or selecting Apogee as the audio device, the output goes to full volume every time.


  • In Cubase, go to Devices > Device Setup > Control Panel > Core Audio Device Settings. Under Options, verify that set device attenuation to 0 dB is unchecked.

NOTE: In Cubase 10 and up, this setting is in Studio Setup > Control Panel

  • In Sonarworks, go to Systemwide settings and deselect the “Adjust output device gain checkbox.

How is this possible? All modern Apogee interfaces have input gain and output volume that are digitally controlled rather than an analog potentiometer that must be physically turned. The advantages of digital control are many:

  • Improved Sound Quality (turning the gain doesn’t cause a “scratchy” sound, and enables the advantages of our Step-Gain preamp technology)
  • Settings can be saved to presets that can be recalled later.
  • You can also control the output volume directly from the Mac’s Keyboard, Touchbar, or Volume icon in the Task Bar.

Cubase:  In Cubase this is called “Device Attenuation.”  The intent of this setting is to attenuate, or lower your volume, so you don’t get blasted.  When selecting any audio device with this setting turned on Cubase sets the device’s output volume to 0, since most simple sound cards have 0 as the lowest value.  Since your Apogee is rating the Outputs in digital decibels, where 0dBFS is the highest value, this setting will have the unfortunate opposite result, maxing out the volume.  Be sure to disable this setting to prevent getting blasted.

Sonarworks Reference 4:  This is a sound calibration software that many customers may have and forget is even running.  It has a setting to Auto adjust output device gain, or volume.

Please remember, many other softwares not listed here have these types of settings so be sure to check all the softwares on your computer!

How do I use the custom I/O labels in Logic?

For Logic 9 and lower:

With your Apogee devive selected as the input/output in Logic’s Audio Preferences, go to the “Options” menu and select “Audio” and then “I/O Labels”. Now you can select the custom Apogee labels for your device.

For Logic X and higher:

  • Go to Logic’s Mix menu at the top of the screen and select “I/O Labels…”
  • There are several columns: Channel, Provided by Driver, User, Long, & Short.
  • To use the labels provided by the Ensemble:
    • Click the button in the Provided by Driver column.
  • To enter your own custom label:
    • Click the button in the User column.
    • Double click the “-” in the Long column, type in a new name, then press Return on your Apple keyboard

Here’s a video showing this process: https://apogeedigital.com/blog/apogee-element-tutorial-enable-logics-io-labels

How do I set my software’s I/O buffer?

The I/O Buffer setting found in most audio software is one of the most crucial, but often ignored, settings in a Mac-based recording system. When choosing a buffer setting, a compromise between the latency through the application and the amount of computer processor power accessible to the application must be made.Latency– the slight delay between the moment you play a note and hear it in your headphones after conversion and processing.

A lower buffer setting results in lower latency but less available processing power. If the application can’t access enough processor power, processor overruns may occur, resulting in audible clicks and pops or error messages that interrupt playback and recording. A higher buffer setting, on the other hand, results in greater amount of accessible processor power (i.e. less chance of overruns) but increases the latency. Determining the best setting requires some trial-and-error in order to find the best compromise.

Keep in mind that as tracks and plug-ins are added to a software session, processor requirements increase. Thus, the buffer setting that works during the early stages of a session might result in processor overruns during later stages. The best strategy is to set the buffer to a lower setting during recording and accept certain limitations on plug-in usage, and then raise the buffer during mixing to utilize the computer’s full processor power when latency isn’t an issue. With the processing power of today’s Macs, you may find that adjustment of the buffer isn’t necessary, and you can leave it at a setting for low latency and still access a sufficient amount of processing power when adding tracks and plug-ins. If you do encounter clicks, pops or software errors, don’t hesitate to experiment with the buffer setting. Please consult the section on Working with GarageBand, Logic and Mainstage to determine how to se the I/O buffer setting is found in your audio application.

When recording, the input is delayed in my headphones

Decrease the I/O buffer size in your audio application. See “How do I set my software’s I/O buffer?” for more information.