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Entries in thunderbolt (33)

More Thunderbolt Solutions For Audio At NAMM 2015 Exclude Windows Users

If anyone thought that Thunderbolt was a flash in the pan for audio technology solutions then NAMM 2015 announcements should put pay to that idea. Many of the new product and announcements at NAMM 2015 use Thunderbolt technology, which on the whole excludes Windows users. There are some Thunderbolt equipped Windows based PCs but most manufacturers are reticent to qualify their products for use with Windows machines.

We’ve spoken in great deal about this on several Pro Tools Expert podcasts, with Neil expressing his dissatisfaction with this situation but at the same time explaining some of the reasons why it’s not always easy to offer Thunderbolt solutions for Windows users. It’s not for want of trying with forward thinking brands like the Pro Tools PC offers dual Thunderbolt 2 as standard, so the technology is there and ready to work.

Some Windows users have taken the plunge using Thunderbolt with mixed results, there’s an excellent thread on the UAD forum showing this here.

Of course there is plenty of professional audio equipment on the market that uses fully Windows compatible technology, but with more and more manufacturers offering Thunderbolt only solutions it does leave Windows users with less choice.

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Focusrite Clarett Range - Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces

Focusrite have released a range of audio interfaces that combine a new preamp design with the very latest in Thunderbolt™ technology, to offer what they say is “exceptional sound quality with an unparalleled interface latency of under 1ms.”

In their press release Focusrite say:

Focusrite’s Clarett interfaces offer crystal clear conversion, 24-bit, 192kHz sample rates and world class dynamic range. Equally, their brand new Clarett mic preamps replicate the impedance and transformer resonance of the original ISAs, resulting in exceptional clarity and the signature sound for which Focusrite has become famous.

The range is made up of four devices; the 2Pre (10 In/4 Out), 4Pre (18 In/8 Out), 8Pre (18 In/20 Out) and flagship 8Pre X (26 In/28 Out). This final 2U interface has been designed with the permanent racked studio install in mind, featuring extended ADAT I/O, and separate rear panel inputs for mic, line and instrument, as well as dedicated phantom power, phase reverse and high pass filters on every channel.

Comprehensive attention to sound quality, combined with unmatched Thunderbolt latency performance that unlocks the real-time processing power of your DAW, makes the new Focusrite Clarett range the best-sounding, lowest latency interfaces.

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Apollo Expanded - A Mac Based Studio Ecosystem That Can Grow With Your Needs

Apollo Expanded may well turn out to be the star of NAMM 2015. I’ll get the skunk on the table early on in this article - yes it’s Thunderbolt so it is only for Mac users right now. However for those Mac users investing in the latest generation of Apple Macs it is the ideal way to build a system.

It means someone can start by buying the baby Apollo Twin and then as their needs change they simply add more interfaces or horsepower in the form of Satellites.

What we have is one system that meets the needs of every user from the hobbyist to a powerful studio set-up with say 4 x Apollo 16 interfaces. At the very least 4 Apollo 16s will give you 64 channels of I/O with real-time DSP processing.

In the 1980s I went shopping with a friend for a Yamaha DX9 synth. It was the baby brother of the Yamaha DX7 synth and around £300 less to buy. In the end he bought the DX7, I asked what had changed his mind and he said “Every time I played the DX9 I would have been dreaming of playing the DX7.”

It’s a smart move by Universal Audio, it means that anyone who jumps into the Apollo Thunderbolt ecosystem is able to with confidence knowing that however meagre their first investment is that it won’t be wasted should they wish to expand later.

A system that takes Mac users from dipping their toe in the water to being the core of a powerful modern recording studio over time is in our minds a very cool thing.

G-Technology Release Range Of Lightweight Rugged Hard Drives

G-Technology have announced a range of rugged portable hard drives.

For example, the G-DRIVE ev RaW is made from a lightweight shock-resistant compound which in its rubber bumper, which G-Tech claim can withstand a drop of up to 1.5m onto a carpeted concrete floor. When the drive is combined with the ev All-Terrain Case, it is further protected from pressure, shock and dust they claim it can survive a drop from a height of up to 2m. All their drives are also backed by their 3-year limited warranty.

Floating Drives

The ev All-Terrain Cases feature a watertight compartment they claim floats and protects the enclosed G-DRIVE ev RaW hard drive should it be dropped in water up to 1 foot deep for 30 seconds. Giving you time to launch a rescue mission!

The G-DRIVE ev RaW is compatible with the Evolution Series and can be used with the G-DOCK ev or as a standalone device.

Rugged And High Speed

The attached, ultra fast, high-speed Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 connectors on the ev All-Terrain Case ensures that you’re spending your time working and not waiting for data to transfer.

Protect The Drives You Already Own

The ev All-Terrain Cases are compatible with the G-DRIVE ev and the G-DRIVE ev SSD so you can now combine the flexibility of the Evolution Series with increased resilience and durability.

Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Review - Thunderbolt 2 Audio Interface For Mac

Updated on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 11:08AM by Registered CommenterPro Tools Expert

We sometimes get people saying how amazing it must be to get gear to review all day. To be honest it’s a bit like working in a chocolate factory, the novelty soon wears off and in fact it can have the opposite effect and leave one cynical and unmoved by most new offerings.

So when Apogee announced the new Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt, I even surprised myself by how excited I was after reading the specification. As I’ve already said I’m rarely excited by new product announcements, but I wanted to be the one reviewing the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt.

Why? It seemed to tick all the boxes for what I needed in terms of an interface, I was days away from moving to a second Apollo, but neither the Apollo or the Apollo 16 had exactly the I/O I needed for my workflow. Thankfully I have an Apollo Twin and a 4-710D, as well as an Octo card so I still have an Apollo tracking workflow when I need it, I couldn’t live without my UAD stuff.


  • 30×34 Thunderbolt™ 2 Audio Interface for Mac
  • 8 Mic preamps with up to 75 dB of gain and Advanced Stepped Gain circuit
  • Thunderbolt connectivity for ultra-low latency (1.1ms round trip with Logic Pro X)
  • Front panel Guitar I/O with Class A JFET inputs, dual mode re-amp outputs
  • Talkback functionality with built-in mic and control button
  • 2 PurePower headphone outputs
  • 10 separately assignable analog inputs
  • 16 analog outputs of premium Apogee conversion
  • Core Audio optimized DMA engine frees up Mac CPU for plug-ins and software instruments

However the large I/O count on the new Apogee Ensemble along with the flexible connectivity looked like it was designed just for me…how often does that happen? I have to be honest and say that I’ve become less and less happy with my Avid Omni interface, not because of the sound, but because I’ve always seemed to be working around it to get what I need, including if you recall having to replace a noisy fan. The only other reason for owning the Omni was that it gave me an easy way into Pro Tools HDX, which to be frank for a composer using a lot of virtual instruments (of which there are zero running AAX DSP) was becoming somewhat of a waste of time and money for my needs - I use the Apollo solution when I need to track with plug-ins at low latency. I’m not tracking orchestras or mixing Hollywood blockbusters so I’m really not going to miss the HDX. This is not to say that HDX is not of use to some such as large studios or sound stages, but in my experience and for my needs it offered no real benefit. I’m also unable to use it when working in other DAWs as they can’t take advantage of the DSP, so I wanted an interface that was not just limited to a single application. A recent survey we ran showed that around two thirds of us are using two or more DAWs in our work so interfaces need to be able to deal with that.

Anyway back to the review, getting hold of the new Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt was proving difficult, right now it’s easier to find unicorn poo, they seem to be in short supply. However thanks to Richard at Eastwood Sound and Vision one finally arrived at Pro Tools Expert HQ.

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How To Re Amp Guitar With The Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Tutorial: Video

In this free video tutorial for Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt users Russ shows how to re-amp a guitar using both the guitar input and output method and also using a stereo input. He covers the settings in Pro Tools, connections to the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt and also using the Maestro Software.

This is what Apogee say about the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt. The Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt is the first Thunderbolt 2 audio interface to offer superior sound quality, the lowest latency performance and the most comprehensive studio functionality all in one box.

Ensemble includes 8 Advanced Stepped Gain™ mic preamps, monitor controller functionality including talkback, front panel Guitar I/O, two headphone outputs and digital connectivity for a total of 30 x 34 I/O. Blending acclaimed innovations, groundbreaking new features and an effortless user interface, Ensemble empowers you to capture inspiration when creative lightning strikes.

Launched in 2007, the first Ensemble re-defined the possibilities of the personal studio interface, setting new standards of quality, simplicity and value. Winning that year’s TEC Award for Digital Audio Technology, Ensemble went on to become the preferred interface for thousands of hit-making producers, engineers and artists. Now, with 30 years of digital audio expertise and the latest technological innovations, Apogee has re-built Ensemble to introduce the next generation of music creation technology.

Drobo Mini External Hard Drive Review And Tested With Pro Tools

More and more of us are working from home, many in a single room with no machine room where we can put our noisy and hot gear, it’s all in the same space. I’ve been on an ongoing mission to try and create a one-room ‘silent’ studio, regular readers of the blog will have seen my other efforts to achieve this, such as replacing the fan in my Avid Omni interface, hard drives are another area where noise can emanate.

I’ve been a listener of the ‘Mac Observer’s Mac Geek Gab Podcast’ for several years. One product they have been waxing lyrically about for several years is the Drobo. I’ll let the Drobo people explain how it works.

In a nutshell the Drobo connects to your computer or network and provides redundant data protection without the complexities of traditional RAID. Dynamically expand storage any time. Drobo currently holds up to 36TB, depending on the model, using any combination of 3.5” disk drives or 2.5” drives for the Drobo Mini. The Drobo family offers Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Ethernet, iSCSI, and other connectivity options, so you get the data protection you need along with the speed and interface you want.

Through a series of upgrades and other buying decisions I’ve found myself with 3 2.5” SSD drives and so I decided to see how the Drobo Mini would work in my studio environment. In short the Drobo Mini is a 4 bay 2.5” drive host with Thunderbolt and USB3 connectivity, so it seemed the ideal Drobo for me to test. In addition to the 4 drive bays in the front the Drobo has a 5th mSATA SSD drive bay on the base where you can install an mSATA SSD. Drobo call this the ‘Accelerator Bay’ and claim it can give the Drobo a further speed boost.

Setting Up The Drobo Mini

I got it out the box, then I popped open the front cover and pushed and clicked the drives into place, no tools required. One thing to note, once you push your drives into place then as soon as the Drobo starts up for the first time it will format them, so make sure you’ve got all your data off any existing drives before you do this. Then I plugged in the external PSU and had a small battle to line up the PSU (it’s one of those one’s similar to the one used on the UAD Apollo Twin that locks in place) and getting them in can be a bugger. This was in fact the hardest part of setting up the Drobo.

Then I downloaded the Drobo Desktop software and installed it on my Mac.

I connected the Drobo to my Mac Pro ‘Trash Can’ via Thunderbolt and then powered it up. After a cool little light show the Drobo lit up with the Green surround lights and blue legend at the bottom to tell me that all is well, and hey presto it showed up on my desktop.

Best of all it was running and super quiet - giving my ultra-quiet Mac Pro a run for its money in the silence stakes.

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Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt – How To Begin Recording In Pro Tools 11 - Video

The gang over at Apogee have made this helpful video for those using the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt.

We are expecting the new unit at Pro Tools Expert for an Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt review very soon.

If you are thinking of investing in this feature packed audio interface from Apogee then check out this video.

Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt Highlights

  • 8 Mic preamps with up to 75 dB of gain and Advanced Stepped Gain circuit
  • Thunderbolt connectivity for ultra-low latency (1.1ms round trip with Logic Pro X)
  • Front panel Guitar I/O with Class A JFET inputs, dual mode re-amp outputs
  • Talkback functionality with built-in mic and control button
  • 2 PurePower headphone outputs
  • 10 separately assignable analog inputs
  • 16 analog outputs of premium Apogee conversion
  • Core Audio optimized DMA engine frees up Mac CPU for plugins and software instruments

Watch Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt – How To Begin Recording In Pro Tools 11 video

Universal Audio Announces UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators

Our friends at Universal Audio have announced the new UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt  DSP Accelerators. 

UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators are a sleek, powerful way for Thunderbolt-equipped Mac users to “supercharge” their systems and run larger mixes filled with rich, DSP-intensive plug-ins. These desktop-friendly units provide full access to UAD Powered Plug-Ins, including exclusive plug-ins from Studer, Ampex, Lexicon, Neve, Manley, SSL, and more.

UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerator Models

Available in QUAD or OCTO models with a choice of four or eight SHARC processors, UAD-2 Satellite Thunderbolt DSP Accelerators can also be integrated alongside UAD-2 PCIe cards and Thunderbolt-enabled Apollo interfaces, including Apollo Twin, Apollo, and Apollo 16 — for truly scalable mixing power.

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ICYCube 4 Bay eSATA & USB3 External HDD Enclosure Review

If you are looking for an enclosure to keep all your hard drives in then the ICYCube 4 bay may well be the one for you.

There’s a lot of discussion about Thunderbolt these days and often to the detriment of USB3, however in many cases when it comes to moving data, although the quoted specs of both formats may be different, in the real world there is often not a lot in it.

A second consideration is that the same drive with a Thunderbolt connection instead of USB3 is going to set you back a lot more. Add to this the cost of Thunderbolt cables and the idea of using USB3 is far more attractive than you may think. 

With this is mind we tested the new ICYCube MB561U3S-4S 4 Bay USB 3.0 & eSATA External HDD Enclosure. It is a 4 bay enclosure that uses both USB3 and eSATA. It houses both 3.5” and 2.5” drives, which can be mixed in any way you wish.

Our test unit has 3 Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200rpm drives and a Crucial 1TB SSD.

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