Since their inception in 1986 when they first manufactured phase filters as an upgrade for multitrack digital tape machines, Apogee have continued to create innovative solutions, becoming an industry leader in A/D and D/A convertors, and integrating their supreme sound-quality into the consumer market too. The Symphony MK2 is the latest development in the Apogee story.
Most musicians today would be familiar with Apogee from their range of iOS & Mac compatible audio devices such as the Duet, Groove, MiC, and Jam (amongst others). Their elegant aesthetics and simplistic yet intelligent design, make the aforementioned products some of our most popular solutions. Co-founder and CEO Betty Bennett has been central in developing Apogee’s reputation for excellence, along with branding Apogee as a philanthropic and environmentally conscious company. All their products are designed and manufactured in the USA, and their Santa Monica facilities are powered entirely by solar.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the company, is the extent of their vast commitment to charity. Apogee donate to Amnesty International, Save the Children, UNISEF, Conservation International to name a humble few! They are also sponsor local initiatives such as Girls Rock Pittsburg, Corozon de Vila - a US organisation that provides funding to displaced and orphaned children from Mexico, and are contributors to the David Geffen School of Medicine UCLA. Well I was impressed! I think this speaks volumes of a relatively small company intent on remaining competitive in the cut-throat business of computer- music technology.
At winter NAAM 2016, Apogee launched the arrival of the Symphony I/O Mk II, superseding the Symphony I/O Mk I as their premier interface and convertor system. Whilst the Mk I systems are still currently available, they are now listed as end-of-life products, so once stock runs out there will be no further production. If you already own a Symphony I/O Mk I system and wish to upgrade to the Mk II, you will still be able to use the current 2X6 I/O module, and the 8XMicPre I/O module in the new Symphony Mk II chassis. Apogee have also released two new module cards - the 8X8 S2 and 16X16 S2 with improved specifications. These new cards are not compatible with the Mk I chassis. Currently, it is not possible to integrate a Symphony I/O Mk II with an Mk I via the Symphony 64 Thunderbridge card, although this could change with future updates.
The biggest differential between the Mk I and Mk II Symphony systems, is that the Mk II now offers three new connectivity options:
Pro Tools HD
Waves SoundGrid Network
Thunderbolt models are currently available, and the biggest differential between the Mk I and Mk II Symphony systems, eliminates the need for the Symphony 64 Thunderbridge card by including two Thunderbolt ports standard. There will be expansion cards, and more information available later in the year for the Pro Tools HD and Waves SoundGrid Network options.
The Thunderbolt driver, has been designed from the ground up specifically for the Symphony I/O Mk II. Latency low as 1.35 ms has been quoted, running 32 simultaneous inputs and outputs in Logic Pro at 96kHz with a buffer setting of 32.
Australian Pricing for Thunderbolt Option with Various I/O Convertor Modules:
Aside from upgrading the performance specifications of the 8X8 and 16X16 I/O expansion cards, one of the most impressive new features of the Mk II model, is the high-res TFT (touchscreen) display. You are now able to view and adjust all of the I/O metering (up-to 64 channels depending on your configuration). You can change your input and output levels, polarity, mute, phantom power and Soft Limit directly. The new touchscreen display also interacts with Maestro 2 software as well, and you can even calibrate the Symphony I/O Mk II to other external gear. This is a huge improvement on the original Mk I Symphony system.
On the back panel there are the two I/O module slots - identical to the Mk I. The Mk II also has third card slot that enables you to run the AVID HD or Waves SoundGrid options, that will be available later in the year. This third port will also be capable of upgrading to any further developments with AVID and Waves, or other technology and protocols not yet invented.
(The third expansion slot for Pro Tools HD, Waves SoundGrid and future updates is situated below the power outlet.)
The new I/O modules is where Apogee’s 30 year research and development is evident. The 8X8 and 16X16 “S” expansion modules, have been redesigned with the latest convertor technology from Apogee. In real world terms, the THD and signal-to-noise ratios have been improved slightly by incorporating a dual Summing stage for the A-D convertor, meaning two conversion stages are summed for each channel.
SYM MK1 A/D THD+N: -113dB @ +20dBu (0.00024%) Vs.
SYM MKII A/D THD+N: -114dB @ 22dBu (0.00020%)
SYM MK1 D/A THD+N: -117dB @ +20dBu (0.00014%) Vs.
SYM MKII D/A THD+N: -117dB @ 21dBu (0.00014%)
SYM MK1 D/A Dynamic Range: 129dB A weighted Vs.
SYM MKII D/A Dynamic Range: 129dB A weighted
Apogee also continue to implement the ESS Sabre32 DAC technology in the Symphony Mk II systems, that allows for an impressive 129 dB A wtd dynamic range - unsurpassed by any other manufacture according to Apogee.
Apogee have also incorporated the same technology used in the Apogee Grove - Constant Current Drive, in the headphone amp of the Mk II, offering a supreme monitoring experience for headphones of any impedance.
SYM MK1 Dynamic Range: 119db A weighted Vs.
SYM MKII Dynamic Range: 121db A weighted
Apogee are also set to release a second chassis of the Symphony I/O Mk II that is only equipped with the Pro Tools HD expansion card, and no Thunderbolt ports. With the current version it will be possible to purchase a Pro Tools HD expansion card, making the unit Thunderbolt and Pro Tools HD enabled. We believe the same will be apparent for the Waves SoundGrid Network option, although this has not ben confirmed. It does not look possible to be Pro Tools HD and SoundGrid enabled, but stay tuned for further developments, and updates from Sounds Easy on the Apogee Symphony I/O Mk II.
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