The biggest concern with recording from the road is how much equipment you can bring before you have to start leaving behind essentials such as clothes just to have the right gear for a good sound. While you can easily bring a standard microphone and connect it via a basic passive adapter into your iPad or iPhone’s combo headphone-microphone jack, the sound quality will always be lackluster compared to a quality pre-amp and digital connection. The other option would be to bring a heavy laptop, USB preamp, and an array of microphones and cables just to get a clean sound for your recordings.
Apogee solves this problem with the Apogee ONE, a purpose-built digital audio interface designed to run in mobile environments.
The ONE is a low powered two channel recorder with a built in microphone on the front of the device. The built in omnidirectional condenser works well in situations where space and mobility is at a premium. You simply attach the entire unit to the included microphone clip and place everything on a small stand. You can then attach the ONE to your computer or iOS device via the interchangeable USB, Thunderbolt, or Apple Dock Connector cables. As a Made for iOS (MFi) device, the ONE is fully compatible with modern iPhones and iPads and any software written to take advantage of the standard audio APIs.
The ONE can support a number of power options. When attached via USB to a computer, the One can easily draw power from USB itself. When attached to an iOS device, the One shines in portability via the use of a pair of lithium AA batteries. Standard alkaline batteries do not provide a consistent enough output to power the ONE, but lithium batteries will provide you with a few hours of use depending on if you use phantom power or not. Alternatively, you can use the included AC adapter with the ONE, which, as a bonus, can also charge your iOS device while in use. At those venues where power options are at a premium, you could power your entire recording setup from a single outlet.
The ONE itself is a very heavy duty device. Made out of die cast aluminum, the ONE feels very solid, and the simple design gives the ONE a very elegant look. A single smooth control knob allows you to quickly set your input and output levels which you can select via a firm click of the wheel. A set of indicator lights tell you what mode the wheel currently will control, and a small number of LEDs will show you the current input and output levels of the device with red LEDs indicating audio clipping.
Now, while you can use the built-in microphone to record, where the ONE really shines is with the included breakout cable that provides XLR and TRS support. With the break out cable, you can easily attach any kind of microphone to the ONE. With 48V phantom power support, the ONE can easily support the biggest of powered condensers. Simultaneous, the 1/4 Inch TRS jack allows you to feed in an additional audio source, such as a guitar or another line level device. One thing to note though is that the XLR and internal microphones are mutually exclusive. You cannot record with both microphones at the same time, limiting your ability to do a two microphone recording with a purely minimal setup.
The ONE also includes a 1/8 inch headphone jack for output monitoring, but it also supports low latency monitoring of your inputs. Using the Maestro app on either Mac or iOS, you can control the internal settings such as enabling phantom power or mixing together a low latency audio monitor to hear what your talent is sending to you.
Apogee is known for their high quality digital pre-amps, and the ONE is no exception. The ONE’s preamps are very warm for such a small package and provide a very clean sound from both the Mic and TRS inputs. On the output, the ONE’s headphone amp is superb and provides a full range out audio you can’t get out of your iOS’s internal headphone jack.
From a technical standpoint, the ONE supports 24bit / 96kHz sample recording rates. Combined with a high end DAW such as Auria, you can easily setup a full professional level recording studio with just your iPad, a ONE, and a quality microphone, all of which can fit in a small bag.
The simplicity and quality of the Apogee ONE is hard to beat if you are a singer-songwriter. With any number of apps, you can create a great recording quickly and push it out to your fans straight from your mobile device!
Overall, if you want to record on the go and only want to bring a small amount of equipment, you would be hard pressed to find a more portable setup than the ONE and an iPhone or iPad. Combined with a good recording app such as Auria or BossJock, the ONE provides not only a simple setup, but a quality one as well.