Happy Friday, everybody! It’s time for another round of Ask Joe. If you’re new and have a question, head over to the Ask Joe page.

But not until you’ve read today’s post, of course. 🙂


Photo by -bast-

Graham Cochrane wrote:

Hi Joe…just stumbled upon your site this week and have thoroughly enjoyed  reading your articles and watching your vids. The information you give is helpful and is presented clearly. Keep up the good work!

My big question is about converters. Now, since you have spent a lot of time with the different products out there, I’d like your opinion. I currently run Pro Tools LE 7.4 on a mac with the 002r. I’ve been a longtime pro tools user since learning it back in college and have migrated through the original mbox to the 002r a few years back. I’m not a fan of just spending money to make things sound better, but I seriously am toying with the idea of looking into better conversion for my system, mostly for the sake of getting bigger drum sounds with more clarity and depth as I feel this is where better conversion will make the most noticeable difference.

I’m considering saving up for an Apogee Ensemble to run ADAT into my 002r for all my pres and A/D conversion. Would I be better off just trying to upgrade to the 003r instead? I know you have an 003 yourself so you know the sound of its pres and converters. This whole conversion thing is such a mystery to me as I hear on both sides different stories.

I’d love your feedback on this. Thanks so much!


Hey Graham. Great question. (By the way, thanks for sharing a link to your site. You’ve got a great voice.)

To sum up, you’re wanting to add an Apogee Ensemble, which can, in standalone mode, provide an additional 8 channels of input via ADAT.

Initially, that sounds like a great idea. However, it really depends on how good your mics and preamps are, along with how good the acoustics are in your room.

I’ve said this before on the blog, and I’m sure I’ll say it many more times, your equipment needs to fit together as a system. Upgrading your converter will certainly make things sound better, but if your room really needs acoustic treatment, you’d be better off handling that first.

Likewise, if you’re using some lower-quality microphones and preamps, you may not hear as much of a difference in the Ensemble as you would if you had a really nice front end.

Does that make sense?

Converters play a big role in the sound of your recordings, but they are only one part of the equation. If you’re happy with your room and your front end, then I think you’re ready to move forward with the Ensemble (or even the Rosetta 800).

However, you want to make good use of your money. My advice would be to upgrade your converters only if you have adequately treated your room and have invested in quality microphones and preamps.

To answer your question about the 002 vs. the 003, I do like the sound of the 003. It’s better than the 002, but it’s not a life-changing difference. They upgraded the converters and pre’s a bit. In my opinion, you’ll hear a bigger difference with the Ensemble. (I’ve told quite a few people I think the Ensemble is the best-sounding firewire audio interface on the market right now.)

All this being said, let’s all remember that good music and good performances take precedence over quality of gear. As long as you’re making good music, I’m all for getting better gear to go along with it.

Thoughts anyone? Let’s hear ’em in the comments.