At Winter NAMM 2018 in Anaheim, California, Apogee Electronics announced the 2×6 Special Edition expansion module for its Symphony I/O MK II premium audio interface. Aiming the product towards mastering engineers and their notoriously critical ears, the company claims that it features its best AD/DA converter ever – one outperforming competing products both on paper and in practice.
Some impressive specifications are being thrown around, indeed – 124dB of dynamic range and -116dB of THD + N (total harmonic distortion + noise) for the inputs, 131dB dynamic range and -118dB THD + N for the outputs. Comparing numbers with other premium flagship interfaces is outside the scope of this article, but nevertheless, Apogee’s measurements are eyebrow-raising.
Connectivity-wise, the expansion card offers plenty of options for busy sound engineers. There are 2 balanced XLR inputs, an AES N stereo input (XLR); an Optical input with ADAT (8 channels @ up to 48kHz), SMUX (4 channels @ up to 96kHz), and S/PDIF (2 channels @ up to 96kHz). The final input in the list is Coaxial S/PDIF with 2 channels @ up to 192kHz.
As for the outputs – Apogee is being a little more generous here with 6 balanced outputs (on a single DSUB 25-pin connector), AES stereo output (XLR), Optical out (ADAT, SMUX, S/PDIF with the same channel counts and sample rates as the inputs), and Coaxial S/PDIF (2 channels @ up to 192kHz). The expander connects to Apple Mac computers only, exclusively via Thunderbolt ports.
Overall, Apogee’s new product is super-niche, but commendable, still. In addition to giving Symphony MK II users a native option to expand their interfaces’ connectivity, the company is using the 2×6 SE module as a launchpad for its latest – and supposedly greatest – AD/DA converter. For the rest of us mere mortals, this is a glimpse at the conversion technology which will probably trickle down to Apogee’s desktop interfaces and other digital gear like the company’s USB microphones. The 2×6 SE is also a reminder of the company’s technical prowess, especially helpful to grab some attention away from competitors during the ever-so-busy NAMM.
Price and availability
Priced at USD 1895, the 2×6 SE expander is either sold pre-configured with a Symphony I/O Mk II interface for Thunderbolt or Pro Tools HD workstations (which adds up to USD 2995), or separately in the form of an expansion module for existing Mk II configurations. Additional expansion options are available from Apogee’s website to those with the need and the cash to spare.