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electronic MUSICIAN

Apogee GiO ($395 street)

By Craig Anderton | July 1, 2010

What: Guitarist-oriented USB interface/foot controller designed specifically for the Mac (Intel/PPC G5, OS X 10.5.7) and is compatible with Logic Pro 9, GarageBand ’09, and MainStage 2.

Apogee_1Yes, the footswitch button colors really do relate to the stomp box colors in Logic Pro and GarageBand. And the rear panel is simplicity itself: audio input, expression pedal in, USB in, stereo audio output.

Why: Including guitar-friendly audio I/O with Apogee-level quality, along with a foot-controlled control surface, provides a onestop recording solution for guitar players.

Installation: I was not able to install GiO with Euphonix’s Eucon drivers present on my Intel Mac. Turning Eucon off wasn’t good enough: I had to physically uninstall the software. (Apogee could not duplicate this with current Eucon and GiO oftware; it seems to be system-specific.) Once I got past that, GiO installation went uneventfully. Also note that you must use the specified programs: e.g., GarageBand ’08 won’t work.

Learning curve: There’s a 1:1 correspondence between the various switches and the functions they control, so any learning curve comes from figuring out how to configure programs to work with GiO, which isn’t difficult.

Best bits: Guitarists have their hands full, so the obvious GiO advantages are doing footswitched transport control, turning up to five effects on/off like a regular floor footswitch controller, hands-free recording/punching, and stepping up and down through effects presets. The transport and effect switches are independent—no double-duty operation, which is a good thing. There are some additional touches, like color-coding on the stomp box switches to match effects, and an expression pedal input (check the Apogee site for compatible models). Even the USB cable is an overachiever, as it’s about 15 feet long instead of the usual 6 foot cable packed with most gear. However, while the functionality is a big deal, don’t overlook the audio. The high-impedance input doesn’t load down your guitar, and Apogee’s converters deserve their reputation for top-of-the-line performance.

Limitations: The interface is limited to 44.1/48kHz, so if you like running projects at 88.2/96kHz to squeeze every bit of performance out of amp sims, GiO is not the droid you’re looking for. Also, the lack of control integration with non-Apple software, while understandable, limits your options should you change platforms or hosts (the audio I/O works with other programs, though). And the stereo output jack makes sense for headphones, but if you’re going into a real-world mixer, the included stereo-to-dual RCA phono jacks cable requires adapters.

Bottom line: This is a classy piece of gear. The sound quality is excellent, and the latency is low—Apogee has taken advantage of tight integration with the Mac. Throw in the hands-free control and compatibility with three common Mac music programs used by guitarists, and you might find it easy to justify adding this to your guitar gadget arsenal.

Contact: www.apogeedigital.com


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