I went to the event because I wanted to know more about the Symphony mkII, especially because Apogee has announced Dante support for Q1 2017. This is very exciting because it opens up the choice of really cool A/D and D/A for my idea of a mobile studio. The flexibility of configuration of the unit is quite impressive. It's more expensive than the Focusrite options but I think I would be happier with this unit. I am guessing my ideal system would end up being a mix of Focusrite and Apogee, being able to afford it. The way you can also get a Symphony mkII and then expand it when you have more funds is very attractive. My only concern would be maintenance, being all made in the US if there is a fault it would be a pain to have to do a temporary export to the US to have it repaired, the red tape alone... Hopefully, they have a maintenance centre in Europe.
The Element series really surprised me, though. They seem to be very powerful simple units. The demo sounded good, but you never know, you don't know the room or the playback system so... Nonetheless, it seemed to me that you could build a very powerful mobile recording rig using two Element 88, getting possibly a 32x32 recording rig (using the ADATs in the back).
Correction: I just got a message from Rob Clark from Apogee stating the following:
Also note that two Element 88 systems are limited to 16x16 analog the ADAT ports are used to communicate low latency mixer info between the two units.
They say you can connect two units to your laptop, unfortunately, from what I can see, you can't daisy chain the units, meaning you'll sacrifice two thunderbolt ports for this. Not a huge problem, but something worth considering. The flexibility of the control software and built quality were great. Very cool stuff and at a very attractive price point. Rob Clark, from Apogee, did a great job of "selling" it. I wish I could get my hands on the demo session to listen to it on my system for a better judgment.
So this brings me back to the lunch I went to a while back. I was chatting with Tom from Universal Audio about my mobile studio idea using Dante and how I thought that they should consider implementing it on their Apollo line. He said that I wouldn't need Dante for my idea since everything is controllable from their Console software. I could run an optical ThunderBolt cable if I needed really long distances to where the Apollos would be daisy chained to each other and still control everything from my laptop. Although that is a very attractive solution I would be locked into Universal Audio, possibly leading to an Avid like situation. I think Universal Audio is missing a trick here and should consider opening their system a bit... Hopefully, they will... Dante seems like it'll be for Audio over IP what MIDI was in the 80's. I believe opening things up, creating and following standards would lead to a much healthier environment instead of closing everything in exclusive intellectual properties.