Having said this, the Babyface interface offers other features that might be worth the price difference. It features more simultaneous inputs as well as no breakout cable. On the other hand, the Apogee Duet 3 has a simpler and streamlined design that makes it more intuitive to use.
The best one for you will largely depend on your situation and what you use your interface for.
Here’s where they differ:
The RME Babyface PRO FS is more expensive
The Apogee Duet 3 is more intuitive, with a simpler design
The RME offers more inputs
The Apogee Duet 3 comes with a breakout cable (and you can add a dock, sold separately)
Who Are They For?
If your budget is limited, but you still want pristine sound, convenience, and an easy-to-use interface, I’d go with the Apogee Duet 3.
2 digitally controlled microphones for reference-quality recording
SteadyClock/femtosecond technology for ultra-stable clocking
TotalMix FX software gives you a fully flexible 288-channel mixer with a 46-bit internal resolution
Each channel boasts latency-free processing, including a 3-band EQ, low-cut filter, reverb, and echo
Onboard metering with peak and RMS calculation
Includes a premium plug-in bundle with Scuffham S-Gear, Brainworx bx_opto, and Brainworx bx_masterdesk, plus trial versions of Modartt Pianoteq 6, GG Audio Blue 3 Organ, and Gig Performer
Apogee Duet 3 Features
Top-quality Apogee AD/DA conversion and digital clocking
2 world-class mic preamps with +65dB of gain, +48V phantom power, and Apogee’s Advanced Stepped Gain Architecture
Redesigned breakout cable with 2 instrument inputs, 2 mic/line inputs, and 2 balanced outputs
Onboard hardware DSP enables you to shape your sound right at the input stage with zero latency
Includes a hardware-accelerated version of Apogee’s ECS Channel Strip
The RME Babyface PRO FS comes with an impressive set of I/O for such a small interface.
You get 4 x 4 (analog), 8 x 8 (digital), with 2 x XLR (mic), 2 x 1/4″ (Hi-Z/line) analog inputs, and 1 x Optical Toslink (ADAT, S/PDIF) digital inputs. For outputs, its got 2 x XLR (+4dBu/+19dBu) for analog outputs and 1 x Optical Toslink (ADAT, S/PDIF) for digital.
The Babyface also comes with two headphone outputs (one is 1/4″ and the other 1/8″, and you basically have to choose one or the other, as they are not independent).
On the other hand, the Apogee Duet 3 is strictly a 2-in/4-out USB-C audio interface with 2 microphone preamps and hardware DSP.
For instance, let’s say you want to record a singer that also plays guitar, but you want to capture it all at once, with the guitar on a stereo mic setup. You can do that with the Babyface, but not with the Duet 3 (as the latter only allows for 2 simultaneous inputs).
Despite the evident contrasts in I/O options, it is fitting to say that both the RME Babyface and the Apogee Duet 3 are similar when it comes to sample rate and connectivity. As far as the sample rate and resolution, both offer 24-bit/192 kHz quality audio.
Contrast this with the RME Babyface’s microphone preamps with their signal-to-noise ratio of 113.7 dB, and line/instrument inputs of 116.3dB. The Babyface Pro FS employs the same high-quality output op-amps as the company’s sought-after ADI-2 Pro AD/DA converter.
Speaking of the ADI-2 PRO, one of the Babyface’s most impressive features is the SteadyClock FS circuit, which is the same included on the ADI-2 PRO.
This ensures ultra-stable clocking and takes self-jitter to new lows, for amazing performance and stability.
This dual-DSP system uses one DSP chip for monitor mixing, leaving the other free for latency-free effects and processing. As impressive as the TotalMix FX is, there is more software power on the Babyface.
RME also included a plug-in bundle that comes with Scuffham’s S-Gear, a flexible guitar amp simulator that was created by a former product designer from a legendary British amplifier company (try and guess which one).
Also in this bundle is Brainworx bx_opto, which yields classic optical-style compression with a streamlined interface. On top of that, there is also bx_masterdesk, which reproduces the sound of a high-end analog mastering system.
On the other hand, the Apogee Duet 3 features onboard DSP that lets you shape your sound at the input stage with zero latency.
You also get Apogee Control 2 software for complete control of all of the Duet 3’s functions and features, including the ECS Channel Strip, along with the Apogee Channel FX plug-in that allows you to adjust preamp gain, turn on phantom power, set monitor levels, and control and print ECS Channel Strip effects straight from your DAW.
If you are on the market for a small interface for traveling, both the Babyface PRO and the Duet 3 are compact enough to carry around. Whether you want to record in hotel rooms or even outside, these interfaces will have you covered.
As is common with many interfaces of this size, the Apogee Duet 3 features a breakout cable. However, the RME Babyface does not.
For some folks, this might make a difference. Although a break-out cable does not bother me at all, I understand that it is not as stylish and does not contribute to the tidiness of your work environment.
Apogee took note of this and created a dock that you can attach to the Duet 3 to avoid having to use the breakout cable.
This dock is sold separately and will cost you $179. Is it worth it? I’ll let you and your need for tidiness decide that.
It is not a clear-cut choice on which of these two USB interfaces to pick. Both are very similar and their differences will cater to specific needs.
Their price differences, ease of use, and features suggest that each model has a distinct user in mind. If you’re still not sure, check out some demos on YouTube and read some customer reviews to help you decide.