Review: Apogee Jam X USB Audio Interface

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Review: Apogee Jam X USB Audio Interface

Apogee JamX USB Audio Interface
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Apogee Jam X USB Audio Interface | Link Audio | RRP: $399

Apogee Digital are famed for having pioneered smaller-format solutions like the Groove and Boom, while consistently putting out top-tier, mastering grade audio converters and just about everything in between. The Jam X USB audio interface harnesses the best of a lot of this tech, with great sounding converters and low latency monitoring options, the unit also being palm-sized for great portability. The Jam X USB is an audio interface that includes all of the cables you’ll need to connect it to your computer for a quick set-up, ready to record those fleeting moments of inspired clarity. Apogee’s intention is to make recording guitar as quick and easy as possible, with some extra handy features to set your input gain, monitoring and tone as quickly as possible so you can get those ideas recorded and saved away.

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The Apogee Jam X USB audio interface is currently the world’s only interface to feature analogue compression, available in varying modes to level out your guitar playing while recording, or record with no compression at all.

In use, the Apogee Jam X USB is simple to set up. The Jam X USB works on both MacOS and Windows, as well as iOS if that’s what you have available; like if you’re travelling and can’t bring a computer with you. You can monitor via either headphones or powered speakers, with the Apogee Jam X USB offering ample volume for both options. While the Apogee Jam X USB is small, it’s rugged, and will endure being bounced around in a case or bag while travelling, serving as an on-the-road solution to recording if needed. The audio quality could have the Apogee Jam X USB easily serve as your main interface for home and studio recording as well!

The compressor modes are really what elevate the Jam X – offering no compression at all, or three varying modes of compression, from the lowest, the Smooth Leveller, to the Purple Squeeze in the middle, and the Vintage Blue Stomp at the most extreme end, offering an ‘aggressive’ amount of compression. Compression before an amp sim can really help you shape and hone your tone, bringing new life to any existing amplifier sims you might have. The Smooth Leveller felt and sounded like a great ‘always on’ type solution, providing reasonably transparent compression, while preventing any peaks from poking through and clipping an otherwise great take. Monitoring with latency is an instant mood ruiner, making it almost impossible to record, and because of this, the Jam X USB includes a low latency mode that allows you to monitor direct from the unit, rather than after a round trip through your DAW and computer.

The Jam X USB is capable of keeping up with the most discernible ears, as recently displayed in the launch video featuring Polyphia’s Tim Henson exploring the compression modes.

The Apogee Jam X USB can record at 24-bit and up to 96kHz, offering some of the highest resolution recording around, and arguably the highest resolution that human ears can discern anyway! A guitar or other instrument is connected via ¼” jack, with Apogee’s PureDIGITAL circuitry for pristine audio connections. Included in the box are cables to interface the Jam X via either USB-A or USB-C, depending on your needs. The Jam X is made from a rugged metal chassis, with one main gain control and additional buttons to toggle between compressor modes. It weighs just 0.11kg and is only 10cm long, easily stowed away while on the move.

The headphone output offers 8dBu (1.9Vrms) 100mW into 32Ohm, offering plenty of gain for all systems, including if you choose to connect the Jam X USB to powered speaker via a Y-Split cable. The single preamp has 36dB of gain onboard, plenty for an electric guitar or acoustic pickup, but it can function equally well as an interface for recording bass, keyboards and synths. 

Apogee JamX USB Audio Interface

The Apogee Jam X USB from Apogee encompasses the brand’s years of research into function, form and fidelity, all packaged into a tidy, portable and rugged package. With audio quality suitable for a main audio interface for recording and mixing, as well as being well and truly qualified for a handy interface to have on the go while travelling or touring. There’s simple compression settings available depending on your playing, as well as to help shape the sound you’re aiming for, while the controls on the interface itself feature just about everything you’d need to quickly dial in gain and output for recording on the fly.

The Apogee products that came before the Jam series of interfaces have inspired years of riffs, songs and melodies, and the Apogee Jam X is the latest in a long line of useful, practical and well-designed interfaces. The unit plays nicely with multiple operating systems, allowing you to jump between a laptop, desktop computer or an iPad, for example, with no break in audio quality. The Jam X USB is a tool that just about every music maker needs, whether you’re equipped with a full on, home studio situation with a need for a more portable solution, or simple recording equipment that could benefit from professional-grade audio conversion and handy on-board compression. Apogee have again elevated a seemingly perfect design, reinvented in the Apogee Jam X USB Audio interface.

For more information, head to Apogee Digital. For local enquiries, visit Link Audio.