I use an apogee USB duet two for recording and playback and my system sounds great. I record vinyl to my computer. Can record and playback up to 24/192. Works well with pure music.
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How are you sending the digital information to the Audio Research? Through the mac's optical digital out? If so are you using a old/cheap/too_long digital optical cable? Those can introduce quite a bit of jitter into a signal.
I've got the original firewire Duet that I use for a guitar interface and desktop/onthego listening. Awesome piece. I love it for the big circular volume control alone!
I'm not sending anything from the Mac to the Audio Research. They're two separate systems. I was trying to point out that the computer system was surprisingly good compared to the hi fi rig.
The Duet has two inputs. Alas, the One has, unsurprisingly, one. So I can't use it to record anything in stereo. However, it does output in stereo, so I could conceivably use it like a DAC, so long as the stream that feeds it is USB. Another mystery to unravel. I might be able to plug my iPod into the One's USB inputs and see if it will send a stereo output to the Audio Research amp. I'll have to try this sometime.
I'm glad you guys like your Duets. I'm pleased as punch with the One.