Apogee FX Plugins have introduced a new concept in plugin processing called Dual-Path Workflow. The majority of plugins that we use in DAWs are hosted on the computer or tablet that we are using. We would refer to this a 'native plugin' - one that is running natively by using your device's processing power. This has become the standard for most software, but despite increased performance of computers over the last decade, there are still flaws that appear.
There is always a battle going on between audio processing power and speed in your DAW, balanced by the 'buffer size' setting. In very simple terms, the buffer in a DAW gives the computer time to think about all the processing it has to do to your audio. However, more time to think will always a time delay to the sound, known commonly as latency. You can make this buffer larger or smaller to optimise the performance of your workstation, but there is always these compromises to consider:
- A Small Buffer Size means low latency - exactly what you want for tracking audio, but if you have a lot of plugin processing at the same time, the playback performance will deteriorate.
- A Large Buffer Size will improve the playback quality significantly which is great for mixing but you will introduce a lot of latency, making it very hard to record & monitor.
This is easier to balance when you're tracking OR mixing, but if you are recording overdubs into a mix populated with plugins, or you want to monitor a take through plugin in processing, it becomes more difficult to get it right. As a musician, audio latency can really mess with your timing!
Designers and engineers have tried to find ways to overcome latency for these scenarios. Software mixers for audio interfaces allow musicians to monitor using the analogue front end signal whilst recording. Apogee Control is a perfect example of this, but method does not allow you to monitor through your FX. There are also manufacturers that use build DSP chips into their interfaces to run plugins. This saves on computer processing power, but it also relies on the hardware being plugged in at all times.
Apogee’s Dual-Path FX plugins have taken these technologies a step further. Native plugins that run in parallel with an externally processed version. This allows you to monitor and track using the externally processed plugin at less than a millisecond of latency. And when tracking is finished, the plugin still exists in your DAW, so you can tweak your sound even if the Apogee hardware isn't available.
Pretty cool right? Apogee's Dual-Path Overview explains how this all works in much greater detail.