Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Review
The following is a Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Review by Ben McAvoy, a new Logic Pro Expert team member (welcome Ben!).
Ben is the owner of WMP, a music composition and sound design house based in Leeds, United Kingdom. WMP provide bespoke music composition and sound design services to music supervisors, production companies, music libraries and non-broadcast media creators.
Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Review
The Focusrite Clarett is a next generation 18-in, 20-out audio interface designed for the professional project studio user who needs to record multiple sources simultaneously. Upon opening the box, the striking red anodised metal front looks absolutely awesome and the feel of the rotary faders are great too.
You can really tell that the guys at Focusrite have thought carefully about what the users of this unit will really need with two Neutrik combo inputs on the front for both XLR and Jack “plug and play” compatibility as well as two headphone outs with individual level controllers. There are then six more combo inputs on the back, line and monitor outs as well as a whole host of useful connections such as optical and SPDIF for hooking the Clarett up to other devices.
One thing I’ve never really understood though, is why slightly larger units like this aren’t shipped with a Thunderbolt cable in the box, but not letting that stand in our way, the unit and the Focusrite Control software were easy to install and set up and we were ready to record in no time at all.
Unfortunately, the Mac Pro we use in the main studio doesn’t have a Thunderbolt input so we used our portable setup with a Macbook Pro, two Sontronics STC 1’s and an SE 4400A to record an upright piano into Logic Pro 9 (our current DAW) for a project that we are working on at the moment.
What I was really interested in looking at were the latency claims (close to 2.5ms round trip latency at 48kHz) because this is something we struggle with every time we record audio on all of our current units and Logic Pro’s “Low Latency Mode” is usually used, even just as a precautionary measure when recording any audio. Also of interest was the new AIR setting on the pres, which adds a little more, stylised high-end clarity based on Focusrite’s ISA transformer range.
When we had the microphones set up and in position, setting up two separate headphone mixes and getting the balance right between the MIDI instrumentation in Logic Pro and the microphone levels using the Focusrite Control could not have been simpler. As the software has been completely redesigned for these units and therefore this being our first experience of it too, it’s definitely worth mentioning that it has a really nice feel to it, large clickable icons, easy to use and quick real time response to the faders.
The pres sounded great by themselves and enabling the AIR feature was really easy, just a switch on each individual input on the Focusrite Control software. What we weren’t quite prepared for though was the effect it has, particularly on instruments such as a piano. It sounded absolutely excellent, adding… well air to each mic but just the right amount of clarity and high-end for every day use but still allowing flexibility when mixing or in post-production.
Here’s a clip of the piano I recorded:
What was really impressive too was the latency levels (or lack of) as it was virtually non-existent when we were tracking at 48kHz and we didn’t need to go anywhere near the “low latency mode” in Logic Pro. A testament to moving over to Thunderbolt connections if ever there was one, but also a testament to Focusrite’s ability to build a device that utilises the best of their hardware and software engineering skill.
With the sort of composition work I am involved with we don’t get much chance, or requirement, to to use eight channels simultaneously, in fact we don’t get the budgets or timescales to do so. However, the Focusrite Clarett, with its array of well thought-out and quick features such as the Air setting on the pres and easy to use headphone mixes, certainly makes me want to find a way to do so.
Focusrite Clarett 8Pre Review – Conclusion
In summary my only minor gripe is that they don’t include a Thunderbolt cable. Yes, it might be the wrong length but I’d rather that than not one at all. However the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre offers outstanding value for money (really), the latency claims seem to stand up to scrutiny and the sound is gorgeous, especially when used with the air option. Add to this the ease of set-up and you have a killer offering. Make sure you check this out if you are looking for a new audio interface for your studio.
In a review to follow shortly, we’ll be pushing the new Clarett 8Pre unit as far as it will go with one of our composition sessions, keep an eye and ear out for that.
Reasons To Try
- Amazing sound.
- Almost none existent latency.
- Great price.
Reasons To Pass
- Thunderbolt excludes support for Windows and older Macs.
For more info, see the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre product page.