With computer-based recording being now the standard, one issue that until very recently has posed a problem is latency. But Thunderbolt goes a long way to solve this, and few audio interfaces can compare to the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre and Clarett 8PreX, which allow you to record and monitor with your favourite DAW plugins in real time!
The Focusrite Clarett range features the best-sounding, fastest Thunderbolt interfaces available today,and the Clarett 8Pre and Clarett 8PreX are the two top-of-the-range models, delivering outstanding audio for your recordings.
The Clarett 8Pre and 8PreX set a whole new standard for your recording studio. They combine Focusrite's passion for sound quality with the very latest in Thunderbolt technology, featuring brand new transformer-modeled preamps, crystal clear conversion, and interface latency so negligible that you can monitor and track within your software without any noticeable delay!
And this is the whole point of buying a Focusrite Clarett: there's no compromise here, it's about making your computer-based recording setup sound as professional as possible, with the sound quality you'd expect from a recording studio.
Let's have a look at some of the top Clarett-series features:
1) 'AIR' Mode gives you the classic Focusrite ISA mic preamp sound!
The brand new Clarett preamps are best in class, with switchable AIR functionality that models the sound of the classic ISA mic preamp, by modelling the impedance and transformer resonance of the iconic Focusrite ISAs. This gives you the same exceptional clarity and signature sound behind so many hit records, at the touch of a button. In addition, new custom potentiometers deliver superior linear gain.
The key to getting an analogue signal into your DAW is the microphone preamplifier – with its associated line and instrument inputs. Mic pres were among the very first modules that the original Focusrite company ever produced, thirty years ago, when master console designer Rupert Neve was commisioned by Sir George Martin to create a new series of console modules for his AIR Studios, which had a very particular sound now captured in the new Clarett interfaces.
The ‘Air’ setting on a Clarett interface emulates these factors in the analogue domain. Engaging the setting on the Clarett Mic Preamp switches the impedance of the preamp to that of the original ISA, and enables the ‘transformer resonance effect’, giving your microphone recordings the air and clarity of an ISA transformer-based mic pre recording. ‘Air’ is useful with any microphone, but in particular listen to the benefits with vintage microphones for which this input impedance was originally intended.
2) The Lowest Thunderbolt Latency Available Today
Another great feature of the Clarett interfaces is that they have the world's fastest round-trip audio latency over Thunderbolt: the Thunderbolt hardware and Focusrite's own in-house developed driver deliver close to 1mS round trip latency at 96KHz on Mac, making any latency issue virtually negligible! Which means, you can record and monitor with your favourite DAW plugins, in real time!
No need for add-in DSP or special processing - choose any of your plugins, from virtually any manufacturer, to create the perfect recording path on every channel - as well as custom monitor setups for both you and your artists.
3) 24 bit / 192 kHz Sample Rate
Clarett’s 192kHz/24-bit converters deliver up to 118dB (A/D) / 119dB (D/A) real-world dynamic range, letting you capture every nuance and subtlety whether you’re recording or mixing.
It’s easy to play the numbers game with digital conversion, and believe a system is better because it looks good on paper, but in fact listening to it (or listening to someone who has) will tell you what you need to know: how clean the sound is, how low the noise, and how much like the original it sounds.
Of course the numbers can help you evaluate an interface, as long as they’re real – and when Focusrite say that Clarett offers up to 119dB dynamic range via its D/A, it means they've actually measured that in the real world, with a real interface: it’s not simply the number from the chip’s data sheet.
4) Includes Focusrite Control Software Mixer with hardware-focused workflow
Focusrite Control is the new software mixer designed primarily for ease of use in quickly setting up both simple and complex monitoring and routing configurations.
Simple and intuitive to use, Focusrite Control offers a traditional mixer workflow and allows immediate access to internal hardware functions.
Every Clarett also includes the Red 2 & Red 3 AAX, AU & VST Plug-in Suite, which accurately models Focusrite’s classic Red range equalizer and compressor hardware.
Here's other features both Clarett audio interfaces also share:
- World class dynamic range: 118dB A/D and 119dB D/A
- Detailed metering
- All expandable over ADAT
- Includes MIDI I/O
What's the difference between Clarett 8Pre and Clarett 8PreX?
Both interfaces combine eight mic preamps and 10 analogue outputs, besides stereo S/PDIF I/O, class-leading digital conversion and extra-low round-trip latency, but the Clarett 8Pre is a convenient 1U unit designed for the project studio that needs plenty of I/O with a 18-in, 20-out configuration.
The Clarett 8PreX is a 2U rack unit that was designed primarily for permanent studio installation, with a 26-in, 28-out I/O configuration. It also features separate rear panel inputs for mic and line, as well as dedicated phantom power, phase reverse and high pass filters on every channel.
Check the pics for a quick look at both units:
One of the biggest differences is that the Clarett 8Pre has only eight channels of ADAT I/O, and the Clarett 8PreX has 16! The ADAT ports are ideal for sending audio to an external D/A for line output expansion, or adding eight channels of digital mic pre (in the case of the Clarett 8Pre) or allowing you to connect up to 16 more mic preamps over ADAT for a 24-channel microphone setup, in the case of the Clarett 8PreX!
Other technical specs are identical. Whichever one you choose, they are great! Watch these two videos for a quick look at them in action, to help you decide which one is the right one for you:
Recording with the Clarett 8Pre:
Recording with the Clarett 8PreX:
By Ivan Silva