SOS Review of Focusrite Clarett 8 mic preamp/I-O ( Mac Only)
For those who may be interested, here's a link to a recent SOS review of Focusrite's Clarett-8/Clarett 8X mic preamp/I-O (Thunderbolt):
Both models are currently Mac only, but according to Focusrite, support for Windows should be available within the year.
Clarett 8: 8-channel Microphone Preamplifier/Audio Interface, 24-bit/192kHz, with Thunderbolt Connectivity, and Included Plugins - Mac: $999 (U.S.)
Clarett 8X: 8-channel Microphone Preamplifier/Audio Interface, 24-bit/192kHz, with Thunderbolt/ADAT Connectivity, and Included Plugins - Mac: $1299 ( U.S.)
A quick note: Neither of the Clarett models include the required Thunderbolt Cable. While incredibly stupid, apparently this isn't uncommon, as other popular TB model manufacturers, such as Universal Audio and Apogee, don't include a TB cable with their models, either; although Zoom does include the cable with their TB devices... go figure.
OTOH, according to SOS:
"On the plus side, all of the Clarett interfaces ship with Focusrite’s Red 2 & 3 plug–in suite, which is actually great. If Waves or UA stuck their name on these EQ and dynamics plug–ins, people would happily pay hundreds of dollars for them, so Clarett owners will rejoice in getting some seriously high–quality processors included."
Some pertinent excerpts from the review:
"In terms of I/O and features, the Clarett 8Pre adheres pretty closely to the template established some six years ago by Focusrite’s Firewire–based Saffire Pro 40, and recapitulated on the USB–based Scarlett 18i20. Its eight analog inputs can all accommodate mic– or line–level signals on their combi jack/XLR sockets; the first two, located on the front panel, can also act as high–impedance inputs for the direct connection of electric guitars and other instruments. The rear panel, meanwhile, hosts five pairs of line–level outputs on quarter–inch jacks, to go with the two independent headphone outputs on the front."
"The flagship of the Clarett range is the 8PreX. Designed, say Focusrite, “with the permanent racked studio install in mind”, it has no counterpart in the Scarlett range but shares many features with the earlier Liquid Saffire 56; the main functional difference is that the Liquid Channel preamp modelling technology used on the earlier Firewire interface has been dropped in favour of the new Air circuit."
"Focusrite have also designed a new mic preamp circuit for the Clarett range, the most notable feature of which is the Air option. This is “modelled on” the Air mode in Focusrite’s ISA430 MkII input channel, and although it’s switched in software, actually changes the behaviour of the circuit in the analog domain. A representative of the company told me: “Air mode is an impedance change in the mic preamp from 6.2 to 2.1 kΩ in combination with a frequency response change through the use of an analog filter which provides a 4dB boost starting from around 100Hz, reaching +4dB around 10kHz, all of which happens before the A–D conversion.”
"In terms of I/O and hardware functionality, then, the new Clarett interfaces mostly stick to a tried-and-tested template, and they are none the worse for that. Where Focusrite have laid down a challenge to other manufacturers, though, is in the sound quality of these devices, which offer audio specifications previously unheard–of in this price bracket. The earlier Saffire and Scarlett interfaces were no slouches in this respect, offering a dynamic range of 109dB for the analog inputs and 108dB for the outputs, but the Claretts leave these figures in the dust. Dynamic range is quoted as 118dB for the microphone inputs, 116dB for the line inputs, and 119dB for the line outputs, while figures for THD+Noise and EIN are equally impressive. These figures comfortably better most mid–priced USB and Firewire interfaces, and approach fairly closely the performance of high–end interfaces costing two to three times as much from the likes of Universal Audio and Apogee."