Reviewed: Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB audio interface

Innovative Music | innovativemusic.com.au | Expect To Pay: $1399

It’s been a while since I had my hands on a Focusrite Clarett audio interface, with the previous Thunderbolt model landing on my desk several years back. There were some restrictions with this in that it wasn’t exactly PC friendly, and it certainly wasn’t a friend to your hip pocket either. But a lot has changed in the last couple of years, and now with the release of the Clarett 8Pre USB audio interface there have been a number of improvements. A smaller size, a smaller price tag, greater AD/DA conversion and a wider compatibility makes this an audio interface that many of you may well now stop and consider. If you’re looking for eight high quality microphone preamps in one single rack space with conversion worthy of backing them up, then the Clarett 8Pre USB might just be for you.

Focusrite haven’t left anyone out of the game with this new interface, supplying both Standard USB and USB-C cables for connection to either a Mac or PC. You do need USB 2.0 support on your machine, but that’s pretty much a given these days. Unfortunately, the old dinosaur running Windows XP might be in need of an upgrade, but any modern machine will be ready to go with this piece of kit for the front end. With its unashamedly red front panel, you are pretty much made aware of who has built this unit. From their old Red series of years gone past to the newer Scarlett and Clarett ranges, nothing cries out Focusrite in the rack like an anodized red facia. It’s on that front panel that you get the simplest and sleekest of styling, with just the connections and controls you require. Two combination XLR/TRS inputs are there, along with two headphone outputs. Eight gain control pots, which feel really nice on subtle adjustment, a Monitor volume and two headphone volumes are also found along with ten channel LED metering so you know what is going on in and out of your system. It’s pretty sparse, but it certainly does the job. On the rear, you get the other six inputs, along with ten analogue outputs, Word Clock, MIDI on good old-fashioned DIN connectors, ADAT on optical connections and SP/ DIF on coaxial. So, you are all covered for connectivity with other hardware and getting your signals in and out of either a PC or a Mac.

 

Of course, this is not just any eight input audio interface, as Focusrite have laid it all down with the Clarett on this one. The mic preamps offer a stunning clarity, with an input impedance and frequency response based on the original ISA mic preamps. This is backed with 24-bit/192kHz analogue to digital conversion, so you can hear what is on offer. This interface is going to deliver results unlike anything else in the price point, stacking itself next to units that cost a lot more. The quality of audio capture is just pristine. For those of you looking to step up from your existing Focusrite Scarlett interface, you’ll hear where the extra money has gone. The results are instantly noticeable and are certainly a standout for this unit. This is not about finding the cheapest way to get eight microphones into your computer, it’s about audio quality, and you will understand this when you hear the results for yourself.

Hits and Misses

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Air’ effect in the preamp is stunning

Easy setup and use with additional mobile app control

Plenty of I/O with perfect latency on a USB connection

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It should have come out sooner

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