Focusrite is a brand that has proved its worth in professional studios time and again. With the Clarett 2Pre, Focusrite deliver their pro studio-grade tech to the home user in one of the most capable audio interfaces under $500. It’s not a cheap device, so is it worth the investment?
If you are familiar with Focusrite’s interfaces, the Clarett 2Pre shouldn’t be much of a surprise, and they have definitely nailed the aesthetics. While a vibrant red color scheme is still the order of the day, unlike their legendary Scarlett lineup it’s the face that is red, with a brushed black chassis. It looks refined and, with a study all-aluminum construction, the Clarett 2Pre is built like a tank. This audio interface may look stylish, but it is no wimp. Note that, at 8.27” wide and with a depth of 6.34”, the Clarett 2Pre is still suitable for desktop use.
What hides underneath this new shell? Perhaps most notably, we see the inclusion of the all-new Clarett preamps featuring Focusrite’s Air circuit. This is an emulation feature that optimizes the performance of the built-in preamps so that they sound like Focusrite’s legendary ISA transformer-based preamps.
Compared to others in this segment, the selection of inputs on the front is limited to just two combo XLR/TRS ports. However, around back the ADAT optical input allows you to expand the number of available channels to 10 in total. Outputs include four 1/4” TRS line outs with anti-thump technology along with the MIDI I/O cluster. Finally, this unit comes complete with a solid software package, including Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle.
For a sub-$500 unit from Focusrite, we were expecting great things – and we weren’t disappointed. The lack of analog inputs in this range seemed to be the only slight negative as the overall performance was excellent. The preamps with the Air circuit offer incredible headroom with huge gain, but little accompanying distortion or excess noise. It delivers clean vocals and its ability to handle even the hottest pickups is second-to-none.
It also allows you to record high-definition audio with almost zero round-trip latency. The clarity, transparency and overall quality of sound they produce is worthy of professional studio environments. It’s also worth mentioning that Clarett 2Pre is Windows and Mac OS compatible.
What Focusrite has created with the Clarett 2Pre is a next-level interface that brings tangible improvements to home users as well as studio professionals. It’s not cheap and doesn’t offer as many inputs as others in this range, but the overall performance is hard to beat.