It’s fair to say that Focusrite is the figurehead of affordable audio interfaces, with their models performing consistently well, whether in the budget range or the high-end audio interface market. It’s the latter we are looking at today, as their Clarett 8Pre comes into the review spotlight!
In the world of audio interfaces, red and black are the undisputed colors belonging to Focusrite. This design pattern began with their Scarlett Series and is just as prominent a feature in their elite Clarett collection.
The rack-mounted Clarett 8Pre sports this red and black theme proudly, with a rugged aluminum chassis that has a standard 19” width. There are no surprises with the setup either, with the front panel housing the controls and some of the inputs, with the rest around back. It’s a well-built unit and feels reliable – again, no surprises when you consider the manufacturer.
Features-wise, you are getting a very solid combination of connectivity, hardware and metering from this unit. In terms of connectivity, the Clarett 8Pre uses a Thunderbolt connection, which delivers useful speed when it comes to complex direct monitoring and latency. The preamps found in this model are the same as you may have seen in other Clarett units, but a little beefier and with Focusrite’s proprietary Air effect.
When it comes to inputs and outputs, the front panel houses two XLR/TRS combo inputs, as expected. The remaining inputs (comprising another six mic/line inputs) are around the back, along with a generous cluster of outputs. The Clarett 8Pre also comes with ADAT ports, meaning you have access to a large number of digital pathways. The cool thing about the Clarett 8Pre is the fact that – thanks to the free Focusrite iOS Control app – you can remotely control it with your iPhone or iPad. The software suite that ships with this unit is also excellent, including Ableton Live Lite and a plethora of tones, effects and plugins.
The aspect that truly defines the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre is its performance. With the Thunderbolt connection, not only is the latency reduced to the bare minimum, but you also get to access layered direct monitoring, with a bit depth of 24-bit and a 192kHz sample rate. Everything this unit does feels smooth and efficient, which sounds fundamental but quite hard to achieve consistently – even in this higher-end price range.
Navigating the controls may take a little time to master, but it is fairly easy once you figure it out. All of this combined with the clear, transparent tone is exactly why the Clarett 8Pre is so highly rated in this category.
Focusrite’s Clarett 8Pre is by far one of the most versatile solutions we have ever seen from this brand. It’s versatile, reliable and packed with features. Its performance is suitable for bigger studio applications, especially if you need additional clarity and definition. Overall, a great interface – particularly if you love the color red!