- Band Management
- Home Recording
- Live Sound
- Best Instruments
- New Music & Video
We’ve reviewed Focusrite interfaces in the past and have always been exceptionally pleased with their robust build quality, excellent analog and digital convertors as well as included software bundles.
So, when we heard that a newly revised lineup of Clarett interfaces were on the way, we were intrigued. Truth be told, the new lineup is partially a response to the recent fires that devastated the AKM factory. This has impacted audio interface manufacturers badly, and if you’re an audiophile like me, you know it’s hit the DAC market hard, as well. AKM chipsets were a pretty crucial component to the Clarett range, so a new supplier (Cirrus) has been brought in to provide the digital-to-analog and (maybe more important) the analog-to-digital convertors in the new “+” lineup.
How do they sound? In a word, fantastic. The new “+” range, of which we have the 2Pre model, basically improves upon every aspect of the previous versions. Total harmonic distortion figures have been lowered with the new design, and the dynamic range has been leveled-up across the board. You’ll get absolutely crystal clear, bit-perfect audio reproduction, without latency, at up to 24/192 quality using the on-board inputs.▼ Article continues below ▼
Setting up the Clarett+ is as simple as it gets, and we commend Focusrite again for their intuitive Control software to get your routing in place in no time.
From there, the mic pre’s are good to go into your DAW, and like always, we pretty much engage the trademarked “Air” functionality on all tracks for added presence. While we didn’t have an old session using the previous Clarett handy, we did do some new demo recordings with the 2Pre and were pleased yet again with just how good you can have it for under $500.
Acoustic instruments, scratch vocals, synths and bass all recorded perfectly, and sat just right in the mix off the bat without additional fiddling. That’s what you want, an interface so transparent that you can almost put the mix together without having to put the mix together, if you know what I mean. And other units in this price range have a hard time doing that.
While the mic preamps are usually the stars of the show, we have to give special shout outs to the instrument-level inputs here, as well. Typically, ‘hi-Z’ inputs on consumer-level products can be a bit thin and wimpy. What’s great is that on the new “+” lineup, going direct is not an afterthought. So, plug in your guitar and enjoy a full-bodied sound that sounds pretty authentic, like you mic’d up an amp with your trusty SM-57.
There’s not much left to say, unless you want us to continue gushing for a few more pages. The front panel has your standard phantom power buttons for condenser mics, “Air” engagement LED’s, combo jacks for your analog inputs, and headphone amp output with monitor mix control.
Around the back are your line-outs for studio monitors and outboard doo-dads, plus an additional optical input so you can pipe in 8 more channels over Toslink. For under $500, you’re getting an awful lot here 9we haven’t even touched upon the software side of things) – and let’s continue saying it, MIDI I/O should not be optional on audio interfaces with more than one input!
Kudos to Focusrite for FULL-SIZE MIDI DIN INPUTS! You hear that, *other-guys*? FULL-SIZE, please. No dongle nonsense on our gear anymore! Cap it all off with a USB-C connector for both data transmission and power (assuming your device can power it – you may still need the included AC adapter, so check your device specs) and you’ve got another red-faced winner here. Excellent job at improving an already great lineup, Focusrite.
excellent sound, small footprint, expandable inputs over Toslink, great Control software