Focusrite Clarett 8Pre X Audio Interface 24-bit/192kHz with Thunderbolt Connectivity
The better, faster, easier 26×28 Thunderbolt interface
Better. Faster. Easier.
Excellent sound is the quality Clarett owners love most. With up to 119dB dynamic range, superbly low noise, precision 24/192 conversion and eight specially-designed mic preamps with a unique analogue “Air” effect, Clarett 8PreX is the Thunderbolt audio interface that simply sounds great, easily out-performing other interfaces in its class and beyond. Meanwhile, its astonishing 1.67ms round-trip latency* simplifies your workflow and lets you use your favourite plug-ins in real time.
Top performance – without delay
We all know there’s nothing like a supportive atmosphere to bring out the best in a performance, and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to making music – adding effects to the monitoring while they’re playing, for example, can help get a better take.
But this has often been hard to achieve. The delay resulting from inserting DAW effects in the monitor chain made it impossible. And the workarounds have often been difficult and complicated. Specialised add-on DSP cards. Or DSP in the interface. Neither comes cheap and they’re not the DAW plugins you prefer.
Thunderbolt itself has exceptionally low-latency. Combine that with careful design in the Clarett itself and you have latency so low that you can record and monitor with all your favourite DAW plugins, in real time. No need for add-in DSP or special processing: choose any of your plug-ins, from virtually any manufacturer. Take advantage of the vast range available including great-sounding freebies, to create the perfect recording path on every channel – as well as custom monitor setups for both you and your artists.
Clarett by Focusrite – the faster Thunderbolt interface by the world’s leading audio interface company.
Hispasonic: Product of the year
“Where Focusrite have laid down the 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 Focusrite Clarett 8Pre offers outstanding value for money (really), the latency claims seem to stand up to scrutiny and the sound is gorgeous, especially when used with the air option. Add to this the ease of set-up and you have a killer offering.”
“I was absolutely able to record and monitor through my DAW without noticeable delay.”
Eight Clarett Mic Preamps with Air Effect
Newly designed Focusrite mic preamps bring your recordings to life
Focusrite fitted the Clarett 8PreX with mic preamps that were designed exclusively for the Clarett range with loads of pristine gain and vanishingly low noise. In addition, these preamps include Focusrite’s proprietary Air feature that switches in an analog model of Focusrite’s acclaimed classic transformer-based ISA mic preamp, breathing life into your recordings. If you’ve always wanted vocals that shimmer with presence and silky air, then try recording with the Clarett 8PreX. You will be impressed.
- Eight newly designed Clarett mic preamps
- Copious headroom, vanishingly low noise
- Focusrite’s proprietary Air feature
Give your recordings some ‘Air’
The key to getting an analogue signal into your DAW is the microphone preamplifier – with its associated line and instrument inputs. Mic pres were among the very first modules that the original Focusrite company ever produced, thirty years ago, when master console designer Rupert Neve was commisioned by Sir George Martin to create a new series of console modules for his AIR Studios: we have plenty of experience behind us. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the Clarett mic pre, designed specially for the range, delivers very low noise indeed: an impressive –128dB EIN. That, combined with its low distortion, ultra-linear design and carefully chosen components, guarantees a clean, open and transparent sound that gives the most accurate representation of the original performance.
But there’s more to it than that. Mic preamps are very subjective things. There’s a complex interaction between the mic impedance and the input impedance of the preamp that can completely change the character of the sound you capture. Increase the input impedance and you enhance the clarity, transparency and accuracy of the sound. Reduce it, to a point, and you begin to bring out the innate character of the microphone. There is a time and a place for each. That’s why, with Clarett, we let you choose between the two, with a switchable “Air” effect emulating the sound of our classic transformer-based ISA preamps, and matching their input impedance. ‘Air’ harks back to our earlier designs, and in particular the ISA Range, acclaimed around the world for its signature sound – the sound behind thousands of hit records. The original Rupert Neve designs, and in particular their transformer-coupled mic preamps, were the inspiration for Focusrite’s acclaimed Red Range that formed the basis for today’s range of ISA ‘Heritage Sound’ products.
‘Air’ is the name our customers first coined as a simple description of the effect the ISA Preamp added to their sound recordings. There are three main elements that contribute to the classic ‘Air’ effect.
- Coupling – the interaction between the microphone and the ISA’s mic pre input transformer.
- Clarity – created by the low distortion and high linearity of the transformer and preamp design.
- Frequency – a subtle enhancement created by the transformer resonance resulting in an emphasis in the higher frequency content of the sound.
The ‘Air’ setting on a Clarett interface emulates these factors in the analogue domain. Engaging the setting on the Clarett Mic Preamp switches the impedance of the preamp to that of the original ISA and enables the ‘transformer resonance effect’, giving your microphone recordings the air and clarity of an ISA transformer-based mic pre recording. ‘Air’ is useful with any microphone, but in particular listen to the benefits with vintage microphones for which this input impedance was originally intended.
There are some extra little touches to the Clarett mic pre, too – such as a special law for the input level controls so they work smoothly and intuitively rather offering the conventional “all or nothing” approach.
Conversion as Art and Science
Focusrite has been in the converter business almost as long as the mic pre business – since the release of the Blue Range A/D and D/A converters in 1995. Like preamps, it’s an art we know inside out. Clarett’s 192kHz/24-bit converters deliver up to 118dB (A/D) / 119dB (D/A) real-world dynamic range, letting you capture every nuance and subtlety whether you’re recording or mixing.
A couple of decades ago, digital conversion was a kind of ‘dark art’, where theories were still being developed, discoveries made, and a few individuals were able to get impressive results by breaking the rules. Today, we can argue that this is no longer the case. The rules are established and well-known; the vast majority of converter chips in the same class offer the same kind of performance; and the art of conversion today is about how you use them, and whether or not you are prepared to take the trouble to get the best out of them.
Careful circuit design, choice of components, and even board layout have a part to play. Multi-layer boards provide internal ground-planes to reduce noise. Keeping analogue and digital parts of the circuit separate can reduce the likelihood of spiky digital clocking and other noise getting into sensitive analogue components. And of course component quality and selection are important considerations too.
It’s easy to play the numbers game with digital conversion, and believe a system is better because it looks good on paper, but in fact listening to it (or listening to someone who has) will tell you what you need to know: how clean the sound is, how low the noise, and how much like the original it sounds. Of course the numbers can help you evaluate an interface, as long as they’re real – and when we say that Clarett offers up to 119dB dynamic range via its D/A, we measured that in the real world, with a real interface: it’s not simply the number from the chip’s data sheet.
Record in Your Comfort Zone
Use your favorite plug-ins in real time
With the Clarett 8PreX’s exceedingly low round-trip audio latency over Thunderbolt, you can record and monitor in real time with your favorite familiar DAW plug-ins. No special processing or DSP is required. Select any plug-in and create your dream recording chain on every single channel.
Every Clarett ships with the Focusrite Classic Red 2 and Red 3 AAX, AU, and VST plug-in suite, which accurately models Focusrite’s classic Red range EQ and compression hardware.
- Record and monitor in real time with your favorite DAW plug-ins
- Create custom monitor setups for both you and your artists
- Includes Focusrite’s Classic Red 2/Red 3 plug-in suite
The heart of the studio
Specially designed for studio installation, Clarett 8PreX includes separate rear panel inputs for mic, line and instrument, as well as ADAT I/O to add 16 more channels, dedicated phantom power, phase reverse and high pass filters on every channel.
Intuitive and Easy to Use Sofware Mixer
Focusrite Control is a brand new software mixer designed for easy configuration of monitoring and routing setups. Simple and intuitive to use, Focusrite Control offers a traditional mixer workflow and allows immediate access to internal hardware functions. Every Clarett also includes the Red 2 & Red 3 AAX, AU & VST Plug-in Suite, which accurately models Focusrite’s classic Red range equalizer and compressor hardware.
Accessible metering and monitoring
Central panel provides analogue and digital input levels, and main monitor outputs, via a 6-segment, multichannel hardware meter. Monitor features include a large-diameter level control, plus dim and mute buttons, alongside dual high-power headphone outputs.
Track the Band in a Single Take
Exceptional I/O capability handles any recording scenario
The Focusrite Clarett 8PreX gives you 26 audio inputs and 28 outputs packed into a professional 2U rackmount chassis. This includes eight analog inputs, ten analog outputs, stereo SPDIF I/O, and 16 channels of ADAT I/O. The ADAT outputs are perfect for sending audio to an external D/A for line output expansion, while the inputs can be used to bring in 16 additional digital mic preamp channels — such as a pair of Focusrite OctoPre MkIIs — for maximum flexibility. In addition, you get two dedicated front-panel hi-Z instrument inputs with generous headroom to handle your guitars and basses with hot passive or active pickups.
- Eight analog inputs, 10 analog outputs
- Stereo SPDIF, 16 channels of ADAT I/O
- Two front-panel Hi-Z instrument inputs
Accessible Metering and Monitoring
The monitor section provides a clear view of input and main monitor output levels, via a 6-segment, multichannel hardware meter. Monitor features include an assignable level control, plus back-lit dim and mute buttons, alongside dual high-power headphone outputs.
Exceptional I/O capability
Clarett 8PreX gives you all the I/O you need, fitting 26 audio inputs and 28 outputs into a 2U rack space, including 8 analogue inputs, 10 analogue outputs, stereo S/PDIF I/O and 16 channels of ADAT I/O. Connect up to 16 more mic preamps over ADAT for a 24-channel microphone setup. It’s the Thunderbolt audio interface for the user who demands the best sound quality over a high channel count.
The world is full of innovative software companies creating a wealth of powerful plug-ins. With such variety, you’ll want to find exactly the right plug-ins for you, and use them in real time, thanks to Clarett’s ultra-low latency environment. To help you on this mission, we’ve formed the ‘Plug-in Collective’, working with the very best to bring you exclusive plug-in offers and content every month.
Supported Operating Systems
- OSX 10.9 Mavericks or 10.10 Yosemite
- Windows Compatible 64-bit 8.1 or 10 windows
The popular Clarett range of Thunderbolt™ interfaces are now compatible with PCs with the release of the Clarett Windows driver. The driver enables users to run these interfaces with the growing number of Thunderbolt-equipped Windows computers, delivering identical functionality to that experienced on the Mac. Windows users can enjoy sub 3 milliseconds round trip latency, and the same reliable, stable operation as Mac-based Clarett owners already experience. The low latency allows users to record and monitor while using their favourite plug-ins in real time, as well as other DAW workflow benefits.
The first release of the driver will support the Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 protocols for all Clarett interfaces. The driver is compatible with the latest 64-bit updates of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. Further details of the driver specification and compatibility can be found. Future iterations will add support for Thunderbolt 3 Type C connectivity and the range of Red interfaces.
The driver also supports Focusrite Control, Focusrite’s included software mixer designed for easy configuration of monitoring and routing setups, which is now available in a Windows version, again with identical functionality to the Mac version, including support for Focusrite Control iOS.
Focusrite’s Clarett audio interfaces are widely praised for their sound quality, performance and value for money. They feature specially-designed high-performance, low noise, low distortion mic preamps, which include the unique analogue “Air” effect, emulating the sound of Focusrite’s heritage transformer-based mic preamps. The interfaces include precision 24-bit/192 kHz conversion and offer super-low latency.
Thunderbolt differs a little from interfaces like USB and FireWire. It brings the PCI Express interface – used for super-fast graphics cards and other slots inside the computer – out to external devices. It’s not so much an interface as a bus that gives you direct access to the machine’s inner workings. And as a result, it’s ideal for audio, with exceptionally high speed and correspondingly low latency – making possible the astonishingly low round-trip latency figures that Clarett offers – and unparalleled flexibility. The Clarett range demonstrates many of the significant benefits that Thunderbolt provides.
ROUNDTRIP LATENCY PERFORMANCE
Round Trip Latency (ms) tested at 96 kHz on Windows 10 and a Molten Music Technology X99 machine
|Buffer Size||Cubase Pro 8||Ableton Live 9||Pro Tools 12||Reaper 5|
Round Trip Latency (ms) tested at 48 kHz on Windows 10 and a Molten Music Technology X99 machine
|Buffer Size||Cubase Pro 8||Ableton Live 9||Pro Tools 12||Reaper 5|
Supported Sample Rates
44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz
|Frequency Response||20 Hz – 20 kHz +/-0.1 dB|
|Dynamic Range||118 dB (A-weighted)|
|Noise EIN||–128 dBu (A-Weighted)|
|Maximum input level||+18 dBu|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz – 20 kHz +/-0.1 dB|
|Dynamic Range||116 dB (A-weighted)|
|Maximum input level||+26dBu|
|Frequency Response||20 Hz – 20 kHz ± 0.1 dB|
|Dynamic Range||111 dB (A-weighted)|
|Maximum input level||+14dBu|
Line & Monitor Outputs
|Dynamic Range (Line Outputs)||119dB|
|Dynamic Range (Monitor Outputs)||117dB|
|Maximum Output Level (0 dBFS)||+18 dBu|
|Maximum Output Level||+16dBu|
Comparing the Claretts
Focusrite’s Clarett line includes two multi-channel rackmount models, the Clarett 8Pre and the Clarett 8PreX. If you’re configuring a mobile recording setup, you will appreciate the svelte 1U Claret 8Pre and its blend of performance and portability. If, however, you’re seeking a preamp/interface for permanent studio installation, the 2U Clarett 8PreX offers an expanded range of professional features you’ll find extremely valuable.
|Clarett 8Pre||Clarett 8PreX|
|Focusrite mic preamps||8||8|
|Instrument inputs (Hi-Z)||2||2|
|48V phantom power||2 Banks||Per-channel|
|ADAT inputs||8 Ch||16 Ch|
|ADAT outputs||8 Ch||16 Ch|
|Switchable input metering||No||Yes|
|Wordclock input||No||Yes|₨ 215,000 .00
- USD: 224,250.00$