You are here

Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby jamiehagi » Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:59 am


I got a vinyl deck off a friend recently and I'm trying to get it up and running. I don't own a pre-amp and before I go out and buy one, I was wondering if it is possible to use my Focusrite Saffire as a pre-amp, routed in to my Cambridge Audio amplifier.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:53 am

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby James Perrett » Sun Jan 05, 2020 1:30 am

It would be helpful if you could tell us exactly which model of Saffire you have.

The main problem will be that the cartridge on the record deck expects to see an input impedance of 47k ohms on the preamp and any other impedance will change the frequency response of the cartridge. If you have 2 high impedance instrument inputs on the Saffire you could use those with a 47k ohm resistor connected across the input of each to give the correct loading.

You will also need some way of applying the RIAA equalisation that is used on vinyl records so you would need to have the Saffire connected to a computer running some kind of equalisation plug-in. I know that Waves had an RIAA preset for their old Q10 plug-in but you could probably create something similar in most eq plug-ins.

It would probably be much simpler to buy a cheap preamp to do the job which can be found from about £20 upwards.
User avatar
James Perrett
Posts: 8756
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:10 am

Back in the day your Cambridge HiFi amp would have had a suitable preamp input with RIAA eq built in but modern (i.e. less than, say, 20 years old) ones may not have.
User avatar
Sam Spoons
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11113
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Manchester UK
Finally taking this recording lark seriously (and recording my Gypsy Jazz CD)........

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby Wonks » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:51 am

If it's a very modern deck, then it may already have a phono pre-amp with RIAA equalisation built-in, so you can run it directly into the Cambridge amplifier.

What make and model of record deck is it?
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10543
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby ef37a » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:54 pm

As well as the very different load resistance the design requirements for a phono amplifier are very different from a balanced input mic amp*.

What sort of quality is the record deck and can you see the make and model# of the pickup cartridge? If a cheap deck with a fairly low grade cartridge the latter will likely have a highish output and therefore a cheap, £20 preamp will serve. The output of catridges seems invariably inversly proportional to quality and tracking ability at low stylus forces, you want to be under 2grms if you value your discs.

If the Cammy A does not have mag cart inputs check out charity and pawn shops. £20-30 could get you a far better pre amp in a modest integrated amp or reciever.

*Seems to me something that could be plugged into a phantom powered mic input? Anything known?

Jedi Poster
Posts: 11156
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby blinddrew » Sun Jan 05, 2020 8:54 pm

Depending on the model of the amp it may take an additional pre-amp. Some of the older ones had a space on the board where you snipped a couple of wires and then dropped in the CA phono unit. Literally a 5 minute job.
User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9037
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am
Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Using a Focus Saffire as a preamp

Postby jamiehagi » Mon Jan 06, 2020 7:00 pm

Cheers for all your replies. The deck is a Numark TT1625 and the amp is a CA A1. I tried running the deck through the phono channel and I can hear the record really quietly, which is why I figured I needed a preamp. I was just wondering on the off chance if there was a way I could use the Focusrite Saffire as a pre-amp instead of going out and buying one but it's all good! Happy to pick one up on Ebay.

Thanks again for your help.
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2020 12:53 am