You are here

Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

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

Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby brucie » Fri Dec 06, 2019 12:21 pm

Hi there everyone,

Bit of a dilemma here, I have currently out grown my Focusrite Clarett, an interface that has served me very well and which I love the sound of. The only problem being is the limited outputs (plus no adat output option), I have come to a time with my work flow where I need to have a lot more outs in the studio. So I need to upgrade (or is it downgrade?) to something else.

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 look perfect for my needs but I was wondering if this would be a downgrade from the Clarett? Has anyone had any experience with this. I do use the 'air' mode on the Clarett a lot which I know is an actual hardware change rather than in software in the new Scarlett.

If I was to 'downgrade' I would consider paring the Scarlett with an Audient ASP800 as I really like the sound of that.

Then part of me thinks that I should look else where, say RME or Motu (I have had Motu in th past). I am not really considering the Apollo (convince me otherwise), not on cost, but I am happy with my plug-ins and don't feel I need to enter the UAD eco system.

Mac user running Logic and ProTools mainly. Mostly recording upto 4 mics (occasionally more but this isn't a main consideration as I can always add with ADAT.)

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

All the best, Neil
brucie
Regular
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
Neil S. Bruce - http://www.spencerbruce.com

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby CS70 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:16 pm

Very hard to given any meaningful input as it all depends on what are your expectations and what exactly you value.

As of features, as you say, it depends on what you need or have.

The preamps on the Scarlett are fine - I've used one and didn't find anything objectionable.
Since Clarett is "next gen" I would expect the A/D conversion to be slightly better (without knowing for sure as I've not tried a Clarett yet).

A third aspect is perhaps how much you use the equipment - the Scarletts are more consumer oriented so practical stuff like pots, controls, etc may be less durable. But on the other side since the inception of computer controlled manufacturing, consumer stuff can have astonishing levels of quality, and the fellows at Focusrite are good. I still have, use and love their old Forte interface in perfect happiness. Not to mention the ISA..

In other words, I wouldn't particularly mind (or notice, I guess) using either.

If I were you I would reframe the question in terms of what specifically you find very good in the Clarett - and then try a Scarlett from a shop and find if you're missing it.

But keep in mind that I generally find to be gear to be far less important than how you use it (from guitars to audio equipment), within reasonable limits of course (and both interfaces fall well within for me). I have the same attitude with guitars and audio equipment, so YMMV.
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4959
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby brucie » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:58 pm

Hi there,

Thanks for that. All great points. I should have been more specific.

What I value (or am looking for)
- Reliability
- Latency
- Outputs (the big requirement now)
- Quality of the conversion
- Quality of the preamps (although I am happy to farm this out, I have a few external 'nice' or 'colour' preamps.

So what I basically need now is more outputs but same (or better) level service that the Clarett has given me. Been a fan of Focusrite since I started selling their Red (and Green) gear back in the 1990s. I just wonder if upgrading to a Clarett 8pre might be a step back as well given it is now quite old.

Usage wise it is (and will be) used daily, but it won't be hammered in terms of things being plugged in and out.

Nice to have (sorry I had to add :) )
- Rack mountable (big issue of mine with the Clarett 4 pre with it's custom size)
- On and Off switch (i know a strange one!)

Totally agree with you in terms of usage, I am just having that strange buyers panic (which only seems to have developed since the internet!) of wanting to do the right thing. Since moving to the sticks, getting gear to try is a bit harder unfortunately.

My brain is telling me a Scarlett paired with Audient ASP800 will be a great solution. But something is saying perhaps to look at something like the RME.

Cheers for you help! All the best, Neil
brucie
Regular
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
Neil S. Bruce - http://www.spencerbruce.com

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby ef37a » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:24 pm

From years of reading about them in SOS, if you can afford to go for RME do it.

When I hit 65 I seriously considered a small UC something when I got my pension lump but sanity prevailed and we got double glazing! Just as well really since the musician in the family buggered off to France and I would have been left with £1k worth of kit I had no need of.

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11286
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby John Willett » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:35 pm

ef37a wrote:From years of reading about them in SOS, if you can afford to go for RME do it.

Agreed :thumbup:

ef37a wrote:When I hit 65 I seriously considered a small UC something when I got my pension lump but sanity prevailed and we got double glazing! Just as well really since the musician in the family buggered off to France and I would have been left with £1k worth of kit I had no need of.

Dave.

Ahh - but maybe the musician buggered off to France *because* you did not buy the gear.

Or was that your plan. ;)
User avatar
John Willett
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6824
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2000 1:00 am
Location: Oxfordshire UK
John
Sound-Link ProAudio
Circle Sound Services
Sound-Link are UK Distributors for: Microtech Gefell, ME-Geithain, AETA, HUM, Håkan, Meyer Turtle

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby CS70 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:34 pm

brucie wrote:My brain is telling me a Scarlett paired with Audient ASP800 will be a great solution. But something is saying perhaps to look at something like the RME.

RME's advantages are not sonic, but in longevity. If you see yourself using the same piece of kit for the next, say, 20 years, go buy RME , because judging on history any Focusrite (or most others) will be long out of support by then.

I cannot know for sure, and it could be that it's been changing, but I have a feeling that Focusrite main know how is on the analog circuitry part, and the digital part is put together competently but without the extra edge of in-house DSP design, development and testing - which in turn allows them to provide great quality at very great prices.

It's not a criticism: for a company that came from large desks, it's remarkable they've been so incredibly successful at digital devices. No other company with the same heritage (that is API, Neve, SSL etc of the ones still surviving) comes to mind with a comparable success.

RME on the contrary is founded by a couple of guys who see no problem in knowing deeply everything - the electronics, the DSP, even the marketing. Sometimes they could have been better outsourcing in some fringe things (their new website is better looking but the old one was awful :) but they go so far to base their designs on FPGA to enable tweaking and adapting them after manufacturing and take ownership of the relative device driver code.

Again without direct knowledge, I have the feeling that "we own all the chain" attitude seems deeply embedded in the company from the top, and that is what allows them to support, maintain and develop their products for decades rather than a few years.

It seems that that's what you pay for with RME: longevity. Plus of course hardware solutions which allow for very strong feature sets and advanced software control (as with TotalMix) without increasing the cost too much. As of sonics, while they may have their own flavor if carefully A/Bed, I would say they're absolutely comparable in terms of quality - there's no "better". Besides, on most interfaces preamps are rather clinical and transparent by design. The Scarlett + ASP800 sounds like an excellent combo, and so does an equivalent RME interface. I'm actually thinking of expanding my own RME with an ASP..

Hope it helps!
User avatar
CS70
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4959
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:00 am
Location: Oslo, Norway
Silver Spoon - Check out our latest video and the FB page

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby ef37a » Fri Dec 06, 2019 5:24 pm

John Willett wrote:
ef37a wrote:From years of reading about them in SOS, if you can afford to go for RME do it.

Agreed :thumbup:

ef37a wrote:When I hit 65 I seriously considered a small UC something when I got my pension lump but sanity prevailed and we got double glazing! Just as well really since the musician in the family buggered off to France and I would have been left with £1k worth of kit I had no need of.

Dave.

Ahh - but maybe the musician buggered off to France *because* you did not buy the gear.

Or was that your plan. ;)

No John, son was never a 'gearhead' his knowledge of music and music theory is great but he is pretty technically dumb. I wanted an RME for me! I just would have liked one to play with and of course, it would have been an excellent recording platform. We had however by then an Allen&Heath ZED 10 feeding a 2496 card and he was making very decent recordings with that. He really did not need much more. Dad did but in the end I could not justify the expense for a 'Boy's Toy'!

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11286
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby James Perrett » Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:36 am

An RME Digiface USB with a Clarett Octopre might be a good solution as that will give you 8 input and outputs with future expansion potential. The Audient ASP preamps are great but they are input only devices.
User avatar
James Perrett
Moderator
Posts: 8890
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:00 am
Location: The wilds of Hampshire
JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration. JRP Music Facebook Page

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby fatbenelton » Sat Dec 07, 2019 12:54 am

Why not just get a Clarett 8 Pre X? 10 out (incl monitor) on jack and 16 in and out on ADAT. The inputs are versatile too having both XLR and jack which you can connect up and select in software (default is XLR I think).

Prices seem all over the show on the net but there is one for £739 on the Focusrite refurb store. I bought an octopre dynamic as refurb and it looked brand new! (If you have a student in the family they get 25% off everything including the refurbs).
User avatar
fatbenelton
Frequent Poster
Posts: 556
Joined: Thu Aug 22, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Liverpool, UK

Jonny


Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby Watchmaker » Sat Dec 07, 2019 1:42 am

I added an Audient ASP 880 to my Clarett 8Prex via light pipe. The Audient is a great complement to the Focusrite - plenty of flexibility and pleasing results are easy to get.

you say your current interface doesn't have ADAT output? which one is it?
User avatar
Watchmaker
Frequent Poster
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:00 am
Location: Upstate NY, USA
Take my advice, I'm not using it.

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby yelemusic » Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:12 pm

RME are excellent products, but what they are most famous for are their ultra solid low latency drivers, something that can’t be said about some other manufacturers.
So that’s definitely a reason to consider RME.
As for the Audient, beware that the ASP800 has only inputs, no outputs, it’s only AD conversion, no DA. It’s perfect for adding 8 more mic pres, but since the TO said he needs more outputs, the Audient won’t work.
I’ve been looking for a ADAT Interface with 8 I/Os because I needed more connectivity for my outboard. The Audient won’t work here, as it’s missing the 8 outputs to send signals out to the rack. Which is a shame, as this unit is a thing of beauty otherwise. I just wish they’d release a 8 channel I/O unit!
One possible interface I found for my purpose would be the Presonus DigiMax DP88, which has 8 I/Os with the added benefit that the Preamps can all be bypassed for a clean line signal. People don’t talk much about it, but it seems a killer unit! Maybe worth looking at.
yelemusic
Poster
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:00 am

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Dec 08, 2019 3:55 pm

yelemusic wrote:As for the Audient, beware that the ASP800 has only inputs, no outputs, it’s only AD conversion, no DA. It’s perfect for adding 8 more mic pres, but since the TO said he needs more outputs, the Audient won’t work.
I’ve been looking for a ADAT Interface with 8 I/Os because I needed more connectivity for my outboard. The Audient won’t work here, as it’s missing the 8 outputs to send signals out to the rack. Which is a shame, as this unit is a thing of beauty otherwise. I just wish they’d release a 8 channel I/O unit!

One small clarification here - while neither the Audient ASP800 and 880 include D/A converters, both provide DB25 25-pin Tascam format multi-pin connectors for the eight balanced analogue outputs on their rear panels.


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15152
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby brucie » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:24 am

HI there

Thanks everyone for your time and considered replies! A lot more for me to take a way and consider. Just to confirm that I know that the ASP 800 doesn't have D/A conversion, it would be for additional flavour preamps to accompany whatever interface I end up going with.

Also thanks for mentioning the Clarett 8Pre or 8Pre X, I have considered both of those as those are the logical solution, but I just feel that they are a bit old now, FR has already dropped the 4Pre and I am a bit concerned about the TB support so wanted something new (or at least future proofed).

After reading all the comments it seems that a more serious look at RME is the way to go. I like the idea now of perhaps an expandable system based on the UC box (with either the ASP800 and/or the Clarett Octopre).

Thanks again for your time, things to seriously consider now and hope that I have been good enough for Santa to drop by!

Cheers

Neil
brucie
Regular
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
Neil S. Bruce - http://www.spencerbruce.com

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Dec 09, 2019 1:32 pm

brucie wrote:After reading all the comments it seems that a more serious look at RME is the way to go. I like the idea now of perhaps an expandable system based on the UC box.

Hi Neil,

Ironically that's exactly what I decided to do after a lot of internal debate - placed my order for the RME Fireface UC yesterday, and it arrives tomorrow! :thumbup:


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15152
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Focusrite Clarett downgrade?

Postby brucie » Wed Dec 11, 2019 11:52 am

Great stuff! Look forward to hearing how it all goes!
brucie
Regular
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Manchester, UK
Neil S. Bruce - http://www.spencerbruce.com

Next