Recording - June 2016 - 24

...where we bring you follow-up articles
with application hints and upgrade news
about gear already reviewed in Recording

&
Focusrite Clarett 2Pre
The power of Clarett made portable
by Giles Reaves

The Clarett 2Pre is the smallest interface in the new Clarett line of
Thunderbolt audio interfaces from Focusrite. Readers may remember Paul
Vnuk's review of the Clarett 8Pre in our November 2015 issue; having
read that review with interest, and as a user of the popular USB-based
Scarlett 2i2 (reviewed September 2012), I was keen to get my hands on
the newest version. Here's what I found.
Front and rear
While it's actually a 10-in/4-out box, the Clarett 2Pre is so named for
its two Focusrite mic preamps, accessible from the front panel on XLR/TRS
combination jacks. Each input has a gain control with Focusrite's LED
"gain halo" to show signal present or overload, a 48V phantom power
button, and indicators that show when the high-impedance Instrument
input is selected and when Air is turned on (see below for what Air is).
The front panel has a large monitor volume knob, indicators for power,
Thunderbolt link, and sync lock, and a 1/4" headphone jack with its own
volume control. The rear panel has four balanced 1/4" TRS line outputs,
MIDI I/O, Thunderbolt port, Toslink optical digital input to add up to 8
more input channels to the interface, and a power switch and jack for the
included power supply. You'll have to supply your own Thunderbolt cable.
Getting started
For this review I used the Clarett 2Pre on a 2015-model quad-i7 iMac,
running both Apple Logic Pro X and Propellerhead Reason 8 music software. (Windows support is forthcoming as of press time.) As is the case
with pretty much all Thunderbolt audio interfaces, the Clarett 2Pre requires
its own drivers. These are downloaded from the Focusrite website, along
with the Focusrite Control software.
The essential, yet easy-to-use Focusrite Control app provides total control over the Clarett 2Pre, though it would have been nice to have the
same control at the hardware level (call me "old school" if you must).
There are a few functions that can only be controlled in software, including direct monitoring/level, monitor mute and dim, microphone/instrument selection, and the Air feature, which emulates the impedance and
transformer behavior of the famous Focusrite ISA mic preamps, opening
up the high end in a very natural way.
Using this software to control the interface isn't going to slow you
down at all... unless you've never used an interface with its own control
software before. I figured I'd mention that, since a lot of readers will be
24

RECORDING JUNE 2016

seriously considering the Clarett 2Pre as a step up in quality
from class-compliant ("plug and play") USB interfaces-and I
include myself in that group! My professional studio has a
large Pro Tools HD rig, but my home desktop and traveling
laptop rigs have only used class-compliant USB interfaces (like
the Scarlett 2i2) until now.
Once I got used to using the Focusrite Control software with
the Clarett 2Pre, things started to fall into place. The level of
control the software allows is much appreciated; it didn't take
me long to adjust to the new paradigm. One of the advantages to this approach that quickly became obvious was the
ease of monitoring latency-free, as well as how easy it was to
control monitor levels via the provided software.
Speaking of software, the Clarett 2Pre comes bundled with a
nice selection of plug-ins: the Focusrite Red2 EQ and Red3
compressors, and the Time and Tone bundle from Softube-the
Tube Delay, Saturation Knob, and TSAR-1R reverb.
In use
In practice, the lowest buffer setting (an astonishingly low 32
samples) sometimes caused crackling on my iMac. Boosting it
to 64 samples solved these issues, and still delivered an impressive round trip latency (around four milliseconds at 96 kHz).
Typically with this interface I'd opt to monitor directly anyway,
which helps avoid these issues altogether, but this delay is low
enough so that monitoring with plug-ins through your DAW is
quite feasible as well.
The Clarett 2Pre's preamps were developed specifically for
the Clarett line, Air and all. I wholeheartedly agree with Paul's
earlier findings on the Clarett 8Pre's preamps-these pres are
clean, clear, and a definite step up from those on the Scarlett
2i2, which I've used and liked for about a year now. As a
longtime fan of Focusrite preamps, I was pleased with the Air
feature, as it is intended to recreate the sound of these legacy
preamps and lends a nice character to many mics.
Right away I noticed that the headphone output on the
Clarett 2Pre was capable of a significantly higher output level
than the Scarlett 2i2 at the same settings. It sounds cleaner as
well, and the extra gain is much appreciated.
Put it all together-amazing sound quality, incredibly low
latency, and an easy and clear software interface-and you've
got a portable interface that really raises the bar.
Price: $459.99
More from: Focusrite, www.focusrite.com


http://www.focusrite.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - June 2016

Contents
Recording - June 2016 - Cover1
Recording - June 2016 - Cover2
Recording - June 2016 - 1
Recording - June 2016 - 2
Recording - June 2016 - 3
Recording - June 2016 - 4
Recording - June 2016 - 5
Recording - June 2016 - Contents
Recording - June 2016 - 7
Recording - June 2016 - 8
Recording - June 2016 - 9
Recording - June 2016 - 10
Recording - June 2016 - 11
Recording - June 2016 - 12
Recording - June 2016 - 13
Recording - June 2016 - 14
Recording - June 2016 - 15
Recording - June 2016 - 16
Recording - June 2016 - 17
Recording - June 2016 - 18
Recording - June 2016 - 19
Recording - June 2016 - 20
Recording - June 2016 - 21
Recording - June 2016 - 22
Recording - June 2016 - 23
Recording - June 2016 - 24
Recording - June 2016 - 25
Recording - June 2016 - 26
Recording - June 2016 - 27
Recording - June 2016 - 28
Recording - June 2016 - 29
Recording - June 2016 - 30
Recording - June 2016 - 31
Recording - June 2016 - 32
Recording - June 2016 - 33
Recording - June 2016 - 34
Recording - June 2016 - 35
Recording - June 2016 - 36
Recording - June 2016 - 37
Recording - June 2016 - 38
Recording - June 2016 - 39
Recording - June 2016 - 40
Recording - June 2016 - 41
Recording - June 2016 - 42
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Recording - June 2016 - Cover3
Recording - June 2016 - Cover4
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