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Wednesday, 25 May 2016 16:48

Focusrite Clarett 4Pre

Written by  David Hurd
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If you are into video production and need a Thunderbolt Audio Interface that is versatile, low-latency, high quality, and cost effective, you may want to check out the Clarett 4Pre from Focusrite. The Clarett 4Pre is an18-in/8-out Thunderbolt audio Interface that works.

I create and edit digital video for a living on a MacPro. I was looking for a single interface that would not only allow me to fix up bad audio, but would also allow me to record Voice overs and Soundtracks using Pro Tools 12.

The Clarett 4Pre has 4 really nice sounding Mic Preamps that are rated at 119db S/N.
I started by plugging in my Sennheiser MK 8 studio mic, and pushing the button for the 48v Phantom power so that the Clarett 4Pre would power the mic.

The Clarett 4Pre comes with “Focusrite Control” software which gives you monitoring options, and control of the Focusrite "Air" Effect. I have found that the Sennheiser MK 8 studio mic works great for everything I need recorded, and the Focusrite "Air" Effect just adds icing on the cake. Seriously, you can get really nice sounding V/Os using this rig.

I chose to record in 48K, 24 bit mode since I was recording a V/O that would end up on a video timeline, but with the Clarett 4Pre, I had the choice of going all the way up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution.

On the front panel of the Clarett 4Pre there are 4 Channel volume controls, 2 Headphone jacks with volume controls, and a Monitor control. I have a Mackie mixer that takes in my various audio inputs and routes them out to my Genelec studio monitors. All I had to do to add the Clarett 4Pre to my system was to come out of two of the Clarett 4Pre’s outputs into two channels of my Mackie.

Recording was painless. Since there are volume knobs on the front of the Clarett 4Pre, I could easily adjust my mic input, my headphone volume while recording, then use the handy Monitor knob to adjust the playback thru the Studio monitors. The Focusrite design made everything easy to use.

For a soundtrack song creation, I used the same gear for the vocals, and added guitars, bass, and an organ. A keyboard can plug in via USB into the Mac, or into the audio or the MIDI inputs of the Clarett 4Pre, depending on whats available on the keyboard.

Since I needed a drum track, I started with Toontrack’s EZ Drummer which synched up to my PT12 timeline, then I added the rest of the instruments and vocal. The lack of latency was awesome.

Since the Clarett 4Pre uses a TB connection, it has a latency of under 2 ms. When you have to track a lot of overdubs, the low latency makes it a fun experience instead of a stressful one.

I am a big fan of the Waves CLA plugins. The upside of these plugins is that they make it easy for a non-engineer to easily get good sounding results. The downside is that they require a lot of resources, so you usually track “dry”, and then add them in during the mix down. I actually tracked some of my project with the CLA plugins turned on, and still didn’t suffer any latency problems. Granted, I was using a 6 core “Trashcan” MacPro, but I was still amazed.

I also used my isotope plugins and the plugins that came free with the Clarett 4Pre.
These include the Focusrite Classic Red 2 and Red 3 plugin suite, which accurately models their Red range EQ and compression hardware. I also tested the Time and Tone bundle from Softube, which is also included. It added their TSAR-1R reverb, Tube Delay, and Saturation knob.

For about $700, you get a fast real-time, easy to use TB interface, and a lot of very useful plugins. And it all works well for video production, and plays well with PT12.
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The Focusrite Clarett 4Pre was tested on my “Review” system which is:
A Mac Pro 6 core with two D700 cards running Mavericks OSX, 64GB of OWC RAM, secured by a Compu-Lock MacPro Vault. A logickeyboard for DaVinci Resolve, an Apple Color panel,the Black Magic Ultra Studio 4K interface, two High Point Rocketstor 6328 TB RAID controllers connected to four G-SPEED esPro RAID cases, with a Rocketstor 5212 drive bay for inputting video from SSDs, and video output viewed on a Boland 32” broadcast monitor. There is a G-Dock with two SSDs for fast portable storage. For Audio I use a Focusrite Clarett 4Pre Audio interface with Waves and isotope plug-ins, a Komplete Kontrol S25 keyboard, Sennheiser MK8 Studio mic, a Mackie mixer and Genelec studio monitors. Software includes FCPX, Affinity photo, Resolve 12, Smartsound, Sound Forge, and Pro Tools 12.

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