Sunday, August 14, 2016

Review: Focusrite Saffire PRO 14

Hello and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to review an interesting audio interface, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14.
This is a firewire interface, built in a very solid metal case and with 8 input (2 jack input with pre, 2 xlr input with pre, 2 line inputs, 1 midi in and 1 spdif in) and 6 outputs (4 line outs, 1 midi out, 1 spdif out), is one of the most common (together with its usb sister, the Scarlett serie) and used home recording audio interface in the market, due to its good quality to price ratio and rock solid reliability, both for the hardware and the drivers part.

The interface sounds well, the preamps are in line with the competitors (although I personally prefer slightly the sound of the ones in the Presonus Audiobox), the unit works at 24 bit/96 khz without problems, and the drivers are reliable (which is essential for an audio interface) and with a latency close to zero.
The unit comes with a lite version of Ableton live, and with a bundle of Focusrite Vst plugins that emulate the interface style of vintage processors, such as Equalizers and Compressors.

There are many competitors today in the market, especially in this medium price layer in which the quality is constantly rising and the prices are lowering: a firewire interface in the past was almost mandatory because Usb 1.1 interfaces were not enough reliable to manage big projects, the firewire connection was much more stable and let more data to run through without errors, but today the latest usb interfaces are as reliable as the firewire ones, without the nightmare of the hot plugging problem, which risks to destroy the pc motherboard (firewire interfaces can be plugged into the computer only with the pc turned off, otherwise it can burn the connection in the motherboard).

Is it a good idea today to buy a firewire interface

It depends on how old our pc is, if it is 5/10 years old it can often be a good idea, because firewire connection is more stable and doesn't rely on the cpu to manage the incoming and outgoing data transmission (unlike the usb connection), so it ensures a stable and soild stream of data that is essential in mixing. On the other hand, if we have a more recent pc I would suggest an usb interface, because today the pc cpu and the quality of the usb connection are good enough to mix also larger projects, and we don't have the constant risk of frying our motherboard due to accidental hot plugging.

Microphone Inputs 1-2
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.2 dB
Gain Range: +13dB to +60dB
Maximum Headroom +8dBu
Input Impedance: 2k Ohm

Line Inputs (Inputs 1-2)
Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz +/- 0.2dB
Gain Range: -10dB to +36dB

A/D Dynamic Range > 109dB (A-weighted), all analogue inputs
D/A Dynamic Range > 106dB (A-weighted), all analogue outputs
Clock Sources: - Internal Clock - Sync to Word Clock on SPDIF Input (RCA)
Supported Sample Rates: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz

Weight and Dimensions
1.5kg / 3.3lbs
215mm (W) x 45mm (H) x 220mm (D) (8.5 x 1.8 x 8.7 inches)
Analogue Channel Inputs (Inputs 1-2)
2 Mic XLR Combo (channels 1-2) on front panel
2 Line 1⁄4” TRS (channels 3-4) on rear panel
Output Level control (analogue) for outputs 1 and 2
Stereo Headphones Mix 1 on 1⁄4” TRS (also routed to Outputs 3 & 4) with independent volume control
Digital Channel Outputs (Outputs 5-6) 44.1 - 96kHz
Instrument input source selection LED for channels 1 and 2
Phantom Power (48V) switch and LED for inputs 1 and 2

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