In what almost looks like a return to the old from preamp gurus Focusrite, the new range of Clarett Thunderbolt audio interfaces brings us that familiar anodised red facia that most of us know all too well. The Clarett 8PreX in particular has the look of the old Red Series units, given its 2U rack casing with red front. But, these units are a long way from the classic preamps and EQs of old, delivering mighty AD/DA conversion and multi-channel audio recording with the help of the Thunderbolt connection and Focusrite preamps for all eight analogue inputs.
It has come to that time where the Thunderbolt interface is really getting recognised as the new leading force for data I/O at least in the Mac world. With USB 3.0 being widely accepted in PC circles, Mac users are reaping the benefits of Thunderbolt and are now beginning to get the hardware that takes advantage of this new connection. Focusrite have taken their time in entering this new market and have done so justly to ensure they deliver a product worthy of the Thunderbolt capabilities. With the Clarett 8PreX I think it is safe to say that they have delivered in releasing a new interface that will stand up to the test of time and issue great results right from the get-go. If you were considering upgrading your Mac audio recording system, then stepping into a Clarett interface would be a very serious option indeed.
The front panel on the 8PreX offers gain, phase, high-pass filter and phantom power options for each of the eight preamps, as well as master volume and monitoring options with two separate headphone outputs. Around the back, the device is loaded with options. MIDI and Word Clock I/O get you started along with SP/DIF connections on coaxial ports. Then you also get two optical ins and two optical outs, allowing up to 16 digital channels from these connections alone. Eight separate analogue outputs along with two added analogue monitor outputs take care of your mixing needs and both line and microphone connections for all eight analogue inputs mean you end up with a complete arsenal that will set up the beginning of any great recording system, or integrate with an existing one to really push it forward in power and AD/DA conversion quality. There’s no doubt that the added speed and volume of the Thunderbolt connection puts the Clarett way ahead of Focusrite’s USB and Firewire devices. This is the next generation of audio recording, so don’t let the generation gap catch up with you.
Hits and Misses
Lightning fast AD/DA conversion
Slick sounding preamps
Extension digital connectivity for further expansion
No USB3 connection for PC users
• Focusrite mic preamps - 8
• Analog inputs - 8
• Analog outputs - 10
• Headphone outputs - 2
• Instrument inputs (Hi-Z) - 2
• 48V phantom power - Per-channel
• Highpass filters - Per-channel
• Phase reverse - Per-channel
• Digital inputs - 18
• Digital outputs - 18
• ADAT inputs - 16 Ch
• ADAT outputS - 16 Ch
• Connection protocol - Thunderbolt
• LED metering - 6-segment
• Switchable input metering - Yes