Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP Review

An audio interface is used to connect your instruments and mics to the computer, so as you can imagine, it’s pretty important in the production of radio jingles and the other custom music produced by Old Port Jingles. I recently decided to search for a new one to use that would provide me with some portability, without sacrificing quality. After looking at several options, I opted for the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP. Here’s a little review of my thoughts after owning the interface for about a month.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP Overview

The interface connects with a firewire cable, that is included, along with the wall outlet (with three adapters), and two software of CD’s. The fact it comes with all these adapters is nice forethought on their part. The box itself is made of metal, with the exception of the inputs on the back. I do not know why they did not elect to make these metal, but they are plastic and feel a little weak. The front knobs are pretty standard, although they stick out a little farther than they need to. I would prefer short and fat to this long and skinny design, because when you twist it by the top, it feels somewhat unstable. I can imagine after a couple cups of coffee, an overzealous engineer would snap these off. I do hope that’s not the case. The box it’s in itself is otherwise pretty solid.

Lets take a look at the ins and outs. On the front of the box you have your two TRS XLR inputs. These can also be used as 1/4″ connectors. There are two headphone jacks with separate volume control knobs, a nice feature. The back of the unit has 2 TRS 1/4″ inputs, 6 TRS line outputs, Midi input/output, an optical input connector which can be used as either ADAT or SPDIF, and the RCA SPDIF in/out.

Saffire Pro 24 DSP Software

All of these inputs and outputs are able to be controlled with the software that Focusrite provides. You can also add effects and compression to individual tracks coming in with the DSP chip inside the interface. This is a cool feature if you’re trying to save the CPU processing power, however I would probably only use the compression with a direct line in bass. The reverb has already come in handy. The focusrite also comes with several AU plugins for your DAW, as well as a light version of Ableton Live Light.

Another piece of the software that I must mention is the VRM. It stands for virtual reference monitoring. The idea behind this is that if you mixing in headphones and you want to hear what it would sound like through a flat panel television, the VRM can replicate that sound by using a series of presets that come with the software. The problem with this software, is that it doesn’t have any way of knowing what headphones you are listening with, thus being really only to give you a rough idea what your sound would be like in the pre loaded conditions. It’s too bad, because Focusrite clearly put a lot of effort into making this a new feature. You can choose different kinds of rooms, and many different kinds of speakers. When it really comes down to it, I don’t see it as being all that useful in a studio setting.

Other features include the phantom power button, a mute button which will mute all the outputs, and a clip button that will allow you to cut the volume by about 60%. There are also LED monitoring on the front for the frost 4 channels.

Focusrite Pro 24 DSP front/back

click for larger image

After recording on this for a couple of sessions I like the sound quality, however when you hook up your XLR phantom powered condenser mic, the gain needs to be about 8/10 in order to get a good level if you’re recording lyrics. On previous interfaces that I’ve used, I never had to put this gain past 5, giving you more boost for non phantom powered mics. I like having more of a range to work with when getting the levels right for a vocal, and for all intents and purposes, this might as well be an on/off switch. This isn’t a major issue for many people, and were this my first interface, I wouldn’t know the difference. It’s a matter of preference, that’s all there is to it. The VRM is also a good effort, but it’s not that practical. Other than that it’s got a nice natural sound, lots of features and feels like a quality box. I can safely say I would recommend the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP. 4 out of 5

On another note Focusrite just released the USB version of this model. I would imagine that the features are similar. Hopefully we will get to check it out in the future!


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