Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre Review | MusicRadar
Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre: what is it?
Most audio interfaces offer two or maybe four mic inputs. If you want to record multi-mic drums or simply more mic inputs, you can opt for one of the few interfaces with eight mic inputs. However, many interfaces include additional line or digital inputs allowing you to expand your mic input options by using an additional mic input device.
That’s where Focusrite’s OctoPre comes in. Part of the company’s Clarett+ range of USB audio interfaces, OctoPre is a mic preamp and AD, DA converter without interfacing to a computer. This not only makes it quite easy to understand, but also means that you can pair it with any manufacturer’s suitably equipped interface. It offers improved sonic performance over original Clarett devices, with lower noise figure on inputs and outputs, better dynamic range, and new AD and DA converters.
Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre: Performance and Verdict
Let’s quickly review what’s on offer. First, you get eight Clarett mic preamps. These have been specifically designed for this range and have a very linear response and very low noise. The preamp also includes their switchable analog Air circuit. This emulates Focusrite’s classic ISA transformer design, changing the input impedance and also engaging the resonance effect of the transformer, resulting in a slight sloping boost that starts around 100Hz, reaching +4dB at about 10kHz.
The Clarett+ OctoPre has two front and six rear inputs and all use TRS mic/line combo connectors. The front two are suitable for Hi-Z instruments. You also have single-tap TRS-style insert points for all eight inputs. The line outputs are on a 25-pin D-Sub, which is slightly frustrating, but understandable given the space constraints on the rear panel. You also have two pairs of ADAT optical I/O and Word Clock I/O. The ADAT I/O serves two purposes, providing digital output of pre-mic signals, but also providing DA conversion from the optical input to the line outputs on the D-Sub connector (see below).
OctoPre is a very self-contained unit and front panel features include sample rate selection, phantom power (two banks of four), clock synchronization (internal, Word Clock and ADAT with lock LED) , multi-part input level meters and individual Hi-Z switching for inputs 1 and 2. Each mic preamp features its own soft-action physical gain knob with a red overload LED. Below are two-tone backlit programmable buttons that work in conjunction with the global Insert and Air buttons to activate these functions. There is also a button labeled ADAT to Line, for simultaneous AD and DA conversion using both the ADAT inputs and outputs. When disabled, the mic preamps feed both the line outputs and the ADAT outputs.
OctoPre’s instrument inputs use a JFET circuit. We’ve tested it before and once again the clarity of this design coupled with the impressive gain on offer (57dB) makes it ideal for passive mics. It also handles peak transients very well. As you can imagine, the mic preamps are quiet and deliver a nice clean signal. But you also have the Air option for extra shine if needed.
All in all, it’s a welcome, if predictable, upgrade to that mic pre-converter, and while it’s not cheap, it provides an excellent I/O expansion to your existing interface. .
MusicRadar verdict: OctoPre was already awesome and this refresh brings it in line with other Clarett+ units. An expensive but great way to expand your I/O.
Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre: hands-on demos
Creative Sound Lab
Focusrite Clarett+ OctoPre: Specifications
- MAIN CHARACTERISTICS: 6 mic/line inputs; 2 mic/line/instrument inputs; Inserts on all inputs; 2 ADAT I/O for 8 channels at 44.1/48 kHz and 88.2/96 kHz, 4 channels at 176.4/192 kHz, 8 balanced line outputs on 25-pin D-Sub connector; Simultaneous AD and DA option.
- SOFTWARE PROVIDED: Focusrite Collective plugin; Red 2/3 Suite, plus offerings from Brainworx, XLN Audio, Antares, Relab and Softube.
- CONTACT: Focusrite (opens in a new tab)