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Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre review

Focusrite has earned quite the reputation among many over the years, having been the recipient of four Queen’s Awards for Enterprise as well as two for International Trade, and another two for Technology.

Their products are by and far some of the most popular choices for musicians and it’s not difficult to understand why – they sound great. The Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre USB is no exception to the rule.

Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface review

Our verdict on the Clarett+ 8Pre 4.8

The Clarett+ 8Pre is a big step up from its predecessor in a number of ways. It has better D/A converters, higher dynamic range, better THD+N, and an amazing software bundle.

Anybody who was a fan of the old models is sure to love this latest addition to the line.

I/O and controls 5.0

The Clarett+ 8Pre is an 18-in/20-out USB interface with eight mic preamps, 10 analog outputs, MIDI I/O, eight channels of ADAT I/0, and stereo S/PDIF.

With all of this, the Clarett+ 8Pre has ample connectivity to earn its place in almost any recording session.

Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface (front panel)
Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface (front panel)

The outputs can be configured as stereo pairs so you can send them to two pairs of monitors, and there are also two headphone ins on the front.

All the inputs support both XLR and 1/4″ line connections, making the Clarett+ 8Pre very flexible in the studio.

Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface (rear panel)
Clarett+ 8Pre audio interface (rear panel)

All eight inputs support phantom power, as well as having their own individual preamps. Each one has its own assigned rotary dial to adjust gain, giving you a great amount of control over the levels being sent to your DAW.

We have absolutely nothing to complain about here.

Recording quality 4.6

While much of the interface has remained the same, Focusrite has upped several components of the unit for greater range and versatility.

The new D/A converters have been significantly improved for a wider dynamic range, making this interface capable of capturing far more detail than its predecessor.

The new D/A converters have also reduced the analog inputs’ THD+N (total harmonic distortion plus noise) which helps you capture sound with more clarity.

The stereo headphones outputs, as well as the monitor outputs, have also been refined for greater dynamic range.

This allows the unit to handle several different microphones with varying impedances without the need of an external preamp.

Preamps 4.7

The preamps on the Clarett+ 8Pre are wonderful, and they come with an analog Air effect which you can engage on each individual input.

As we already mentioned, Focusrite was founded in the mid 80’s by Rupert Neve. One of his first commissions for the company came from none other than George Martin (the fifth Beatle), to build a “no-compromise” microphone preamplifier and equalizer for his custom Neve setup at Air Studios in Montserrat.

It was from this that heralded the creation of the ISA (Input Signal Amplifier) 110. When enabled, you’ll find that your recordings will take on a brighter character with a lot of presence.

This is a fantastic edition that can really add a new flavor to your sessions, and it’s one of the things that make the Clarett+ 8Pre, as well as Focusrite’s other units, worthy investments for anybody.

At home studio 4.5

There are several reasons why this interface belongs in your studio. For starters, it’s incredibly easy to use, and the design is intuitive and simple to understand.

The Clarett+ 8pre provides you with unbridled recording power and asks for nothing in return.

Plus, you have the added benefit of impressing your friends with how elegant and professional-looking it is, not to mention how pristine it sounds.

Mobile recording 2.0

If there’s anything for us to say against the Clarett+ 8Pre, it’s that it isn’t easy to transport. Because of this, we wouldn’t recommend the Clarett+ 8Pre for those of you who find yourselves bouncing around from one recording space to another.

It’s not that the interface is particularly large, nor is it very heavy – but it won’t fit in your backpack. Sure, maybe you can find a bag online or somewhere that could fit it – but it feels a tad unnecessary.

If you’re looking for an interface that’s light and easy to take on the go, we suggest you try looking for something smaller.

Build quality 5.0

The Clarett+ 8Pre is a sturdy unit, so if you’re a little clumsy it’s not the end of the world.

We’ve dropped it multiple times and it’s never damaged the hardware. However, it is an expensive unit so try to keep it safe to save yourself a headache.

Software bundle 5.0

The Clarett+ 8Pre comes with a hefty software bundle, granting you access to Focusrite Control app, Focusrite Plug-in Collective, as well as nine plugins in the Hitmaker Expansion bundle.

Focusrite Control gives you a digital control surface that you can use to set the routing and recording parameters of your unit, as well as your input settings depending on your device.

Downloading is easy and fast, and when you open the application you’ll see that there are two screens.

The first is “Device Settings”, which allows you to configure your recording sample rate – where your outputs are being sent – and specify whether inputs are to be mic or line. You can also engage the Air feature for each individual input here.

The second screen allows you to configure which mix is feeding the monitors, namely either the DAW mix or what’s coming from the direct inputs. You may set your levels and pan, mute, and solo your inputs here to your liking.

The Control software is amazingly simple to use and understand. Plus, it’s available as an iOS app that allows you to control the software and the Clarett+ 8Pre wirelessly.

Compared to other audio interfaces

Here are a few alternatives to compare against the Clarett+ 8Pre. You can also check out our picks for the best audio interfaces on the market and the best budget units.

Clarett+ 8Pre vs. Motu 828es

While the Motu may seem like it has far more connectivity than the Clarett+ 8Pre, there are only two XLR inputs, meaning that multi-mic setups requiring phantom power may not be in the cards (unless you want to risk shorting your TRS cables). The Clarett+ seems more versatile, although the quality is roughly the same.

Clarett+ 8Pre vs. RME Babyface Pro FS

The Clarett+ 8Pre has more connectivity, but the DSP capabilities of the Babyface make up for this. They’re both good interfaces, but it depends on your needs.

Check out our RME Babyface Pro FS review

Clarett+ 8Pre vs. Universal Audio Apollo Twin Mk2

The Clarett isn’t the best choice for producers on the go, but the Apollo Twin Mk2 can serve this role quite well. You can’t go wrong with either, but it is a matter of your priorities.

Check out our Universal Audio Apollo Twin Mk2 review

Who is the Focusrite Clarett+ 8Pre best suited for?

The Clarett+ 8Pre is a simple, reliable, and great sounding audio interface, and is best suited for professional audio engineers looking for a decent workhorse.

What it lacks in versatility it makes up for by how robust and pristine its performance is.

  • Outstanding build.
  • Great recording quality.
  • Air enabled preamps.
  • Better D/A converters.
  • Mobility.
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