Not all sounds are equal. That’s why, within your studio setup, having an excellent preamp interface is crucial. If you’ve spent all your money on quality mixers, controllers, instruments, and microphones, the sound of all will be lessened if the actual audio interface is subpar.
The Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 essentially merges these two needs, giving you superior-quality sound at a price that’s rather affordable. A 20 in/ 20 out firewire interface with eight Focusrite preamps, the PRO truly is one of the best sounding devices out there for a home or professional studio. Focusrite begins with its preamp innovations as a baseline and goes from there, adding the latest firewire technology to create one of the easiest to use multi-channel audio interfaces available.
But even with all the innovations and unique features included, what does it sound like? PRO 40 has the lowest noise and distortion when audio changes between digital and analog – likely the result of digital conversion JetPLL™ to reduce jitters and other unnecessary sonic dirt. Sound quality is further improved through a stereo monitor mix output, or pads connected to active monitor speakers. The quality is extremely clear, with no excess noises, and offers this no matter what is plugged in.
But, great sound isn’t so great when a device is extremely difficult to use. With the PRO 40, Focusrite seems to achieve a blend between hardware and software and is relatively easy to set up and start using. Physically, it comes equipped with additional I/O options, 10 analog outputs, ADAT I/O, Stereo S/PDIF, and two virtual loopback inputs, along with the eight preamps. Every channel comes prepared with phantom power, with the first two channels having -9dB pads and the front panel offering five-step LED metering to precisely get a level for each analog input.
Part of the PRO 40 package is Saffire MixControl software, an ultra-low-latency 18×16 DSP mixer/router program. MixControl lets the user monitor and route the output and features easily-accessible one-click options. The program has a straightforward operation layout, with clear onscreen metering for outputs, inputs, and submixes.
The software, as well, integrates with the front panel feature, the main monitor dial with dim and mute switches. Although superfluous-seeming, these switches improve the audio quality further. The software, meanwhile, expands customization throughout all aspects of monitoring. The user, in return, can configure the stereo to his or her needs, going from basic to full 7.1 surround sound.
Aside from the physical and software aspects, the Focusrite PRO 40 is equipped with two independent headphone buses, each with separate level controls on the front panel, and an “anti-thump” circuit, an additional sound asset that protects the speakers from turning-on or shutting-down spikes.
Ultimately, the Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 is one of the best audio interfaces you can buy. The technology is up to date and versatile, the system is straightforward to use and is practically plug-and-play, and produces one of the clearest sounds, regardless of all other equipment and instruments, you can get in any price range.