Review of Clarett 8PreX by Focusrite

  • By: Thorsten Meyer
  • Date: Monday, 10 January 2022
  • Time to read: 13 min.

Clarett 8PreX Focusrite flagship – Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Clarett 8Pre X provides Thunderbolt connectivity and high specifications at a reasonable cost. Although Thunderbolt doesn’t support universal Windows computers, manufacturers are also introducing audio interfaces which can be plugged into a Thunderbolt. Focusrite’s latest recruit to the cause is Focusrite. And the Clarett series offers four choices covering an extensive budget range.

The Clarett 8PreX Focusrite offers an audio interface with Thunderbolt support and high quality at an attractive price tag.

The Clarett 8PreX is the latest Thunderbolt audio interface from Focusrite. It replaces the Clarett 8Pre, which was a popular interface due to its low latency and good sound quality. The 8PreX offers even more features, including better sound quality, more I/O, and support for Thunderbolt 3, you need a thunderbolt cable. In conjunction with the Focusrite Control application, you now have a highly versatile and professional solution for routing high-quality audio to and from your computer recording system with extremely low latency.

Focusrite

Focusrite has always been one of the biggest names in professional audio technology. The focus on studio-quality sound and a very high-quality set of devices/interfaces which have always impressed us with their outstanding performance and flexibility is a fact for this company.

For many years, they have been offering interfaces that you can see in studios all over the world.

3C1DC52A 4D59 4229 9168 5312BADEDB59Clarett 8PreX and Clarett 8Pre USB – audio interfaces

The flagship Clarett 8Pre X offers 26 inputs and 28 outputs. 8PreX is your stationary audio interface, ideal for larger studios. Focusrite did send a review unit with no strings attached.

Focusrite Clarett 8PreX Line Drawing

The Clarett 8PreX as an audio interface connects microphones, instruments, line-level audio signals and digital audio signals to a MAC or PC through the computer’s Thunderbolt port. Physical inputs signals are routed to your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and the outputs from the DAW are configured as the unit’s physical outputs.

How Do I Choose the Right Product?

Music equipment can seem complicated, typically choose my audio interfaces by the number of microphones and instruments I use at a time. Recording vocals, drums, guitar, and bass simultaneously requires high-quality preamps on all channels so that they can handle high levels without creating unwanted noise or distorting. You need your audio interface to be effective even when using cables with long lengths and in noisy environments.

Legendary Analog Inputs

You’ve undoubtedly heard about Focusrite Forte’s legendary preamp. Our clients’ ties with Focusrite are extremely close. Focusrite’s classic analog preamp, EQ, and compressed compressor are still made, but RedNet Network Audio’s groundbreaking network audio platform is now available to clients. Studios, churches, and other organizations have used Focusrite’s audio gear.

The Core of Your Professional Studio Recording Setup

Focusrite is a premium Clarett 8Pre X audio interface that delivers impressive sound output at a high-quality price with high-quality sound quality, including a 24-in. It starts with plugging the microphone into Focusrite. Focusrite’s switchable air effect allows your microphone a clear air and sounds like an ISA-based mic preamp. The Focusrite Clarett 8Pre X offers extensive connectivity that includes analog I/O and S/PDIF 16 channels, word clocks, and more, providing ideal foundations for your recording equipment.

Ideal Audio Interface for Permanent Studio Installation

The Clarett 8Pre X features a newly built Clarett microphone preamp that delivers an amazingly dynamic range. Perfect for permanent studios, Clarett 8Pre X offers you many connections and 16 ADAT channels, all within an efficient 2U form factor. This Focusrite Clarett 8Pre X offers excellent interface features.

The Heart of The Studio

For studio installations, Clarett 8Pre X includes a separate rear panel input for the microphone, line, and instrument.

Exceptional I/o Capability Handles Any Recording Scenario

Focusrite Clarett 8Pre X provides 26 audio outputs and 28 outputs packaged in a professional 2U mount rack. There are also 8 analog inputs and 10 analog output channels, Stereo SPDIF I/O, and 8 channels of ADATIO/O. ADAT output is ideal for audio transmission through an external D/A for line output extension while the input channels can be used to introduce 16 additional digital mics and preamps — for maximum output — including the Focusrite OctoPre MkIIs. In addition, you receive two front-panel hi-Z input devices for playing guitar and basses with a passive /active pickup for high power.

Record in Your Comfort Zone

The Claretta 8PreX features amazingly low roundtrip audio delay and Thunderbolt enables recording and analysis in real-time with all DAW plug-ins. It doesn’t require processing or DSP. Choose a plugin and create the dream recordings for every single channel. All Claretts include Focusrite Red AAX, AU, and VST plugins that accurately model Focusrite Red EQs and compression hardware. In addition to the time and tone packs of Softube, the PlugIn Package includes the world acclaimed TSAR-1R reverb and tube delay and saturation knobs in one.

Focusrite Mic Preamps Bring Your Recordings to Life

Focusrite equipped Clarett 8Pre X Mic Preamps designed exclusively for Claret. These are amazingly low-noise mic preamps with excellent realism compared to standard RCA. These preamps are also fitted with Focusrite’s proprietary Air feature which enables Focusrite’s classic amplifier-based ISA preamp to be switched on, which breathes fresh life into the recording process. If you have always wanted to hear your voice shimmer with presence, then try recording with Clarett 8Pre X. Your reaction is incredible.

How Do I Install Clarett 8 Pre Focusrite?

On a MAC the installation is easy, you need to install the Focusrite software tool, reboot your MAC and the device works with your MAC computer. There are no Thunderbolt cables in the box. You need to purchase it if you do not own one already.

On the latest iMac’s from 2019, the Thunderbolt 3 Interface needs to be adapted. The Thunderbolt does not daisy chain, which would be nice if you need more interface and IOs to connect. The Clarett 8Pre X concurrently accommodates 26 inputs and 28 outputs. The 8PreX also manages multichannel digital audio in ADAT optical format – sixteen channels at 44.1/48 kHz sample rate, eight at 88.2/96 kHz or four at 176.4/192 kHz. 0S/PDIF I/O support is included.

Focusrite Clarett 8PreX Rear

Sound Quality

Clarett 8PreX, one of Focusrite professional Thunderbolt audio interfaces including high-quality Clarett analog pre-amplifiers with the novel AIR function.

The 8PreX offers an excellent sounding interface with eight mic preamps eight outputs. The unit supports a 119dB dynamic range, low noise, precision 24-bit/192kHz conversion, and eight uniquely created mic preamps with a unique analog Air effect.

The used Preamps are fabulous and very clean and do not add any character. The unit offers a 1.67 ms round-trip latency. The latency was never an issue. This is a very low latency to support monitoring setups, not before achievable.

The Cleanest Way yet To Get Sound in And out Of Your Daw

Engineers know the importance of conversion to the best digital audio – Clarett offers Focusrite’s 24/192 convertibility for high-quality audio. Clarett has a 119-dB range and offers a clean and efficient way to get sounds into your DAW. The 8PreX includes a word clock IO that allows for its use as the master clock for clocking multiple devices or receiving word clocks from a master clock source.

The Perfect A-D and D-A Conversion

The 24-bit/192 Hz D – A converter and the 24-bit converter have an excellent signal path with a dynamic range of 118dB. Listen to music that is more lovely than you could have imagined.

Preamps

As mentioned one or two times the preamp sounds fantastic, why is that important you ask? With other budget audio interfaces, you could have the issue that the preamps are less clear or they run into issues with increased gain.

The sound quality of the high-end converters in this unit is absolutely surprisingly impressive. The 119 DB of dynamic range blows pretty much everything else in its price range out the water. The quality of the stereo output of the audio interface is as good as anything I’ve heard.

The quality of the converters on the 8PreX is just absolutely stunning you can certainly hear it.

Focusrite Clarett 8PreX left

Thunderbolt

The used Thunderbolt connection is outstanding fast. The absence of a second Thunderbolt port means you cannot do pass-through which could be key for you.

The Thunderbolt input and output have virtually no latency and are unnoticeable. I did also love the low latency input monitoring that is possible through the Headphone amps which are very clean.

When you record an instrument or vocals you want the signal as clean as possible and if needed run it through additional units for coloring and vibe.

Revolutionize Your Workflow

Clarett has ultra-low roundtrip latency to transform workflows. It allows you to create a great recording experience using any of your favorite guitar effects plug-ins in real-time.

AIR

The AIR feature adds that Airy mid-high presence replicates the vibe of Focusrite’s classic transformer-based ISA mic preamps. Without AIR enabled, the preamps are clean and neutral. When you enable the AIR feature so you can truly hear the difference. You can enable AIR individually on each channel.

Clock and Midi

You can easily synchronize 8Pre X with other audio equipment in your studio. The device can work both as a slave to an external clock (word clock input) signal or as the master clock source. It also has standard DIN connectors for sending and receiving MIDI data. With the MIDI Interface, you can play in your DAW on your keyboard and route the MIDI signal to a vintage synth or directly into your Eurorack.

Independent Headphone Outputs

The independent headphone outputs have been over the years (2021 update) extremely helpful.

Future Proof and Support

When you buy an audio interface you need to be ready for the next years and OS releases to come. Focusrite has an excellent record in supporting Windows and MAC users over the years. MAC is less of an issue as you do not need special software like on Windows. The audio interface is built for professionals and shows that in the support from Focusrite.

Accessible Metering and Monitoring

The 8PreX has six-segment LED meters which keep you updated of both the input and digital input values, as well as the input and output. Monitoring features include level control, dim or silence buttons. Add to that two wide-dynamic front speakers with volume controls and power to deliver healthy levels of high-intensity audio, and this is a perfect device to mix and track.

Software Tool

I set up the signal routing with the included software tool on a MAC OS computer. Routing sound and signals are comfortable with the Focusrite software. If you do come from an audio interface with fewer inputs and outputs you change the way you process audio.

As you do have access to plenty of I/Os you can permanently connect for example a compressor or other hardware units and just route when needed the sound through those units. I use different available inputs to capture dry and wet signals. For example, from Eurorack, Effect Pedals, and Synths.

All recorded tracks could then be easier mixed before mastering. Audio like mics, instruments, audio signals, Eurorack, or Pedals are recorded into your DAW and then played back from there through speakers and headphones.

Focusrite Control Rotuing

The Clarett 8Pre X is a Thunderbolt audio interface for studio use. Where it makes sense cables for both microphone and line sources are permanently attached to the device. That makes perfect sense as you want to rack mount the 8PreX and not access the back of the rack often. The audio interface sounds completely musical and looks great.

Intuitive and easy-to-use software mixer

The Clarett features Focusrite Control, a new computer-controlled automation solution that allows for quick setup and management. The Focusrite Control tool combines simplicity and intuitive functionality with traditional mixing workflows.

SCARLETT 18I20 vs. Clarett 8Pre X

Comparing the Clarett 8Pre X to the SCARLETT 18I20 I found that the Scarlet delivers a sound that can be transformed close to the final with some work. Where the Clarett plus the AIR feature gets you closer to that finished sound.

When you use the AIR feature the Clarett is really ahead of the Scarlet and shows off its sound capabilities. The Clarett 8PreX shines also with its Interface, Look of the unit, Excellent Preamps Quality, and less latency through Thunderbolt.

The SCARLETT 18I20 speaks the lower price, good Preamps, and that the Scarlett is smaller and requires less space in your rack.

FAQ

What Is the Difference Between Focusrite Scarlett and Clarett?

The Clarett is a “premium” version of the Scarlett, with fewer features and technology available on only three devices. The Scarlett family includes a larger range of goods with seemingly more alternatives than the Vetta series.

How Good Are Focusrite Clarett Preamps?

The preamps in the Clarett have a tight, well-defined low-mid weight and the lightest of rounding on top. This gives them a clean, transformerless “modern recording desk” appearance that goes great with a mix.

Is Clarett 2 Pre a Thunderbolt?

The Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is a small Thunderbolt interface with two exceptional mic preamplifiers for bedroom enthusiasts and recording musicians on the move.

Does Focusrite have Thunderbolt?

The Thunderbolts allow you to connect to numerous devices without sacrificing performance speed. For audio recording and playback, our Thunderbolts provide ultra-low latency. Our Thunderbolts enable you to link numerous gadgets without compromising performance speed.

Can Thunderbolt 3 Connect to Thunderbolt?

Thunderbolt 3 is backward compatible with previous versions of the Thunderbolt protocol, but adapters are necessary since Thunderbolt 3 employs a different interface than prior generations. Additionally, some Thunderbolt 3 device features, such as charging capability, may not function when using adaptors.

Are Thunderbolt Interfaces Better than USB?

Thunderbolt offers a greater rate of speed than its USB counterpart by a factor of almost two. When it comes to data transfer, Thunderbolt is one of the quickest platforms available, and it is on track to become the future of data transmission over USB 3.0.

Is Thunderbolt 2 the Same as USB-C?

How do I find out if my computer, display, or cable is compatible with Thunderbolt? The physical appearance of the port is similar to that of miniDP (DisplayPort™). Check for the Thunderbolt™ symbol next to or above the port or connector to confirm you have a ThunderboltTM port on your computer, display, or cable.

How Do I Identify My Thunderbolt Port?

How do I find out if my computer, display, or cable is compatible with Thunderbolt? The physical appearance of the port is similar to that of miniDP (DisplayPort™). Check for the Thunderbolt™ symbol next to or above the port or connector to confirm you have a ThunderboltTM port on your computer, display, or cable.

Is Firewire and Thunderbolt the Same?

Creatively, FireWire is a technology standard from Apple and Texas Instruments while Thunderbolt is a computer interface specification from Intel.
While they have similar names, firewire and thunderbolt are two different technologies. In essence, firewire is more focused on the needs of users who need higher performance for video recording and live music while thunderbolt focuses on users seeing the Preamps.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Clarett 8PreX is a fantastic sounding interface with great Thunderbolt sound quality and stylish design. This high-quality audio interface has mic preamps with individual gain controls, as well as a unique blend knob to mix in AIR. In addition, the Clarett 8PreX includes an internal universal power supply and connects via Thunderbolt for ultimate speed, stability, and performance.

AIR (AIr) is the latest generation of Focusrite mic preamplifiers, delivering a new level of purity, transparency, and warmth to your recordings. Breakthrough Air technology within Clarett 8PreX mic pres allows for any number of microphones to be used at once, with no impact gives you the purest sound in an interface ever. With Air, Focusrite took no shortcuts, so all models of Clarett have AIR through preamp technology.

The Clarett 8PreX by Focusrite is an excellent interface for studio use. The device has all the cables you need built-in, so it cannot be racked mounted. It produces a sound that can be shaped close to the final with some work and also includes the AIR feature.

When the AIR feature is enabled, you get closer to that finished sound with less latency than other interfaces on this market. The Clarett 8PreX shines when it comes to its interface, look, preamps quality, and low latency through the Thunderbolt connection.

The Clarett 8PreX has two independent headphone outputs that are really helpful, especially if you are recording a band. You can easily monitor what each person is playing without having to change the volume on your speakers. The headphone amps are also really clean and sound great.

For different professional needs, it might make more sense to go with either of two interfaces, but for most people, the Clarett 8PreX would do great. I hope this review of Clarett 8prex was helpful in your future career.

Focusrite Claret 8PreX Thunderbolt Audio Interface combines a 24-bit 192kHz A/D/A converter with the 119dB real-world dynamic range and 1M roundtrip Thunderbolt latency. High-resolution recording and extremely high latency allow for 64bit compatible DA Plug ins while recording. It is supported with VST, AX & DX. It now supports Microsoft computers in a Windows format with stable operation with identical functionality on both platforms and with lower than 3 MHz latency.

Rating: Five Out of Five Stars

Clarett 8PreX Thunderbolt offers very low latency. The Clarett 8PreX and the USB-only product Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB are the best value audio interfaces money can buy. This Audio Interface completely sounds transcendent, undoubtedly exceeding other interfaces in the same league.

The audio quality of these preamps/converters is unmatched and for the price of the unit. When I enabled Air it did add a bit of glow and vibe without getting flat. The Clarett 8PreX has practically every potential option you would need in an audio interface.

Focusrite Clarett 8PreX

The Clarett 8PreX has become my new go-to audio interface in my studio. The device captures sounds from my Eurorack, AE Modular, DAW, Synths, and Pedals.

I can easily route the sound through my hardware effects units when needed. When recording video the analog inputs are really needed as we tend to add mics on top. The device arrives perfectly on time for the Summer of Eurorack Love.

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