Review—Looking for an interface with eight high-quality preamps, high quality 24-bit Firewire, 20 inputs and 20 outputs, a nicely packaged suite of plug-ins, two separate headphone buses, and two switchable Hi-Z inputs?

Gear Review by James D’Arrigo

How much are you willing to put out? Most might think about parting with at least a grand and maybe getting a mixer to handle some of the chores in addition to the interface. Focusrite just busted the ceiling. with the new Saffire Pro 40 at a mere $499. Truly an affordable and flexible recording interface with mixer, metering, and monitoring in a single computer-only usable device has arrived.

The Saffire Pro 40 may be one of the most user-friendly interfaces I have ever set up. It is thoughtfully designed as a single rack space mixer with a very traditional layout of controls. The two switchable mic/line ins are on the front panel while the remaining analog ins are around back. 48v phantom is available on all 8 inputs in addition channel gain knobs, a five stage led input meter, monitor and phones control complete the front end of the business. In the back are the eight analog line outs, monitor outs, optical, SPDIF, two Firewire ports, and MIDI I/O. Again, I know I am repeating myself, but what a tremendously equipped machine at any price for a multitude of studio needs. A user of the Pro 40 may be a person stepping out of a portable workstation to computer-based DAWS and looking for that ever so hard to find familiar traditional mixer-based device.

An "Old Schooler" like me "gets" this piece of gear. It has an intuitive layout that you only need to play around with for a minute to get amazingly quiet mic and line performance out of. You can push the gains all the way around and this baby is really quiet and clean! For the home project musician, there is no more need to go out and get a separate mixer when you feel like having friends over for a live session, and then needing a cheapo headphone amp and a bunch of peripherals with cables and power cords and noise (both real and visual) cluttering up your workspace.

The software is a breeze to learn. It is simple and visually well laid out. You can assign and configure mixes, routings, and loops easily. Trust me on this one, most musicians who get into DAW’s want access to their creativity and not steep learning curves on stuff. Lifetimes are spent by the real audio pros and musicians paid their dues on their instruments and voices. This is an important factor when selecting gear from our new world of amazing technology.

Focusrite should be praised for their quality engineering, and thoughtfulness of design and usage. The Pro 40 is and ideal combination of capability and affordability and should not be overlooked in anyone’s shopping list for an all-in-one device at any price. Just one question to the folks at Focusrite. Why not make a version of the Pro 40 that can stand alone? The Saffire Pro 40 only works while connected to the computer but I can think of some great uses for it live…

Originally posted 2010-01-06 01:17:29.