Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 FireWire Audio Interface Review
Focusrite have become one of the leading designers and manufacturers of audio interfaces in the past year and a half. Some of the most exciting, versatile, useful, and affordable audio interfaces have been coming from them, and they do not disappoint. I myself own a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and I couldn’t be happier with the performance. Focusrite have unveiled the latest addition to their already popular interface lines with the Saffire Pro 26. This is a 18 in and 8 out Firewire or Thunderbolt interface which features four award winning Focusrite preamps and dual headphone outputs for multiple monitor mixes. Whether you have a home studio or you just want something to track you and your friends, the Saffire Pro 26 provides professional level audio recording but at a price that is affordable on nearly every budget. Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout features on the Focusrite Saffire Pro 26.
The Ins, and the Outs
The reason this Saffire Pro iteration is called 26 is because of its 18 inputs and 8 outputs. As most of you know, this can be a rather misleading description as there are really only 4 XLR inputs (2 are combination XLR/TRS inputs) and 4 line inputs. So where are the other 10 inputs? Well you have 2 channels of digital S/PDIF inputs which allow for the connection of additional outboard equipment as well as 8 channels of ADAT for connecting additional multi-channel preamps. So don’t read the specifications of 18 inputs and expect this interface to track your entire band live, but instead remember that it has 8 physical inputs (really 6: two for Hi-z instrument and 2 for XLR) and the option to expand with other preamps or interfaces. All of your inputs can be monitored from the 5-segment LED metering section on the front of the interface. This gives a nice real-time indication of your levels from gain staging all the way to tracking.
One feature I really like is the stereo loopback feature. By using the MixControl audio interface routing software, you can route audio from any program on your computer into your DAW. All of this can be done on the same computer which becomes pretty handy for a number of applications. You can capture audio from standalone virtual instruments, or track an audio file that you have downloaded on to your computer. You can find this on a selection of other Focusrite interfaces but it’s nice to see their newer models haven’t abandoned this technology.
Connectivity and Specifications
The Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 connects to your computer via the FireWire 400 port on the back of the unit. Because most computers now have the FireWire 800 port, Focusrite provides you with a 400-800 cable. The Saffire Pro 26 is FireWire bus-powered so you can power the interface from your computer. If you are using a PC, or a new model Mac, you will have to purchase an adapter cable to fit whatever port you are using as a substitute whether that be USB or Thunderbolt. The advantage here is that you can free up your USB ports for MIDI controllers or other devices that might be USB reliant.
The Saffire Pro 26 records at a sample rate of 24-bit/96 kHz. You also have 48 volt phantom power for all of the microphone pres on the Saffire Pro 26. While the unit is bus powered, if you are using phantom power then you will want to connect the included power supply. You have separate monitor volume control and the dim and mute buttons fade in and out when punched in which is a rather superfluous but overall tasteful feature on the interface. The last thing to mention is that the case is all metal but with a plastic front. This makes the interface very durable and great for the guy or gal who wants to do a lot of mobile recording.
In terms of overall fidelity, there is very little to scoffingly wave-off here. You are getting professional level microphone preamps, plenty of inputs, and the highest level of recording specifications. Since this is a review, it is important to highlight things that might be limiting to some people. First of all Firewire. Firewire right out the gate eliminates PC users from the equation which believe it or not, is still a large segment of music makers and producers. While everyone in the professional audio world seems to use a Mac, that doesn’t mean that all of you own one, have the money to own one, or even want to own one. With that said, even Mac users might find this frustrating especially if you own a new model with a retina display. Why? Because there is no Firewire port. In both cases, you will have to purchase an adaptor on your own as Focusrite explicitly notes that an adaptor is not included with this interface. This is small potatoes and I am nitpicking when you consider all of the great features the Saffire Pro 26 offers, but it’s still worth mentioning.
The real story here is the price. For what you get with the Saffire Pro 26, you are paying substantially less than what most interfaces go for with the same or similar features. A professional quality audio interface at this price makes the Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 a great choice for all.
To read more information including detailed technical specifications on the Focusrite Saffire Pro 26, be sure to visit UniqueSquared.com. If you would like to purchase the Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 but you want to pay a different price, be sure to click the “Make Offer” button next to our “Add to Cart” button. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section below.