Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 - 16 x 8 Audio & MIDI FireWire Interface
- Product Review (submitted on January 11, 2012):
The Saffire PRO 24 fit my requirements for getting started with digital recording:
- relatively inexpensive
- multiple mic inputs with good preamps
- midi in/out
- mac compatible
The installation was simple on a macbook pro, and from there it just worked in GarageBand without having to do a lot of troubleshooting. MIDI-in works with GB as well as MuseScore.
The included Mix Control software works great, allowing up to 8 mono or 4 stereo mixes to be setup and saved, so each output can be used to monitor different inputs at different volume levels. It's also possible to upload this configuration to the Saffire box, so the mixes can be used when not connected to a computer.
Connectivity is via Firewire 6-pin or 4-pin. The newer MacBook pro's only have a 9-pin output, so you'll need either an adapter or a 9-to-6-pin cable. The Saffire includes a 5-foot 6-pin cable.
The inexpensive mic I have sounds pretty good, and the preamp has enough headroom on the gain to get a good level from it. A condenser mic also sounded good through it (saffire can supply 48V). Gain knobs on front panel have a solid feel. Front-panel input level indicators for inputs 1-4 help you maximize the gain without clipping.
Only complaints (minor IMHO):
(1) when connecting the Saffire to the mac, it's necessary to put the mac to sleep (or shutdown), connect the Saffire, turn on the Saffire, then wake up the mac (or startup). Otherwise sometimes the inputs/outputs don't always seem to work. The mac wakes up pretty quickly, so this isn't too burdensome.
(2) cable on included power adapter is too short (can be powered off Macbook firewire, but I usually plug it into the wall anyway).
Expandability was a big requirement for me, since in the future I may want to be able to record more than 2 voices at a time. When/if that time comes, it would be possible to use the Saffire's ADAT input to connect in something like an OctoPre.
I'm very impressed with the unit and will be looking at other Focusrite products when it's time to expand.
Also thanks to Unique Squared for a great deal, fast shipping and a good website!