Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 ReviewBy BeatMatters On June 28, 2010 Under Audio Interfaces
If there is one thing that you should be looking for in your first audio interface, it’s quality preamps. I unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way, purchasing the Alesis IO 26 as my first audio interface. There is not a single product that I despise more. Although it gets the job done, the preamps are harsh and thin and the interface itself will reboot randomly, cutting the audio for a short time while it figures things out. If you’re thinking about getting one of these, DON’T!
Great mic preamps make this audio interface the best value for your money
Preamps are basically amplifiers that prepare the sound for an amplifier. They take the signal from the microphone, which is severely lacking in amplitude and boost it, ideally without modifying the sound quality.
However, cheap preamps do modify the sound quality. In boosting the amplitude, a lot of cheap preamps hype the high end leaving the resultant sound brittle and harsh.
I recommend the Saffire Pro 24 almost entirely because of its quality preamps. There are simply no other audio interfaces at this price range that beat it. While I’ve had decent success with an MBox Mini in this price range, the Saffire Pro 24s 4 inputs make this a clear winner between the two.
4 Ins, 7 outs
Although the Saffire Pro 24 is billed as having 16 inputs and 8 outputs, these numbers come from the Saffire’s loop-back facility and are a little misleading. For our purposes, its easier just to describe it’s physical inputs:
- 2 XLR Mic/Line Combi-Jacks in the front (meaning you can plug a mic or a ¼ inch in them)
- 2 XLR Instrument Combi-Jacks in the back (only for ¼ inch).
- 6 ¼ inch line outs in the back
- 1 ¼ inch headphone line out in the front
It also comes with some surprisingly high quality effect plugins such as Compression, Reverb, and EQ. Naturally, these work well especially when paired with the audio coming from the audio interface.
About the only flaw that I can find with this interface is with its latency, which hovers around 8ms. However, it’s low enough that it doesn’t end up being much of a problem recording vocals or synths and that’s basically all I use it for.
One further gripe is that it only has one headphone jack. This is not to say that you can only plug in one pair of headphones. The Saffire Pro 24 actually has 6 outputs, so potentially you could plug in 6 pairs of headphones. However, you cannot control their volume independently. You can control the main volume and the headphone volume, but if you have two pairs of headphones plugged in, you will basically have to control the volume of one of them with the main volume knob. The Pro 24 DSP (shown at the bottom) solves this problem.
Even with these two shortcomings, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 outperforms its competition. It has the best preamps in its price-range, it’s reliable, and it has more ins and outs than its closest competitor in terms of quality, the MBox Mini. If you are in the market for an audio interface, research no further, this is your best bet.
Saffire Pro 24 DSP
Or if you have a little extra cash you can get the newer DSP version. In addition to the great features of the Saffire Pro 24, the Pro 24 DSP has:
- 2 separate stereo headphone jacks: Key if you have someone come over to record that prefers a different monitoring volume level than you
- VRM Virtual Reference Monitoring: Hear your mix in different environments, through different speakers and from different positions, just using headphones