Focusrite recently announced the Clarett+ USB audio interfaces. Succeeding the Clarett USB range, the three new models use the same high quality preamps and have the same number of inputs and outputs (I/O) as their predecessors. However, some key improvements have been made. Below, we compare the Focusrite Clarett vs Clarett+ interfaces to break down what’s been changed (and what hasn’t) for the new range.
Focusrite Family History – Audio Interfaces
In a previous post comparing the Clarett vs Scarlett 3rd Gen interfaces, we found that Clarett interfaces offer more premium capabilities at a higher price point. Featuring high-end, 128dB EIN microphone preamps with greater dynamic range, lower input noise, and less distortion, Clarett interfaces capture sounds with slightly more detail and clarity. They’re more suitable for professionals, audiophiles, or musicians that specifically require extra headroom.
Scarlett interfaces also convert sounds at a studio-grade quality, but are targeted at a wider consumer market. They offer more models with fewer I/O options, starting at a lower price point. The Scarlett 2i2, which has two inputs and two outputs (2-in/2-out), is arguably the most popular audio interface in the world, used by beginners and professional producers alike.
This isn’t the first time the Clarett range has received an update. First launched in 2015, the original Clarett interfaces used Thunderbolt ports. Like the Clarett USB models, the new Clarett+ interfaces use USB-C to connect to your computer instead. Let’s take a look at what else hasn’t changed.
What Hasn’t Changed
Like the Clarett USB range, there are three Clarett+ interfaces: 2Pre, 4Pre, and 8Pre. The naming convention indicates the number of preamps offered by each interface. Each interface also features 10-in/4-out, 18-in/8-out, and 18-in/20-out respectively.
The Clarett look and feel has been maintained for the new models. Each interface has a compact, aluminum build, with a clean layout and sleek black and red brush finish. They are even the same size and weight as the previous models.
The Clarett+ interfaces also use the same powerful mic preamps, offering a 57dB gain range and +18 dBu maximum input level. They yield 118 dB AD and 119 dB DA ‘A-weighted’ 24-bit conversions at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 16.4 or 192 kHz.
Of course, the preamps also still offer Air mode. This feature uses the same circuitry as Focusrite’s vintage ISA 110 preamp to enhance the sounds you’re capturing. It’s particularly valuable when recording sounds with a high frequency such as vocals or acoustic guitar.
All three interfaces offer two combo mic/line/instrument XLR inputs with 48V phantom power, an optical ADAT input for adding up to 8 more inputs (using the Clarett OctoPre), and a full-size 5-pin MIDI I/O. The 4Pre and 8Pre interfaces also feature additional combo XLR inputs, an S/PDIF digital I/O, and two stereo headphone outputs. The 2Pre has one headphone output.
As mentioned, all three interfaces use USB-C, with the 2Pre remaining the only interface that can also be bus-powered (15W port required). A power supply cable is included with all three interfaces.
Like the older Clarett and Scarlett models, you can use the new interfaces with most DAW applications, including Avid Pro Tools. Focusrite’s interface software, Focusrite Control, along with the Softube ‘Time & Tone’ plug-in bundle and Focusrite Red 2 & 3 plug-in suite, are also still included with each interface.
While clearly much remains the same, several changes have been implemented for the new range. These updates ultimately allow the Clarett+ interfaces to capture high resolution sound with more detail and clarity than the previous generation.
The Clarett+ interfaces achieve this courtesy of their new and improved digital to analog (D-A) converter. The converters are the beating heart of any audio interface, and Focusrite have carefully redesigned the circuitry of the Clarett+ interfaces around new converters with greater dynamic range. This allows the interfaces to capture more detail in every sound.
The new converters have also helped reduce THD+N (total harmonic distortion plus noise) on the analog inputs. This ensures your signals are captured with more clarity and fidelity. It’s particularly helpful when recording quiet signals with high gain, such as strings, acoustic guitar, or vocals with regular pauses.
Finally, the stereo headphone outputs have been refined, allowing them to handle varying impedances without the use of a headphone amplifier. This means you can seamlessly use your headphones with the Clarett+ interfaces when recording quiet acoustics or a thumping drum track.
Focusrite Clarett vs Clarett+ Audio Quality Comparison
The chart below indicates some of the differences in dynamic range and THD+N between the Focusrite Clarett vs Clarett+ thanks to the improved conversion capabilities.
|Focusrite Clarett USB||Focusrite Clarett+|
|Analog Input Dynamic Range (min gain)||118dB||118dB|
|Input THD+N (mid gain)||< -107dB||-110dB|
|Line Output Dynamic Range||118dB||124dB|
|Line Output THD+N||-103dB||-106dB|
|Headphone Output Dynamic Range||115dB||118dB|
|Headphone Output THD+N||-101dB||-104dB|
As highlighted above, the Clarett and Clarett+ interfaces are more or less identical, with one key distinction. The updated converters in the Clarett+ interfaces allows you to capture sound with greater detail, clarity, and fidelity.
While the new interfaces will primarily appeal to users looking for their first high quality, studio-grade audio interface, the improved sound quality may also sway some existing Clarett USB owners to upgrade. While slight, experienced audiophiles will notice the added detail and clarity offered by the new interfaces.
Whatever your reason for investing in a new Clarett+ interface, we’re sure you’ll appreciate everything it has to offer.