Saffire

Duncan Whitcombe

I purchased a Saffire Pro 40 about 18 months ago to replace another interface for which there was no 64 bit support. I wanted something versatile that would enable me to do lots of different things to cover my different audio activities.

The different roles I needed to cover were:

  • Playing keyboards using my soft synths live. Ideally a spare MIDI in for receiving clock and extra audio in and out for clicks would be useful too
  • Recording voice over work. Ideally a reasonable quality Mic Pre and converter that was usable for situations where I didn't need to use my Weiss ADC for ultimate quality converting.
  • Recording via S/PDIF or AES/EBU from my Weiss converters
  • Reasonable quality playback for normal work and keyboards
  • Digital out for monitoring when mastering, ideally a separate but linkable output for sub woofer
  • Headphone output for when on stage
  • Ideally the ability for a separate monitor mix for when recording someone else
  • Ideally some extra inputs for small recording projects

The Pro40 covers all these requirements happily. so far I haven't recorded any voice over material but I have used it for:

Mastering - S/PDIF to Weiss converters to monitors. I ended up running the sub as a split in the monitoring rather than from the Saffire as I couldn't get the output volume linked to the main outs through the S/PDIF but I will keep playing.

Recording - I recorded a demo for a band recently, 10 channels in live using 8 analogue inputs and two via S/PDIF digitally straight from the mixing desk. I would have used more but I didn't have an ADAT lightpipe feed for any extra channels and considering it was a demo, submixing the kit into 4 channels was quite satisfactory.

Keyboard Playing - I had my 3 controller keyboards linked with audio in from another keyboard that had its own sounds plus drummer's click coming in to read the BPM so that I could set my tempo. I also had a separate mix so that I could edit my sounds between sets.

FOH Mixing - adding buss processing over the main outputs. I was able to patch some plugins via a stereo pair of inserts on the main mix bus to add some emulated Fairchild compression over the whole mix. Very nice. Another time I was able to patch four microphone channels through EQ and compression for a small school Christmas carol service.

Overall this has been a great change. I can use this interface with my music software happily with easy access to an overall volume control which is really useful.

When I was choosing an interface, I looked at a few from different manufacturers. This one was available and had all the features I needed and happened to be on special at the time. It actually had more features than the other product I was going to get and was worth the extra I paid to get these extra features (like extra inputs and mixes). I also wanted to have a firewire interface rather than USB which changed my list of suitable interfaces too. Having firewire reduces the load on the USB ports which get a lot of use from the keyboard controllers.

I was happy to get Focusrite because I have had a long and good relationship with Focusrite products. At a studio where I was the main engineer before the owner moved to the states, we had Red Preamps and EQs which I really enjoyed using. the quality of this unit feels more closer to Red level than Green level, although there has been a number of years between so my impression may not be totally accurate. When I was in London about 15 years ago, I was able to visit the Focusrite factory and they were very helpful and it was a pleasure to get to know the differences between the different systems. This came in useful some years later when I hired some of the ISA preamps for another recording.

Of course if I ever had the opportunity to replace my current setup with one of the old 100+ channel Forte desks I would be very happy! More realistically the Control series or the Liquid series would be really interesting too.

Website | SoundCloud