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Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 review

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The Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 is a firewire audio interface for PC and Mac computers. It offers 16 inputs, 8 outputs, great sounding Focusrite preamps, 2 Hi-Z inputs and a phantom power. It uses JetPLL™ jitter elimination technology that ensures stable clock and pristine audio quality.

Features 9/10

Features:

  • 16 inputs (4 analog, 2 S/PDIF, 2 loopback, 1 x 8 channel optical ADAT)), 8 outputs (6 analog, 2 S/PDIF)
  • 2 Focusrite preamps
  • 2 Hi-Z instrument inputs
  • JetPLL™ jitter elimination technology
  • Sample rates up to 96kHz
  • Phantom power
  • S/PDIF I/O
  • MIDI I/O

This interface has plenty of IOs. What's interesting is a software loopback stereo input which allows recording the output mix of the device.

It's a shame that it lacks simple monitor dim/mute buttons that its DSP equipped brother has (the PRO 24 DSP). I don't think that these are expensive and I would really like to have them in this version as well.

Sound quality 9.6/10

The PRO 24 sounds pleasantly with soft low middle range and enough clarity to my ears. It's not as tight sounding as Presonus Firestudio Mobile, but it has a nice character of its own.

Hi-Z inputs are really exceptional in this unit. They have plenty of clean gain and sound nothing like most digital devices with instrument inputs. Without processing recorded guitar tracks sound full, dynamic and natural. With input gain set to 3.5/10 there's more gain than on other interfaces with gain set to 5 or 7.

It has a bit different converters than its less equipped brother. It sounds slightly different. I think I liked playing through the PRO 14 a little bit better, but I didn't have the opportunity to do comparison tests.

Compared to the PRO 14, the PRO 24's guitar inputs sounds a little bit less tight and dynamic. It appears that these are differences in A/D and D/A dynamic range of both units:

Parameter Saffire PRO 24 Saffire PRO 14
A/D dynamic range 105dB (A-weighted) 109dB (A-weighted)
D/A dynamic range 105dB (A-weighted) 106dB (A-weighted)

Saffire PRO 24 vs Saffire PRO 14, information taken from user guides downloaded from www.focusrite.com (FA0268-02, FA0415-01)

I noticed a small problem when the unit was powered via Firewire bus - occasional noise appeared in the guitar signal chain and it seemed to have some connection with what was going on with Mac mini that the Saffire was connected to. The problem never appeared when the PRO was powered through the included external power supply. Note that the Mac mini uses a power plug without the earth pin.

Round trip latency, driver performance (Mac OS X Lion, Intel Core i5-2410M)

The PRO 24's RTL is greater than 0.703ms compared to the PRO 14. That's probably because of the ADAT optical in. The lowest value is 5.714ms (252 samples @ 44.1kHz) at Core Audio buffer size of 14 samples and "Firewire driver latency" set to "Short". With the buffer set to 128 samples at the same driver latency mode, the latency raises to 10.884ms (480 samples). These are still very good values. There's no latency drift - it's stable no matter what. Drivers are reliable and their low latency performance is very good.

Latency raises by 2 samples when using custom mixes via MixControl (you can redirect DAW outputs to physical outputs).

Safety buffers can be adjusted through the MixControl app. You can choose between Short, Medium, Long and Very long buffer settings.

Buffer size Measured latency Measured latency
samples samples ms
14 252 5.714
32 288 5.827
64 352 7.981
96 416 9.433
128 480 10.884

Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 latency measurement results, FW-Driver: 4.0.0.13485, MixControl version 3.0, "Firewire buffer" set to "Short", DAW 1 and DAW 2 routed directly to line outs

Round trip latency, driver performance (Windows 7)

The lowest round trip latency of the PRO 14 under Windows 7 at ASIO buffer set to 32 samples (lowest possible value) is 4.399ms at 44.1kHz (194 samples), which is a great result

Ease of use 8/10

In this area the Saffire PRO 24 is a standard audio interface. It's simple and easy to use, but it could have a mains out dim or mute button somewhere. Of course you can control outputs by using the MixControl. Potentiometer knobs are made of plastic and they're a little bit loose.

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Mix Control

Price 7/10

The Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 a reliable audio interface with fantastic low latency performance and great instrument preamps. If it had two headphone outs and main monitor mute button I would rate much higher here.

Advantages

pic Sound quality
pic Great sounding instrument preamps
pic Reliability
pic Latency stability
pic Great low latency performance
pic I/Os include S/PDIF and MIDI

Drawbacks

pic Large size, hardly mobile
pic Latency is larger compared to the PRO 14
pic Plastic and a little bit loose potentiometer knobs
pic Occasional noise appeared when the unit was powered through firewire bus
pic No power supply grounding

Product page on www.global.focusrite.com

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