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User Review

Not bad for a compact, portable FW drive - Reviews Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

The feature I was looking for was decent preamps, FW 400, and portability. The Focusrite Saffire 14 has all three. I use this as the main audio interface in my "portable" rig. I have been developing a Drum Suit of sorts and needed a small interface to handle a few inputs and also the rigors of ultra portable performance. Essentially I am street performing and playing small gigs with this rig and I was sick of stripping my main rig all the time only to have to put it back a few days later. In my small rig, the only audio going in are my Vocal Mic (Shure beta 58) into a TC Helicon VoiceLive then into the Pro 14 via spdif, and a stereo mix of my various synths (moog, Korg, roland,yamaha). The Pro 14 has just the right amount of inputs for this and still leaves me two more for the addition of a guitar and bass if the gig allows for it. Having 4 1/4" outputs is perfect for this setup as well because I get the L/R Pa mix and a mono to my guitar amp and mono to my bass amp. I use the Pro 14 in conjunction with a Macbook Pro i7 and Ableton Live 8.


I have the most recent update from Focusrite and everything is working great. The beauty of this unit is the ultra low latency (1.4ms I believe) dsp Mixer built in that allows for near zero latency monitoring. Coupled with the included SaffireControl software, my audio inputs are routed directly to the outputs and Ableton is set to monitor off and simply just takes snapshots of the incoming audio that I can then control in Ableton as "Clips." Being under 2ms, the latency is imperceptible to the human ear. I don't really track much with this unit yet as I also have a RME Fireface 800 for studio stuff. In the live performance stuff I use up to 6 tracks but these are not being simply recorded, but used as sampling pathways so the CPU is not consistently being taxed. In this setup I have very low usage of CPU, no dropouts or glitches and no crashes.


The manual is very helpful in explaining most everything. The only confusing stuff can be understanding the Software. I have used similar stuff including RME's Totalmix, so I was off and running after a few minutes. The setup of the interface is extremely easy, plug in Firewire cable, load DAW, set up in preferences, and then start recording/listening. The software is a little bit trickier. Basic setups are pretty easy, but the using the routing matrix, or Loop back channels can be confusing at first, but it will become second nature. In fact, I am so use to it from the RME that I decided I could not have an interface that doesn't have a loop back feature. The two main functions that need to be accessible on an interface is the main volume and headphone volume. Unfortunately the RME only really has Headphone output control, but the PRO 14 has both!! This is excellent as I treat the PRO 14 as my main mixer and having the main volume fader makes is a lot easier to control the final volume when I need to.


What I like most about this unit is both the pretty solid preamps and the SaffireControl software. The preamps are much better than the Presonus Firebox I first started off with. They are very quiet and not "stale" like I thought the Fireboxes were over time. They aren't as good as my FireFace's nor my Allen and Heath MixWiz but they are definitely good enough for live performance. I got one refurbished off of ebay for $175 which is a fantastic price for this unit. I give the sound quality a 9 out of 10. It's not a high end piece of gear, but in this price range, I don't think you find better. The software allows for internal routing which I think should be standard with the amount of software users these days. Nothing I can say I dislike about this unit. It does it's job well. I used the Presonus Firebox for awhile and thought it was OK, but the Preamps didn't offer enough boost and the sound wasn't that great either. I am happy that I got this unit instead. It's cheap, solid and sounds great.