When I decided to upgrade my rig, Focusrite's Red 4Pre fit my needs perfectly. The two things that have made this interface invaluable to me are its extensive I/O and enormous amounts of pristine gain. This combination lets me use several ribbon mics at once. Also, as a studio and live musician, I constantly change my recording configurations. The Red 4Pre always delivers the sound quality and connections I need, with zero issues.
My Focusrite RedNet sessions require interfacing, inputs, outputs, preamps, and headphone amps. The Red 4Pre has all of that, so I was dying to try it out. In a blind shootout, the Red 4Pre held up against several industry-standard interfaces and even over a pair of Focal SM9 monitors, I heard no significant difference in detail, imaging, or dynamics. Setting it up with Protools HDX interfaces was also easy, and between that and the Dante/Thunderbolt connectivity, I'm ready for any session!
The swiss army knife of sound. Most versatile interface I ever owned. Already bought 3 of them for music live setup, recording studio and finally for a broadcast TV setup. Best preamps, perfect build quality and convenient Dante routing.
The central hub in my project studio
UA Apollo, Apogee, and others rightfully get their fair share of the recording interface spotlight. It was a difficult decision to make when I had to decide what to make the central brain of a new home/project studio. Focusrite won me over with a couple of key points.
One was my previous experience with a Clarett 4Pre. This is a great portable/desktop recording solution for home studios and gigging musicians who want to use plugins and lots of I/O connectivity options - all with the speed and reliability of thunderbolt. Focusrite Control (their audio routing software) was a big selling point for me. It is easy to use and everything is visible and clean looking on the screen. You are not looking through a maze of menus to calibrate your routing configurations and sound settings. Everything is intuitively there in a readable and accessible format. Four analog, air enabled preamps, 4 analog inputs unbalanced, along with digital I/O - this interface is a great value IMO.
Now back to the Focusrite Red 4Pre. Everything I like about the Clarett has been significantly enhanced with the Red 4 Pre. The preamps are quieter and have amazing clarity and definition. They have a warmer tone that is still pristine and clean. Having 4 high quality preamps with great conversion detail is a nice bonus to all of the connectivity options this interface has. Air is not a subtle effect, but it is a beautiful tone that works in a lot of situations. I like it for vocals and anything that sounds better with some boosting of the mids and highs. Like all things in recording - experimentation with different mics, their placement location, preamps,etc.. become part of the palette of sounds to work with. Air is a nice feature to have.
Thunderbolt 2 connectivity! Your plug ins will thank you :) Certain reverb plugins can still tax any DAW if you have a lot of stuff going on, but if you wisely use busses to cut down on CPU strain, you can have a lot going on with no discernible latency or jittery pops. Thunderbolt was a big step up from USB and FireWire. Thunderbolt 2 is twice the speed of Thunderbolt 1. It makes a difference. I use an Audient ASP880, that I also purchased from Sweetwater, via ADAT and word clock to the Focusrite 4 Pre. Both do a great job of conversion, but for simplicity in my setup, everything slaves to the Red 4Pre. MIDI has been a breeze. I use an Ableton Push, a Moog synth, Nord Electro, & some other gear via a USB hub to my MacBook Pro. Programs like Omnisphere work flawlessly. That is a large program! With Omnisphere being played in real time, plus plugins, plus other analog things going on like mics and guitar DIs, the Red 4Pre stays locked in an beautifully delivers and inspiring recorded sound that sounds great in real time or post production. Via a DB25 connection, 8 inputs line in, the Red 4Pre has up to 8 Analog pres connected via a Mogami DB25 breakout cable - awesome. You can bypass any of the 4 pres easily and substitute for another preamp or other hardware device easily. The front of the Focusrite has great display panels that are easy to see and easy to adjust. No extensive menu diving! Adjust 48V phantom power, set a low pass filter, toggle polarity,...easy. Use one of the native 4 pres or quickly toggle to a line out piece of hardware - easy. Quickly mute or attenuate the sound of the monitors and/or headphones - easy.
I'm not a Pro Tools user...yet, (Ableton Live 9 Full Suite and recently started messing around in Logic) but the Red 4 Pre is setup and ready to connect to their HD systems. I've read all of the specs and feel confident this interface would be a great way to manage that as as a subgroup.
Focusrite has a great Dante platform, RedNet, that will allow me to really expand additional hardware with the ease of ethernet. For my project studio, the Focusrite Red 4Pre is as great choice. That new 8Pre looks really cool too! If you have a lot of existing analog gear, that one has a great setup of I/O connectivity via DB25 connections etc...
I built my new home studio around this interface and a new Sound Construction desk from Sweetwater. My Sales Rep Jon helped me through the whole process at times when I needed advice or just some reassurance that I was making the right decisions. Thank you Jon!
Great gear for studio
Awesome converter and interface