Focusrite Saffire Pro 14
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Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

Saffire Pro 14, FireWire audio interface from Focusrite in the Saffire series.

public price: 279 € IVA incluido
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S2D 09/09/2014

Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 : la opinión de S2D (content in English)

"Focusrite hit the target with the Saffire Pro 14"
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I first purchased this interface back in March, 2nd hand for a discounted price of £60, it came with a broken firewire chip as my laptop couldn't detect it being inserted and all the correct software etc was downloaded from the Focusrite website etc, so after a lot of calls to Focusrite and Apple i eventually took it to a local electronics expert in Glasgow and he replaced the firewire chip for £60 within a few days, so after all of that i pretty much paid the same price for buying a broken one 2nd hand as i would if i had bought it brand new. Doh!

The Saffire pro 14 comes with 2 Neutrik inputs that allow both XLR input connections for microphones and jack inputs for guitar cables and keyboards etc. These are located conveniently on the front of the interface, along with 2 input gain knobs for each of the inputs, a red O/L light for each channel to tell you before or during recording when the input levels are peaking past 0 and a green 'Sig' light to show when your signal is reach -12db which is what you should be aiming to keep it nearer to rather than the red light. Also on the front is a 48v phantom power switch for using most condenser microphones for example, a monitor knob to control how loud the output volume to your speakers is from 1-10 and a headphone input jack with a separate volume adjustment for that, so switching between monitor volume and headphone volume is very easy to do unlike some other interfaces i have used previously.

My setup with the pro 14 is a Macbook pro from 2009 with 4GB RAM, 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo on OSX 10.6.8 and works perfectly ALMOST all of the time. Around the back of the interface are 4 line inputs for things like speaker cables and 2 more line inputs, along with a MIDI in and MIDI out section, an external power supply input and S/PDIF connection points. Personally i just use the firewire connection to power the interface (also located on the back along with a handy diagram on which way to connect the firewire) it also has the capability of being connected to newer 'thunderbolt' inputs but you will need a special adaptor to allow this, i use the firewire myself. The benefit of firewire over usb 2.0 is that it transfers data faster and free's up a USB slot on your computer that can be used for other things like external hard drives etc and is more stable in my experience. The pro 14 basically has all the home recording studio needs in mind.



UTILIZATION

From what i have seen on the Focusrite website, the interface drivers are updated whenever necessary, with the pro 14 having been released in 2009 and currently having 3 updates - version 2.4 in 2011, version 3.3 in 2013 and version 3.4 in 2014 for both Windows and Mac. The driver focusrite uses is called 'Mix Control' which is a very detailed extra virtual mixing desk basically, which can control different levels being sent to your monitor mix and headphone mix with zero latency before it reaches your DAW and is pretty much a separate product in itself. Excellent value for money there. Mix control is normally very stable, the only issue i have came across is every now and then the sound will cut out completely so when you hit playback - nothing happens, should this happen to you all you need to do is open up mix control, select the sync source and switch it to SPDIF for 2 seconds and then switch it back to Internal and playback should go back to normal. It took a quick phone call to Focusrite customer services to figure that out, who were very helpful. The Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 works very well with Logic Pro 9 which is my main DAW of choice.

GETTING STARTED

Because i bought the pro 14 second hand, i did not receive a manual with it, however online manuals can be downloaded from the Focusrite website and has a lot of individual tip sections and youtube videos to get you up and running with the interface. It can be a bit tricky getting started with the Mix control software driver needed to control the interface so again i would recommend a combination of the online manual and youtube tutorial videos to get you up and running because it is worth any initial hassle.

There were no compatibility issues with my computer, only the firewire chip which i mentioned at the beginning of the review which was the previous owners fault as he 'hot-wired' the input which means plugging in the interface to your computer's firewire connection with the computer switched on, the manual strongly advises against doing this. For latency settings, in the mix control driver software i have mine set to the default medium and have not experienced any issues regarding this.

OVERALL OPINION

The sound quality from Focusrite preamps has always been highly praised, and the Saffire Pro 14 is no different. It has a very warm and full sounding preamp section, unlike my previous interface (E-MU) which was admittedly slightly cheaper but also thin and over-trebly sounding when recording. Another huge benefit it has over my old interface is that it is free of 'Digital artifacts' when recording, such as random clicks and pops that add up during a recording and are noticeable and a pain to get rid of. It is very versatile, portable and perfect for home recording. The mix control software is fantastic and can be used to a basic level to meet your needs or more in depth if you wish to pursue that.

Overall i would recommend buying it new as opposed to second hand incase you get a nasty surprise, there are some negative reviews out there from users who have had a bad experience with the Saffire pro 14 but so far mine has been positive and i would make the same choice time and time again if given the chance. If you need a high quality sounding interface under £150/$300 then shop around and get this.