If you’re looking to add more inputs to your interface then ADAT pre-amp expansions are often the most efficient way. For years, Focusrite have been provided both budding recordists and professionals compact 1U rack units that use ADAT connectivity. With the addition of these Scarlett OctoPre units, Focusrite’s ADAT solutions will reach their third generation. But how will they stack up against other ADAT units within the Focusrite range in terms of value for money?
Focusrite Scarlett OctoPre and OctoPre Dynamic
Many studios in the UK, both professional or personal, will have an OctoPre of some description, either in use or hidden in a rack somewhere. I remember using the original MKI OctoPre Dynamic units countless times, but having to keep good airflow around them because they ran very hot. The MKII was a much more stable unit. Recently, we saw the release of the Clarett OctoPre, which I’ve had the pleasure of using already. As you’d expect, the Clarett OctoPre, which sports the exceptional Clarett RED pre-amps, is a fantastic unit. However, at 640 GBP it might be out of some people’s budget.
The Clarett OctoPre doesn’t come in a ‘Dynamic’ version as it is very much aimed at the professional market. Instead, the Clarett OctoPre offers insert points for each of the 8 channels, letting you add your own compressors to taste. The original OctoPre Dynamic unit was very useful, however. The built-in compressors on each channel were very helpful for basic protection against input peaking with high-transient sources.
However, the quality of these compressors weren’t such that you’d want to use them in anger. Therefore, it’s great to see the return of the ‘Dynamic’ unit with these Scarlett versions. Apparently the compressors have a soft knee operation for gentle compression, and the addition of a ‘more’ button which doubles the ratio for more of an effect if you need it. It will be interesting to see how these compressors perform, but that’s a lot of modern electronics on offer for less than 600 GBP.
Both the standard Scarlett OctoPre and OctoPre Dynamic will support sample rates up to 192kHz. This is great news and highlights the quality of these units. But don’t forget that even with 2 optical cables, ADAT technology will only support 4 of the 8 channels at 192kHz. 2 optical cables will of course give you all 8 channels at 96kHz which is quite useful, provided your interface has dual ADAT inputs. The Dynamic unit also adds the ability of sourcing the 8 line outputs from the ADAT inputs, which provides more mixing and post production possibilities via external hardware.
I think these are really valuable additions to the pro audio market with my only reservation being the price. The standard Scarlett OctoPre seems fair, but the lack of 8 line outputs from ADAT might put some buyers off. The Dynamic version is arguably priced well considering how much it offers, but at the end of the day it is only 70 GBP more for the Clarett OctoPre, which I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending to anyone.
The Scarlett OctoPre and Scarlett OctoPre Dynamic are priced at 379.99 GBP and 579.99 GBP respectively.
Here’s Focusrite’s promotional video for these new OctoPre units, as seen on their FocusriteTV YouTube channel.