Focusrite’s move to Thunderbolt continues with the announcement of the quite dazzling RED 8Pre. It’s a stunning looking 1U rack with an animated front panel and more connections that you could possibly wish for.
Red 8Pre is well connected
It’s got everything: 64 inputs and outputs over Thunderbolt 2 with 8 microphone inputs, instrument inputs, line inputs, ADAT, S/PDIF, Pro Tools HD and Dante. Would you need anything else? Headphones perhaps – no it’s got a pair of those already.
You have a choice of computer connection. Thunderbolt 2 will connect you to any compatible Apple Mac where as the dual mini-DigiLink ports let you plug directly into your Pro Tools HD or HDX system for 32 in/out per connection. Alternatively you can drop it onto your network for 32 in/out channels of Dante.
8 Red Evolution Mic Pres
The unit is equipped with what Focusrite believe to be the pinnacle of their microphone preamp development. The digitally-controller mic pres deliver “a clear and honest sound with very low noise and plenty of gain available for the most-quiet of sources”. They are controlled from the front panel or via the Focusrite Control software including complete save and recall. They’ve also built in their “Air” effect which recreates the transformer-based sound of the ISA and original Red preamps. Having experienced this effect on the Clarett range of interfaces I can say that it gives a very pleasing result.
The move to Thunderbolt has dramatically improved the latency performance of Focusrite interfaces. Previous generations have been just a shade on the lacklustre side of things. The Red 8Pre, like the Clarett range, benefit from extraordinarily low latency. Focsurite claim the round trip latency has a minimum of 1.67ms – although of course that’s going to vary depending on the power of your system and what you’re actually doing. Even so, it’s an excellent figure.
These gorgeous OLED screens on the front of interfaces are becoming a bit of a thing. They are rather lovely. There are three screens on the front of the Red 8Pre for menus and metering. Flanked on either side by two encoder knobs. These offer menu navigation, channel functions, monitor and headphone outputs. All of that functionality is accessed via the 8 switches. That’s a good amount of control available away from the computer.
Bundle of freebies
Free plug-ins? Really? In the box you get Softubes Time and Tone Bundle which includes four “professional quality” plug-ins. You get the good old Focusrite Red plug-in suite as well. I wonder if they also throw in a copy of Pro Tools Free or maybe Ableton Live Lite – just to get you going? Come on Focusrite, anyone who is buying an interface of this calibre and connectivity is going to already have the plug-in side of things sorted out.
There’s no doubt that this is an interface of mighty connectivity and functionality. There’s a huge amount packed into a 1U enclosure. It could be the only interface you’ll ever need.
Sadly there are no Windows drivers so it’s currently only for Apple Mac. I don’t have any details on a release date at the moment but the price will be £3199.99 / $3499.99.
For the full details head over to the Focusrite website.