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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre
Old 12th May 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre

Hey Peeps!

In my current setup I'm running an Focusrite 18i8, which has worked well, however, I need some additional xlr inputs - more mics! I've been tracking a drummer and want to play along! =)

That said in looking at the expansion options I can do two things:

1) Buy the next level up interface 18i20 and go from 4 to 8 xlr - mic pre inputs. I should also be able to connect the two units together to give me a total of 12 mic pres, which should work fine for the next couple of years.

OR

2) Buy a Focusrite Octopre and expand the channel count to 16 mic pre inputs.

Recommendations? Thoughts?

I was also looking at the OctoPre Dynamic, but not sure if it's worth the price of the extra compressors....perhaps it is.

Thoughts, ideas, other approaches? Any suggestions are appreciated.

At this point it's a small home studio, where I'm tracking myself and a few others playing - sometimes at the same time. I'm getting good drum sounds leveraging a 4 mic setup, but I'd like to jam along too; hence needing a few other inputs.

Cheers,
Brad
Old 12th May 2019
  #2
as a drummer...i feel your pain. i enjoy being able to play along with folks so i made the jump to eight inputs so at worst i can do a four mic drum and leave whatever else for the other instruments.

i am currently using the Clarett 8Pre X and definitely dig it. the air option is very handy.
Old 12th May 2019
  #3
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwgray View Post
Hey Peeps!

In my current setup I'm running an Focusrite 18i8, which has worked well, however, I need some additional xlr inputs - more mics! I've been tracking a drummer and want to play along! =)

That said in looking at the expansion options I can do two things:

1) Buy the next level up interface 18i20 and go from 4 to 8 xlr - mic pre inputs. I should also be able to connect the two units together to give me a total of 12 mic pres, which should work fine for the next couple of years.

OR

2) Buy a Focusrite Octopre and expand the channel count to 16 mic pre inputs.

Recommendations? Thoughts?

I was also looking at the OctoPre Dynamic, but not sure if it's worth the price of the extra compressors....perhaps it is.

Thoughts, ideas, other approaches? Any suggestions are appreciated.

At this point it's a small home studio, where I'm tracking myself and a few others playing - sometimes at the same time. I'm getting good drum sounds leveraging a 4 mic setup, but I'd like to jam along too; hence needing a few other inputs.

Cheers,
Brad
I've got an 18i20 and I'm really happy with it. I especially like the amount of flexibility you have in monitoring options. You can create 5 discrete stereo mixes to separate outputs so different musicians hear what they need to hear, and it's all in the box so you don't have to worry about latency to/from your DAW. I don't know if your smaller unit has the same system, so you may already be familiar with it. I think it's great.

As for channel counts, a couple thoughts:
1) Using an 18i20 together with your smaller unit may not be as straightforward as it sounds. At least on Windows, the last time I checked, you couldn't run both devices as interfaces at the same time. Best you can do is use one as an ADAT light pipe expander for the other. Depending on whether you just need more inputs, or also want more outputs, this may be limiting. Also, keep in mind that if you like higher bit depths and sampling rates, ADAT light pipe limits you there too. That said, I still think it's a viable option - you just need to be aware of its limits so you're not disappointed.

2) Regarding your octopre idea, that seems fine too, but I don't see how that gets you to 16 mic inputs. If you've got 4 and you add 8, that's 12, right?

If I were in your shoes, I'd probably get the 18i20 for its extra i/o versatility and mixing capabilities, and use just that any time 8 inputs is enough. Then, when you need 12, you can switch things up and use your current interface as the master, wth the 18i20 bringing in the extra 8. If 8 gets it done most of the time and you'd only need 12 occasionally this would make sense, but if you'll want more than 8 most of the time, then switching back and forth will get annoying, and it might be cheaper and easier to just add an octopre to your current system.

As for built in compressors, personally I'd pass. I much prefer to record clean with plenty of headroom and then compress ITB where I have more control over settings, and where I never lose an otherwise great take because of bad input settings. But that's all personal preference. A lot of people love tracking with compression.
Old 12th May 2019
  #4
Here for the gear
Thanks Ebeowulf! Yes I did not add properly - Sunday morning coffee deprivation. It would only be a total of 12 inputs; not 16. ;-)

I was thinking of using the lightpipe in either scenario, but perhaps it may be best to go for the 18i20, and step up the interface. I "believe" you can do the lightpipe method to expand either scenario, so I would assume as long as one's the master it "should" work fine. But can complicate the setup.
Old 12th May 2019
  #5
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bwgray View Post
Thanks Ebeowulf! Yes I did not add properly - Sunday morning coffee deprivation. It would only be a total of 12 inputs; not 16. ;-)

I was thinking of using the lightpipe in either scenario, but perhaps it may be best to go for the 18i20, and step up the interface. I "believe" you can do the lightpipe method to expand either scenario, so I would assume as long as one's the master it "should" work fine. But can complicate the setup.
If I'm remembering correctly, your current device has ADAT in, but no ADAT out, so any time you're using multiple devices, it would have to be the master. That's the only reason I mentioned the potential complications of using different devices as master for different channel counts.

Of course, if you just always leave them all connected and always leave it in charge, then there's no problem (although then there's little benefit in the 18i20 over the octopre.)
Old 12th May 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
 
esldude's Avatar
ebeowolf17 has given you a good rundown of the situation. Your 18i8 would have to be connected to the PC and the 18i20 would have to be setup and run without connection to the PC if using Windows. Which it will do just fine. I don't see any benefit to the Octopre vs the 18i20 other than price. And the price difference isn't too much. Of course the Octopre is made so you aren't connected to a computer which is a little plus even though the 18i20 can have its routing set and then disconnect the PC and keep using it. It is a shame the 18i8 lacks ADAT out.

You would have the option of using the 18i20 on the PC and sending two channels to it from the 18i8 over SPDIF giving you 10 channels.

So in true slutty fashion, I suggest selling your 18i8 and buying both the 18i20 and Octopre. That way you have the 16 channels we know you want due to your freudian slip earlier in the thread.
Old 12th May 2019
  #7
Lives for gear
Just get a Behringer ADA8200, some complain of slight bleed between channels (I've never experienced this issue) but you'll get much more bleed between mics anyway as part of tracking drums! I think the "MIDAS" pres sound's great on drums. I use a BNC cable for syncing rather than the ADAT link - this is so I can keep my Apollo as the master clock. No need to spend big to track drums - the ADA8200 will do the job admirably - unless you want an excuse to upgrade your audio interface - which is fair enough.
Old 12th May 2019
  #8
Here for the gear
Thanks for all the help everyone! I pulled the trigger on a new 18i20, to step up my game. I found the best price, for a Canadian, was direct from their website; which was surprising!

@ Esldude - I think you're so right with the wanting a bigger toy and selling the old. To be fair, the 18i8 was my 2nd interface (first line 6 UX2 - still love the guitar sims) and I picked up the 18i8 at $0. *I used reward points, and picked up Gift Cards and purchased it for nothing. I just feel bad as it sat off to the side for a couple of years, before I really started to track with it...but now need more inputs.

I was using my tascam 2488 to track things, and it sounded decent, but the workflow of recording on one, exporting to the other, was too time consuming; not to mention lower sample rates.

Anyway, order placed and new toy will soon arrive! =)

Thanks Peeps!
Brad
Old 14th February 2020
  #9
Here for the gear
Hi, everybody!
Same question here. I'm a drummer, and I need to expand the ins of my Scarlett 18i20 2nd gen. I'm between buying the Octopre or a new 18i20 (3rd gen this time). I would prefer to buy the 18i20, as long as them could be split and work separately, which I believe the Octopre is not capable to do.
I think that the only thing that makes the OctoPre more desirable than a second 18i20 is the fact that it has in and out for world clock, and I've read in some forums that it's way more stable than the ADAT sync between different pieces of equipment. Is that true and then OP is a better option?, or the difference in quality sync wouldn't even be noticeable and then I better go with the 18i20?
If there's any other considerations, I'll thank you to explain them to me. And for those who have already walk this path, what's your opinion? Thanks.
Attached Thumbnails
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre-01-scarlett-18i20.jpg   Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre-02-scarlett-octopre.jpg   Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre-03-scarlett-octopre-dynamic.jpg   Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 or Focusrite Octopre-04-clarett-octopre-.jpg  
Old 15th February 2020
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kustomdk View Post
Hi, everybody!
Same question here. I'm a drummer, and I need to expand the ins of my Scarlett 18i20 2nd gen. I'm between buying the Octopre or a new 18i20 (3rd gen this time). I would prefer to buy the 18i20, as long as them could be split and work separately, which I believe the Octopre is not capable to do.
I think that the only thing that makes the OctoPre more desirable than a second 18i20 is the fact that it has in and out for world clock, and I've read in some forums that it's way more stable than the ADAT sync between different pieces of equipment. Is that true and then OP is a better option?, or the difference in quality sync wouldn't even be noticeable and then I better go with the 18i20?
If there's any other considerations, I'll thank you to explain them to me. And for those who have already walk this path, what's your opinion? Thanks.
I'm pretty rusty on this stuff, but I'll give you my best attempt anyway, and we'll see if someone comes along and corrects me!

There are two distinctly different issues when it comes to clocks and synchronization.

One of them is happening on a VERY small timescale, and I believe it's referred to as jitter. It has to due with how consistent the clock reference is with regard to sample frequency. So, if you're running at 96kHz, your clock should be dividing every second into 96,000 equally spaced divisions, and your ADC should be capturing a sample at each of those intervals. In reality, no clock is perfect, so some intervals are slightly more than 1/96,000 of a second, and others are slightly less. These imperfections in sample timing translate into small amounts of distortion when played back, because the playback system won't skew sample timing the exact same way that the recorder did. This effect happens even if there's only one track - this is all about the sound quality of each recorded sound. When you record something with an imperfect clock, the damage is permanent. There's no way to fix jitter in post production. On the other hand, I think regular prosumer level built-in clocks are good enough for most people who aren't in the high end forum. Although I understand the theory behind this stuff, I've personally never heard the effects of jitter, and I haven't invested in fancy external clock systems.

The other issue has to do with synchronization between tracks. It's mostly noticable when you have the same sound source being picked up by multiple mics and the phase relationship is critical (think stereo pairs, etc.) It can effect stereo imaging out create phasey, flange-like effects. This was more noticeable in the days of physical tape machines, both analog and digital. For example, my Tascam DA38/DA78 combo gave me 16 tracks total, 8 per machine. Each group of 8 tracks was about as well synchronized as anything can be, but it was possible for one tape to be ever so slightly off from the other, not enough to be noticable musically - it never sounded like anyone was pushing or pulling the beat, but it could create weird phase effects. The simple solution was don't let a single sound source span across both tapes. So, if you multi-mic a classical guitar, keep all those tracks on one machine. If you use stereo drum overheads, keep those on one machine. Beyond that, the timing issues were way too small to notice.

Back to the question of modern devices, I strongly suspect you have nothing to worry about. I think the track sync capabilities of modern interfaces are good enough that the second issue is virtually non existent now. As for jitter questions, it's never been enough for me to worry about, but it's a personal choice. How much money do you want to spend for something you may never hear?
Old 16th February 2020
  #11
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ebeowulf17 View Post
How much money do you want to spend for something you may never hear?
Wow, thanks @ Ebeowulf17 That's plenty of info that I hadn't before you talked about You know... I'm just a stickman till this very moment. Thanks for your time to explain all that to me.

In terms of how money I wanna spend, in fact, buying the Octopre I'd be saving about 150€ and it will have worldclock connection.
This is what I decided to buy in the past couple of days, after receiving some inputs from other forums and friends. The initial thing was that I was disposed to spend that extra 150€ in a 18i20 3rd gen instead that buying the cheaper OctoPre if the WC was not so important (I understand from your explanations that it isn't nowadays), to update my recording system to 3rd gen and to gain the capability to split them and use 'em in separate enviroments if needed (which I couldn't do with the OctoPre). I don't really know if that makes any sense or I'm am stupid thinking in spend more money when it won't gets me noticeable improvements, will it?

I decided to go with the Octopre and spend the extra money in a new bass drum mic.

I'll still take some time (a couple of months) before I make any purchase, so I'll listen to any opinion and advice anyone would share.
Old 22nd February 2020
  #12
Here for the gear
 

I have absolutely no issues syncing my Scarlett 18i20 to my Clarett 8pre USB via ADAT.
As you said, it gave me 8 more preamps plus the opportunity to leave the Clarett in my studio rack and take the 18i20 with me for live gigs and location recording.

Hope it helps!!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Here for the gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonico View Post
Hope it helps!!
Yes, it does. Thanks.
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