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Clarity Issues with Focusrite
Old 1st June 2019
  #1
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Clarity Issues with Focusrite

I'm very new to all of this, so please forgive me. So I own both the Focusrite 6i6 Gen 2 and the Native Instruments KA2. In theory the 6i6 should have better (if even slightly better) sound quality in my mind due to price and overall quality. But it seems as though through some testing that the clarity on the KA2 is better than the 6i6. Now I could be wrong and may be experiencing something else here but I notice that the sounds on the 6i6 are only deeper not clearer. But then when I plug in the KA2 and play music on it, the sounds seem more clear.

So I'm wondering it I'm just hearing it incorrectly or if something else may be at play here. Not sure what it would be as again I would assume that the 6i6 should be on par or sound better than the KA2. Looking for any help and advice. Thanks guys.
Old 4th June 2019
  #2
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Anyone have any ideas?
Old 4th June 2019
  #3
These are your ears we're talking about here. So...you know, like...it's only your opinion man...

There's a lot of voodoo in audio. There's a lot of fear in the ear...especially when you've invested some pretty good scratch into something...or when you're comparing one thing you think should blow the other thing out of the water only to find the other thing sunk your battleship.

***This has been a public service announcement.

Old 4th June 2019
  #4
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akai612's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by farmfowls View Post
I'm very new to all of this, so please forgive me. So I own both the Focusrite 6i6 Gen 2 and the Native Instruments KA2. In theory the 6i6 should have better (if even slightly better) sound quality in my mind due to price and overall quality. But it seems as though through some testing that the clarity on the KA2 is better than the 6i6. Now I could be wrong and may be experiencing something else here but I notice that the sounds on the 6i6 are only deeper not clearer. But then when I plug in the KA2 and play music on it, the sounds seem more clear.

So I'm wondering it I'm just hearing it incorrectly or if something else may be at play here. Not sure what it would be as again I would assume that the 6i6 should be on par or sound better than the KA2. Looking for any help and advice. Thanks guys.
As said before a lot of vodoo-marketing brainwashing going on when it comes to selling products...

Trust no one or no arguments but your own ears...

A guy made a shootout some years ago on GS and a low-priced MOTU AD interface would wipe out a lot of mid-ranged and even high-end converters. The thread was deleted because of the fights that broke out questioning the test...

I'd compared the result on different monitors, headphones, hifi and so forth and if you still come to the same conclusion its basically hard evidence...
Old 4th June 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hello people View Post
These are your ears we're talking about here. So...you know, like...it's only your opinion man...

There's a lot of voodoo in audio. There's a lot of fear in the ear...especially when you've invested some pretty good scratch into something...or when you're comparing one thing you think should blow the other thing out of the water only to find the other thing sunk your battleship.

***This has been a public service announcement.

Maybe it's because the Focusrite has more bass and when you have more bass it slightly drains out the treble? So maybe that's why it sounds clearer?
Old 4th June 2019
  #6
Quote:
Maybe it's because the Focusrite has more bass and when you have more bass it slightly drains out the treble? So maybe that's why it sounds clearer?
If you are hearing more bass, its not the audio Interface, unless you have some sort of bass EQ enabled in the Que mix of the audio interface.

All should be equal, as you will not hear the difference because the converters are in the same range. Converters do not add bass.
Old 5th June 2019
  #7
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fireberd's Avatar
I've heard similar from Focusrite interfaces. I used to have a Saffire Pro 40 and thought the sound was great until it died and I started using other interfaces. I found out the analog audio highs were being rolled off. When the Pro 40 died and, at the time, I used an MAudio Fastrack Ultra 8R interface to fix some pre-recorded guitar tracks and it was different - clearer and more highs like what was actually coming from the guitar amp speaker. Later, I upgraded to an MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid and the audio was "clear" and full fidelity like the MAudio device and not the Saffire Pro 40.

Fast forward about 5 years and I've downsized my home studio and sold off the high end equipment including the MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid. I kept reading good things about the new Focusrite Scarlett line so I bought an 18i6 unit. The sound was back to the same way it was with the Saffire Pro 40. I returned the unit and bought an MOTU 4pre and its now back to full fidelity. With the 18i6 I was hearing "colored" sound on direct monitoring and on what was recorded. I can only assume the same preamps are used in both the Saffire Pro 40 and the Scarlett line.
Old 5th June 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireberd View Post
I've heard similar from Focusrite interfaces. I used to have a Saffire Pro 40 and thought the sound was great until it died and I started using other interfaces. I found out the analog audio highs were being rolled off. When the Pro 40 died and, at the time, I used an MAudio Fastrack Ultra 8R interface to fix some pre-recorded guitar tracks and it was different - clearer and more highs like what was actually coming from the guitar amp speaker. Later, I upgraded to an MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid and the audio was "clear" and full fidelity like the MAudio device and not the Saffire Pro 40.

Fast forward about 5 years and I've downsized my home studio and sold off the high end equipment including the MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid. I kept reading good things about the new Focusrite Scarlett line so I bought an 18i6 unit. The sound was back to the same way it was with the Saffire Pro 40. I returned the unit and bought an MOTU 4pre and its now back to full fidelity. With the 18i6 I was hearing "colored" sound on direct monitoring and on what was recorded. I can only assume the same preamps are used in both the Saffire Pro 40 and the Scarlett line.
Thank you so much for your response. I'm glad it's not just me hearing this. Do you know of any devices that could give me more clarity at the $300-$400 price range?
Old 5th June 2019
  #9
Deleted e999d8e
Guest
So now you're getting ready to move onto your third interface. Maybe it's the KA2 that's been coloring your sound, not the 6i6. It's something to consider, anyway.
Old 5th June 2019
  #10
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireberd View Post
I've heard similar from Focusrite interfaces. I used to have a Saffire Pro 40 and thought the sound was great until it died and I started using other interfaces. I found out the analog audio highs were being rolled off. When the Pro 40 died and, at the time, I used an MAudio Fastrack Ultra 8R interface to fix some pre-recorded guitar tracks and it was different - clearer and more highs like what was actually coming from the guitar amp speaker. Later, I upgraded to an MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid and the audio was "clear" and full fidelity like the MAudio device and not the Saffire Pro 40.

Fast forward about 5 years and I've downsized my home studio and sold off the high end equipment including the MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid. I kept reading good things about the new Focusrite Scarlett line so I bought an 18i6 unit. The sound was back to the same way it was with the Saffire Pro 40. I returned the unit and bought an MOTU 4pre and its now back to full fidelity. With the 18i6 I was hearing "colored" sound on direct monitoring and on what was recorded. I can only assume the same preamps are used in both the Saffire Pro 40 and the Scarlett line.
I own a Saffire 40. I've run frequency tests and seen those run by others. They almost ruler flat up to 20K. Not saying you didn't hear some difference but I doubt it was any high frequency rolloff from the Saffire.
Old 5th June 2019
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e999d8e View Post
So now you're getting ready to move onto your third interface. Maybe it's the KA2 that's been coloring your sound, not the 6i6. It's something to consider, anyway.
Well if I find out that it's the Focusrite, I will return it and get a K6 or something in that $300-$400 price range. But I have a 30 day window to do so.

But that is a good point too. Because when I set them both to mono and play them side by side there is a major difference. I'm new to this so my ear's aren't very trained like most of you guys'.
Old 5th June 2019
  #12
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fireberd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tymish View Post
I own a Saffire 40. I've run frequency tests and seen those run by others. They almost ruler flat up to 20K. Not saying you didn't hear some difference but I doubt it was any high frequency rolloff from the Saffire.
It may not be frequency but more "clarity". I heard the same thing on playback of Pedal Steel Guitar (which tends to be a clean/bright sound) tracks on both the Pro 40 (I had an early production model) and the 18i6. Both in headphones and with studio monitor speakers. I've had different headsets and the current one is an Audio-Technica M50X. My current monitor speakers are JBL LSR308's.
Old 5th June 2019
  #13
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fireberd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmfowls View Post
Thank you so much for your response. I'm glad it's not just me hearing this. Do you know of any devices that could give me more clarity at the $300-$400 price range?
The MOTU 4pre, what I have now, will do it but its $450. I've used a Tascam US 16X08 at another studio and it sounded correct to. Its $300 but does have the low latency the 4pre does. There are more in that price range. Take a look at
Sweetwater
Old 5th June 2019
  #14
Gear Addict
 
juiseman's Avatar
 

I think what you are hearing is correct.
never been a fan of the converters in the 2 Focusrite Pro 24's that I own.
It could also be how the preamps are voiced.

when I tested the cheapo BEHRINGER UMC404HD ($99)
it was noticeably better than the pro 24 ($260ish)

The pro 40 used different converters (if I'm remembering correctly)
and In my view was a better unit.

If you have the option to try some different interfaces in your budget;
that's the best way to go about it. Then balance the sound quality
with the inputs and features you need.

The bad part is; the sound quality of a top notch interface/converter
is going to run you some cash. You might look into some used higher end
units. Something older with higher quality will sound better usually than the
new lower end $200-$300 units most of the time.

We use a Steinberg UR824 and it is a decent mid range interface.
I'm just not a fan of the driver performance. I think it could be better
(2.8ms In/3.8 out on my win 7 rig.)

I'm actually wondering myself how some of these newer TB/USB interfaces
sound and if their has been some great leaps of difference in audio quality
vs what was out there 5-10 years ago when I was actively searching for
a decent budget interface.
The uR824 won $799 new at the time.

Good luck!!

~juise~
Old 5th June 2019
  #15
Gear Nut
Even though the 2nd gens fixed the gain staging, the noise floor is pretty much similar to how it was before. So you will have a high noise floor when recording with a scarlett (at least compared to modern interfaces).
Old 5th June 2019
  #16
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fireberd View Post
I've heard similar from Focusrite interfaces. I used to have a Saffire Pro 40 and thought the sound was great until it died and I started using other interfaces. I found out the analog audio highs were being rolled off. When the Pro 40 died and, at the time, I used an MAudio Fastrack Ultra 8R interface to fix some pre-recorded guitar tracks and it was different - clearer and more highs like what was actually coming from the guitar amp speaker. Later, I upgraded to an MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid and the audio was "clear" and full fidelity like the MAudio device and not the Saffire Pro 40.

Fast forward about 5 years and I've downsized my home studio and sold off the high end equipment including the MOTU 896Mk3 Hybrid. I kept reading good things about the new Focusrite Scarlett line so I bought an 18i6 unit. The sound was back to the same way it was with the Saffire Pro 40. I returned the unit and bought an MOTU 4pre and its now back to full fidelity. With the 18i6 I was hearing "colored" sound on direct monitoring and on what was recorded. I can only assume the same preamps are used in both the Saffire Pro 40 and the Scarlett line.
I notice that the MOTU 4pre only does 24-bit/96kHz. Would there be something that can match it's clarity while doing 192?
Old 5th June 2019
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EisaMo View Post
Even though the 2nd gens fixed the gain staging, the noise floor is pretty much similar to how it was before. So you will have a high noise floor when recording with a scarlett (at least compared to modern interfaces).
I'm more using the interfaces for listening rather than recording. Does it still have a high noise floor when listening?
Old 5th June 2019
  #18
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ionian's Avatar
Ages ago I had a Focusrite Saffire interface. I didn't realize how colored the sound was until I eventually bought a Steinberg MR816 interface. It was like taking blankets off my speakers. The Focusrite, in comparison had this funky thing going on in the mids and the top was rolled off. I've never trusted Focusrite converters ever since. No comment on the new line - the bright red ones. They look good and are good sounding but I lost my taste for Focusrite converters after that.

I'm not surprised by your experience.
Old 5th June 2019
  #19
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmfowls View Post
I'm more using the interfaces for listening rather than recording. Does it still have a high noise floor when listening?
You mean the TRS out to monitors or something? Yeah that should still have all the qualities from the preamp section.
Old 5th June 2019
  #20
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In this entire thread not one poster has given details of how the units are being compared and what scientific rigor, if any, was employed. A half db, sometimes even a quarter db of difference between units in recorded volume or playback volume can cause one interface to sound remarkably cleaner, clearer and more detailed that the other unit, when in fact it is just a tiny, tiny bit louder.
Also, the posters all seem to know which unit is which when the do listening comparisons. That completely invalidates any conclusions in a fair test.
So what you have are impressions and opinions, but nothing clearly grounded in provable facts.
The opinions and impressions aren’t necessarily wrong, but the problem is that none of them are based on blind, repetitive ability to identify a better unit.
Old 5th June 2019
  #21
Gear Addict
 

FWIW the Saffire Pro 40 is 10 year old technology that only cost $500 new. For the money it was a huge value. For me on my old cheese grater mac it's been rock solid for 10 years. No doubt there are better interfaces out there. But i can't a imagine a better return on investment for semi pro use.
Old 5th June 2019
  #22
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fireberd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmfowls View Post
I notice that the MOTU 4pre only does 24-bit/96kHz. Would there be something that can match it's clarity while doing 192?
I don't know. I only record 24bit/44.1Khz so I've never looked for that capability.

Look over the Sweetwater that I linked as it lists units in your price range.
Old 6th June 2019
  #23
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esldude's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushman View Post
In this entire thread not one poster has given details of how the units are being compared and what scientific rigor, if any, was employed. A half db, sometimes even a quarter db of difference between units in recorded volume or playback volume can cause one interface to sound remarkably cleaner, clearer and more detailed that the other unit, when in fact it is just a tiny, tiny bit louder.
Also, the posters all seem to know which unit is which when the do listening comparisons. That completely invalidates any conclusions in a fair test.
So what you have are impressions and opinions, but nothing clearly grounded in provable facts.
The opinions and impressions aren’t necessarily wrong, but the problem is that none of them are based on blind, repetitive ability to identify a better unit.
I'm in a bit of fix on this.

My impression of my Scarlett 18i20 is not very airy and a bit heavy sounding. Almost sluggish in the low end. But the frequency response is just fine.

I agree you have to be careful in evaluations. Must level match precisely or its all wrong. So I capture the sound of the 18i20 and other converters. All of which sound more balanced, extended and cleaner in the low end. Put the recordings (not recorded with the Scarlett) into an ABX software. Can't hear a difference. I once did repetitive loopbacks to the 8th generation figuring it would amplify the difference. I can, with great difficulty hear a difference. But it has nothing to do with the frequency response.

So is the heavy sound like a blanket was thrown over your monitors for real or not? I'd say not. If you search a bit on audio forums you can find people saying the Scarletts sound harsh, bright, thin. Sounds like I lost the low end versus X. A few responders will concur.
Old 6th June 2019
  #24
JAT
Lives for gear
The components around the converters makes a difference. Most of the chips are the same make and model.

For a great sound, both conversion and pres, try a TAscam uh 7000. A $1000 sound for $3-400. High latency for these days, but a nice sparkly sound and crystal clear. I use one w an id44, and each bring a “sound” to recording. The audient is smoother, more analog.
Old 6th June 2019
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
I'm in a bit of fix on this.

Put the recordings (not recorded with the Scarlett) into an ABX software. Can't hear a difference.

So is the heavy sound like a blanket was thrown over your monitors for real or not? I'd say not.
You should get some kind of Gearslutz award!
You have actually done blind ABX testing!
AND you found what I have sometimes found. Your very reasoned “fair” opinion of easy to hear qualities of a piece of equipment just flat disappears.

You aren’t in any fix at all, unless knowing the provable truth about something creates a huge problem for you. What I’ve found is that my spending and selling decisions about audio gear are getting more intelligent and simple. I’ve sold a lot of “color” gear because in level matched blind listening, almost everything had the same color, and the few that actually had a discernible color didn’t have a difference I particularly liked.
I wish more engineers would test their perceptions this way.
Old 6th June 2019
  #26
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foamboy's Avatar
Well, I have been where you're at, just like many other respondents. IMO, humbly speaking, an audio interface is just one part of the total monitoring chain. Here's my story: I had a saffire Pro 40 in an under treated room, with okay speakers and thought that it was the Saffire causing me to mix not so well. When I listened back to commercial recordings and my own mixes through my M Audio 24/96, everything sounded cleaner with tighter low end and so......I began mixing on the M Audio in a moderately treated room with better speakers. I noticed my mixes were not translating in the same way that it sounded in my room.....they were duller and boomier on other systems when compared to commercial recordings. Of course this makes sense if you think about it. So I tried mixing on the Saffire using the better speakers I had purchased and those mixes translated better than when I used the M Audio. So , the point here, is that the audio interface was interacting (at least imo) "better" (more accurately) using the better speakers than was the "cleaner and brighter" sounding 24/96.

I am now using my Saffires in a treated room with Presonus S6 monitors (which are a decent mid priced monitor). yes, I hear some of the opaque sound that has been described, BUT, when compared to mixing with my cleaner 24/96, I feel like I am able to make better mix decisions using the Saffires because mixes tend to be cumulative and the opaque nature helps me to make eq decisions that reduce some of the "muddy" build up that can occur when doing bass heavy and dense mixes which makes my mixes translate on more systems.

I think the point I am trying to make is, get whatever audio device is going to be most enjoyable for you to use and then see how your mixes translate because I think any audio device (monitoring chain)is going to require it's share of compromise with regard to mix decisions. As stated, most audio devices will "shoot" flat. I had this experience with the Saffires, 2 M Audio devices,Presonus and a cheapo Sound blaster.......they ALL measured flat when tested. So, obviously you can't count on that to help make a purchasing decision. Get what you want and LEARN it.

Good luck,

fb
Old 7th June 2019
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foamboy View Post
Well, I have been where you're at, just like many other respondents. IMO, humbly speaking, an audio interface is just one part of the total monitoring chain. Here's my story: I had a saffire Pro 40 in an under treated room, with okay speakers and thought that it was the Saffire causing me to mix not so well. When I listened back to commercial recordings and my own mixes through my M Audio 24/96, everything sounded cleaner with tighter low end and so......I began mixing on the M Audio in a moderately treated room with better speakers. I noticed my mixes were not translating in the same way that it sounded in my room.....they were duller and boomier on other systems when compared to commercial recordings. Of course this makes sense if you think about it. So I tried mixing on the Saffire using the better speakers I had purchased and those mixes translated better than when I used the M Audio. So , the point here, is that the audio interface was interacting (at least imo) "better" (more accurately) using the better speakers than was the "cleaner and brighter" sounding 24/96.

I am now using my Saffires in a treated room with Presonus S6 monitors (which are a decent mid priced monitor). yes, I hear some of the opaque sound that has been described, BUT, when compared to mixing with my cleaner 24/96, I feel like I am able to make better mix decisions using the Saffires because mixes tend to be cumulative and the opaque nature helps me to make eq decisions that reduce some of the "muddy" build up that can occur when doing bass heavy and dense mixes which makes my mixes translate on more systems.

I think the point I am trying to make is, get whatever audio device is going to be most enjoyable for you to use and then see how your mixes translate because I think any audio device (monitoring chain)is going to require it's share of compromise with regard to mix decisions. As stated, most audio devices will "shoot" flat. I had this experience with the Saffires, 2 M Audio devices,Presonus and a cheapo Sound blaster.......they ALL measured flat when tested. So, obviously you can't count on that to help make a purchasing decision. Get what you want and LEARN it.

Good luck,

fb
Thank you for the detailed response. Appreciate the feedback. The thing for me is that I am not really mixing but am just using the LSR305's, K2 and 6i6 for listening only. The 6i6 I wanted to use for my speakers and use the K2 for my headset (AKG HSC271's) [I have two different audio interfaces so I can listen to music through one device and listen to another source from another].

I thought that the extra money I put down on the 6i6 would give a better quality to my listening though the speakers. But this has proven difficult as there are two different sounds coming from wither device.

I do notice that the 6i6 is much more "boomier" than the k2. For my purposes do you think I should return the 6i6 and try something different? What options would be available in the $300-$400 price range?
Old 7th June 2019
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esldude View Post
I'm in a bit of fix on this.

My impression of my Scarlett 18i20 is not very airy and a bit heavy sounding. Almost sluggish in the low end. But the frequency response is just fine.

I agree you have to be careful in evaluations. Must level match precisely or its all wrong. So I capture the sound of the 18i20 and other converters. All of which sound more balanced, extended and cleaner in the low end. Put the recordings (not recorded with the Scarlett) into an ABX software. Can't hear a difference. I once did repetitive loopbacks to the 8th generation figuring it would amplify the difference. I can, with great difficulty hear a difference. But it has nothing to do with the frequency response.

So is the heavy sound like a blanket was thrown over your monitors for real or not? I'd say not. If you search a bit on audio forums you can find people saying the Scarletts sound harsh, bright, thin. Sounds like I lost the low end versus X. A few responders will concur.
Is there anyway I can take off the blanket when listening? Any way to change settings somewhere to make listening (specifically) clearer?
Old 7th June 2019
  #29
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JAT View Post
The components around the converters makes a difference. Most of the chips are the same make and model.

For a great sound, both conversion and pres, try a TAscam uh 7000. A $1000 sound for $3-400. High latency for these days, but a nice sparkly sound and crystal clear. I use one w an id44, and each bring a “sound” to recording. The audient is smoother, more analog.
I can't seem to find the TASCAM UH 7000 anywhere for sale (I'm in Canada). I'm thinking this is because the interface is a little older. Do you know of any newer models that would match the quality?
Old 7th June 2019
  #30
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foamboy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by farmfowls View Post
T
I do notice that the 6i6 is much more "boomier" than the k2. For my purposes do you think I should return the 6i6 and try something different? What options would be available in the $300-$400 price range?

I am under the impression that you own the k2 and like it better. If this is strictly for listening purposes, why not just send the 616 back and call it a day? TBH it sounds like you're trying to find a good playback/listening interface, in which case, once again, IF you are happy with the k2, just be done already. As I mentioned, there are several attributes in a listening chain.....interface, speakers, room......perhaps you should consider a different set of speakers/headphones and some room treatment if you are using speakers.

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