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Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

4.05 4.05 out of 5, based on 15 Reviews

8 Preamps 2 Headphone Jacks Firewire


5th December 2011

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by Javya

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.25
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

8 Great Sounding Pre-amps (for the price),Good Conversion,Firewire Connectivity and more.The Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is Really A GREAT BUY!
after Working solely on an mbox 2 i felt restricted to only 2 mic inputs(At the time of purchase i was only fluent in pro tools and pro tools on supported digidesign Pre-pro tools 9 Era)Sure the Mbox wasnt Extremely horrible and alot of people get great results from them but i needed a better and BIGGER interface to handle my projects.At first i was set on buying a Presonus Firestudio but IMO it looked cheap and from reviews i read people didnt like them to much. after a year plus of searching i stumbled upon this beauty,not only can i use this thing with pro tools and have it run flawlessly but the bundled software that comes with this really gives you an immense amount of routing options really recommend it if you want to record your drum sets or a small band and plus you can always add extra inputs via ADAT or SPDIF.
This Thing Is extremely easy to use i recently recorded a small band from queens and ran everything through this and really got AMAZING results i really would NOT hesitate to buy this thing at all!! DO IT YOU WONT REGRET IT!

5th December 2011

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by aclarson

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've had the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 for about 6 months. It replaced an M-Audio Delta 1010, which I always thought sounded fine, it was just feature limited, and I needed to expand to more inputs with Pro Tools. I found one of these on the used market for only $350, which seemed like a steal, so I went for it.

With the Delta 1010 I was using my Presonus Digimax FS analog outs, so with the Saffire I just plugged the Digimax into the ADAT input to give me 16 ins. I've also previously used a Behringer SRC2496 on the S/PDIF input, but now I'm using a home-built PCM4222EVM converter in the S/PDIF, which is clearly the nicest conversion I have.

Comparing the items I have used with the Saffire, I'd would say I noticed no perceivable difference in terms of conversion quality between the Delta 1010, the Saffire, and the Digimax FS. I do like the preamps in the Saffire more than the Digimax, they seem to be a little less shrill on the high-end. I find when tracking drums through it, I always end up with a warmer sound than I had previously with the Digimax -> Delta 1010 combo.

Clearly the quality doesn't match when I'm using my nicer outboard pres or the PCM4222EVM conversion. After growing accustomed to nicer stuff, the Saffire pres sound kind of boring, but you can totally get a good sound out of them with proper mic technique, which is more important obviously, and I'm comfortable using them when needing more ins.

Feature-wise, the Saffire is fantastic. The zero-latency monitoring is a godsend. The meters on front are way better than the simple clip light on the Digimax. It has a multitude of analog and digital I/O that's capable of an infinite number of configurations thanks to the incredibly complex and powerful Saffire Mix Control Software. I've seen many people have trouble understanding the interface of it at first, just glancing at it is almost overwhleming due to the large number of controls. But I will say, now that I've wrapped my head around it and gained a full understanding how to configure everything, I've really grown to love it. You just have to be prepared to learn it.

So in summary, I think that the Saffire Pro 40 is probably the best interface at it's pricepoint, the sound is capable of reasonably professional results, and the features set really can't be beat. It's been rock solid in my time with it, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking at anything under a grand.

9th January 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by DanBrokenfor

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

Hi there!

Thought I'd post a review of my Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 which I have talked about in previous reviews of my AKG D112 and SE Z3300a.

I got this interface for many reasons, here are a few:

1. To add to my live synth rig (intending on using multiple outputs and headphone mixes live)
2. To add 8 nice sounding preamps to my current recording set up
3. To become an ADAT addition to my other soundcards

I can tell you that currently it has succeeded in all of these areas. For live use it has worked perfectly creating a very professional sound from my soft-synths, never once has it failed me and I've used it in gigs ranging from church services (they're the real tough gigs! :P) to an outside bonfire night thingy with 2000 people! Trusty Focusrite....

I recently used it to record drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, glock and vocals for my band's demos (bass to come soon!). Drum takes have come out very nicely, the extra headroom on the preamps within the unit is useful to stop harder hits clipping. Just to mention, as I was confused at first, the preamp pots are not linear and therefore only hit super loud when twisted above 8ish. Focusrite has explained that they designed the preamps like this because most of the time the extra 5 or so marks up on your preamp are never used because they're too loud, I know this is true with my EMU 1616m interface. With a little Focusrite LiquidMix magic I have managed to create some very professional sounding kicks and snares and the rest of the mix fits in well as well! If you're needing a few extra preamps for a current studio setup for larger jobs such as drums takes I would recommend these or any in the Focusrite OctoPre/Saffire range.

The other guitar, vocal, etc. takes have come out similarly well too, very clean sounding (I prefer clean preamps to coloured, I add colour with different compressors later on). Overall the sound quality of the preamps is very good and produces professional sounding results if your mic and technique is good too.

The output sound is also similarly very clean and punchy to my ears, comparing to my EMU 1616m. I would rate the Focusrite's output "sound" lower than that of the EMU 1616m though as the EMU seems to be a bit warmer and less tactile and harsh sounding. This is possibly down to the better conversion from the EMU. However, that is only my observation and the Focusrite is still definitely a worthy device to use live or in your home studio to mix on.

I haven't used the Mix Control (or whatever it is called) software very much as my Saffire is usually ADATed to other PCI soundcards to avoid latency (if that exists, I haven't really tried it via firewire, others don't seem to have a problem so it probably works fine, but anyway my current set up is just easier using it via ADAT). The cool thing I do like about this unit and a few others in the Saffire range is that they can be programmed to work standalone without a firewire connection or even a PC if you want them to, hence how I am able to use it via ADAT into my other soundcards. This is really a very useful feature and all the mix features can be used standalone to for instance route the preamps via ADAT and the jack outputs simultaneously for a live recording rig.

So, sorry for the ramble, but all in all a very decent device with lots more features I haven't even got onto trying yet! And for this price....wow.

Thanks,
Dan

  • 1
12th January 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by Thebeatdungeon

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I use this interface with Logic Studio 9 and it does pretty good except for the
clock. When i switch sample rates the unit gets confused and had to be restarted which is a pain because i have sessions @ different sample rates and cannot not navigate between them easily, hopefully focusrite addresses this

29th January 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by connorh

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I bought the Focusrite saffire pro 40 for my home studio two years ago. It has 8 XLR/jack inputs, each connected to a Focusrite preamp. These are ideal for recording individual instruments or a small ensemble, depending on the availability of your microphones. The unit itself is about 45x25cm in size (5cm deep) and can easily be carried and connected to a laptop for portable recording of ensembles.

I have found the preamps to be of great quality and comparable to my recordings with the larger Focusrite ISA preamps. The gain controls for each preamp are conveniently located together on the front of the console along with a handy LED indicator for input gain.

I also use the Saffire Pro40 as a sound card for my computer. The monitor control on the front of the unit controls the master volume of my studio monitors, and is complete with Dim and Mute buttons. There are two headphone sockets that can be plugged into the front of the unit, each with individual gain controls. One problem I have encountered however is that the master volume level also controls the headphone level. This means that when I want to monitor on headphones and have the studio monitors silent I have to physically switch off the studio monitors.

Overall this is a great interface for recording with up to 8 XLR connected microphones. The quality of the preamps is consistent with the high standards expected of Focusrite, and excellent value for money when you price the cost of the Focusrite ISA preamps. The pro 40 also works well as a sound card connected to a set of studio monitors.

5th February 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by StephenJames

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I bought this to use while I save for something a bit more high end.
I had been borrowing a fireface 800 off a friend, but had to give it back.

I found driver stability of this interface to be ok at best, when used with pro tools 9 & 10. I had a lot more cpu errors with the session stopping than I did with the RME. It seems anything over 50% on the pro tools usage meter could quite easily cause your session to stop, and that's at the highest buffer settings. I could push the RME well over 80% without a glitch.
Also changing between sessions with different sample rates is a pain, with pro tools having to shut down a couple of times before opening the new session, and then someties you would have to close pro tools a third time just to make things work

The preamps sound good. clean and straightforward, although I'm using outboard pres 99% of the time. Conversion in was good also, but not great.
The DAC side of this unit sounds a little grainy or veiled compared to the RME. When monitoring, I lost a little bit of the feeling of the performers being right in front of me. I'm trying to get used to it.
The extra digital i/o are cool, and that's what I use most of the time, mainly with my mytek converter.

I do like like the software mixer, and it's routing options are great. It seems well planned out and I found it easy to use,

Overall, I think it's a good unit, but not great. But for the price I guess it does well. It will be something I sell once I've saved for a higher quality product.

15th March 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by VictorM

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've been using the Saffire Pro 40 for the last 2 years with a couple of Adam A7s and a Sub 8. In case you don't know the specs already, it's a 20 in/20 out firewire 400 interface with pretty decent converters, stable driver and a very nicely designed Saffire Mix Control Software. For the money, if you need lots of ins and outs, it's absolutely perfect! I used it with both Ableton Live and Pro Tools 9 and it proved very reliable, I even went out of the studio for band rehearsals or gigs with it and guess what..not a single hiccup. After moving up to the Duet 2 I did some side by side comparisons and I noticed the Saffire did sound a little boring and grainy, but I grew accustomed to it, not having heard anything better before.. The preamps are still clean and straighforward, in comparison. I can't praise the Mix Control enough for the huge flexibility it offers, and for the possibility to use the interface in standalone mode, without having plugged in the firewire, retaining the last setup.
All in all, it's a great interface for the bucks for anyone who needs all the ins and outs or just keeps an open mind about expanding the studio.

16th March 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by phixl

  • Sound Quality 2 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.5
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I have had this interface for about 2 years now and have used it on and off on sessions. I thought it would be a good 'on the road' piece of kit - to allow me to minimise the control-room gear when I'm on my own producing and engineering. I was never that impressed by the mic amps (although I know others who use it for classical sessions) - they work ok but you can't get much gain from them and they really colour the sound when set quite high. Quite ordinary sounding - bland. I much prefer my mic amps on the DM2000/01v96/02r96 (same mic pres).

The unit is quite stable though, and very nice-looking. I recently traded it in for a RME UFX which I am very excited about and I am going to combine it with some Audient mic pres so my dream of having a minimal control-room setup might yet come to fruition!

Will keep you all posted about the UFX and Audient.

btw, I already have two focusrite octopres too and while they are certainly better than the Pro40, they are still not good enough given the brand (I still prefer the 02r96 pres). I have used a big audient desk before and was very impressed so I'm excited about the ASP008s....when they arrive

Phil

16th March 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by codyman

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.25
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've been resisting to make the jump to investing in a proper 5.1 mixing setup for my small studio here at home for quite some time now. Between the limited space, and the fact that if I was going to jump to 5.1 at home, I knew I wanted to "do it right" the 1st time and not have any regrets, I have been putting off investing in the gear needed for a few years now.

Ready to make the jump (finally), I started to research how I was going to make my Pro Tools rig jump into the 5.1 domain. Thanks to the fact that Pro Tools no longer is dependent on Digi/Avid hardware, I found that buying the gear needed to jump into the 5.1 space is more available/affordable than ever.

Having used Focusrite preamps in the past and loved their transparency, I stumbled upon the Pro 40 and was taken back by how affordable it is despite how it packed so many features, including enough TRS outputs to drive either a 5.1 or 7.1 monitoring setup.

Out of the box, my first impressions were already "wow". My previous interface (a competing brand that's also single space / 8 inputs, but was USB with not enough TRS outs for 5.1) side by side with the Focusrite, seems so cheap looking as well as having a lot more lower quality plastics involved in the knobs. The Focusrite, despite being only $100 more than my previous interface, hands down is constructed much more "tank" like and even includes 2 headphone interfaces on front alongside LED monitoring for all 8 input channels. Impressive!

Another thing that I really didn't care for on my previous interface was the driver/software on my Mac never really was rock solid. Sometimes during a long Pro Tools session, I would find myself encountering weird "Hardware -XYZX" errors which would force me to reboot the interface and sometimes even my rig. With the Focusrite, however, I have yet to see a single one of these errors (maybe the fact that it's firewire vs usb helps?) alongside the great benefit of having a virtual software mixer included with the Focusrite. Dubbed the "Saffire Mix Control", this extremely versatile routing panel allows for "virtual mixes" with a variety of uses. Since I am running a dedicated 5.1 system, I find the fact that I can route the left and right channels into a submix that can then be fired out to my subwoofer as a form of "bass management" invaluable. I also love the fact that since the interface also has SPDIF over coaxial out, I also am able to not only hook up the Focusrite to my home theater 5.1 system for casual stereo music listening, but there is also a dedicated software option to route out AC3 (I have not tested DTS...) over the SPDIF connection, something my previous interface (despite also having coaxial out) simply refused to do! I will say, however, that the Mix Control software is a little crazy to decipher at first.

I will say that initially I had a problem figuring out how I could send out signals from Pro Tools to the proper TRS outputs, however, once I figured out that "DAW" is Focusrite's labeling for "output", I figured out the software. I wish they would just label it "output" to make it simpler.

One major thing I have NOT tested yet, however, is the mic pre's in this interface. Like I said, I rarely track anything and mostly was looking for an interface that could simply provide me with 5.1 mixing/routing capabilities, however, from other reviews alongside the legendary status of older Focusrite preamps, I'm looking forward to one day putting the preamps in here to use. It should also be noted that via the Mix Control software, you can actually use any of the 8 combo xlr/trs inputs as line level rather than mic level inputs for outboard gear. I love the fact that I can spit out 8 channels, line level, from my old 8 bus analog mixer and into the digital realm.

In summation, although I've only been using this interface for a month or so, I simply must say that between the price, features, and rock solid driver/software packaged with this interface, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is simply a godsend to the project studio mixer like myself. It's unfathomable to believe that I can mix ITB 5.1 via Pro Tools now for all my film projects, not only affordably but also producing studio quality sound that so far has been praised upon by my clients on features/commercials. To think that 10 or 20 years ago, I would have needed well into the six figures to get this kind of quality results in my mixes! Simply amazing...

28th March 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by tone_rekooda

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

Howdy mates,

this review is about the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 interface which I used a lot for recording drums.

Connections

Like it`s stated in its name “Pro 40” it can handle 40 inputs and outputs. If you add the loopback function you`ll get this number.
Anyway, its feature-list connections wise is on par with other interfaces of its type. It has the obligatory 8 analog I/Os, ADAT, SPDIF, Midi In/Out and firewire connectivity. What`s to mention as a very nice plus-point is its 8 mic pres.

Usability, Metering, Connectivity

I think you can get very complex stuff going on with that interface because of its software monitor mixer. You can do monitor mixes with it or route the several inputs and outputs to achieve routing-settings of your favor.

Metering

The metering on the Pro 40 made a solid impression to me. Of course it`s nothing over-accurate but not bad for that price.

Connectivity

I always used this interface in standalone mode. It was hooked up as a slave to a Digidesign 003 Rack via ADAT and synced by SPDIF. This way I was able to use its 8 mic pres in addition to Digi`s 4 mic pres. 12 mic pres are a good starting point for recording drums. I`ve read in the internet that the Digidesign 003 uses the same mic pres as the Focusrite interfaces, and well, they sounded pretty the same.
Using the Pro 40 in standalone mode is a good thing. You have to use the Control Software where you can route the in/outputs and set the sample rate, clock and what connection is used for syncing. Once you`ve saved your settings onto the Pro 40 you`re ready to record!

Soundquality

AD/DA

I can`t say a lot about this but I think it`s on par with the Digidesign 003 Rack. Maybe the same converters too as far as Focusrite is engineering them themselves as far as I´ve read on the internet again.
AD/DA sounded clear but again with that subtle curtain which seems to hide the signals a little bit. But anyway, it`s usable for sure.

Mic Pres

I think they are very nice. You can use 8 mic pres which is a nice thing for a box that costs about €400-500. I experienced the mic pres as very quiet which is nice when recording acoustic instruments or voices. I can`t say a lot about its gain but we`ve used dynamic mics a lot which never was a problem. They are very clean which means they don`t color a lot. Actually I didn`t find any coloring on them in all the recording sessions so far.

Conclusion

I`d say it`s a bang for the buck! You get a lot for your money including 8 good sounding mic pres and extended routing possibilities. If your are in the game for high end converters or coloring mic pres you won`t be that happy with the Pro 40 but for the budget studio or home studio I think it can be worth trying it.

But to be honest I am looking for a new interface at the moment. In the meantime I`ve got nice outboard gear to drive and would love to update with an interface which has got “better” converters.

31st March 2012

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by spiral

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

There is no better Firewire interface for this price: Focusrite writes rock solid drivers (even during OS X transitions), there are a ton of input and output options, there are headphone outputs with independent volume controls on the front of the unit, there is an independent physical monitor control knob on the front, there is LED metering, 8 competent preamps, and everything fits within a single rack space.

This thing is crazy! They have combined the performance of several big name players into one box and have supported it like a professional company. When Lion launched Focusrite had beta drivers they shared with their users the same week while some other big names hadn’t even announced when they would have drivers ready.

In addition to all of the convenient functional niceties, the unit sounds realistic, and transparent. What you put in is what comes out: no color, no loss of clarity, and never ever any glitches or pops. When i was using the unit i forgot it was there since i never had an issues. It just always worked and sounded great doing it. The conversion is on par with the Audiofire or HD24 which is to say clean and clear conversion for days. The preamps are actually very nice and i’ve actually forgotten what tracks i recorded as “tests” with the internal preamps and which tracks are with my “real” preamps. Pretty impressive.

I liked that you didn’t have to launch the separate application console for things to work properly. You can do all the routing within your DAW and hardware monitoring works out of the box for direct listening. This made setting up and recording a track feel very efficient and direct.

The Focusrite Saffire would give the big boys a run for their money on quality and features alone and stomps on them with the price. If you are looking for a first interface with flexible inputs and monitor options the Saffire absolutely fits the bill.

8th June 2013

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by jp973156

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40




Introduction: I recently upgraded my Pro Tools (PT) 9 system to PT10 and decided it was also time to upgrade my MBOX2 to an interface with more inputs so I could record drums. After much research I decided on the Saffire Pro 40 (P40) because of its 8 inputs, and after reading several great reviews on the product.

After installing the Mix Control (MC) software, getting the P40 to work with PT10 was a breeze. It was instantly linked to PT (using a MacBook Pro with Lion) in my Hardware menu, and I was ready to go. First thing I notice is that the software is not super intuitive. Getting used to routing the headphones was a bit of a frustration, and at first I could only monitor through MC, rather than my PT10 while recording. This was problematic especially when I wanted to play an effected guitar tone through Sans Amp, Decapitator or another plug-in. However, if you select "Low Latency Recording" in both PT and MC, and then mute the input in MC the latency issue goes away.

OK, so set-up, ready to go, had to figure somethings out (e.g., how to provide set-up headphones mix, record with signal effect in PT10, connecting outboard gear), which weren't super apparent on any tutorial I could find -- no biggie everything is working and initial frustrations are out the door. First thing I notice is that guitar or bass DI into the Saffire sounds amazing. Very crisp and transparent. When I turned up the gain all the way on the channels I noticed very little background noise. Instantly digging this thing.

Vocals: Sounds very transparent. The only issue I have is getting enough enough juice on some dynamic mics. I.e. I have to crank the gain up all the way on the P40 to get enough juice to power the SM7B. This is an easy fix -- add another preamp in chain before going to the P40, or using a Cloudlifter or similar device.

Drums: The first time I hooked up all inputs into the P40 with drum mics, was the first time I ever mic'ed drums, so no pre-comparison here. That said, man it almost brought tears to my eyes the sound I got right off the bat. Very little noise in channels, and everything sounded great.

Others: DI Bass, mic'ed piano, djembe, acoustic/singer -- everything sounds transparent and crisp. Do you notice a common theme yet? Transparency. That's the word that best describes the P40. Now this has since become a bit of an issue for me.

Tips: I bought a couple of external preamps known to "color" signal, including the GAP PRE-73 MKII and Warm Audio WA12, and I hook up before the P40 into an open channel on the P40 that has gain set to zero, turn on the pad, and crank the external preamps - right on the money. That said, on some sources especially ones with large dynamic range like rock vocals, you'll notice that it's hard to crank the external preamps without clipping the P40 (although the P40 does have a great amount of overhead). I just added an external compressor in my chain, so I go mic -> "colored" preamp -> compressor -> P40, and I can really crank the "colored" preamp now. This will be especially important if you are using a tube preamp that you really want to crank.

When tracking high gain guitars and going directly from mic on cabinet into P40, I'd recommend taking the gain down a bit on the guitar. The high frequency crisp sounds like it it's slight harshness to high gain guitars (I haven't noticed this on lower gain sources, like slightly overdriven tubes), but you still get an amazing sound with gain down a bit on guitars.

Summary: I want my audio interface to have very little background noise, and provide transparent AD conversion. The P40 is perfect for that. I have other outboard gear, and looking for more, to "color" things going into the P40, but I think this set-up gives me maximal flexibility (i.e. having last point in recording chain provide very minimal to no coloration on tone), and I love it. I'd like to get another one at some point and have 16 channels. I plan on adding more outboard gear, which seems very easy to do with the P40 with its 8 outputs. My only complaint is that the MC software isn't super intuitive to figure out, but in reality it's really not bad once you get the hang of it. I am extremely happy with this purchase it really is the center piece of my recording set-up, and for my purposes (home recording my own music) it's exactly what I need.

28th August 2013

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by therecluse26

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've had my Saffire Pro 40 for about 6 months now, and I must say, it's been nothing short of a joy to have as the center of my I/O chain

Preamps: To my ears, the preamps seem to be fairly transparent and low-noise. I have noticed a bit of noise introduced in the last 15% or so of gain, but for what it is, I'd say there's no better 8-channels of mic pres available at this price point! The first two channels also have line/instrument-level switches and pad buttons on them which is very nice.

Converters: I haven't noticed any jitter or clocking issues yet from the ad/da portion of the interface, which is somewhat surprising considering the fact that I have an additional Octopre connected to it through ADAT which occasionally will run as my master clock. Focusrite is well known for having solid conversion, and I couldn't really find any issues with it if I tried, which would honestly just be nitpicky. I'm considering sending it to Black Lion Audio for modding just to see what they can actually do on the converter-end, but I'm not so sure that would even be worth it! The conversion seems deep, accurate and detailed enough for me, but then again, I'm usually working in 44.1k, 16 bit anyways. I know, I know... please don't shoot me.

Features: Ok, here's where the Saffire Pro 40 becomes the front-runner (imo) in its price range... it offers a frankly ridiculous amount of routing and expandability options. I've barely been able to scratch the surface of what this thing can do, and it's actually way beyond my needs in that area at this point. As previously stated, I have an additional Focusrite Octopre (+8 channels) running optically into the ADAT port of the Saffire. That Octopre also has ADAT in, meaning that I could run an additional set of preamps into it, making this the most expandable interface under several thousand that I know of (with the exception of the Liquid Saffire 56). It also comes with "MixControl" software that allows you to completely "rewire" the internal routing of the interface through a virtual frontend, allowing you to achieve crazy amounts of monitoring options and i/o control. Like I said, I haven't really messed with this too much other than for basic clocking settings and latency control (oh yeah, and it runs quite well with low-latency settings). It also has two headphone outputs with individual volume controls, as well as a monitor level knob on the front of the panel, which are very nice for lots of reasons! One thing that could either be a plus or minus for you (a small minus for me personally) is the fact that the first two channels are on the front of the unit instead of having all 8 mic inputs in the back. This is slightly annoying to me, as I'm using a snake, and it keeps everything from being as tidy as I'd prefer. Other than that though, I can't really think of any major flaws!

4th September 2013

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by proche3

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

The Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 is the best purchase I've made for my home studio. I've been using this unit extensively on everything that’s stepped through my door from full rock bands tracked simultaneously to a singer/songwriter/ Native American flute player. It’s been my primary recording interface for about 2 years and finally I feel I have used most of the features and had enough experience to write a comprehensive review for those interested in purchasing one. This review is meant to provide you a more practical overview of how I use just this unit and my computer DAW to provide a workflow I’ve seen in professional studios with far more equipment and how you can achieve the same result vs just telling you the features of it which you probably already know.

Let’s start with how it sounds: What I can tell you is that every artist I’ve tracked with this (including myself) compliments that it sounds “exactly how I sounded in the room” when I use good mic placement and no additional pre-amps or plugins. With that said, mics are a big factor here, but yes these are very quiet and transparent pre-amps on all 8 channels. Just do a search online for this and other reviews and you’ll see this definitely is about the best sounding interface you can get for the money. Focusrite DOES PREAMPS and they put emphasis on the preamps and converters to bring you a good sound at a budget price. You’d think they had to cut corners somewhere but I just don’t see where… I’ve heard claims that compared to M-Audio the sound is typically a bit “Warmer" or "Does not have quite as harsh highs” when using this preamp to track a full session. The preamps do not appear to add any noticeable color or artifacts to the sound, at least until you turn the gain all the way up between 9-10, but this also depends on the signal chain. I recall using an SM7B dynamic microphone on rap vocals straight into the Pro 40 and was able to set the gain to 9 before I could barely hear any hiss. Now I use a Neumann TLM 102 for tracking a lot of the vocals and it'll go that high without hiss as well, but you shouldn’t need it that high anyhow. This has enough gain for dynamic mics like the SM7B which I know worries some when looking for the right pre-amp. No worries here! – However watch out, the phantom power can only be switched on across inputs 1-4 and 5-8 simultaneously so don’t use older dynamic mics which could be damaged by sending phantom power! The only way around is to choose condensers for, let’s say inputs 1-4, add phantom to those channels, but leave it off for the dynamic mics plugged into inputs 5-8… Most newer dynamic mics will not be adversely affected by the 48 volts, but when in doubt look it up.

I have had the luxury of being recorded by others in 3 separate studios, one in New York, Youngstown Ohio, and Pittsburgh, PA and know a few engineers locally so I’ve been exposed a bit to what other “pro” studios are doing. Obviously a high-end $2,000 Neve Pre-amp into a multi-thousand dollar analogue mixing console into incredible A-D converters is going to be the winner in a pre-amp and overall sound and flexibility shoot out here, but you must realize the technology this thing encompasses is light years ahead of what engineers could get in one unit years ago and many of them are currently, RIGHT NOW using a larger number of, and more expensive equipment to do the same thing this unit does especially with the Mix Control Software, and in some cases all that equipment sounds the same or worse than this single unit does. Don’t forget the more gear you have in the chain the higher your chances of getting a dirty signal. You can always add additional tube or other pre-amps before this unit in the chain. Realize that by tracking with the pro40 you are getting a very clean signal, but you’re not stuck with that sound. You can rent or purchase more expensive equipment like your favorite tube pre-amp and retain the character of that unit without compromising its signature sound at the time of tracking by going line in. Nowadays we have the DAW and a plethora of plugin units to achieve the sound of classic pre-amps and effects too. As long as you are recording a good clean signal, your options are endless and this interface gives you not only 8 clean pre-amps, but additionally, I can route MIDI TO AND FROM the unit which I personally use all the time. The next step up when you start looking into 8+ channel audio interfaces probably offer even better A-D conversion and have more specialty preamps but may not offer MIDI I/O, won't have the MixControl software etc etc. This thing is pretty solid, it does a lot of things and does them well! I’m not at that level to know the difference between converters yet so I pretty much trust the Pro40 to be adequate based on professional reviews of their technicians feedback on components and specs. Personally I have made a habit of providing a mix engineer the clean signals straight from my Pro40 for mixing. I prefer to let a pro use all their own outboard gear and other expensive equipment to tailor the sound the way they want them as a mix. Basically I don’t hide any details of the original sound, but of course I have the option to influence it “in the box” if I want to mix my own songs. That flexibility of I/O, quick headphone mixes and sound quality is why I prefer my current set-up using the Pro40.

One engineer we recorded with used a fairly expensive Mackie 16 pre-amp input digital mixing Board to track our band simultaneously and I remember feeling a little inferior in that this was also a pretty transparent board that offered EQ and compression on the front end. However, after learning that it is still all digital and I can influence more with proper micing techniques and the many many different types of plugins I feel confident I have as much flexibility and a high level of sound quality as he did at the tracking stage if I need it. All your Plugins in the DAW are digital effects as were on the Mackie. The Pro40 provides no way of applying EQ at tracking stage unless you use run it into outboard gear like an EQ unit or other effect. I use JUST the Pro40 and expansion Octopre dynamic to get very clean dry signal during tracking but I will put an EQ plugin on in my DAW as high pass filter or minimal basic shaping of sound if absolutely necessary and bounce the track with it on. Only disadvantage to this however is, to hear that in the headphones while I record, I have to use my DAW as my low latency signal monitor which also uses more processing power (I can handle it with 12GB of RAM and 3.06 Ghz processor but you may not be able to) One advantage to working this way vs going through a board or other mixing desk is that I don’t have to keep that effect because it is through my DAW, I can remove or change it without affecting the raw recorded track. Again, I prefer to let a mix engineer mix my material and work on getting the best sound at the source and prefer to EQ the knobs on the guitar amp, throw up some sound dampening or move the mics to get the desired sound instead, realizing that it’s the mix engineer’s job to take out low frequencies, boost mids etc where necessary but why not help him out? It'll benefit you both in the long run. If mixing happens to be my job on the project, I may very well apply effects in my DAW before tracking or fully work with DAW as my signal monitor instead of using zero latency monitoring through Mix Control, but beware this uses a lot of CPU power and I recommend you have at least 8Gb of RAM and record to a Solid State drive to avoid CPU and hard disc overload.

Tracking a band simultaneously using Saffire Mix Control works real well. The first year I owned this unit I didn’t even use Mix control, instead I just tracked everything through my DAW but this was a HUGE mistake! There is so much power behind this software!! Do yourself a favor and learn it. Zero latency tracking of (up to) 16 inputs and custom volume mixes of those inputs sent to 2 independent headphone channels! Without this software you’d need a separate mixer or to create aux sends in the DAW to do this and it takes a lot longer, uses more CPU power and makes your session more complex, using Mix Control is quick and simple and is already set up to change on the fly. One issue you may run into if tracking a whole band using zero latency Mix Control; most vocalists (and other performers too) will prefer to hear some reverb or all the effects they expect from a studio at the time of tracking but I simply remind them we’ll come back to do vocals and most instruments later, after the drums are tracked. The way I’ve learned to record a full band simultaneously is the initial takes are merely a scratch track, and consequently dry. I’ll spend time setting up the mics so I am getting studio level results on drums, bass and guitar so that if they nail the performance we’ve got it captured. This usually takes up every input depending on the band. Back to effects, you can definitely use the approach I mentioned earlier to record everything with effects too if, you prefer, and your computer has enough power, just mute the input tracks in Mix Control and throw your plugins on in the DAW as your signal monitoring until your heart is content then bounce the audio down with plugins engaged. Bam, just as good as that Mackie

Headphone mixes: Each input level (yes all 16) are in that mix control application and you can break down 2 separate headphone mixes of all 16 inputs. With a little bit of reading (there’s some good youtube videos too) and practice, you’ll pick up how this works in no time and be able to deliver 2 customized headphone mixes to the artists in seconds without leaving the desk. I purchased 2 ART Headphone amplifiers so now I have 8 headphone outputs with 2 separate mixes setup for each bank of 4. I believe there is a way to set-up separate headphone mixes through solely the DAW and send them to ADAT outputs but that’ such a hassel and again it needs to be faster than that when you’re tracking a band under the gun.

To clarify the above, take this for instance: when tracking my bass, I prefer to hear everything else very low in the mix except the click, drums and bass. So, signal chain as follows -> One (tab at top of screen) Mix Control mixdown of volume levels -> into one of the headphone output jacks -> into ART Headphone amp (takes the one jack and makes it 4) one set of 4 headphone mixes is set with just bass drums and click and everything else really low in the headphone mix, the other headphone jack is the same signal flow but with different settings in the headphone mix tabs within Mix Control so that the mix is click and instruments with drums and bass really low in the mix for say the vocalist of guitar player. That’s perfect for my needs, I can provide one set of 4 exactly same headphone mixes for instruments/vocals, and a separate set of 4 same sounding headphone mixes for drums/bass/percussion (and obviously expand on that with another headphone amp if needed)
Aside from 2 headphone mixes the Pro40 converts the digital data to analogue and sends to your studio monitors as do most interfaces nowadays, but within the Mix Control Software you set the monitoring section to “powered” studio monitor levels and away I go. I won’t overload my speakers because it knows I am using powered monitors. Everything is in one unit and according to other reviews the converters are really good, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

Expansion: I chose to purchase another unit and expand this thing to 16 channels (which is as high as it will go mind you) to record a full band simultaneously. To ensure compatibility and stick to Focusrite Pre-amps for tracking drums I bought the Octopre MKII dynamic. I really like this unit and I might venture to say it has just a tiny bit better sounding pre-amps but it’s a tough call, it could just be my imagination. Using this unit provides me the ability to add a very transparent compression on the kick, snare and room mics), but there are other expansion interfaces (Behrenger, M-Audio, etc.) that you can purchase and plug into the Pro 40 to give you up to 16 inputs if you want different sounding pre-amps. I had to buy one $10 optical ADAT cord and run it from the input of the Octopre into the Pro40, switch the “Sync Source” to ADAT and in half a second I’ve added 8 more pre-amp inputs :D The Pro40 offers you a VERY VERSATILE set-up if you happen to want more than the Focusrite pre-amps and want to purchase different sounding interface which also has ADAT optical expansion. If you need more than 16 inputs, you should probably look elsewhere and plan to also expand your price range exponentially.

My personal belief is using a DAW, then buying this unit, a good pair of studio monitors, headphones and expanding to 16 channels with an additional 8 pre-amps (such as the octopro dynamic or similar) is the cheapest way to achieve the flexibility and quality I’ve seen in many pro and semi-pro studios. Put these units into a mobile rack mount unit and have a laptop and voila, you’ve got a mobile live band routing AND recording setup too! VERSATIITY AT ITS FINEST and for cheap when you look at all things considered.
At the end of the day if you’ve got the $ to spend, PLEASE do yourself a favor and spend it to track your band in a pro studio where they have the gear and knowledge. All the best equipment means nothing if you’re not used to your set-up and experienced in every facet of recording. But if you don’t have the cash or you’re a hobbyist and want your own studio set-up like I do this unit will serve you well and get you as close as any set-up under $4,000 that I’ve had the opportunity to work around and so far I’ve gone strong for over 2 years with zero issues related to the Focusrite gear and continue to be amazed at how good my recordings can sound with a little bit of preparation on the front end.

8th December 2013

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by Anenkefali

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I very recently bought this wonderful piece of equipment. So far I have no use whatsoever of all these inputs, but they might be needed later on. The only reason I can't shower the Saffire Pro 40 in praise is some problems I've been having. It's been losing connection to my DAW (or the other way around) a few times, not once every hour or so, but every fourth or fifth hour maybe - not that there seems to be a pattern. My DAW (Studio One) just tells me that it can't find the Saffire, and I have to reboot it (the, just mentioned, Saffire).

This is the only problem I find "real", and actually worth mentioning in the review. Then there are some personal issues of mine, like it having too many inputs for my current needs. This can't be taken into account in the review, though. I'm just trying to find something negative about this, but the only thing I find that really is a true problem is the connection issues. It really is great, other than that.

This is the first thing I write here so far, just saying. I truly recommend the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 to just about anyone. If you, like me, have no need for 8 inputs, you could just as well look for something cheaper and smaller.

28th March 2014

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by Robangledorf

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 2 out of 5
  • Overall: 2.25
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've spent two months of headaches trying to fix problem after problem with this thing, and the second on technical issue is solved, another one is created and or discovered. Pops and clicks, nonfunctioning clock system, corrupted firmware, poor interfacing with OSX's audio/midi preferences, horrific routing, and generally inconsistent behavior.

After over 10 emails to tech support and literally breaking 40 phone calls, i'm about to give up on this thing. Similar RME products have always worked on the first try with zero hiccups. I swapped to the focusrite because of the added functions and the low price point, but as always, you get what you pay for.

1st April 2014

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by Francoolivo

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.5
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

I've used it mostly to record drums. The preamps are super transparent and set up in a way to be easily bypassed if you use outboard preamps. The sound I got when I first used it really surprised me – I've used RME Firefaces, and as far as sound is concerned, they are pretty damned close in quality. Anyone that can't make an album with one of these needs to learn how to use their equipment.

It was a pain in the ass to set up via ADAT, but I finally got it and it works great. I had a session where it put in a couple random bleeps, but it has been an uncommon occurrence that is acceptable as long as you have a few takes to edit from (just hope that it doesn't ruin the drum fill of a lifetime or anything.) I wasn't crazy about Mixcontrol, but I got it working, and plan to continue using my unit for the foreseeable future.

12th May 2015

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by louis37fulford

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

Amazing piece of kit, couldn't recommend another interface more. sometimes it takes a while to lock with Logic x, but a simple reboot of Logic solves this 9/10 times. All focusrite interfaces are very reliable, but considering the price you pay for 8 Jack/XLR inputs you're really getting the best deal here.

19th April 2020

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 by bmundus

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

2020 review. For the price of a used one(under $150), I don't think they can be beat. The only draw back is firewire. So if you are running an older MAC on High Sierra this is the way to go. I have not noticed any noise, even after hours and hours of continued use. Some of the best pres out of the budget friendly interfaces(Tascam, M-Audio, Mackie).

 
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