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Focusrite liquid saffire 56
Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56
4.4 (12 Reviews) FireWire audio interface (24bit/192kHz) with 'Liquid' preamps, (2x with dynamic convolution DSP to emulate various classic preamps and 6x Focusrite preamps), 2x ADAT I/O, S/PDIF I/O , 8x analog inputs (1/4" TRS), 10x analog outputs (1/4" TRS), word clock, MIDI I/O, 5-LED front panel meter
Since I never make any quick fixes when buying a product, I've run in the Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 ahead looked closely and read various reports on the unit.
The interface has everything I need and more. Eight Focusrite preamps and a midi interface are integrated. Also a monitor controller. Not every channel has a phase reverse or pad, but most of the time, you will not need 8 phase reverse buttons or pad knobs. The LIQUID PRE AMPS are a real added value and very versatile. They were also the reason why I chose the Focusrite product and not for another 8-channel interface. Each Liquid preamp offers ten different preamp emulations including the API 3124+, Neve 1073, Pultec MB-1, Telefunken V72 and Focusrite Red 1. I dig the Helios Console Preamp Emu for guitars all the time. It´s brilliant.
The interface is robust and can therefore be transported very convenient for customers. The included software (Saffire MixControl) for monitoring / headphone mixes is very powerful, but it needs its time till you understand it, at least for me this was the case. The included presets do well for the first work. What I like about the Software lately is that I can dial in dB-Steps for my monitoring. For the K-20 system this is really helpful. I don´t use the Plugins which come along with the unit. But all in all, a great Device from the house Focsurite.
Last edited by RoyalRichmen; 16th January 2012 at 10:49 PM..
I bought this interface more as an investment as currently I don't have an enormous need for 8 inputs, the most ive used with this unit in particular at any given time has been 5, but for what I HAVE used it for, it's been perfect. I run it with Pro Tools 10, and aside from a few occasions where sample rate changes automatically, it runs flawlessly.
The main features which made be bag this unit are ofcourse the liquid preamps. The two preamps offer emulations (both software AND hardware, impedance changes etc.) of a wide range of world class analogue mic pres, which all offer a slightly different shade for your recordings. I personally dont own any of the emulated preamps, so I couldnt possible comment on their success in replicating said preamp's sound, but either way I am extremely happy with how it performs. Another plus is that the interface has two headphones monitor outputs, which is extremely handy if I am doing any tracking in my control room.
The remaining 6 input feature focusrites own high quality preamps which all have plenty of gain to drive fairly low output mics successfully with minimal noise, and each input features a number of switches for +48, pad, HPF and phase.
The saffire mix control and mix control RTAS both operate very well, allowing me to easily bring up a number of different tracking mixes with ease, and the intergration with Pro Tools allows for one very stable unit.
Focusrite did amazing job with this FW interface. Great converters (as for the price) nice and clean sound, amazing routing abilities, ease of use and of course... 10 liquid channel emulations from "probably" the most known pieces of history.
The great thing about this unit is most definitely it's price and sound, You just can't go wrong with it. Really nice design of the unit makes it people ask what is this thing in your studio.
to make things short:
In scale 1 to 10 I would easily give this product 10, we all are looking for the best quality of the sound as we can afford, and this is what Focusrite came up with here, I actually believe they gave us a product worth way more than it's retail price.
- Great Sound
- Routing Abilities
- Liquid Channel Emulations
- Nice Meters
- MixControl Software
- Lots of Inputs and Outputs
Great box with a full feature set. I had been looking to replace my older ADAT expansion unit I had been using and found this at a deal way too hard to pass up. Full feature set with 8 mic pres, including two Liquid channels with 10 emulations, ADAT, SPDIF, MIDI, 2 headphone outs, front face metering screen etc. The Mixcontrol software is very nice and offers a ton of possibilities for configuration including a save to hardware feature to set the unit up for standalone ADAT operation if so desired. A huge plus for flexibility.
The mic pres are pretty good and actually I think the LS56 is nearly worth its price for the Liquid pres alone. Focusrite did not include all of the selections from the Liquid Channel but there is a nice range of options for just about any situation and a pair for stereo application. The remaining 6 pres are apparently based on the Focusrite green line and surprisingly nice.
AD/DA conversion is really very good and soundstaging has nice depth & detail. Certainly there are units that surpass the Focusrite but current conversion technology has grown tremendously. This unit has none of the haziness that my previous 7 yr old 8 channel ADAT box or older interfaces have had. It doesn't better my current interface but that has also been modified by a certain Chicago based company. However you choose to use the LS56 it is a more than acceptable centerpiece for the home/project studio and is certainly capable of professional level results in the right hands.
I love this interface. Actually I don't even use its interface capabilities. These days I find I use it mostly just for the liquid channels. Six additional clean-sounding pres are nice to have there just in case. I run the signal straight out to my mixer (A&H GS-R24m) using TRS and use Firewire on the Saffire only for control. So not even using the AD/DA.
The Saffire mixer software/driver is robust but routing can be confusing until you figure it out. It is not intuitive. Since I am just running signal through, I don't need to deal with the software mixer much. Just have a preset saved and keep the routing for everything.
The Liquid channels sound great. I can here subtle differences between the micpre models. Even subtler differences when adjusting harmonics. But they make a difference. Different models work well with different mics or sources. I have other pres beside these and the onboard A&H, but I go to these a lot just for versatility in tone and the high quality of sound.
It would be nice to have a bit more control over the modeling or something a bit like the Liquid Channel. But it's great little interface for the price. I don't use the other channels so much, but I know they sound great. But I believe they are comparable to my A&H onboard pres so the extra routing seems like an unnecessary hassle for me. But I might A/B them sometime just to really get a hold on which I like better.
After owning this interface for 2,5 years now I can give you a well balanced review. I do love the interface but shall also highlight some issues I encountered. YMMV.
Shortly after new year 2011, after years of trying a lot of different mid-priced interfaces from M-audio, digidesign and a few others, all with a higher fail than success rate, I decided that I should look for an interface that works the way I want it, when I want it.
After a few months of of and on research and a very detailed pro/ con sheet, I decided to pick the LS56. I have since forgotten which other options were on my list.
When I took delivery of it, I installed the latest drivers from the focusrite website and left the cd-rom for what it is. I then took 30 minutes to set up all routing and save a few different set ups and saved the one I will use most to the device itself.
This is a brilliant feature if, like me you have to work on different systems with the same interface, you can simply recall the setting from the device and off you go.
The Saffire pre amps are great, very clean and sounded leaps and bounds ahead of the one in interfaces I used previously. There's plenty of gain available for most applications. Like others have mentioned, the gains are slightly odd in that most of the gain range is past the 12 o'clock position. Something that can be very annoying when you are used to something a little more linear. It took me a while to get used to. It's worth noting that when you hit the last 2% of the gain pots, noise washes over. However, I have yet to find an interface in this price range that does not do that. To be fair though, if you need that sort of gain, you need a separate pre amp.
The liquid pre amps are a great addition. I have only ever worked with 2 of the models in real life and the Liquid ones come close. they are not an exact match, but at this price, these are an amazing addition and a great tool for a different flavour. The difference is subtle and you have to listen close, but it is there.
There's plenty of IO available on the interface itself, details of which have been mentioned in review after review so I won't go there again. If you would like to know the exact details, have a look at the focusrite website.
I do love the adat options and have used it time after time to get more ins and outs. They never failed me.
Wordclock is also very stable and clocking other devices from the interface is very plausible. The unit also responds relly well to being clocked from another source.
8 Months a year I spend on the road for arena size shows, the LS56 has been all over the world with me and has either served me as a backup playback device or for recording various bits in hotel/ dressing rooms. Because of the rigours of the road mine will experience way more shocks and bumps than the average users unit will ever.
This is probably where my bad experiences stem from.
When the unit was just under a year old, I lot FW port 1, fortunately I was not linking from the unit and it has a 2nd port,
then last tour, coming up on it's 2nd anniversary with me, I lost gain pots 7&8. The unit has always been houses in flight cases or padded rackbags but it does have to endure shocks and temperature swings in the back of a truck, since it's only a small case, the shocks do more to it than when it would be in a large rack..
But here is the good news, in both instances, Focusrite fixed th unit as soon as I was home free of charge and I had the unit back in under 2 weeks each time.
To compare, the M-audio unit I had before went back 4 times within a year and came back with the same fault twice.
In conclusion, I am very happy with the mileage I have already had out of the LS56 and unless I would have budget for a UAD Apollo, if it breaks down past the 4 year warrant that I have with DV on this, I will buy this again.
Firstly, What a brilliant interface, I found that as soon as I got this out of the box I could feel the difference in my recordings straight away... I was initially debating the Pro 40 or the M-Audio Profire 2626, the 2626 has the virtually the same channel count as the LS. Though bad reviews relating to support from Avid/M-Audio (plus my dislike for them as a company ) led me to save up a little more and get the 'daddy' of what I would call Focusrite's "Project/Almost Professional" Interfaces.
Sound Quality: Excluding the two onboard Liquid Mic Pres; I found the Focusrite Saffire Pres from throughout the Saffire range are lovely, clean preamps with plenty of gain for any situation. The good thing about this is that you don't have to buy the flagship model for these great pre amps. They aren't Focusrite 110's nor are they Neve 1073's; but they are great taking the price into consideration. The Liquid Preamps add another dimension to this Interface in offering two channels of 10 different Classic Preamp emulations, which is a fantastic feature in itself. This convolution technology is taken straight from Focusrite's Liquid series of Preamps, though the preamps offered are a much more 'stripped down,' one may say 'lite' version of the full liquid preamps, they offer a who's-who into the Hollywood that is outboard gear. (For more on this, maybe try some literature on the Liquid Channel or other Liquid products from Focusrite.)
Ease of use: The front panel is a clean array of well labelled knobs and buttons. It comes with a software CD ROM featuring some 'useable' plugins, though I haven't come to use them yet; and the Jewel in it's software crown; Saffire Mix Control. A DSP mixer which controls the LS56, allowing for monitor controls, to extensive track routing to changing the Liquid emulation settings. I have given a 4 for ease of use because, although Mix Control is a brilliant program and allows for massive versatility in the unit, it is hard to get your head round at first, and still, after quite a lot of use, I know I'm only scratching the surface and it still confuses me!!
Features: Partially covered in the previous two sections you know about the lovely liquid pres and mix control, but asides from that we see individual Phantom Power switches on every channel, two Hi-Z inputs (Ch. 3&4) for D.I'ing. Two separate front-panel Phone Busses (My favourite feature, sadly enough!!) with Pads and Filters on the other channels available, Focusrite haven't left owners wanting much more with the unit!! (N.B: This unit DOES support Thunderbolt, if anyone has made the bold move over to a new MacPro ect. )
Bang for Buck: I think for the price of this unit, no project studio should do without this Interface at the core of it's recordings, It simply betters anything and everything in it's price range. Along with two Octopre Mk.II Pre's, (not the dynamic variant, I think the 'one knob' compression is a dull fad) The studio has a lot of tracking power in it's grasp, The Liquid Channels alone are brilliant, and are only the icing on the cake for this high-value, high-quality recording interface.
All in all, I am very happy with my purchase, which relates to the rating have given it. For the job it is made for, it serves it's purpose most admirable, which is why I hold it in so high praise. I recommend for ambitious bedroom users looking to upgrade gradually to a project studio as well as project studios themselves. Plugging this into your 24-channel desk in your studio will really make a difference to all your productions.
This unit was surprisingly good even before I got a mod done through BLA. The liquid preamp emulators on the first two channels are excellent for changing up a mic's flavor. I especially love the mixing software for sending live monitoring to my clients while they record.
I use a powerful desktop rig so I don't have a lot of need to have an outboard DSP. For that reason I skipped out on getting the Apollo series from UA. The studio I'm employed at has the Apollo 16 quad for when people bring in laptop rigs but want to use our tracking equipment/rooms. It works about as well as the 56 before I modded it.
Black Lion Audio replaced the op-amps and most of the caps on the analog circuits. The tech I talked to on the phone told me the clock in these units is pretty good for pro-sumer equipment. They still offered me the microclock unit in a bundle which I passed on. After the mod, and although the change was slight, I noticed it took me all the way to the top of the gain with no noise floor.
It was amazing with my Neumann TLM 103 in recording even the quietest most intimate acoustic guitar parts with little to no noise. Like I said, it was a noticeable change, but just barely.
I use the adat light pipe ports to extend my inputs with a Focusrite ISA 828. I'm almost more impressed with that preamp/converter more as I haven't modded it at all and it still delivers similar quality. All in all a great setup for under $2000 for all that equipment (sans the BLA Mod).
Really easy to use and has good results and lots of options. My only warning would be that there is no way to do really any effects in your monitor sends while tracking. So if your vocalist needs some reverb you would have to have an outboard effects setup on your headphone lines or run it through the DAW and software monitor, but they are going to have to most likely deal with some latency. I haven't run into any artists who thought that was a deal breaker so far so it works for me. I only get a few ms of latency with my rig, but for laptop setups this might be a bit of overload.
Overall two of the best purchases I have ever made for my personal setups!!