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focusrite octopre close-up
Old 8th June 2003
  #1
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heinz's Avatar
 

focusrite octopre close-up

In my quest for a decent 8-channel pre/converter unit for tracking drums I've had an opportunity to use the Focusrite OctoPre for a bit. Here are some subjective findings.

- Construction

Totally cheap, I would not take this on the road, much less put it in a pro studio for fear of breaking it. Switches are cheap, pots feel mushy and innacurate. This is clearly targeted at home-studio users, rack it and DON'T BUMP INTO IT heh. For a set-and-forget drum rig like mine it's serviceable though. Some pictures are below.

- Sound

Not as bad as I expected given the price or the negative word in the forums. Even with my limited engineering skillz it doesn't seem tragic.

I recorded some comparisons between the OctoPre and an Apogee Trak2 unit (forgive my wanking). Both units have their own pres and A/D conversion, but the OctoPre was locked to the Apogee clock in the tests. No dynamics processing was used, straight recording into Samplitude 7.1.

Can you figure out which unit was used first/second in each example?


- Drum Overheads
Stereo kit using matched SP C3's, Fo8, low-end rolloff switch on
500k mp3 file

- Distorted Guitar Amp
WARNING MUCH LOUDER than the previous drum track
Les Paul into Dual Rectifier combo using Royer 121
700k mp3 file

Here is a small (very rough) sample of a full 8-channel drum recording using the OctoPre:
250k mp3 file

Here are some pics of the internals (don't look at it sideways it'll break hee hee):

single channel board

full inside shot

cheapy switch closeup

back of unit
Old 8th June 2003
  #2
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Midlandmorgan's Avatar
 

Good photos...thanks! I have an Octo that has been in the rack since the day I got it, and use it daily..(why did you take yours apart? I try not to do that to ANYTHING since my "strat tremolo incident" several years ago...)

Are you comparing the sound to Focusrite's bigger brothers and other higher end gear? From my somewhat jaded and redneck perspective, I thought the Octo identified and filled a niche quite nicely...specifically, drums, non-critical rhythym instruments, and so forth...and when tweaked (I use Samp 7.11 as well) actually sounds pretty darn good...

Tim Farrant (Buzz Audio) and others have written about this before...and each time, reviewers say essentially that they were surprised at the sound quality of the unit given its "questionable" construction...

K

{Since I don't have the AD card, could you post your opinion the the digital card vs analog outs? Might save a bit of cash....thanks!}
Old 8th June 2003
  #3
Schnert
Guest
Have no idea, since I've never tried any of those units. I can say which I preferred though, at least in that mp3 file...
The panning was different in the two drum takes, makes it harder, but I preferred the first take, sounded fuller. In the Les Paul file, I preferred the second take, a bit more aggressive and defined.
So, which was which?
Old 8th June 2003
  #4
Schnert
Guest
Uh, listened on a set of speakers....dunno which I like best any more. Never mind
Old 8th June 2003
  #5
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heinz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Midlandmorgan
I have an Octo that has been in the rack since the day I got it, and use it daily..(why did you take yours apart? I try not to do that to ANYTHING since my "strat tremolo incident" several years ago...)
Hehe, I opened it up to install the A/D/ADAT option. Thought I would snap some photos.

Quote:
Since I don't have the AD card, could you post your opinion the the digital card vs analog outs? Might save a bit of cash....thanks!
I haven't heard the unit with just analog outs, but the digital conversion sounds ok to me. I have very little technical data on the A/D converter technology used in the octopre, all I know is that it costs less than the equivalent converter used in the 220/440 units.

Quote:
Originally posted by Schnert
The panning was different in the two drum takes, makes it harder, but I preferred the first take, sounded fuller. In the Les Paul file, I preferred the second take, a bit more aggressive and defined. So, which was which?
In both samples the Focusrite unit was first. Panning should be identical since I literally just moved the inputs from one pre to the other. Could be that I didn't have the mushy little gain knobs on the FR unit matched precisely, and even if I did I would be suspicious that the pots aren't setting the exact same value.
Old 8th June 2003
  #6
Gear Addict
 
Bobalou's Avatar
 

Heinz,

what are you recording into? (your set-up) ....how many tracks of drums you normally recored? (are you using the trak2 for overs and octopre for the rest?).....do you find the limiters helpful?

just curious.
thanks
Old 8th June 2003
  #7
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heinz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by Bobalou
what are you recording into? (your set-up) ....how many tracks of drums you normally recored? (are you using the trak2 for overs and octopre for the rest?).....do you find the limiters helpful?
Well I have two different signal paths going in:

OctoPre, ADAT out ->
Marian Marc A ADAT i/o pci card ->
Pentium 4 2Ghz Computer

This covers live drum recording only. I run 2 overheads, kik, snare top, snare bottom, rack tom, floor tom, and a room mic. I still think my overall sound is ass, and needs a lot of work. But I'm learning slowly.

All other stuff uses:

Trak2, SPDIF out ->
MAudio DIO 2496 pci card ->
Computer

I go ADAT out to the Trak2 for the D/A option to route monitors, signal processing to various gear, and other stuff.

I have not yet used the comp/limiters on the OctoPre so I can't comment on their sonic attributes.
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