What We Like
- Simple setup, good for beginners/singer-songwriters.
- Interface with built-in preamps.
- Small, easy to transport if needed.
What We Don’t Like
- Only two inputs available (if no external preamp).
- Can have issues running on Windows.
Focusrite has proven itself to be a reliable name for DIY musicians on a tight budget, but does the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre Thunderbolt contribute to the brand name, or take away from it? Here’s the low-down on it.
This is a small and simple audio interface, making it easy to transport if needed. But if you’re looking for something professionals would use in a big-time studio, this piece of equipment is not for you. If, however, you’re recording from your bedroom, this might work. It comes loaded with two preamps (hence the name), a Focusrite Control software mixer, and phantom power (which some mics require). Also, the Thunderbolt connection is supposed to allow low latency, meaning it records on time and with low delay.
It’s nice to have Thunderbolt connectivity, phantom power, and having preamps is always a must, but only having two inputs can be a pain. For example, if you need to record live drums, you can only use two microphones, which won’t give you as good of a sound as being able to mic all or most of the drum kit. This interface will work best for recording folk music or songs with a lot of layers.
If you do want to record something requiring more than two inputs, you can use one of the ADAT inputs to run lines through a separate preamp into the Focusrite interface. At first glance, this is a nice feature to have. But obviously, this means you’d have to buy a separate preamp to do that.
One thing this little guy touts is the “Air” effect, which mimics the popular ISA transformer-based preamps from Focusrite. It’s meant to increase gain without running into distortion or peaking issues. This is something that many other audio interfaces do not have.
Another feature is that you can control your mixes from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch with the Focusrite iOS Control app. Why you would need to adjust your song’s mixes from any of these devices is not totally clear, but maybe some folks do that. But it seems like this is more like a “cool sounding” feature that most people wouldn’t bother to deal with.
Generally, this interface performs pretty well. It’s nice to have good-quality preamps built into an interface to cut out that extra piece of equipment and to give you high-quality recordings. For singer-songwriters, this audio interface is a decent buy.
Even though the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre is compatible with both Mac and PCs, it’s been known to have issues running on Windows. If you’re a Windows user, the best thing is to buy this device from a reliable company with a good return policy, just in case.
Also, you’ll want to make sure the version of Thunderbolt connectivity matches that of your computer or it will not work.
If only two inputs are enough for you and if you don’t run into any issues using it with Windows, the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre Thunderbolt is a decent investment for singer-songwriters or recording artists just starting out.