The Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre is the latest USB audio interface in Focusrite’s popular Clarett line aimed at music producers, recording engineers, podcasters and streamers. Released in early 2023, the Clarett+ 4Pre builds upon the proven preamp and conversion technology of the previous Clarett interfaces while adding new features like auto-alignment and loopback.
In this detailed review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features, sound quality, performance and value offered by the Clarett+ 4Pre. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your home studio setup or want to use the Clarett+ 4Pre for professional recording sessions, this review covers everything you need to know about this versatile 4-input/10-output Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C audio interface.
Key Features of the Clarett+ 4Pre
Here are some of the main features and specs of the Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre:
- 4 mic/line/instrument preamps with Air mode
- Up to 119dB dynamic range on the preamps
- THD below 0.0005% on preamps and converters
- Sample rates up to 192kHz/24-bit
- 10 outputs total (4 analog, 6 digital over USB-C)
- Auto-alignment for latency-free recording
- Loopback routing between inputs and outputs
- Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connectivity
- Compatible with Mac and Windows
- Bundled software including Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Softube time and tune, plug-ins and more
- Sturdy metal construction
The 4 high quality Focusrite preamps provide plenty of mic connectivity for mics, instruments and line level sources. Each preamp offers the analog “Air” mode to add subtle analog warmth. With a dynamic range over 119dB, the preamps can cleanly capture everything from subtle acoustic tones to loud drum beats.
On the output side, you get 4 balanced line outputs on 1/4″ TRS jacks, plus 6 additional digital outputs over USB-C for routing to monitors, headphone amps and more. Having 10 total outputs makes the Clarett+ 4Pre flexible for larger recording setups.
Some of the major highlights in terms of features include auto-alignment for latency-free monitoring while recording, loopback routing between inputs and outputs, and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. We’ll look at how these features benefit the recording workflow shortly.
First, let’s look at how the Clarett+ 4Pre is built.
Design and Build Quality
Housed in a silver and black metal chassis, the Clarett+ 4Pre is sturdy enough for life in the studio. The front panel is sparse and clean, with just the 4 combo jack inputs, monitor level control, and headphone jack. Each input has its own gain control and signal indicator LED.
The back panel is neatly laid out, with the 4 line outputs, USB-C port, Thunderbolt 3 port, power input, and Kensington lock slot. Overall, it’s a no-frills design focused on functionality rather than flare.
Build quality feels solid throughout. The knobs have a smooth rotation and quality feel. All the jacks are securely mounted to the chassis. It’s clear Focusrite put care into the construction of the Clarett+ 4Pre for reliable performance.
In terms of dimensions, the Clarett+ 4Pre measures 8.66 x 1.57 x 5.83 inches. So it has a nice, compact footprint that won’t take up much space on your desktop.
Setting Up the Clarett+ 4Pre
Getting started with the Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre is quick and painless. Here’s an overview of the setup process:
- Download and install the Focusrite Control desktop app from the Focusrite website. This lets you configure the interface and manage routings.
- Connect the Clarett to your computer via the included USB-C cable. Thunderbolt connection is also possible with a Thunderbolt 3 cable (sold separately).
- Connect mics, instruments, monitors and headphones to the rear panel jacks.
- Launch the Focusrite Control app and adjust sample rate, clock source, monitor levels and headphone settings as desired.
- Open your DAW and select the Clarett+ 4Pre as your audio interface within the preferences.
Once these steps are completed, the interface is ready to use for recording and playback. The Clarett+ 4Pre works immediately with any major DAW like Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton and more without needing extra drivers.
Getting started only takes a few minutes thanks to the straightforward setup process. And the Focusrite Control app makes it easy to manage all your routing in one place, including creating multiple monitor mixes.
Mic Preamp & Converter Performance
The microphone preamplifiers and analog-to-digital converters are two of the most important components that determine the sound quality of any audio interface. Here is an overview of how the Clarett+ 4Pre performs in these key areas:
Focusrite is well respected for its preamp design, and the Clarett+ 4Pre lives up to expectations. The mic pres are very clean and neutral, capturing vocals, acoustic instruments and amps with excellent detail and low noise.
With 119dB of dynamic range, the Clarett+ 4Pre can cleanly capture subtleties as well as handle hot output signals. The Air mode adds a bit of tube-like warmth and character to tracks when desired. There’s plenty of gain available, with 60dB on tap for mics and up to 75dB gain for instruments.
Overall, the mic pres deliver excellent sound quality on par with more expensive Clarett interfaces. The high headroom and versatile Air modes make them suitable for a wide range of audio sources.
Focusrite used the same high-performance converters from the Clarett 8PreX and Clarett OctoPre in the Clarett+ 4Pre. With 117dB dynamic range on the analog-to-digital converters and 120dB on the digital-to-analog converters, you can expect extremely low noise and lots of headroom.
The ADCs translate microphone and instrument signals into the digital realm with impressive accuracy and clarity. Even when pushing the gain and capturing loud transients, the ADCs maintain composure.
On playback, the DACs deliver detailed, smooth highs and tight lows to the monitor and headphone outputs. You’ll hear your mixes and recordings faithfully reproduced without harshness or coloration.
Overall, the Clarett+ 4Pre’s converters leave little to be desired compared to pricier interfaces. The immaculate conversion quality provides excellent tracking and mixing fidelity.
Auto-Alignment and Loopback
Two of the most useful new features on the Clarett+ 4Pre are auto-alignment and loopback routing. Here’s an overview of what they offer:
This feature automatically compensates for hardware input delays by aligning your DAW and interface at the sample level. The result is latency-free monitoring while recording. You can track vocals or instruments without the distracting delay between the input sound and DAW/monitor playback.
Auto-alignment works flawlessly in testing. Being able to monitor in real-time makes punching in on takes or playing virtual instruments much easier. It’s a major workflow improvement for home studios.
The loopback feature lets you route audio between the Clarett’s inputs and outputs entirely internally via the Focusrite Control software. This allows useful routing tricks like:
- Sending microphone or instrument tracks to the headphone mix
- Adding reverb/FX plugins to input channels
- Streaming computer audio through the DAW as an input source
- Recording the main monitor mix back into the DAW
Having flexible input/output routing options makes the Clarett+ 4Pre suitable for live streaming, podcast production, video post-production and other creative uses where loopback would be beneficial.
Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C Connectivity
The Clarett+ 4Pre provides the latest high-speed connection options with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports.
Thunderbolt 3 offers the highest possible bandwidth, with speeds up to 40Gbps. Using a TB3 cable, you can connect the Clarett+ 4Pre to a Thunderbolt-equipped Windows PC or Mac and transfer all those tracks to and from your DAW at incredibly low latency. The Thunderbolt port supplies bus-power to the interface so no external power adapter is required.
The USB-C port also provides high speeds up to 10Gbps, which is fast enough to handle high channel count, high-resolution recording. Cables are included for USB-C connection.
Having both cutting-edge Thunderbolt 3 and widespread USB-C compatibility makes the Clarett+ 4Pre suitable for use with virtually any modern laptop or desktop computer.
The Clarett+ 4Pre comes with an impressive software bundle to cover all aspects of production:
- Pro Tools and Ableton Live Lite – Options for recording/mixing DAW
- Softube Time and Tone Bundle – Reverbs, delays, mastering tools
- Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite – EQs, compressors, preamp/amp models
- Relab Reverbs – Halls, rooms, plates and conceptual ‘verbs
- more – Sample packs, loops, Expansions and tutorials
The inclusion of Pro Tools and Ableton Live Lite gives you the basics to start recording, editing and mixing. Then the various effects and virtual instruments supplement your productions with pro-grade sounds and processing.
Having this useful starter software included right in the box adds a lot of extra value compared to interfaces that only come with a DAW.
Who Should Buy the Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre?
With its excellent sound quality, flexible routing features and bundled software, the Clarett+ 4Pre is a great choice for:
- Home/project studio owners – 4 inputs cover a basic full-band recording setup. Excellent mic pres and converters provide professional sound quality. Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connectivity offers streaming and mobile recording capabilities.
- Podcasters and voice over artists – Loopback routing facilitates live interviews, call ins and processing on input channels. Ultra clean mic pres capture warm, accurate vocals.
- Musicians wanting to upgrade – Immense dynamic range and sampling rates up to 192kHz/24-bit has you covered as your skills progress. Air mode adds analog character to tracks.
- DaW expanders – Add 4 additional pristine mic pres and outputs to an existing interface using USB or Thunderbolt 3.
The Clarett+ 4Pre can meet the needs of beginners while still satisfying more advanced users looking for top quality mic preamps and conversion in a compact 4-in/10-out Thunderbolt/USB interface.
Clarett+ 4Pre vs. Other Audio Interfaces
Here’s a brief comparison of how the Clarett+ 4Pre stacks up to other competing 4-channel USB/Thunderbolt audio interfaces on the market:
|Universal Audio Apollo Twin X||Apollo has UAD DSP built-in for effects processing. Clarett+ has more flexible routing and Thunderbolt 3.|
|PreSonus Quantum 2626||Quantum 2626 offers more outputs (14). Clarett+ has better mic pres and Thunderbolt connectivity.|
|Audient iD44 MKII||Very similar overall. iD44 MKII has scrollwheel gain controls vs knobs on Clarett+.|
|SSL 2+ Audio Interface||Clarett+ adds 2 more line outputs plus Thunderbolt support. SSL has a bit more character on the preamps.|
The Clarett+ 4Pre holds its own by offering premium components, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and excellent software bundle at a competitive price point in the crowded 4-channel audio interface market.
With high-quality microphone pres, pristine conversion and flexible routing features like auto-alignment and loopback, the Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre delivers professional-level recording capabilities. Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C connectivity options make it easy to integrate the interface into any studio setup. Bundled DAW and plug-in software provides all the tools needed to start producing.
Sure, you could get individual devices to cover all these different functions. But the Clarett+ 4Pre combines them into one sleek, road-ready chassis for convenience. Considering all it brings to the table, the Clarett+ 4Pre provides outstanding value for home studios in need of pro-level I/O or those seeking to upgrade aging USB 2.0 interfaces.
Overall, the Clarett+ 4Pre continues Focusrite’s tradition of delivering high-quality interfaces with intuitive workflows at reasonable prices. Unless you need more inputs or extra features like onboard DSP, the Clarett+ 4Pre has everything covered for immersive music production and pristine audio capture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the Clarett+ 4Pre work with iPads/iOS?
Yes, using the USB-C port and an iPad USB-C adapter. This allows for portable recording.
Can the Clarett+ 4Pre provide phantom power?
Yes, +48V phantom power is available on all 4 mic/line inputs.
How can I monitor with zero latency when recording?
Enable the auto-alignment feature in Focusrite Control. This will automatically compensate for interface latency.
Does the Clarett+ 4Pre require any external power?
No, the interface is fully bus-powered via Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C so no wall power is needed.
What is the maximum supported sample rate?
The Clarett+ 4Pre supports sample rates up to 192kHz/24-bit over USB and Thunderbolt 3.
Can I expand the Clarett+ 4Pre with additional Clarett interfaces?
Yes, you can connect multiple Clarett units via Thunderbolt to increase I/O.
Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre
The Focusrite Clarett+ 4Pre is a versatile and high-performance audio interface that caters to the needs of professional musicians and audio producers. With four high-quality Clarett+ mic preamps, this interface delivers clear, transparent, and low-noise audio capture, making it an ideal choice for recording vocals, instruments, and other sound sources. The interface also features high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz audio conversion, ensuring that your recordings maintain their integrity and fidelity throughout the production process. The Clarett+ 4Pre's ultra-low latency performance allows for real-time monitoring and seamless integration with recording software, facilitating smooth and efficient workflows. Additionally, it offers MIDI I/O, ADAT connectivity, and S/PDIF ports, providing extensive options for expanding your recording setup and connecting to other studio gear.
Ease of Use
Value for money