Focusrite’s latest, the Red 4Pre interface, was launched to a heck of a buzz. Here are some key stats to tide you over until you can make it round our place for a demo.
The Red 4Pre is Focusrite’s new flagship interface, combining 58-in/64-out capacity with four of Focusrite’s digitally controlled mic preamps, high headroom inputs, Thunderbolt 2 connectivity and support for Pro Tools | HD, DigiLink and Dante support. As Focusrite explain:
“Focusrite’s 58-in/64-out Red 4Pre includes Thunderbolt 2 connectivity for our lowest round-trip latency, in whatever DAW you use, enabling you to track and overdub with your preferred plug-ins and effects in real time, simplifying your workflow. Drop the Red 4Pre immediately, directly and seamlessly into any Pro Tools | HD system, or use it with existing Avid interfaces, thanks to its twin DigiLink connectors. Dual Thunderbolt 2 ports allow daisy-chaining of additional components such as hard drives and displays. Plus the Red 4Pre is network audio enabled right out of the box, with dual Ethernet ports for Dante audio-over-IP networking, letting you expand your recording capability over Ethernet for up to 64 additional channels anywhere on your network, with low latency – and lower cost. Additional Red or other Dante-compatible components can be connected to the Ethernet ports of the Red 4Pre to provide additional channels irrespective of the interface used to drive the Red 4Pre.”
What’s so special about those mic pres?
They’re Red Evolution mic pres, specially developed by Focusrite to “deliver a clear and honest audio performance with -129 dB EIN and 63dB of gain that allows plenty of room to bring your own sound to life with your choice of external processing. They also include our unique ‘Air’ effect, recreating the sound of the transformer-based mic preamps in the ISA range. When ‘Air’ is enabled, the microphone impedance is set to 2.1kΩ and the frequency response curve is given a subtle mid-high boost – all in the analogue domain.”
What about the new converters?
Focusrite are touting them as the best they’ve ever made. They employ a new ‘parallel path summing’ configuration to lower the noise floor. Focusrite say, “Red 4Pre’s converter design strikes a precise balance between multiple factors – including dynamic range, distortion, noise floor and conversion latency – for the optimal overall sound. With 24-bit/192kHz sampling capability and 118dB(A-D)/121dB (D-A) dynamic range, it is ideal for high-resolution audio. The Red 4Pre delivers ≤0.0009% THD+Noise and a frequency response flat from 20Hz to 35kHz ±0.25 dB or better.” (Those numbers are apparently what you can expect for sustained periods in a real session, not just a maximum performance figure pulled from a spreadsheet, which makes it even more impressive.)
Is it easy to expand?
You can connect up to 64 additional channels to the Red 4Pre via Dante networking – a simple, single connection carrying both audio and built-in clocking over Ethernet.
“Whether the Red 4Pre is connected to the computer via Thunderbolt, DigiLink or Dante, simply connect units such as two RedNet A16R (32 channels of analogue I/O), four RedNet MP8R (32 channels of RedNet mic pre), or other Dante-enabled products via Ethernet as desired. Place mic preamps where the music is, and outputs where the sound needs to go – wherever there’s an Ethernet connection. Unlike daisy-chaining via Thunderbolt (which the Red 4Pre also supports), Dante lets you run additional channels over a greater distance, with low latency and lower cost, without wasting money on technology or connectivity that will not be used. And it will only get easier: look out for future enhancements offering complete plug and play Ethernet expansion functionality.”
What kind of control software does it come with?
“Red 4Pre includes the new Focusrite Control software, providing a straightforward and intuitive way to set up mixes and monitoring, as well as controlling the mic pres – recalling settings, assigning stereo pairs, adjusting gain and enabling features such as highpass filtering and phantom power. In addition, Red 4Pre is packaged with Softube’s Time and Tone Bundle – a unique plug-in pack including four of Softube’s professional quality plug-ins: Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor, TSAR-1R Reverb, Tube Delay and Saturation Knob. Also in the box is the Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, which accurately models Focusrite’s classic Red range 2 and 3 equaliser and compressor hardware.”