Focusrite Saffire Pro 14
Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

External Audio Interface of the Saffire series

User Reviews: 4.45 Average price: $250

All user reviews for the Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

Average Score: 4.4 ( 4.4/5 based on 5 reviews )
  2 reviews 40 %
  3 reviews 60 %
Target: Anyone Value For Money: Correct
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Nonstopbeats 12/10/2014

Nonstopbeats's review "Review of the Focusrite Saffire PRO 14"

4
The Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 is an audio interface which has been designed to work with a modern home studio so that the engineer can record sounds into a computer effectively and of a high quality. One of the reasons why this audio interface has gotten so much attention is because of the preamps that it has built inside of it. These are award-winning preamps which give a high level of sonic performance. The Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 audio interface also features analogue and digital combination of I/O inputs and this can communicate with the mix control software that comes with the sound card which can be installed within the computer with which you can choose to use. This software promises good performance and stability. I wanted to see if the award winning pre amps would be helpful when listen to mixes.

Utilization

The audio device connects with the computer via a high speed FireWire connection via the latest interface technology. This means that the device can easily be connected to computers that have this connection and will begin communicating with software quickly and effectively. The Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 audio interface has also been designed to be incredibly stable and will not let you down during those important recording sessions. If you have a Mac that uses a thunderbolt port you can use this on the latest version of the Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 interface. You simply need a FireWire 800 adapter and a thunderbolt to FireWire adapter and you can make the connection. Luckily I had this connector for my Mac and was able to easily connect the devices together.

Key features

The interface contains 2 analogue inputs, 4 outputs that are also analogue, 2 mic preamps that are of a high quality, as well as MIDI and S/PDIF which offers a selection of abilities when carrying out multi track recording tasks.

In addition to this the audio interface has two instrument inputs which allow you the ability to plug-in instruments so that they can be recorded and played back on digital devices. There are also inputs which have loopback capabilities and allow you to root audio that is digital between different software applications. The sound quality is of a high level and has little to noise when recording intruments. The qulaity is also perfect for mixing donw and gives the user a great sense of clarity within the mix. I instantly noticed problems witihin some of my mixes when I started using the device.

Comparison

The Focusrite Saffire PRO 14 interface is fairly similar to the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20. However, this device features eight preamps that have won awards because of their high-quality 24 bit/96 kHz sound ability. This device runs USB instead of Firewire and is compatible with a number of different operating systems, including Mac, Windows as well as the iOS platforms and mobile devices such as the iPad.

The key features of the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 is that it comes with very low noise mic preamps which create the minimal amount of distortion and offer a dynamic range which is extremely wide. However, because of the exclusive USB interface, this may only suit those who are happy to use this means of communication between devices.

Pros and Cons

This is a solid sound card that will work well in the studio, just as much as it will work well when taken to gigs, and used whilst recording on the road. The mic preamps really do offer a sense of clarity to the sound and one is able to hear the low end and the higher end of the track clearly and effectively. This is incredibly useful for when an individual is mixing down the track and needs to hear these frequencies, as they are the most important frequencies within the track and sometimes the most complex. Many sound cards find these frequencies difficult to process. However, the Saffire does the job incredibly well.

The only real problem with this unit is that it can be slightly confusing to set up at first. However, there are some helpful tutorials on YouTube which can get you on your way. I was able to set up the sound card relatively quickly with out the need for instructions. Once you have set up the device you will begin to notice the clarity of sound straight away.



Summary

If you're happy with a simple audio interface that comes with two high-quality preamps that are designed with the famous focusrite name on them, then you can do well to go with this device. This device uses the high-quality preamps that focusrite have developed and allow the individual to create sound which has no noise and low distortion qualities. The ability to connect via FireWire insures that the individual will be able to communicate with digital devices and software quickly and effectively so the recording sessions can be completed smoothly and without any problems.Focusrite Saffire PRO 14
S2D 09/09/2014

S2D's review "Focusrite hit the target with the Saffire Pro 14"

5
I first purchased this interface back in March, 2nd hand for a discounted price of £60, it came with a broken firewire chip as my laptop couldn't detect it being inserted and all the correct software etc was downloaded from the Focusrite website etc, so after a lot of calls to Focusrite and Apple i eventually took it to a local electronics expert in Glasgow and he replaced the firewire chip for £60 within a few days, so after all of that i pretty much paid the same price for buying a broken one 2nd hand as i would if i had bought it brand new. Doh!

The Saffire pro 14 comes with 2 Neutrik inputs that allow both XLR input connections for microphones and jack inputs for guitar cables and keyboards etc. These are located conveniently on the front of the interface, along with 2 input gain knobs for each of the inputs, a red O/L light for each channel to tell you before or during recording when the input levels are peaking past 0 and a green 'Sig' light to show when your signal is reach -12db which is what you should be aiming to keep it nearer to rather than the red light. Also on the front is a 48v phantom power switch for using most condenser microphones for example, a monitor knob to control how loud the output volume to your speakers is from 1-10 and a headphone input jack with a separate volume adjustment for that, so switching between monitor volume and headphone volume is very easy to do unlike some other interfaces i have used previously.

My setup with the pro 14 is a Macbook pro from 2009 with 4GB RAM, 2.1 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo on OSX 10.6.8 and works perfectly ALMOST all of the time. Around the back of the interface are 4 line inputs for things like speaker cables and 2 more line inputs, along with a MIDI in and MIDI out section, an external power supply input and S/PDIF connection points. Personally i just use the firewire connection to power the interface (also located on the back along with a handy diagram on which way to connect the firewire) it also has the capability of being connected to newer 'thunderbolt' inputs but you will need a special adaptor to allow this, i use the firewire myself. The benefit of firewire over usb 2.0 is that it transfers data faster and free's up a USB slot on your computer that can be used for other things like external hard drives etc and is more stable in my experience. The pro 14 basically has all the home recording studio needs in mind.



UTILIZATION

From what i have seen on the Focusrite website, the interface drivers are updated whenever necessary, with the pro 14 having been released in 2009 and currently having 3 updates - version 2.4 in 2011, version 3.3 in 2013 and version 3.4 in 2014 for both Windows and Mac. The driver focusrite uses is called 'Mix Control' which is a very detailed extra virtual mixing desk basically, which can control different levels being sent to your monitor mix and headphone mix with zero latency before it reaches your DAW and is pretty much a separate product in itself. Excellent value for money there. Mix control is normally very stable, the only issue i have came across is every now and then the sound will cut out completely so when you hit playback - nothing happens, should this happen to you all you need to do is open up mix control, select the sync source and switch it to SPDIF for 2 seconds and then switch it back to Internal and playback should go back to normal. It took a quick phone call to Focusrite customer services to figure that out, who were very helpful. The Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 works very well with Logic Pro 9 which is my main DAW of choice.

GETTING STARTED

Because i bought the pro 14 second hand, i did not receive a manual with it, however online manuals can be downloaded from the Focusrite website and has a lot of individual tip sections and youtube videos to get you up and running with the interface. It can be a bit tricky getting started with the Mix control software driver needed to control the interface so again i would recommend a combination of the online manual and youtube tutorial videos to get you up and running because it is worth any initial hassle.

There were no compatibility issues with my computer, only the firewire chip which i mentioned at the beginning of the review which was the previous owners fault as he 'hot-wired' the input which means plugging in the interface to your computer's firewire connection with the computer switched on, the manual strongly advises against doing this. For latency settings, in the mix control driver software i have mine set to the default medium and have not experienced any issues regarding this.

OVERALL OPINION

The sound quality from Focusrite preamps has always been highly praised, and the Saffire Pro 14 is no different. It has a very warm and full sounding preamp section, unlike my previous interface (E-MU) which was admittedly slightly cheaper but also thin and over-trebly sounding when recording. Another huge benefit it has over my old interface is that it is free of 'Digital artifacts' when recording, such as random clicks and pops that add up during a recording and are noticeable and a pain to get rid of. It is very versatile, portable and perfect for home recording. The mix control software is fantastic and can be used to a basic level to meet your needs or more in depth if you wish to pursue that.

Overall i would recommend buying it new as opposed to second hand incase you get a nasty surprise, there are some negative reviews out there from users who have had a bad experience with the Saffire pro 14 but so far mine has been positive and i would make the same choice time and time again if given the chance. If you need a high quality sounding interface under £150/$300 then shop around and get this.
sw80 03/03/2013

sw80's review "Had minor issues with my system not recognizing it"

4
The Focusrite Saffire Pro 14 is a 8 in and 6 out firewire audio interface that is perfect for a home studio musician who wants to get rid of the USB interfaces. This interface comes with MixControl which is basically a 18 x 6 DSP style mixer that will let the user make up to 6 different mixes without any latency issues. This interface has very flexible routing via the DSP mixer. You can also use the included VST/AU suite to mix with or use as a sequencer if you do not have a DAW but I never used the sequencer that came with it. There are also effects that come with the interface as well like compression, gating, reverb, and a few different EQ plug ins and you get Ableton Live Lite with all of its standard plug ins.

UTILIZATION

Installing all of these plug ins and included software does take some time, so getting the interface running will take a few moments for all of that software to load. Having the proper drivers installed and loaded is very important because I have had many issues in the past with Focusrite drivers and updating. I was running this interface on a Windows Vista 32 bit machine with firewire 400 ports. I had 2 GB of RAM and a fast processor and never had any issues with the Pro 14 but sometimes I have to restart my computer for the interface to read. I am not sure why but sometimes the interface just isn’t recognized by my computer and restarting it is the only way. This interface can also be used on a Mac computer as well if you are running 10.5.8 or higher.

GETTING STARTED

The manual was very easy to read and work through. I had to refer to the manual many times during the set up process.

OVERALL OPINION

I do love this interface and I was using it for months but soon found out that there are many other interfaces that are just as good and if not better for the same price range. The sound quality was good and the value of t was great for this price.
songboy 03/06/2012

songboy's review "Not bad for a compact, portable FW drive"

5
The feature I was looking for was decent preamps, FW 400, and portability. The Focusrite Saffire 14 has all three. I use this as the main audio interface in my "portable" rig. I have been developing a Drum Suit of sorts and needed a small interface to handle a few inputs and also the rigors of ultra portable performance. Essentially I am street performing and playing small gigs with this rig and I was sick of stripping my main rig all the time only to have to put it back a few days later. In my small rig, the only audio going in are my Vocal Mic (Shure beta 58) into a TC Helicon VoiceLive then into the Pro 14 via spdif, and a stereo mix of my various synths (moog, Korg, roland,yamaha). The Pro 14 has just the right amount of inputs for this and still leaves me two more for the addition of a guitar and bass if the gig allows for it. Having 4 1/4" outputs is perfect for this setup as well because I get the L/R Pa mix and a mono to my guitar amp and mono to my bass amp. I use the Pro 14 in conjunction with a Macbook Pro i7 and Ableton Live 8.

UTILIZATION

I have the most recent update from Focusrite and everything is working great. The beauty of this unit is the ultra low latency (1.4ms I believe) dsp Mixer built in that allows for near zero latency monitoring. Coupled with the included SaffireControl software, my audio inputs are routed directly to the outputs and Ableton is set to monitor off and simply just takes snapshots of the incoming audio that I can then control in Ableton as "Clips." Being under 2ms, the latency is imperceptible to the human ear. I don't really track much with this unit yet as I also have a RME Fireface 800 for studio stuff. In the live performance stuff I use up to 6 tracks but these are not being simply recorded, but used as sampling pathways so the CPU is not consistently being taxed. In this setup I have very low usage of CPU, no dropouts or glitches and no crashes.

GETTING STARTED

The manual is very helpful in explaining most everything. The only confusing stuff can be understanding the Software. I have used similar stuff including RME's Totalmix, so I was off and running after a few minutes. The setup of the interface is extremely easy, plug in Firewire cable, load DAW, set up in preferences, and then start recording/listening. The software is a little bit trickier. Basic setups are pretty easy, but the using the routing matrix, or Loop back channels can be confusing at first, but it will become second nature. In fact, I am so use to it from the RME that I decided I could not have an interface that doesn't have a loop back feature. The two main functions that need to be accessible on an interface is the main volume and headphone volume. Unfortunately the RME only really has Headphone output control, but the PRO 14 has both!! This is excellent as I treat the PRO 14 as my main mixer and having the main volume fader makes is a lot easier to control the final volume when I need to.

OVERALL OPINION

What I like most about this unit is both the pretty solid preamps and the SaffireControl software. The preamps are much better than the Presonus Firebox I first started off with. They are very quiet and not "stale" like I thought the Fireboxes were over time. They aren't as good as my FireFace's nor my Allen and Heath MixWiz but they are definitely good enough for live performance. I got one refurbished off of ebay for $175 which is a fantastic price for this unit. I give the sound quality a 9 out of 10. It's not a high end piece of gear, but in this price range, I don't think you find better. The software allows for internal routing which I think should be standard with the amount of software users these days. Nothing I can say I dislike about this unit. It does it's job well. I used the Presonus Firebox for awhile and thought it was OK, but the Preamps didn't offer enough boost and the sound wasn't that great either. I am happy that I got this unit instead. It's cheap, solid and sounds great.
yoTrakkz 10/11/2011

yoTrakkz's review "Focusrite Pro 14 is for winners"

4
The device has an excellent build quality and is cleanly laid out. Three green status LEDs indicate connection status. I would have liked to see an LED for midi activity, but this is very minor. The first thing I noticed when I hooked it up was that there was no noise when the gain is turned all the way up. Even with a pair of headphones on the monitor out cranked all the way up there is almost nothing to be heard. Very impressive.


UTILIZATION

I did have some initial trouble with noise coming from the Firewire line. This was digital noise originating from my old music computer that coupled to the outputs on the Focusrite. I tried a stand-alone sound card but that didn't help. When I installed it the focusrite in my newer office machine, however the noise was gone. I wound up replacing the old music computer (I was going to do it anyway) and replaced it with a modern Gigabit/Intel IC5 machine; no noise and it works great.


GETTING STARTED

I run it at the fastest latency settings (about 3 ms in and 5 ms out) in Sonar on the new machine and it doesn't hiccup, even with all four analog inputs AND the SPDIF being captured. The fidelity on this thing is phenomenal. Again, I don't spend my days in a recording studio, but this device sounds far and away better than anything else I have ever owned.


OVERALL OPINION

The construction of the Saffire Pro 14 is high quality. Everything from the knobs to the input jacks seem to be well constructed. It’s important to me to have rigid construction because it can withstand the rigors of clumsy users and the hazardous mess that a home studio can quickly turn into. This has been a great piece of gear and has brought my sound production to a new level.