Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB

Discussion in 'Source Measurements' started by ultrabike, Sep 29, 2020.

  1. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    I received this unit from @Armaegis a long time ago. Being as it may I only recently opened the box. It's been incredibly busy at work with all this SARS 2.0 issues and so on.

    However, I'll do my best to review this unit. In many cases I start by listening the unit and then proceed to capture random measurements. This time I did it backwards. I started taking measurements first. I also took pictures. But I'll upload those some other day.

    I only measured the balanced line-outs 1 and 2 out of 4. I measured @ 96 kHz sampling rate. I did a quick THD test with 44, 48 and 88 as well and saw no big difference. That said I could not get 176.4 and 192 to work using ASIO + REW. I will check if that works later when I listen through the headphone output at some later point in time.

    Balanced full scale in this unit seems to correspond to 6.22 Vrms, and so this will be 0 dBFS which in the plots that will follow is dBrA (referenced to 6.22 Vrms).

    NOTE: If the images are not very readable, click on them to expand.

    THD characterization at 4 Vrms are shown below:

    THD+N_PSD_4Vrms_LineOut.JPG

    We get THD+N of 105 dB (A-weighted) with 3rd harmonic slightly dominating the 2nd harmonic. Note also the delta-sigma modulated noise is effectively suppressed above fs/2 = 48 kHz.

    Here is the THD+N vs Vout characterization:

    THD+N_vs_Vout_LineOut.JPG

    At 4 Vrms (-3.83 dBFS) we get 0.00057% (-104.9 dB) THD+N (A-weighted).

    This is close to the minimum THD+N for this device. At full scale, THD likely dominates and increases since the system may start to approach clipping.

    Here is the IMD SMPTE vs Vout characterization:

    IMD_SMPTE_vs_Vout_LineOut.JPG

    It is worth nothing that IMD SMPTE minimum of -100 dB is reached around -15 dBFS which corresponds to about 1 Vrms. At 4 Vrms the IMD SMPTE increases to about -94.6 dB as shown in the monitor above. From -30 dBFS and on, IMD SMPTE is below 90 dB, which as far as I know is fairly reasonable.

    IMD characterization at 4 Vrms is shown below:

    IMD_SMPTE_PSD_4Vrms_LineOut.JPG

    This test is done with two tones @ 60 Hz and 7 kHz respectively. It is interesting to note that the IMD around 7 kHz is not symmetrical. Not sure why that is, but the levels are low enough to be of no concern.

    Here is a multitone test:

    Multitone_10dBFS_LineOut.JPG


    While I have seen better measurements in the interwebz, this device seems fairly competitive given the features it packs. This is not just a DAC, or an Amp. This system carries 4 outputs, a headphone amp, and it can record both through
    a phantom voltage assisted mic pre-amps, or straight line inputs. All of which I have not characterized or tested.

    Unlike my 2i2 gen 1, this system is not just solely usb powered. It's got it's own wall wart which means it is not nearly as underpowered and is expected to provide much better drive and overall performance. The system seems much better build and solid as well.

    For reference, here are the manufacturer's specs:
    https://focusrite.com/en/usb-c-audio-interface/clarett-usb/clarett-2pre-usb
    They claim THD+N of 0.00075% for their line outputs, which they clearly meet.

    How does it sound? I don't know yet. I'll check it out later.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  2. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Hah, wasn't it way back in February that I sent it? Anyhow, glad to see it's finally out of the box.
     
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  3. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Sorry about that mate. I'll do some listening + measurements, and then it will go back safe and sound.

    BTW, did you have any issues with 178 and 192 kHz? Are you using a Mac or a Windoze machine?
     
  4. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    It took a while to get the drivers in correctly, but I finally go the headphone output to work with my XPS13. Some notes:

    1) Install the drivers with the device powered off.
    2) If the drivers installed incorrectly, remove and install again.
    3) Control of this device is fully under "Focusrite Control". Turn on Montior 1+2 to get HP out. Pressing mute and unmute might be needed. It is unfortunately not a very intuitive interface for me. But it works, so who cares.

    As far as audio quality, Wow!

    This is pretty darn resolving relative to the 2i2. I'm going through my music and I'm linking what I'm hearing quite a bit! This Clarett obviously has way more headroom and it shows. This is awesome! HD600's shine through this thing.

    It is obvious that the noise floor and distortion are lower here. There is a lot less fussiness.

    Some albums going through evaluation:

    Mexican Contemporary Pop
    [​IMG]

    80's UK Pop
    [​IMG]

    Dream Pop
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2020
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  5. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Got a bit more motivated here.

    Here is THD+N (A-weighted) for the headphone output. Note dBrA is relative to full scale, so it is equivalent to dBFS. The headphone output can swing about 4.8 Vrms maximum (which is 0 dBFS or dBrA in the plot below), so a little less than the Line-Outs where full scale is relative to 6.22 Vrms. Note headphone out is single ended, while the previous Line Out measurements were done balanced.

    THD+N_vs_Vout_Headphone.JPG
    <Click on the image to zoom into it>

    For comparison purposes, note the sweep plot starts at -70 dBFS instead of -60 dBFS (most sweeps including the one I did for this device at the Line-Outs start at -60 dBFS. Sorry, it was late - might correct the plot later today). The sweep indicates a fairly decent performance in the noise dominated region. This correlates well with what I heard.

    Note the headphone driver will get current starved with 33 ohms (-15 dBrA here corresponds to about 0.85 Vrms), so best to use high impedance cans with these to get the most out of it. HD600s pairs nicely (my ears tell me so). With 300 ohms, the system will be able to hit 0.0008% THD+N around 2.76 Vrms (a little below full scale). This is what Focusrite advertises out of the HP output.

    Again, bottom line, use high impedance cans to get the best out of the headphone monitor.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
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  6. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Sorry, I don't recall if I tested 178/192.
    I am running W10pro.

    I've found most pro boxes that have their specialized drivers/mixers/control software to be this way. Usually the procedure is to install the software first, and then plug in the device at the last stage of installation which kinda does an initialization of the device. Otherwise you'll get a conflict like you saw, or the device never pairs/recognizes itself properly and you'll have to repeat the process.
     
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  7. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    How does it compare to the Lyra? Did you have the RME?
     
  8. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    The Claretts sound good. The main problem is the medicore third party drivers, lack of onboard direct dsp monitoring, and strong color of the pres. The Claret Octopre and 2pre are the most bang for buck current Focusrite products. The rednets are cool but $$$$ and you can beat them easily for less money for sound quality. The Claret 2pre is the only one that occupies a good price point. It’s 400 bucks new, has a real power supply, and doesn’t sound like shit. The USA gear (MOTU Ultralites and Apogee Element 24) is 600 bucks. Yeah it’s better but that’s 200 more dollars. The other competitor, SPL Crimson, is marked up in the USA but 400ish used here. It beats the Claret 2pre soundwise, but again, it’s used and no onboard dsp. The 2pre occupies a good spot.

    The higher end Focusrite pres have all been cost reduced with the most expensive parts, transformers, ripped out. They sound a bit more even than the Clarets (think a vibe instead of a strong color that needs eq) but not that much better. If you are shopping in that price category, it’s tough to recommend when current Western made stuff (There are a ton, including RND from Neve himself) is cheaper, sturdier, and sounds much better.
     
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  9. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    The PREs are in the 2.7k buck range at least.

    At that price point, other players such as RME and Prism start to look pretty awesome.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    You can find the current 1 channel ISA pre for under 400 bucks used easily. I’d rather hunt for used Daking One ( made in USA by one of the guys who made We Ain’t got Nothing Yet), FMR Really Nice Pre, or UA 610.

    All much cooler than current Focusrite.
     
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  11. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I still have the Prism Lyra. I used to have the RME ADI-2 Pro. I currently have the RME Babyface Pro FS (serving as an optical bridge to my Lyra because I'm stupid that way).

    On D/A output:
    Lyra - I always characterize this as having an airy sound that immediately soothes; it suits my personal preferences and habit of short term listening, although in long sessions I find it starts to haze on me
    Clarett - clean and competent, veeery slightly on the warm side, doesn't match the Lyra or ADI-2 Pro for technicalities if you want to be academic about it
    ADI-2 Pro - blah blah clean but clinical blah blah, I feel there's an edge which takes a while for my ear to adjust to, but then I can settle into a longer session better than the Lyra
    Babyface - very close to the ADI-2 Pro, less resolving but less edge which I find makes it easier to listen to

    On mic preamps:
    Lyra - very rich sound, works well with my voice which is fairly deep
    Clarett - actually very good
    ADI-2 Pro - N/A
    Babyface - great headroom for a usb powered device, but flat sound

    I still have the Lyra because it eeks out a win on my sonic preferences, but the drivers caused me grief. The Clarett came awful close, but it too had jumpy drivers (to note: I'm pretty sure it's my laptop that's the bigger issue since the errors I encountered were similar across both). I have the Babyface because it's arguably the best I can get in the small and portable usb interface category which also serves double duty feeding my Lyra optical for D/A purposes (though I recognize the harsh diminishing returns at its price point) and most importantly because those RME drivers are rock solid. I'm not talking about drivers for sound quality, I mean computer stability and not causing BSOD, because audio interfaces suck for that sort of thing.
     
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  12. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    A sales rep I was speaking with said the MOTU Ultralite is good but only on mac as the Windows drivers suck.

    I was super tempted by the Crimson, especially as I now have a Phonitor 2 that I really like, but the Crimson is quite large and for my current cramped desk I'd rather have a stackable box (or one I can lay on its side) rather than the crimson form factor.

    Still intrigued by the Rednet stuff, though it's $$$ as you said. I might bite if an X2P ever pops up in Canada, but I'm not really keeping an eye out for them either.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2020
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  13. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Yeah. driver stability seems to be a big issue across the board. Glad to hear RME doesn't suffer from that.

    The 2i2 Gen 1 is pretty stable too. But it's fairly outdated and performance is very entry level. The price is right for a practical solution though.

    Like you, I value form factor a lot. I really like highly integrated solutions.
     
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  14. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Some pictures (relative to the 2i2 gen1):


    IMG_7974_small.jpg

    IMG_7975_small.jpg
     
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