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Barry’s Toolkit: Test Driving The Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 Firewire Audio/MIDI Interface
A potential "nexus" of your digital audio workstation?
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The single rack-space Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 is part of the Saffire line of Firewire audio/MIDI interfaces that all feature innovative control, routing and, for the 40, latency-free direct monitoring.

The Focusrite Saffire 40 stands out from other manufacturer’s units chiefly because of its superior analog front end, solid digital conversion system, unique feature set, and the unit’s seemingly endless universality.

With its flexible analog and digital I/O capabilities it acts as the “nexus” of your DAW studio. This is easily setup using its included 18 X 16 DSP mixer/routing software called Saffire MixControl. 

However, the Saffire PRO 40 MixControl software is not required for the unit’s operation or its use with any DAW software.

This September Focusrite will issue a free downloadable software update for MixControl for all four Saffire units.

Under this update, all input and output routing within the Saffire MixControl software can be saved to the firmware of the Saffire Pro 40 allowing the unit to run without being connected to a computer.

For example, you could use Saffire as a breakout box with a Pro Tools interface unit, an ADAT deck or any digital system connected via ADAT or SPDIF.

The eight award-winning Focusrite microphone pre-amps work together with a quality digital conversion system that features JetPLL jitter elimination technology.

Your studio is future proof because of the 40’s open-ended design—it will continue to be useful with most DAW software and computer platforms that exist now or have yet to be devised.

Some other features include: up to 24-bit/96kHz operation, route as many as 20 inputs to any of 20 outputs simultaneously, a digital “loop-back” feature where audio coming from one DAW audio program can be sent to another, ten assignable analog direct outputs, ADAT Lightpipe I/O, stereo SPDIF I/O, and every microphone input channel features switchable phantom power.

As a bonus, Focusrite’s established Xcite+ bundle along with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station soft synth and over one GB of royalty-free samples are included with every Saffire PRO 40.

These VST/AU Native-running plugs perfectly compliment using the PRO 40.

Front panel of the Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 (click to enlarge)

Front Panel
Handy-dandy are the two front panel combo XLR/1/4-inch input jacks. These first two inputs have switches for instrument or -10 dBv level, and a 9 dB attenuator pad.


Phantom power is switched on/off in blocks of four inputs: one switch for inputs 1-4 and another for inputs 5-8)

There are eight mic gain pots and eight LED input level meters follow.

The front panel finishes with an Firewire activity LED, an internal or external clock indicator, Monitor level pot with a Dim and Mute buttons and two headphone jacks with separate level controls for each.

Back panel of the Focusrite Saffire PRO 40 (click to enlarge)

Back Of The Box

In addition to the six combo XLR jacks for inputs 3 through 8, there are stereo S/PDIF RCA in/out jacks, two Firewire spigots, and the ADAT Lightpipe in/out ports.

Further, there are MIDI In and Out jacks and ten analog line level outputs with outputs 1 and 2 designated as monitor outputs.

All Good But How Does It Work And How Does It Sound???

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Comment (1)
Posted by Ramston  on  08/16/09  at  04:58 PM
Great article, I been keeping my eye on that product. got one question ; would you elaborate on "For example, you could use Saffire as a breakout box with a Pro Tools interface unit, an ADAT deck or any digital system connected via ADAT or SPDIF. " especially using protools?! I am wishful that we can input Saffire digitally into digi003 or digi 002 and treat them as individual inputs!?
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