After firing up Logic Studio and the Focusrite device, I set up a simple rig of a Fender Road Worn Telecaster running into a Vox AC30CC2 combo. I close-mic’d the amp with the Sennheiser and placed the Rode a few feet back. The software that comes with the Saffire includes a large collection of drum loops (572 total), so I loaded a simple rock beat up to play along with. The resulting playback of my riffing was very nice, smooth, and balanced. It certainly wasn’t what I’ve been used to with less expensive gear, where I had to spend quite some time EQ’ing to dial out the harsher frequencies. With the Saffire, it was a breeze getting a great recorded sound right off of the bat. I had a blast laying down simple organ parts and a bass line, and figured that since I had a cohesive idea recorded it would be a good time to try out the VRM. Among novices, the knowledge that a particular song can sound completely different in another environment isn’t common. I remembered the hard way when I started to process my composition using the Saffire’s VRM software. Flipping to the bedroom studio preset, several harsh frequencies stood out, which told me I needed to dial them out in order to keep a good mix. I loved that there were several available studio monitor simulations, ranging from KRKs to common Creative desktop speakers. This really lets you explore how well your tracks will be represented on a variety of monitors.

Sensing how powerful the Saffire PRO 24 DSP was, I decided to try out some recording possibilities that I’ve been curious about for a while. I remember years ago seeing a photo of Josh Homme’s rig from Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age, and it was set up in a very peculiar fashion: three half-stacks set up in an open box formation with a single condenser microphone placed in the middle. Homme has always had a very unconventional guitar tone, but it works extremely well for the music that he plays, and I’ve always wanted to tinker with that type of setup to see what I could get out of it. So I set up a similar rig using a 1971 Orange Overdrive 80 head with a Bogner 2x12, a Quidley 22 with a matching 2x12, and the aforementioned Vox combo. In the middle was a single Rode NT1-A capturing the high frequencies from the Vox, the mids from the Quidley, and the low end from the Orange. The Focusrite’s compression and superb low-noise mic inputs handled the onslaught very well, completely capturing the Rode’s great tonal qualities without any sort of latency whatsoever. I would’ve liked to see a FireWire 800 port included in the Saffire, but the 400 seemed to handle the recording just fine without issues.

The Final Mojo
For someone like me without major recording experience, the Focusrite Saffire PRO 24 DSP was a real treat to use. For years I’ve been trying to capture a good recording on the fly, with only minimal success. A good interface is truly essential to this, but portability has always been an issue as well. With the Saffire, it was as simple as using time-honored mic placement techniques and just hitting the record button. Obviously, there are a lot more applications that it can be used for that I haven’t touched on, but that’s part of the fun of recording. I’m certainly going to be trying out even more ideas with it soon.
Buy if...
you need a simple, fast, inexpensive way to record with great-sounding results.
Skip if...
you need more inputs or have a large studio.

Street $399 - Focusrite -