Focusrite recently gave the Scarlett range a huge upgrade. The Scarletts have been known as some of the best-selling interfaces on the market, and for good reason. The first generation of interfaces had award-winning preamps and converters for use in home studios and pro studios alike. Those preamps and converters just got better. Now, they have massive dynamic range, 192kHz sample rate and the latency is so low, many engineers can even track with plug-ins! The 18i20 comes with 8 brand new microphone preamps built-in and ADAT and S/PDIF expandability. This is a great way to start and future-proof a studio.
There are a few really nice USB 3.0 interfaces available, and the PreSonus 192 is one of them. Like all PreSonus interfaces, included is a copy of Studio One: Artist Version($100 value) absolutely free! For years, engineers have fought for the amount of detail that these boxes can deliver. They also have DSP processing available on every channel to use while tracking or mixing. That can make the end result faster to get to while saving CPU by processing within the interface itself.
Zoom has famed themselves upon the success of their handheld recorders. Over the course of the last few years, they have done some really impressive things for the studio market in terms of interfaces. Their flagship is the TAC-8, a Thunderbolt interface with 18 inputs and 20 outputs. Thunderbolt connectivity offers the fastest throughput available with less than 2 ms of latency. The most unique part about this interface is that it has a hardware switch to turn it into a standalone unit. Not only can it be a high-quality interface, but a great 8-channel preamp as well.
The Clarett Range was introduced over a year ago and is still considered by many to be the best sounding Thunderbolt interface available. Each preamp comes equipped with a digitally controlled, "Air" mode that models the renowned ISA preamps. Every Clarett also has Focusrite's latest and greatest converters boasting a whopping 118dB A/D and 119dB D/A and a 192kHz sampling rate. With such low latency (1.67ms), engineers can track using any of their plug-ins, not just the built-in DSP. There are two ADAT I/O ports, S/PDIF I/O and MIDI I/O for a total of 26 in and 28 out. The Clarett 8PreX bridges the gap between project and pro studios.
Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) is a company that has been around for ages. It's no wonder they made it onto our list because they have had so much time to perfect their craft. Engineers worldwide love MOTU preamps and converters because they offer the cleanest transfer from microphones to computer available. The 8M is a great option for engineers in need of microphone preamps, but for the pro studios who have consoles and outboard pres, MOTU also offers the 24Ai converter. If one unit isn't enough, up to five can be easily added with a CAT-5e or CAT-6 ethernet cable. The digital mixer and Audiodesk 4.0 software makes this an affordable choice with no compromise in audio quality for any professional engineer.
RedNet has opened up huge possibilities for many studios. The idea behind the line is lossless audio anywhere with low latency. Each of the units can connect together with Ethernet cables via a Dante network. Each one was built for a specific purpose and exceeds expectations on a boutique level. Check out our RedNet article here for more information. Engineers like Chris Lord-Alge swear by the conversion quality and use it everyday for mixes you hear everyday. Check it out!
That wraps it up for this gift guide. 'Tis the season, so make sure you check out our other gift guides here. As always, enjoy FAST and FREE shipping on any order in the continental US. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to give us a call at 855-269-0474 or stop in our store in Downtown Appleton!