Focusrite's take on the 8-channel mic preamp, the Platinum Series OctoPre, has everything one would expect in an outboard mic preamp, including good sonic performance, a clean user interface, and a slew of features. All channels feature a class-A mic preamp, line-level input, switchable phantom power, and hi-pass filter. Eight rear-panel XLR connectors of the non-locking variety feed the preamp section. Analog line outputs are also on a DB The front-panel gain knobs are clearly labeled from dB, which is great for mic use. However, when using the line input, the 12 o'clock knob position about

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I keep trying to think of a catchphrase that Focusrite might seize on and use to promote this dandy little unit. Something clever and funny and unexpected.

Honestly, this 1U-height, 8- channel mic preamp and more is perfectly suited to any-every and alltrack digital recording where the point is to make music. Or analog recording, if that's your thing. Can't say it any plainer. Turns out rather than being merely a stripped-down version of the original OctoPre "classic," it's streamlined and much more useful. On channels 1 and 2, flip a switch, and you've got high-impedance direct inputs for instruments like guitar and bass.

Channels 1 and 2 also feature a Low Z switch to reduce input loading-great for pulling extra flavor out of some mics, especially ribbons. Phantom power for the mics is global- oh well, something had to be "cheap and cheesy" to hit this pricepoint! And every channel has a balanced line output via eight TRS jacks on the back.

Here's how the converters work. Normally, the aforementioned eight TRS jacks on the back are the outputs of the mic preamps. Therefore, if you've got your digital recorder connected to the ADAT out, you can connect the TRS jacks to a mixer and use all eight of them for zero-latency monitoring. But that's not all you can do. For example, you can route tracks from your digital recorder to line outputs on the OctoPre and use line outputs for zero-latency monitoring.

Or swap the two groups and get zero-latency monitoring on outputs while playback's on There is also-and it's a big also-a cool late-night-blue VU meter selectable to any output, for quick at-a-glance checks of any level. This meter is wickedly responsive, displaying the sharpest attacks with blinding speed. The needle literally disappears until you see it up at zero. You think it's not too shabby, ah? I know what else you're thinking Let's put it this way.

The low-frequency response is thunderously effective in the way of the most recent modern preamps, capturing as sounds things that are really more vibrations, more felt than heard. The sound of a dinosaur's crashing footsteps is more in-the-ground quaking than pure audio, but this machine will give you that audio, if you live to tell.

You do not miss, or notice, what is not there. The midrange response is even and convincing; the highs are open, accurate and transparent, crisp but not brittle. But not all the time. And dig this Not that you should try this at home. Total harmonic distortion tops out-tops out-at 0. Frequency response from whale-song lows to dog-whistle highs is flat within 3 dB. Come on people now-if you ever feel like multitracking audio, while mixing different sources together, you don't need to be a caps-lock kinda guy to see this range of performance at this price point is totally AWESOME!

Using this out in the real world, it's every bit the match of my Sytek preamps, which a lot of people take for a defacto standard of some kind of quality level.

For the kind of live concert recording I do-jazz bands or symphonies or choruses or bluegrass or folk or country or jam-the results have been pretty interchangeable. I track onto an Alesis HD24, which allows me up to 24 tracks, and adding instantly eight tracks for one rackspace has opened up all kinds of cool possibilities for room mics, ambience, stereo audience, surround audience, etc.

If this were your sole preamp for an 8-track recorder, it would be more than fine. That is to say, you've got to have a very sophisticated and more hideously expensive rig than I do before this is the weak link in the chain.

If you're still hunting to find something "cheap and cheesy" You could quibble all goddamn day about this or that spec or feature, or get into its phase accuracy, or why there aren't two channels with phase reverse or simultaneous metering on every channel or whatever-fine. All I know is, when the FedEx guys dropped this off for me to review, I was kinda lax.

The first few times I fired it up, I had an attitude. And speaking of that, I do have a criticism. There's a graphic detail on the faceplate, a double f centered on the Channel 1 controls but overlapping on both sides. It looks like the remains of a sticker that was only partially removed.

Other than this lone perverse artistic faux pas, the design is pleasingly crafted. The gain settings are very easy to see under low light, and the rice-grain buttons that illuminate when engaged are a joy. Not anymore. You'll have to pry it out with my cold, dead fingers.

The TM-1 is a tube-based signal-processing device hand-made in California and housed in a heavy, yellow, Hammond-style case. It has five comfortable knobs and five jacks and runs on an AC power At his table were three 2-channel See Issue 30 for my review of the Mbox as most of my comments there on small to mid-sized studios needing Pro Tools compatibility also apply here.

You've probably seen the ads and know that the Digi I'm beginning to realize how different DI boxes can be. Having never used any Buzz Audio products before, I was intrigued at the prospect of checking out this 2-channel Class A preamp. The 1RU-height box features a nice array of front-panel controls for At that time, the unit was available as either a replacement module for some vintage consoles or in a custom rack I had seen the ads for a while in Tape Op.

There were these preamps I had never heard of by a company I had never heard of — Ingram Engineering. They looked cool and somewhat retro. I had always This is a great mic preamp. It's very quiet, has plenty of gain and does a great job of accurately reproducing what you feed it. It's a Class A, discrete, solid-state pre, and all the internal audio Vintage King co-founder Michael Nehra shares some of his love, knowledge, and practical advice for diving into the world of vintage audio gear, and then takes us behind the scenes for a walk through Jim Williams has spent much of his 56 years working with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin and Stevie Wonder.

He's the owner of Audio Upgrades, Bill Cheney and Jim Romney are the men responsible for keeping the amazing legacy of Spectra Sonics, a legendary, if criminally unheralded, pro-audio company alive. Their mic preamps, summing amps, and control room Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making. Subscribe for free here.

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Focusrite Octopre

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Focusrite Audio Engineering

Focusrite's Platinum series expands further with an unusually affordable eight-channel mic preamp boasting dynamics on every channel. The market for affordable multi-channel soundcards seems to have exploded over the last couple of years. A couple of hundred pounds will now buy you eight channels' worth of pristine bit hardware and leave change for the bus-ride home. Frustratingly, though, the situation is not so rosy when it comes to choosing a mic preamp to use with your new soundcard. The latest addition to Focusrite's Platinum series aims to improve matters for the computer-based musician who needs to record multiple sources without breaking the bank.


Focusrite OctoPre LE CODEC instruction manual and user guide

Photo: Mike Cameron. Focusrite hot up the competition by offering eight channels of Platinum-series preamplification, with optional digital conversion, at a surprisingly affordable price point. Focusrite have a well-deserved reputation for building analogue outboard studio equipment, and their Platinum range is well established in the UK project-studio market due to its low cost and good audio quality. However, it is no secret that much of the analogue market is being hit hard by the relentless rise of software plug-ins, so for mass-market analogue gear to survive in the project studio world where the computer is king, it has to be designed to integrate easily into the computer environment.

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