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What interface for Reaper on Mac?


fretmeister
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Thanks Si, I guess I'm a little miffed that my baby was discontinued and won't be optimised any more. I do have to add that Focusrite support (including yourself) have been brilliant at sorting out any issues. I'd have liked the level of tweaking and optimisation that RME are known for but that sadly won't happen with the Forte, even though it sounds like you'll all do everything possible to ensure it still works. :)

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On 08/04/2019 at 16:49, Mornats said:

Thanks Si, I guess I'm a little miffed that my baby was discontinued and won't be optimised any more. I do have to add that Focusrite support (including yourself) have been brilliant at sorting out any issues. I'd have liked the level of tweaking and optimisation that RME are known for but that sadly won't happen with the Forte, even though it sounds like you'll all do everything possible to ensure it still works. :)

We do our best :)

With regards to a ‘high level of tweaking and optimization’, whilst the Forte was great, ultimately it was a 2-in, 2-out USB device, it was always going to be relatively limited in it’s function (albeit whilst sounding excellent).

If you were to compare the Forte to our Clarett or Red range now (Clarett 2Pre being closest in I/O), the sheer level of connectivity and routing options available is night and day, not to mention performance optimisation being the best it’s ever been. 

Si // Focusrite

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  • 6 months later...

Thought I'd open up this thread again as I've just received an email from Focusrite advising:

"Forte is no longer under development support, meaning we are not able to provide any further updates to support macOS Catalina or future versions of macOS or Windows.

Forte will continue to function as normal on macOS 10.14 Mojave and below. The latest version of Windows that Forte was tested on is Windows 10 build 1809 - you may experience problems with your Forte if you update Windows beyond this version."

So first off, I'm not really complaining about this, I'm actually pleased they took the time to tell me. It's a shame, but hopefully it'll keep working and I'm sure the team at Focusrite would help me as much as they could if it stopped working.

So going back to Si's comment about the Clarett 2Pre being the closest in terms of I/O I wondering if you could help me with what could potentially be a replacement.

What I need from an interface is super low latency for working with loads of virtual instruments (Spitfire sampled orchestras, with synths, other stuff and effects on). I'm also thinking about trying to route audio out of my DAW and into some outboard gear like effects pedals. Also, I may get a hardware synth to record into my DAW (Korg Minilogue XD is top of my list). So in terms of routing stuff out of my DAW, into hardware and back in again, is there a particular Focusrite I should be considering? I'm not sure what my requirements would be!

Cheers!

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On 18/10/2019 at 19:16, Mornats said:

Thought I'd open up this thread again as I've just received an email from Focusrite advising:

"Forte is no longer under development support, meaning we are not able to provide any further updates to support macOS Catalina or future versions of macOS or Windows.

Forte will continue to function as normal on macOS 10.14 Mojave and below. The latest version of Windows that Forte was tested on is Windows 10 build 1809 - you may experience problems with your Forte if you update Windows beyond this version."

So first off, I'm not really complaining about this, I'm actually pleased they took the time to tell me. It's a shame, but hopefully it'll keep working and I'm sure the team at Focusrite would help me as much as they could if it stopped working.

So going back to Si's comment about the Clarett 2Pre being the closest in terms of I/O I wondering if you could help me with what could potentially be a replacement.

What I need from an interface is super low latency for working with loads of virtual instruments (Spitfire sampled orchestras, with synths, other stuff and effects on). I'm also thinking about trying to route audio out of my DAW and into some outboard gear like effects pedals. Also, I may get a hardware synth to record into my DAW (Korg Minilogue XD is top of my list). So in terms of routing stuff out of my DAW, into hardware and back in again, is there a particular Focusrite I should be considering? I'm not sure what my requirements would be!

Cheers!

There’s not really a particular interface specifically for what you want to do, it’s probably more about how much of that do you want to do simultaneously, that then determines the I/O you need/want.

e.g. Say you want to record a vocal and a guitar simultaneously, so you definitely want two separate inputs. If you then want to also record a synth, don’t automatically assume you need three inputs, the question is do you want/need to record that synth at the same time as the vocal and guitar? If not, then you still only need two inputs.

As it happens, the Clarett 2Pre allows for 4 simultaneous inputs to be recorded, 2 of which can be any combination of Mic/Instrument/Line, and 2 are line inputs only. Similarly it has 4 outputs, so you could be feeding a stereo pair of studio monitors while also live re-amping two guitar parts out to an amp and recording back in (requiring two mic inputs). 

So you can see that already, if multiple inputs aren’t required simultaneously, something like the Clarett 2Pre is already quite versatile. That’s before you consider that it’s for an ADAT in port, which means you could expand it by another 8 channels via a separate channel strip (such as the Clarett Octopre).

Latency is also a bit of a misnomer here, high latency is only really an issue if you’re recording and requiring to monitor that recording input via your DAW (ie if uou’re DI’ing your guitar/bass and require to hear a VST effect on its channel while you record). That’s usually fairly rare, and so direct monitoring (monitoring direct from the hardware input of the interface) will usually do the job. In this situation, system latency doesn’t effect you, and so you can just too out your session buffer size and allow your computer to process all the soft instruments you have without falling over. As such, a USB interface is usually more than enough for most people. 

Thunderbolt does allow for more latency ‘headroom’, but again, only really needed if you’re recording into a heavy session and require to monitor that recording channel via the DAW. Most commonly, people get all their audio recording done before their sessions get heavy with processing (i.e. the mixing phase), and so again, USB more than adequate. Also remember that latency is largely effected by your computer spec, have an appropriately spec’d computer, again, USB is more than enough.

So, long story short, depending on what your I/O needs are, I think start looking at the Clarett 2Pre USB and go from there :)

Si // Focusrite

Edited by Sibob
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Thanks for replying Si!

It sounds like the Clarett 2Pre would be ideal. I could have the synth plugged into it permanently have have two inputs at the front always available. I tend to only record one or two things at a time but there's value in having a stereo synth plugged in and ready to go all the time.

Another thing I want to do is to take sounds out of my DAW, into hardware effects and bring them back into the DAW. As you mentioned, the Clarett can do this too. Would there be any risk of a feedback loop? I'll try and describe the setup in my head.

Virtual Instrument hosted in a DAW > Interface > line out from interface > into effects pedal > line in to interface from effects. There'll also be two outputs to my monitors from the interface.

With regards to latency, what I mean is in my DAW I'll have an orchestral library loaded in. At the moment, just with the string section that's around 17GB loaded into RAM. So there's a lot in there! I set my buffer to 128 which means I can record with my midi keyboard with no problem. However, once I get some processing going on those virtual instruments the CPU will start to take a beating. It's an i7 4790k running at 4.5ghz across all cores so it's old, but it's no slouch. I believe an interface's ASIO drivers can be a factor here in terms of keeping the buffer low (thereby combating latency) whilst not putting too much strain on a CPU. Or I could be totally mistaken :) Either way, my Forte is decent in that regard and I won't want to take any step back from that.

Finally, I'm guessing what you said about the Clarett would also be true for the Scarletts other than the quality of the preamps?

Thanks again for answering, you're a large part of the reason why I'm not thinking of jumping ship!

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On 24/10/2019 at 20:27, Mornats said:

Thanks for replying Si!

It sounds like the Clarett 2Pre would be ideal. I could have the synth plugged into it permanently have have two inputs at the front always available. I tend to only record one or two things at a time but there's value in having a stereo synth plugged in and ready to go all the time.

Another thing I want to do is to take sounds out of my DAW, into hardware effects and bring them back into the DAW. As you mentioned, the Clarett can do this too. Would there be any risk of a feedback loop? I'll try and describe the setup in my head.

Virtual Instrument hosted in a DAW > Interface > line out from interface > into effects pedal > line in to interface from effects. There'll also be two outputs to my monitors from the interface.

With regards to latency, what I mean is in my DAW I'll have an orchestral library loaded in. At the moment, just with the string section that's around 17GB loaded into RAM. So there's a lot in there! I set my buffer to 128 which means I can record with my midi keyboard with no problem. However, once I get some processing going on those virtual instruments the CPU will start to take a beating. It's an i7 4790k running at 4.5ghz across all cores so it's old, but it's no slouch. I believe an interface's ASIO drivers can be a factor here in terms of keeping the buffer low (thereby combating latency) whilst not putting too much strain on a CPU. Or I could be totally mistaken :) Either way, my Forte is decent in that regard and I won't want to take any step back from that.

Finally, I'm guessing what you said about the Clarett would also be true for the Scarletts other than the quality of the preamps?

Thanks again for answering, you're a large part of the reason why I'm not thinking of jumping ship!

There’s a few things to unpack here so sorry if I miss something (and am on my phone, so a little awkward lol).

Feedback loop won’t really be a problem, just a case of routing whatever channel in your DAW to say something like output 3, through the hardware and monitor the input when you come back in again. If you want output 3 to form part of your main monitor mix (for some reason that I can’t think of), then you’ll just not monitor the signal coming back in again. So easy to avoid feedback. It’s a pretty common use-case, so quite normal to set an interface up that way.

Drivers are certainly a component of latency, but yes, as is the rest of the computer. The easy way around any latency issues (which I don't think you’ll encounter), is simply to avoid any processing until you’re done tracking, when you’re fully done with tracking, up your buffer size all the way to 1024 or whatever, basically giving you all the CPU power ready for processing (because don’t need to worry about latency, because tracking is done).

And yes, everything above relates to Scarlett’s as well as Claretts. Just be aware that Scarlett 18i8 is the first in the range that has ADAT In (If channel expansion is important to you in the future), whereas all Claretts have ADAT in. While Scarlett’s sound great, Claretts do have improved audio specs, hence the price differences :) 

Cheers

Si // Focusrite

Edited by Sibob
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Thanks again Si!

For the most part, I'll be recording performances of virtual instruments, quite often orchestral VIs. Here's a screenshot of my work-in-progress template. This is just the strings section and when I get brass and woodwinds I'll refine it so it fits into RAM. Currently it's taking up 18.5GB of RAM and consists of over 40 tracks each with an instance of Neutron on it. Usually I'm ok at a buffer of 128 for recording midi in but if I throw in any synths or anything CPU intensive (like Ozone on the master channel) then playback and recording become problematic. I can quite often go back in and re-record some midi whilst I'm in the mixing/refining process so being able to keep that buffer down to 128 is super handy.

I guess that my PC's overall grunt will have more of an effect than the interface and it's drivers for this type of work? If so, then it'll just come down to whatever preamps and ins/outs I need and the Clarett 4pre or the Scarlett 4i4 looks ace for that. 

image.thumb.png.2304cc64a06cc7a9e6cefcb5bc72a67a.png

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On 27/10/2019 at 19:56, Mornats said:

Thanks again Si!

For the most part, I'll be recording performances of virtual instruments, quite often orchestral VIs. Here's a screenshot of my work-in-progress template. This is just the strings section and when I get brass and woodwinds I'll refine it so it fits into RAM. Currently it's taking up 18.5GB of RAM and consists of over 40 tracks each with an instance of Neutron on it. Usually I'm ok at a buffer of 128 for recording midi in but if I throw in any synths or anything CPU intensive (like Ozone on the master channel) then playback and recording become problematic. I can quite often go back in and re-record some midi whilst I'm in the mixing/refining process so being able to keep that buffer down to 128 is super handy.

I guess that my PC's overall grunt will have more of an effect than the interface and it's drivers for this type of work? If so, then it'll just come down to whatever preamps and ins/outs I need and the Clarett 4pre or the Scarlett 4i4 looks ace for that. 

image.thumb.png.2304cc64a06cc7a9e6cefcb5bc72a67a.png

Yeah you’re exactly right, while the driver is a component, when you’re talking about projects like that, the overall grunt of the machine is what you’re interested in.

The Scarlett 18i8 is the equivalent in that range to the Clarett 4Pre (although do have different I/O). I think it basically comes to budget, if you can afford the Clarett without flinching, go for that. If you are budget conscious, then Scarlett still sound more than professional.

Si // Focusrite

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  • 4 weeks later...

There's a few comments in the posts above about thunderbolt / low latency only being necessary if your want to run a lot of plugins while you track, and that being unusual. Is it still though, as we get close to 2020? I think more people would just run through a virtual amp when tracking if they knew it was rock solid and low latency (although there will be lots of people who don't believe virtual amps can sound as good or better) - if it was their own virtual gear with their favourite tones especially. You get a dry signal you can do what you like with, including reamp it if you really want to. I run a Presonus Quantum thunderbolt interface into what was a big spec but is now a couple of years old laptop and I would track through it for multiple instruments (3+ for sure) with multiple plugins on each no problem. I don't even need a Di box for the first 2. I'm pretty sure I'll never mic up an amp again, and it's not that long since I was Mr valve amps only.

I realise that's not as relevant to using VIs, just curious what people think.

Edited by adamg67
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6 hours ago, adamg67 said:

There's a few comments in the posts above about thunderbolt / low latency only being necessary if your want to run a lot of plugins while you track, and that being unusual. Is it still though, as we get close to 2020? I think more people would just run through a virtual amp when tracking if they knew it was rock solid and low latency (although there will be lots of people who don't believe virtual amps can sound as good or better) - if it was their own virtual gear with their favourite tones especially. You get a dry signal you can do what you like with, including reamp it if you really want to. I run a Presonus Quantum thunderbolt interface into what was a big spec but is now a couple of years old laptop and I would track through it for multiple instruments (3+ for sure) with multiple plugins on each no problem. I don't even need a Di box for the first 2. I'm pretty sure I'll never mic up an amp again, and it's not that long since I was Mr valve amps only.

I realise that's not as relevant to using VIs, just curious what people think.

Yeah sure, if that’s what you want/need while tracking then all good 🙂. If a very specific tone is needed while tracking, often the case with guitars, specifically distortion), then I think it’s necessary, otherwise I’ll track my bass dry 90% of the time (straight to the interface), and add the ‘valve warmth’ or ‘tube compressor’ or whatever plugin at the mixing stage, purely because that’s whatever the mix needs.

Si

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2 hours ago, Sibob said:

Yeah sure, if that’s what you want/need while tracking then all good 🙂. If a very specific tone is needed while tracking, often the case with guitars, specifically distortion), then I think it’s necessary, otherwise I’ll track my bass dry 90% of the time (straight to the interface), and add the ‘valve warmth’ or ‘tube compressor’ or whatever plugin at the mixing stage, purely because that’s whatever the mix needs.

Si

Yeah I think it's guitar where it makes more of a difference, I've had guitarists say they need something pretty close or they don't play the same, and I think there's some truth in it especially with eg soloing with / without some nice reverb.

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