Introduced at the NAMM Show 2005 by Focusrite, the company behind the design of the Mbox, Saffire is a compact, portable desktop unit featuring multiple I/O and powerful onboard processing for the modern audio engineer.
The SaffireControl software suite (from the same team that created the control application for The Liquid Channel) includes a comprehensive I/O control plus Focusrite EQ, Compression, Amp Modelling and Reverb plug-ins. Focusrite front-end design is combined with software to provide effects processing on the incoming audio and foldback reverb over any of the separate headphone/monitor outputs, ensuring artists are kept happy and audio is tracked.
SaffireControl offers two preset modes of operation, allowing the hardware to function either as a comprehensive tracking tool, with custom foldback mixes (of incoming audio and tracks from a sequencer) for artists, or a standard soundcard, with eight analog outputs. Buttons within the main software application instantly recall these two interface performance setups, and of course all settings for either mode can be saved for later session recall.
Designed with workflow management in mind, the SaffireControl software can be set to whatever level of complexity is required by the engineer, with simple controls on the surface and more advanced settings always visible but only activated at the user's command. Once settings have been defined, SaffireControl can be shrunk down to a condensed format and set to 'float' continuously over the recording software in use, offering I/O signal control at a glance.
With all of the plug-ins, including foldback reverb for the outputs, running off Saffire's onboard hardware DSP, the computer's processing is never taxed. The entire plug-in suite also comes in AU/VST format for using separately within the sequencer or recording software.
The Compressor plug-in is modeled on the company's hardware devices, using the measurement of custom optos to achieve the signature Focusrite sound. All Focusrite optos are tuned by ear, just like in the old days of analogue design, ensuring a faithful recreation of those classic vintage 1960s optical compressors.
The EQ plug-in exhibits the same signature as the original Focusrite EQ curves. Focusrite's R&D team used state-of-the-art numerical transform techniques to create an authentic response across the entire audible frequency spectrum.
The Reverb plug-in is based on classic algorithmic studio reverb designs and the Amp Modeling plug-in features overdrive, speaker simulation and classic passive guitar EQ emulation.
In Template mode, EQ and Compressor plug-in presets provide optimized settings for vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, bass, brass/wind, percussion and strings. Switching to Advanced mode provides control over every parameter.
Session settings are configured in the main application window, which features multiple faders for all incoming and outgoing audio and vertical strip meters for each stage of the audio chain. There are three main sections: input processing, balancing of audio from the sequencer (for example, Cubase) and separate processing/mixing of all stereo outputs, including monitor and headphone paths.
Recorded audio levels are set and EQ/Amp Modelling and/or Compression applied in the input stage, located in the top left of the main software panel. One mouse click opens up a separate window where the individual settings for that input channel can be defined. Meanwhile, the lower half of the main panel is reserved for the balancing/custom mixing and processing of any of the 10 available stereo outputs. Pots and cross faders in this section allow a simple balancing of inputs and outputs, while two larger custom mix buttons provide the option of a completely unique mix of both the incoming and outgoing audio.
The included Steinberg Cubase LE - software features:
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