The Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 is their flagship multi-channel firewire audio interface. Liquid technology combines with Saffire PRO firewire interfacing to deliver a host of authentic pre-amp flavours, seamless software integration, excellent routing flexibility and future-proof, rock-solid driver stability.
Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 Firewire Interface Features
- Two Liquid Pre-amps
The marriage of a hugely flexible analogue front end with cutting-edge dynamic convolution DSP, each Liquid Pre-amp lets you choose from ten different classic pre-amp emulations, with an eleventh flat option.
- Six High Quality Award-winning Focusrite Pre-amps
Six award-winning Saffire pre-amps complement two Liquid pre-amps. All eight pre-amps demonstrate the same wide bandwidth philosophy behind the early vintage Focusrite units.
- High Quality 24-bit/192kHz Firewire Interface
Professional digital conversion and JetPLL jitter elimination technology; pristine audio quality and reliable synchronisation are guaranteed.
- Total I/O Count of 28 Inputs and 28 Outputs
A host of i/o options are provided, including a unique loop-back facility for routing audio between software applications via Saffire Mix Control.
- Suite of Focusrite VST/AU plug-ins
Upgrade your standard sequencer effects and bring a touch of class to your session with Focusrite Compression, Reverb, Gating and EQ VST/AU plug-ins.
- Two separate headphone buses
Two artists can receive independent and fully customised monitor mixes. Each output has an independent level control available on the front panel.
- Saffire Mix Control Zero-latency DSP Mixer/Router
Routing flexibility and intuitive one-click set-up solutions; Saffire Mix Control provides an 18 x 16 DSP mixer with excellent output routing and monitoring capabilities.
- Front panel 5-LED metering
LED metering for each of the analogue, ADAT1, ADAT2 or S/PDIF inputs offers accurate viewing of levels direct from the front fascia.
In addition to six of Focusrite's legendary mic-pre's, two of Liquid Saffire 56’s pre-amps utilises the third generation of Focusrite’s Liquid Pre-amp, providing the choice of ten different pre-amp emulations. These include emulations based on the Neve 1073, the Pultec MB-1, Telefunken V72 and seven more. A harmonics dial on each Liquid pre-amp lets you account for variance in vintage originals of the same model, or use levels of 2nd, 3rd and 5th Harmonic distortion creatively to shape your sound.
Liquid Saffire 56 doesn’t just offer pre-amp variety; sonic integrity is also guaranteed throughout. Both the Liquid and Saffire pre-amps ensure low noise and distortion, whilst quality digital conversion and JetPLL jitter elimination technology ensure pristine audio quality as your audio flows between the analogue and digital domains.
Alongside the two Liquid- and six Saffire pre-amps, are a host of i/o options; 10 analogue outputs, 16 channels of ADAT i/o, stereo SPDIF i/o, MIDI i/o and 2 virtual loopback inputs for routing digital audio between software applications - ideal for capturing audio playback within your computer. Mic, Line and Instrument inputs all utilise independent connectors, with the input type for each channel selectable via custom control software. Consequently, all the inputs can remain permanently connected, ready for whatever your recording session demands. In addition, word-clock i/o is provided on BNC connectors, allowing Liquid Saffire 56 to act as either a master clock for your studio, or as a slave to an existing clock. Every channel features an independent phantom power and a high pass filter, switchable from the front panel, with the two instrument channels also featuring -9dB pads for additional headroom. Front panel 5-LED metering for all inputs, including ADAT and SPDIF, offers accurate viewing of all levels.
Saffire Mix Control, the zero-latency 18 x 16 DSP Mixer/Router software provided with Liquid Saffire 56 features unparalleled output routing and monitoring. It also provides intuitive one-click set-up solutions, a clear and concise mixing layout, large on-screen metering for inputs, outputs and submixes and control over the choice of liquid emulation.
Two independent headphone buses are provided, each with their own level controls available on the front panel. A dedicated stereo monitor mix output features pads for improved sound quality when connected to active monitor speakers. An anti-thump circuit protects your monitor speakers from spikes when booting up or shutting down the unit.
Liquid Pre Technology
Rather than creating a similar sound to vintage units, as with modelling devices, Liquid Technology samples their sonic behaviour. This is achieved through Dynamic Convolution; the application of a unique, level-dependent set of responses to an audio signal. These measured responses, sampled at numerous levels and with every possible setting combination, are applied to the input stream on a sample-by-sample basis for accurate emulation.
However, Mic-pre emulation can't be achieved with software alone. Hardware is required in addition to account for the physical interaction with the microphone. Mic-pre's have always had to connect to the source microphone, but it's an interactive system that isn't 100% efficient. Mic. pre-amps have been designed since 1920's to suit a wide variety of different types of mics.- passive carbon dynamics, then coil-based designs, then valve amplifiers, large diaphragms, phantom powered condensers etc.
Hence, different vintages and types of mic. pre-amp, will vary dramatically in terms of the way that their input has been designed. For example, the range of electronic/transformer front ends that have been used over the years exhibit a wide-ranging set of impedances, and this is why an analogue front end needs to be included. If a specific mic. is not being loaded by the analogue circuit just as it was by an original vintage device, then the sound from that microphone will be different. The is no real mic-pre standard. Take a transformer for instance. It has two coils of wire, the 1st coil generates a magnetic field, and this then passes into the 2nd coil- which in itself is not a fixed transfer mechanism, there's a lot of variation in transformers.
What impedance appears at the input of the pre is also a key factor- when you connect a mic. it has an output impedance of its own. The two sides (mic. and pre) react, and frequency-related level can vary wildly as a result. Capacitances also interact as both mic and transformer have capacitances that vary, so HF roll off may occur for example, or you may get an HF peak (The famous Focusrite 'airiness' typified by the ISA range for example,) Older mics. designed for broadcast applications often roll off at e.g. 12kHz, since before 1970 few people cared about HF matters. (Designers used to just roll off at c12kHz to filter out problems above this threshold.)
Consequently, The only way to accommodate the full range of different designs is to allow huge flexibility in the resistance and capacitance parameters in a custom analogue circuit designed specifically for that flexibility. By including a 'Liquid' pre-amp circuit containing a flexible signal path and variable impedance value, Liquid Saffire 56 can mimic that of the classic mic-pre to ensure that the interaction with the microphone is close to the original.
Hence, The Liquid pre-amp physically changes analogue circuitry as well as using dynamic convolution technology to create mic-pre emulations. Focusrite has built in the variations required to reproduce the vagaries of a range of electronic mic-pres. The capacitance and resistance are then varied in the circuit, and Dynamic Convolution technology is used to emulate the full range of electronic pre's. Tube emulation is also covered 100% - this is taken care of by the Dynamic Convolution process. Whatever artefacts were present in a classic vintage tube piece are also present in the Liquid Pre-amp. The sound of every opto, and every VCA compressor, every transformer-balanced, electronically balanced (including tube pre's) can be emulated, because each device's response has been calculated.
Focusrite Plugin Suite
Liquid Saffire 56 includes the Focusrite plug-in suite, produced by the same team that developed Novation's nio FX rack and Saffire Pro 40 Control. They provide the perfect upgrade from your standard sequencer effects with all-new Focusrite Compression, Reverb, Gating and EQ VST/AU plug-ins, for use in the mix.
Each plug-in has a host of pre-sets that provide a reasonable starting point, delivering suitable solutions for the chosen sound source. Having selected a preset, you can then go on to finely tune these settings.
he compressor and Gate have been modeled on the Focusrite'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 analog design, ensuring a faithful recreation of those classic vintage 1960s optical compressors.)
With the same signature as the original Focusrite EQ curves. Focusrite's R and D team used state-of-the-art numerical transform techniques to create an authentic response across the entire audible frequency spectrum for this software EQ.
The Reverb is based on classic algorithmic studio reverb designs.
The Focusrite Pre
Focusrite has, over the past decade, built a reputation as the market leader for high quality recording equipment, with is mic-pre technology as the cornerstone of that enviable reputation. The original mic-pre, as featured in the early Focusrite Forte console, used rotary switched gain controls and high quality audio transformers. This mic-pre is still used by many of the industries greatest producers and is the sound of countless hit records. Today, Focusrite design equipment for a far greater audience, from professionals to amateur enthusiasts, all with varying budgets.
As with the Red and ISA ranges, the Mic-pre technology found in the Platinum and Saffire ranges is designed to the highest possible standards. They uphold the same wide bandwidth philosophy featured in the original forté console, back in 1989. All Focusrite mic-pres feature custom components which have undergone an intense testing and qualification process. With the facts and figures in, Focusrite designs then have to pass the essential listening stage. Any design can measure well on the test bench but only a great design can be qualified in the studio. The FET-based design in the Saffire range is no exception and ensures the same low noise and distortion performance as earlier transformer-based designs. It delivers clarity without colouration and exhibits the signature transparency for which Focusrite have become famous.