Interfacing Linux: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

If Behringer is the Walmart of budget interfaces, Focusrite is the Target. Retailing at £349 the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 offered a low-cost alternative to the M-Audio 2626. Let’s find out if it can Linux in 2020.


Tech specs:

MIC
• Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.1 dB.
• THD+N: 0.001% (measured at 1kHz with a 20Hz/22kHz band pass filter).
• Noise: EIN > 125dB (128dB analogue to digital): measured at ~60dB of gain with 150 Ohm termination
(20Hz/22kHz band pass filter).

LINE
• Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.1dB.
• THD+N: <0.001% (measured with 0dBFS equivalent input and 22Hz/22kHz band pass filter).
• Noise: -90dBu (22Hz/22kHz band pass filter).

INSTRUMENT
• Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.1dB.
• THD+N: 0.004% (measured with 0dBu input and 20Hz/22kHz band pass filter).
• Noise: -87dBu (20Hz/22kHz band pass filter).

DIGITAL PERFORMANCE
• A/D Dynamic Range 110dB ‘A-weighted’ (all inputs).
• D/A Dynamic Range 110dB ‘A-weighted’ (all outputs).
• JetPLLTM PLL technology providing superb jitter reduction, for class leading converter performance.
• Clock Jitter < 250 pico seconds.
• Sample rates: 44.1 to 96kHz.
• 20 input channels to computer: Analogue (8), S/PDIF (2), ADAT (8) and Mix Loop-back (2).
• 20 output channels from computer: Analogue (10), S/PDIF (2) and ADAT (8).
• Fully assignable 18 input by 16 output mixer.

ANALOGUE INPUTS
• Mic / Line inputs on XLR Combo with auto-switching between XLR and TRS.
• Mic / Line / Instrument 1 & 2: 2 x XLR Combo on front panel.
• Mic / Line 3-8: 6 x XLR Combo.
• Instrument: As above, switched to Instrument (inputs 1 & 2 only).
• Mic Gain: +10dB to + 55dB.
• Line 1-8 Gain: -10dB to +36dB.
• Instrument Gain: +10dB to +55dB.
• Input Pad on inputs 1-2, -9dB.
• Phantom power switched in 4 channel groups on Mic. 1-4 and 5-8.
• Mic and instrument maximum input level +7dBu (+16dBu with pad on inputs 1 and 2).
• Line maximum input level +22dBu.

ANALOGUE OUTPUTS
• Line level 10 x 1/4 inch TRS Jack.
• Outputs Monitor 1 and 2 have anti-thump protection circuitry.
• Nominal output level 0dBFS = 16dBu, balanced.
• Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz +/- 0.2dB.
• THD+N <0.0010% (-100dB) (measured with 0dBFS input 22Hz/22kHz band pass filter, un-weighted).
• Software switched attenuation (–20dB) on outputs 1 and 2 (for sensitive active monitors).
• Hardware and Software Controlled Digital Volume control for all outputs (assignable through control panel).
• Hardware and Software Controlled Digital Dim and Mute controls for all outputs (assignable through control panel).
• All outputs are useable as monitoring outputs
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DIGITAL I/O
• S/PDIF input and output (RCA phono) on rear panel, (24-bit, 44.1 – 96kHz) Output transformer isolated.
• ADAT In / Out 8 channels (44.1 / 48kHz), 4 channels S-MUX (88.2 / 96kHz).
• ADAT Input / Output can be re-configured to be optical S/PDIF input / output via control panel.


Jackbox: Testing setup

CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1700
RAM Corsair LPX 16GB
Motherboard MSI B350 Tomahawk
GPU Nvidia Quadro 4000
SSD Samsung 840
PSU: EVGA 600 B1
Firewire: Syba SY-PEX30016
Network: Intel i350-T4
OS: Debian Buster
Kernel: 5.4.47-rt
Desktop: XFCE 4.12

Pulseaudio: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 immediately recognized by ALSA and Pulseaudio.


ALSA: Settings exposed via alsamixer.


Jack: Connects using the drivers provided by FFADO.


Disable ALSA firewire drivers: If you don’t want ALSA or Pulseaudio to see the device you can disable it with the following.

Create the file alsa-nope.conf in /etc/modprobe.d/ and add the following. Reboot.

blacklist snd-dice

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Round-trip latency @44100 HZ


Focusrite Saffire Pro 40: Round-trip latency @48000 HZ


Verdict:
The inability to reliably save internal DSP settings makes the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 a nonstarter. Things get even worse when you realize there is no way to hardware reset the device from Linux. That became an issue since I managed to render the device inoperable after 30 or so minutes of experimenting.

As I said in the video, if you have one it can be made to work under Linux but I wouldn’t recommend it. For the same amount of cash you can pick up the M-Audio 2626, the interface Focusrite was trying to compete against in 2009.


Check out our Amazon idea list, take a look at our studio gear, or donate your unloved audio equipment.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 40

$80 / $120
1.5

Works out of the box

2.0/5

Ease of setup

0.5/5

Stability

2.0/5

Features

1.5/5

Works

  • ADAT.
  • MIDI.
  • 8 serviceable preamps.
  • It will probably outlive you.

Nopes

  • No factory reset.
  • No preamp bypass.
  • 96K is knackered.
  • Flakey internal DSP.
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