For this test we chose to step out of our normal studio gear comfort zone by ditching the computer. We combined a handful of fairly modern studio tech together to find out how many inputs could be recorded within the same pass via USB-C to an Apple iPad Pro 2018 running GarageBand iOS. For this test we employed Focusrite’s amazing Clarett range using both the 8Pre USB with a Clarett OctoPre input expander. These two units were connected together using ADAT with the main Clarett 8Pre audio interface connecting to the iPad Pro via USB-C.
On paper this rig should work, however, experience has taught us that in the real world these sorts of setups can on occasion throw up an issue or two. In this test we placed 13 microphones around a drum kit so that we could test the performance of the paired Claretts and the performance of the iPad in an input heavy tracking session example.
Many years ago in the digital audio recording world recording 16 channels simultaneously to “tape” was regarded as a bit of a Holy Grail in tracking. These days this sort of mic preamp count is considered more of a standard benchmark for DAW computer based setups as many affordable audio interfaces provide this but for iOS compatible devices of late, this high input count has been fairly uncharted territory. We wanted to run this test to find out if an iPad Pro 2018 could handle a high number of recording inputs in a real world recording scenario. Watch our short video test below:
The only drawback we found in this test was that the iPad Pro 2018 was unable to draw any charge from the Clarett while connected. We don’t feel this is a dealbreaker but you could easily run into problems if you started a tracking session with an iPad with low charge.
Latency wasn’t an issue with the headphone monitoring. The Focusrite Clarett units felt no different in use paired with an iPad compared to using these interfaces with a desktop or laptop computer. As a mobile recording rig this setup could very well be the only rig you need. GarageBand iOS is very capable, yes it is basic but it’s touch control workflow makes it very easy and quick to get tracking done.
I thought I wouldn’t like this setup but I did. I thought this setup would work properly yet it proved to be a rock solid recording rig. We were able to prove that the Clarett 8Pre and the Clarett Octopre could work together over ADAT into the iPad Pro’s USB-C port. This test showed that the iPad Pro can indeed track 13 inputs at the same time without breaking a sweat. There’s no reason for us to believe that this system couldn’t easily track 16 inputs simultaneously.
What’s great about this particular setup is that I could be using the Focusrite Clarett interfaces in my day to day studio tracking. If I needed to do some location recording I could quickly unmount these from my rack, chuck them in a bag along with my iPad and be absolutely certain that I could record this many sources in one pass without needing a powerful laptop or desktop computer. Also, why use a laptop for tracking when using an iPad for this sort of work is more fun that using a mouse and computer?
It’s worth mentioning that the other Clarett interfaces, the 2Pre & 4Pre, also feature USB-C connectivity. We’ve tested these units in the past. We love them, to find out why check out our review of these and to see & hear them in action.
Visit Focusrite for more information on the Clarett range of interfaces.