Applies to: Scarlett 3rd Gen, Clarett (all ranges), Red interfaces
What is Air Mode?
Air mode is a feature found on the preamps of Focusrite interfaces. Air is the name we give to the sonic signature of the classic transformer-based ISA Preamp. Our customers first coined this name as a simple description of the effect the ISA preamp added to their sound recordings.
The three most significant attributes of the transformer design that create the “Air” effect are:
- Microphone interaction, created by the unique input impedance of the transformer coupling with the microphone output impedance.
- Clarity, created by the low distortion and high linearity of the transformer and preamp design.
- The frequency response tilt created by the transformer resonance emphasises the higher frequency content of the sound.
What's the difference between the Air modes on Scarlett, Clarett and Red?
Scarlett, Clarett⁺ and Red audio interfaces all feature Air, but there are some differences to the Air circuit depending on which interface you choose to use.
First, here's what you get with Air on all Focusrite interfaces:
- A completely analogue circuit
- Air is analogue on all our interfaces; there's no DSP taking place or plug-ins running in the background. Air adds no latency or timing issues to your recording path.
- Single button press
- Perhaps the best thing about Air — other than the sound — is that it's a simple press of a button to engage making it instantly there for you whenever you need it.
- Low-noise operation
- It’s common for noise to creep in when you when increase the gain on high frequencies. Air is designed to minimise noise and keep your recording clean and pure.
- Digital control
- Although Air is 100% analogue, you can use Focusrite Control to turn Air on and off using Mac, PC or iOS devices.
The main differences in Air are on Clarett⁺ and Red interfaces:
- ISA 110 circuitry
- Air packs an additional punch by closely emulating the sound and the circuitry of the original ISA 110 mic preamp from the Focusrite Studio Console.
- Changed input impedance
- In addition to the 4dB boost at 24kHz provided by the analogue filters, Clarett⁺ and Red interfaces change the input impedance when Air is engaged, from 6.2kΩ to 2.2kΩ. This change alters the interaction between the microphone and the input circuitry of the preamp. For Line and Instrument inputs, the impedance remains the same and only the frequency response changes, with a 4dB boost at 24kHz.