Focusrite Control 2802 Dual-Layer Mixing Console Review

Oct 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Barry Rudolph



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In April 2011, Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. and Audient Ltd. agreed to have Focusrite start the production and sale of certain Audient products. The dual-layer, small-format Focusrite Control 2802 is the first product created by both companies. Except for the new branding on the metal work and improved DAW integration, it is identical to the Audient ASP2802. The Control 2802 shares the same mic preamp topology and bus compressor design as the ASP8024, as well as many similarities to the Audient Zen console that I reviewed in Mix’s May 2010 issue.

The Focusrite Control 2802 is an analog recording console and DAW control surface in one. It makes the difficult easy by combining short and clean analog signal paths, as well as nearly limitless configuration and routing possibilities, with well-integrated workstation control.

The Focusrite Control 2802 is a 2-bus stereo mixer without equalizers nor multitrack buses. It has a wedge-shaped steel case, a built-in world power supply, and a rear panel covered with XLR, TRS and DB-25 sockets. It weighs just more than 40 pounds, measures 17.7x21.6 inches deep, and can be rackmounted in 15 spaces or placed on a desktop, as I did for this review.

It has eight 100mm Alps motor-fader channels with Solo, Cut and Select buttons that control eight THAT Corp. 2180LB VCAs. Because no analog audio passes through the faders themselves, seamless global switching between DAW and analog layers allows the faders to function as either DAW automation faders or regular line/mic input faders for manually “riding” levels, etc.

The rear panel is covered with XLR, TRS and DB-25 sockets,

The rear panel is covered with XLR, TRS and DB-25 sockets,

The eight channels each have processor inserts (rear panel TRS jacks) with in/out switches and, along with the eight in-line cue inputs, are sourced from either the eight DAW inputs (DB-25) or the eight (TRS) line inputs or eight (XLR) Class-A microphone preamps via the individual mic/line switches.

Each channel has a DAW button that individually “flips” the fader’s source between the DAW inputs and the mic/line signals. With the DAW button down, pushing the Alternate Input switch routes the line/mic signal to the stereo cue mixer.

Both channels and cue signals are individually assignable to the stereo mix bus for up to 16 inputs to mix. By adding 16 additional inputs, I was set up for summing/mixing 16 stereo pairs or 32 tracks from my Pro Tools|HD rig.

For recording to your DAW, the channels and cue signals are also individually assignable to the eight direct outputs (DB-25). Using a combination of four switch positions, direct outs can exit the console post-fader, pre-insert, pre-fader or in Channel mode—directly out of the mic pre section—which is my choice for all mic pre testing. All of the 2802’s inputs, outputs and insert send/returns are balanced +4dBu lines.

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