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Focusrite Platinum Range: Penta
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Reviews & Comments

Reviews online:

We knew we'd done well with the Penta, but it's great to hear this from the people who've chosen this unit above so many others available.

Since its release back in July 2001, the Platinum Penta has picked up every award that Future Music can offer, (alongside glowing reviews from every other publication - see below) including a Platinum Award, Best Buy Award as well as being voted 'Best Outboard' by the dedicated readers of Future Music.

We'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for knowing quality when you hear it.

The Focusrite Crew.

"The first results with all units were outstanding. Perfect processing, through good construction and outstanding performance characteristics makes these units the first choice for project studios"

Sound and Vision, Germany

"Focusrite has chosen to innovate at this price point with units that have chops that you won't find elsewhere in its own portfolio or in those of anyone else."

"There is also a TUBE SOUND pot with a switch that adds that second harmonic type stuff and the effect is apparent, pleasant and most tasteful on delicate sounds when you're trying to sound expensive."

"Indeed you can't knock the Penta for trying very hard, the presets are surprisingly (almost too) applicable to the short descriptions they're given and they do sound different, it's as if there's some sort of side-chain emphasis going on to achieve the results."

"Focusrite will sell an awful lot of these because at £299 (UK), that's what I said, you get an awful lot of box for your money. And it fills 2U, and it's got lots of lights."

"I can confirm that the Penta does in fact sound very quiet, good and interesting particularly with the TUBE CONTROL and the STEREO WIDTH pot. It also continues something of an original twist on the dynamics issue that focusrite introduced with the excellent Compounder."

"It's worth investigating purely for the fun of it especially as it's more than up to the job performance wise."

Zenon Schoepe, Studio Sound, August 2001

"Ingeniously, the Ratio, Attack and Release controls always operate from a centre position to provide both positive and negative adjustment of the value used in the currently active preset. In other words, if these controls are left centred, the preset works exactly as programmed by the designers."

"To make the Penta as versatile as possible, it has been designed so that it can function as a mono mic/line/instrument processor (via the left output,) or as a stereo line-only processor, making it suitable for both tracking and mixing."

"The pre-amp architecture is similar to that used in the Focusrite Voicemaster except that FETs are used instead of bipolar transistors, one advantage being that the circuit behaves much more politely under overload conditions and approximates the soft limiting of a valve."

"Once the desired pre-set has been selected, the centre detented controls can also be used to fine tune the pre-set if necessary, but a lot of work has gone into getting these right, and in most cases, adjusting the Compression and Makeup gain controls is all that's needed."

"I tested the pre-sets with a number of sound sources, including live vocals and guitars, and found them to be well designed. "

"At lower gain reduction settings, the compressor controls the dynamic range gently without making the compression obvious, but at higher gain reduction settings, the compressor displays an obvious but smooth attitude that is reminiscent of some of the classic tube compressors. "

"Certainly it's very hard to get a bad sound out of this unit as even excessive compression still manages to sound musical."

"Mix compression is also handled sympathetically, but again with the capacity to pump up the energy in a more obvious way if needed."

"The limiter preset does its job well enough as a routine limiter, but it's also very nice on vocals for that big, limited rock vocal sound."

"The tube emulation works particularly well and is great for
fattening up vocal or bass sounds without losing the top end or making them seem too muddy. It adds a depth and lower mid warmth that EQ rarely manages to replicate"

"I've tried all the Platinum units so far and have never been disappointed. However, the Penta is just a little bit special in the compression department and the tube emulation is also surprisingly authentic sounding."

"I particularly like the way in which the front panel controls interact with the pre-set parameters on the rare occasions you do need to make changes."

"Overall, the well designed presets makes the Penta very easy to use, and the availability of mic, line and instrument inputs makes it a good choice as a voice channel."

"It is very quiet and transparent-sounding, even on the instrument input, something that is not always easy to achieve, and the wide audio bandwidth is important as cascading several systems that have only adequate frequency responses can cause cumulative top end loss."

"The stereo line facility means you can use it for mix or stereo subgroup processing, so those with computer-based systems might find it ideal as both a front end pre-amp while tracking and as a post processor when mixing to an external recorder. "

* Easy to set up.
* Extremely good sound quality.
* Compressor sounds musically satisfying as well as clean.
* Useful and effective tube emulation

"SUMMARY: Focusrite have not only managed to create a pre-set compressor that meets the majority of needs, but also built in a lot of flexibility for the more experienced user."

Paul White, Sound On Sound, July 2001

"The mic pre is clean, quiet and has plenty of gain. It's better than most pre amps in small consoles and I actually preferred it for certain tracking instruments where I wanted a straightahead sound sans glorification and coloring."

"Preset attack and release settings within the various individual instrument presets were all good choices. They all worked fine for their designated tasks or were very close - within a quick manual adjustment."

"The Tube Sound circuit has three FET-based blocks, each biased to generate a specific harmonic. The overall circuit generates second, third and fifth harmonic distortion in amounts dependent upon the position of the rotary control. At low settings, it's mostly second, advancing the knob cranks more third and fifth. Second order harmonic distortion emulates the softness of a tube compressor. Turning the control more toward Warm, I got more of a tube-like "blooming" sound - great for rounding out bright harshness."

"This method is a far better way to tweeze presets than say, the original HHB FatMan where you would first have to match the knob setting manually against the values listed in the owner's manual before switching from pre set mode to manual mode, where further adjustments are possible. With the Penta pre sets, all the knobs are always active for "on-the-fly" changes. "

"If you are into value-oriented project/home studio gear, go Penta!"

Barry Rudolph, Audio Media US

"One of the stunning features of the Platinum Penta is without doubts its sixteen Presets. Compressors are one of the most difficult audio equipment to use. The available Presets are of wonderful help for beginners all the way to pro users. Penta Presets are covering all
necessary applications and are very easy and quick to use. Due to he
possibility to also adjust all parameters, the preset operation has no limitations for users.

"It is more an instant reference point for further adjustments. The Tube Sound function is very handy and of great value especially for bass and guitar applications. The Phase Width function makes the Penta also a brilliant mixing compressor."

"With its high value mic preamp the Platinum Penta is not only a stereo compressor but a fully loaded channel-strip. With the optional digital card the Penta is a perfect compressor for hard disk recording. The possibilities are just unlimited. Perfect preset compressor with great sound and very limited price. It has never been so affordable to call a real Focusrite your own."

Keys magazine (Germany), November 2001

"...value for money combined with the flexibility of the Penta, makes this my favourite Platinum so far...."

"...the way Focusrite handles analogue presets, seems more logical and elegant than the way done by other manufacturers".

Interface magazine (Netherlands), October 2001

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