Second generation Scarlett wins Focusrite fourth Queen’s Award
Queen’s Award for Innovation
By Mike Cowley
Winning a Queen’s Award is an impressive achievement; gaining four is extraordinary. But then, Focusrite, the global music and audio products group that develops and markets proprietary hardware and software products, is an extraordinary company.
Having bagged a brace of Queen’s Award for international trade, the High Wycombe head-quartered group with marketing offices in Los Angeles, California and Hong Kong, has now won its second Queen’s Award for innovation.
This latest award is for the company’s second-generation Scarlett USB2 audio interface, which enables users to connect professional microphones, instruments and other kinds of signals to a computer, and output a variety of signals.
The Focusrite brand was established in 1985 to serve high end professional recording studios. Phil Dudderidge, Executive Chairman and Founder, with a distinguished career in the professional audio industry, including working as Led Zeppelin’s first dedicated live soundman, acquired the assets of Focusrite in 1989 and began to broaden the range of products to serve a wider customer base of professional, commercial and hobbyist musicians.
The unique thing we set out to do is to ‘make music easy to make’ and our goal was to apply this purpose to the growing number of home recording musicians using audio interfaces,” said Mr Dudderidge.
“Our intent was to uncover the values, needs and expectations of the recording musician and apply our know-how, innovation and ideas into making a product range that was just right for them.
We identified that if Focusrite was the first to market with an easy to use range of USB2 audio interface which specifically targeted the needs of home recording musicians, we could exploit a significant shift in market demographics and create the biggest new growth opportunity up to that point for the business.”
Put simply, the Scarlett interface improves the sound quality of computers, transforming them into the equivalent of modern recording studios. The Scarlett interface is now considered an essential component in modern computer-based audio production, used for recording music and podcasts, and in video post-production for recording voice-overs and sound design for composing film sound tracks and sound effects.
Scarlett uses the USB connector on the side of the computer to transmit and receive digital audio signals; the first product range to exploit the extra speed and bandwidth offered by USB2 connections.
Its latest innovation was to build a range of audio interfaces with many more audio channels and higher digital audio performance standards seen to date. Focusrite succeeded in this challenge by exploiting the features of new emerging silicon platforms that allowed rapid development of multiple derivative versions of a single core design.
What sets one interface apart from another is its inherent quality and performance, consequently we re-arranged our entire organisation, focused on the values of our target customer, the ‘recording musician’, to achieve quality leadership in all the key areas: ease of use and helping customers; sound quality; design and innovation: latency reduction,” said Mr Dudderidge.
Latency refers to a short period of delay between when an audio signal enters the interface and when it emerges and when, crucially, you hear it. All interfaces suffer from latency and recording with significant latency makes it hard for a performer to play in time with music. Scarlett was updated with a redesigned USB2 platform that both reduced cost and improved performance, allowing it to deliver class-leading latency.
The Focusrite Group trades under four established and rapidly growing brands: Focusrite, Focusrite Pro, Novation and Ampify. Focusrite and Focusrite Pro offer audio interfaces and other products for recording musicians, producers and professional audio facilities. Novation and Ampify products are used in the creation of electronic music, from synthesisers and grooveboxes to industry-shaping controllers and inspirational music-making software and apps.