Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface (2nd Gen) Review
Since its launch in 2011, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is one of the worlds best-selling audio interfaces as it offers some of the best value for cost in being constructed with excellent components, it offers extreme ease of use, and is remarkably fast for a USB audio interface.
Focusrite recently revamped the entire Scarlett series with a Second Generation design, enhancing both the performance and features including support for sample rated up to 192kHz, upgraded instrument inputs offering ample headroom, and improved mic preamps with loads of gain and ultra low noise.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB
- 2 balanced inputs – front panel combo jacks – mic/line/instrument
- 2 balanced outputs with monitor level control – rear panel TRS
- Headphone output with volume control
- +10 to +55 dB gain range for preamps
- LED “Halo” signal and overload metering on inputs
- 48V Phantom power switch
- Switchable line/input for each input
- Direct Monitor switch (for low latency)
- 96 kHz max sample rate
- Red anodized aluminum unibody case
- Includes USB cable, plenty of software & plugins
- Quality preamps
- Super-low latency
- Stocked with excellent digital tools
- No MIDI connectivity
- No S/PDIF or ADAT expandability
This compact yet versatile 2-in, 2-out USB audio interface is an ideal choice for budding singer/songwriters working in home studios or on the road. Stocked with two highly transparent mic preamps and redesigned instrument inputs, the Scarlett 2i2 makes accurately setting levels for two mics extremely easy, handling audio from any build of microphone or hot guitar pick-ups without clipping.
Looking to plug in your own preamp for added vibe and coloration? Just go into the 1/4 TRS input in the front panel to bypass the built in mic preamp and make sure it’s not set to the instrument input setting.
The self-explanatory front panel includes all the key features of a standard audio interface. Inputs 1 & 2 are “combo” style input sockets that allow you to connect mics, instruments, and line level signals via XLR or 1/4” (TS & TRS). GAIN 1 and GAIN 2 controls adjust the input gain for their respective channels and use bi-coloured LED indicator lights—green representing an input level of at least -24dB while red indicates clipping.
Power your favourite condenser microphone with 48V phantom power using the XLR contact of the “combo” input. Be sure to turn the phantom power OFF after use, and most definitely if ever plugging in a ribbon microphone as this is sure to destroy the microphones ribbon, rendering it completely useless.
The largest control on the front is your main monitor output level control, the outputs of which are on the rear panel (two 1/4” TRS). Next to this you’ll find the the 1/4” TRS headphone socket positioned right below its level adjustment control.
This headphone output cranks at a decent volume, but do take into account the Ohms of your headphones. Headphones vary in the amount of power they require to reach their full volume, some high-end pairs needing as much as 300Ohms +. If you are for instance using a pair of Sennheiser 650 or Beyerdynamic DT 990, do consider a separate headphone amplifier to get the most out of your cans.
A huge competitive advantage that the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has over its rivals is its super-low latency. This is absolutely crucial for performers who wish to record while listening back during their performance which is pretty much all the time. Latency is the time it takes for the signal to pass through your computer and DAW, creating a delay between the performance and the playback.
The problem is bypassed by the DIRECT MONITOR switch on the front panel, sending the input signal directly to the headphone output without affecting the signal to your DAW. This minimal latency is rare in USB audio interfaces and more typically found in models that connect with higher speed such as Thunderbold and FireWire, making the Scarlett 2i2 a superb choice for performing recording musicians on a budget.
Apple Macintosh with a USB 2.0 or 3.0-compliant USB port and an Internet connection
OS: Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) or OS X 10.11 (El Capitan)
Windows compatible computer with a USB 2.0 or 3.0-compliant USB port and an Internet connection
OS: Windows 7 (32- or 64-bit), 8.1 and 10
*Be sure to check the compatibility of the ProTools and Ableton with your OS
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