I think Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen suits the best with any musician who just records with one instrument playing. Before I start with the advantages and disadvantages that I’ve experienced, let me explain on which basis I selected this particular product over the others.
I spent hours on research to find the best USB audio interface I can buy. I hope my experience will properly guide you and save your time and most importantly, will stop you from picking the wrong product.
Why I chose Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen over others
The company name being Focusrite is in itself a certification, but it shouldn’t be the whole point of consideration. Someone should research thoroughly on the product they are going to invest their money on, so did I.
The first reason I considered was, it has two balanced ¼ inch connector that means it’ll give less noise or hums, which is a good point. Because the unbalanced connectors create some noise and being a bedroom musician, I don’t have any separate booth for recording, and that noise seriously affects the record.
Second, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen can record in 24-bit resolution and a sample rate of 192 kHz, which means the audio quality is a heck of a lot better, and it may add some more crispy feeling to the music.
The microphone preamps are so good that even if your gain is turned up high enough, you will also not hear a bit of whisper or fussy noise. And probably this is the topic where Focusrite beats every other brand.
The fourth and the final point that made me buy the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen is the insanely low latency. In comparison to the 1st gen, the 2nd gen has improved itself drastically. This not only makes the recording experience great but also lessens the CPU usage.
So, with these logics, I selected the interface, which has so far proven me right.
Features and specification of Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen
In the interface you’ll get a combo of 2 XLR-1/4″ along with 2×1/4″(line) output and a 1/4″ headphone out.
The interface is USB BUS POWERED with Phantom Power of 48 Volts.
Also, it comes with some bundled software like Pro tools, First Focusrite Creative Pack.
In terms of DAW, you’ll get the Ableton Live Lite. Additionally, 2GB Loopmaster samples.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen review
Now, I’m going to share with you my experience of using the interface. I generally make my track in FL Studio and then add some guitar or piano to it. So, I don’t need more than two inputs even if I am playing and singing simultaneously.
What satisfied me the most
I am a bit finicky about low-latency real-time monitoring that enables me to judge my real-time voice. So, when I used it for the first time, it was so breathtaking for me as I could monitor it without any delay. Focusrite also offers a direct-monitor switch that bypasses the computer and goes directly to your speakers or headphones.
Then comes the second quality that impressed me, and it is the crisp and pristine sound quality. Sometimes I get surprised by my voice having many layers. So, technically it has a low-buffer rate, it records at 192 sample rate as I have mentioned earlier.
Hence, the sound quality is far better than any other interface of a similar price. As I have compared it with Avid Fastrack Solo, I find it better. When you play guitar, you can see the higher frequencies are sounding magical, and it has an overall exceptional tone.
The next impression that it created upon me was the bundled software. All the Focusrite models provide some bundled software, and this is no exception. I have mentioned the bundled software in the specification above.
Though I do not use Ableton Live Lite, having tested it, I am pretty much impressed. So yeah, you can make a whole.
For people who are interested, these are the headphones I use – Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro.
What I don’t like about Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen
Some things created a slight disappointment. I think the Drives consist of bugs and should get fixed immediately. Though it doesn’t seem to be fixed because Focusrite has already launched the 3rd generation with an upgraded system, and sometimes it feels like the system should be faster than it is.
Dealing with lags is not a very pleasant experience for any musician because we deal with every nuance matters, so we need some machines that help us in these matters.
From that perspective, I think Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen is an appropriate tool, though not perfect, but capable enough to handle any work.
So, I consider those minor problems negligible as it heightens the expectation with the time.
5 features you should consider while choosing a USB audio interface
Actually, there are tons of features you can look while choosing an audi interface. But, for a bedroom musician like me and anybody out there, these should be the most important features:
- Size and portability
- DAW Software and Operating System Compatibility
- Computer ports – see what type of cable connection your computer requires
- Number of Inputs and Outputs (you need more mic inputs if you want to connect more instruments)
- Types of Input and Output Channels
FAQs about audio interface
Here are some frequently asked questions to solve your queries.
Does an audio interface improve sound quality?
An audio interface is used to get a clear understanding of the song. For instance, in the process of mixing and mastering, you need to closely monitor all the effects you are applying. The reverebs and autotunes should be accurate.
A regular speaker won’t be able to do that because a regular speaker is used to enjoy the music and not used to create music.
In short, it not only improves the sound quality but the quality of the entire song in the creating-level.
What is a Scarlett interface?
Scarlett interface is one of the premium audio interfaces in the music industry. The Scarlett model is the highest selling series of any interface brand. It can be connected via USB. It has two mic inputs and one headphone input. Also, it comes with some bundled software like Ableton and Pro Tools.
Can I use an audio interface as a sound card?
A sound card is an audio interface; though several restrictions of input and output do not make it competitive at all. Sound cards mainly consist of consumer-grade stereo line stage input, a headphone output, and likely a consumer-grade stereo line degree output.
Does an audio interface decrease CPU usage?
Audio interface reduces the CPU-USAGE only if it has a low-latency functionality. Though the amount of reducing is not negligible.
If a device reduces latency, that frees up the CPU from any activities. So, when the flow bypasses CPU and goes real time, there will be a visible difference.
Is Scarlett 2i2 a preamp?
Yes, Scarlett 2i2 is basically a mic preamp with a few more functionalities. Usually, a preamplifier is used to provide you better management over your recording setup.
With Scarlett 2i2, you can simply plug into your laptop or desktop via the USB, and then you can record using two separate microphones. This little preamp gives you a higher quality, professional sounds.
Can I record without an audio interface?
Yes, you can but then you have to record without a DAW. You do need an audio interface to record tracks into your computer.
You’ll also need a mic for studio-quality recordings. I recommend the Blue Yeti USB mic. It is an audio interface with limited functions built right into a microphone. A standalone interface comes up with more options, especially if you need to use extraordinary mics.
Can I use studio monitors without an interface?
You can use them without an interface. However, an interface is meant to help you in editing your tracks and vocals. Thus, if you want to edit music without an interface, then it becomes pretty much tough, as you won’t be able to record it in your DAW and there can be many other problems.
But, if the purpose is to enjoy music, then you can still use studio monitors without an interface, but I would recommend using a regular home theatre.
How do I connect monitors and subwoofers to the audio interface?
Connect your woofers to the mainline outputs so that you don’t face any problems. Then, connect the subwoofers accordingly to maintain the left and right balance.
See how it is done here in this video:
Can I use studio monitors for regular speakers?
One can use studio monitors for regular speakers, but there is no need to waste money buying a studio monitor just for this purpose. Studio monitors are used for analyzing a song and not for enjoying the song.
So, I would suggest to use a regular speaker if you want to enjoy songs properly. But, if you already have a monitor speaker, use it and if you still enjoy the music, then congrats.
Do I need MIDI on my audio interface?
No, you don’t necessarily need an MIDI on your interface. You can just have a USB MIDI with a regular Interface. The use of MIDI in interface is an old process, though you can use it for external syncing purposes of different devices.
My final words
As you know, a bedroom musician just needs a DAW (digital audio workstation), an audio interface, a condenser mic, and one or two instruments. That means one doesn’t need an audio interface that is huge with 16 or 32 mic inputs, and two inputs are more than enough.
So, if you are a bedroom musician and looking for the best USB audio interface then 2 mic inputs are more than enough.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd or 3rd Gen) should be a good choice.
And in case you are a band and want to do recording with many instruments then look for an audio interface that has adequate mic inputs.
Feature Image: Focusrite