Gear Review: Focusrite Audio Interfaces
Producer Essentials

Gear Review: Focusrite Audio Interfaces

7 min

If you’re in the market for an audio interface, Focusrite likely crossed your mind. With options like the widely-used Scarlett 2i2, Focusrite stands out for its clarity and low-latency performance across a range of audio needs—from music recording to podcast production. This guide addresses the key qualities of Focusrite products, helping you understand which interface could elevate your setup without wading through technical jargon.

Key Takeaways

  • Focusrite offers a range of USB audio interfaces, such as the Scarlett and Clarett+ series, acclaimed for their audio quality, low latency, and compatibility with mainstream recording software, targeting various audio production needs from solo projects to larger studio setups.
  • The Scarlett range, including the Scarlett Solo and Scarlett 2i2, provides professional-grade features such as studio-grade converters, ultra-low-noise mic pres, and Air Mode emulation, catering to a wide array of recording scenarios from podcasting to music production.
  • Focusrite’s software, Focusrite Control, enhances interface functionality with custom mix routing and innovative features like Auto Gain and Clip Safe, while the Hitmaker Expansion bundle offers a comprehensive set of production and mastering plugins, ensuring users have a complete toolkit for creating and finishing their recordings.

Discovering Focusrite: A Leader in Audio Interfaces

Focusrite has revolutionized the audio interface market with their USB interfaces, notably providing studio-quality sound that resonates within the industry. The Scarlett 2i2 stands out in particular, garnering praise for its comprehensive features, robust construction and straightforward operation. Focusrite’s interfaces are recognized for delivering clear audio fidelity, minimal latency, and versatile connection options, which align them as top selections among both novice and expert recording studios.

The company caters to an assortment of audio creation needs through various product lines such as Scarlett for music production. Clarett+ is designed more towards professional use. And Vocaster tailored specifically for podcasting endeavors along with live broadcasting applications. Their portfolio includes a range of products like:

  • Scarlett Solo
  • Scarlett 2i2
  • Scarlett 4i4
  • Scarlett 18i8

These offerings ensure that individual artists or larger configurations have access to suitable tools catering to diverse recording necessities while maintaining compatibility with popular music production software thus emphasizing ease-of-use.

Unveiling the Scarlett Range: Your Recording Workhorse

A cornerstone of Focusrite, the Scarlett range, caters to creators of all types, accommodating solo songwriters with the Scarlett Solo and facilitating larger projects with the Scarlett 18i8. These interfaces are equipped with:

  • Studio-grade converters offering a dynamic range of 120dB
  • 24-bit/192kHz AD-DA converters for pristine audio quality
  • Ultra-low-noise mic pres
  • Re-engineered Air modes for console sound emulation in any environment
  • Custom-designed headphone amp for clear playback

Key recording features include ultra-low-noise mic pres, re-engineered Air modes for console sound emulation in any environment, and a custom-designed headphone amp for clear playback, ensuring studio sound quality.

The audio clarity and versatility of the Scarlett interfaces have made this unbeatable range a popular choice among home recording enthusiasts.

Scarlett Solo: The Compact Studio Partner

The Scarlett Solo is tailor-made for solo musicians and podcast creators, offering sound that meets studio-quality standards within its small size. With an included natural-sounding microphone preamp from the Scarlett series and 48V of phantom power available through its single XLR input, it’s perfectly suited for use with condenser microphones.

Key attributes distinguish the Scarlett Solo:

  • Its Halo light indicator prevents audio clipping by changing to red when your signal level becomes too high.
  • It provides direct monitoring capabilities to allow you hear what’s being recorded without delay.
  • For pristine audio playback, a balanced TRS connection is featured.

Together these elements contribute to making the Scarlett Solo an essential component of the complete recording package known as the Scarlett Solo Studio bundle.

Scarlett 2i2: The Versatile Recording Solution

The Scarlett 2i2 audio interface raises the bar with its two high-Z instrument inputs that allow for direct connection of various instruments. Its pair of combo inputs simultaneously supports vocal and instrument recording, making it a prime choice for content creators aiming to record multiple sound sources in one session.

Key attributes that distinguish the Scarlett 2i2 include:

  • Enhanced headroom on instrument inputs ensuring superior recording fidelity
  • Gain Halo meters providing visual feedback for monitoring input levels accurately
  • A spectrum of supported sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to an impressive 192kHz
  • Balanced outputs coupled with anti-thump technology to prevent unwanted noise
  • Pristine audio playback capabilities featuring up to 120dB dynamic range

These characteristics contribute towards achieving professional-sounding recordings through precise level control and exceptional sound quality across a broad frequency spectrum.

Harnessing the Power of Focusrite Control Software

Focusrite Control is a dedicated software application specifically designed to expand the functionality of Focusrite audio interfaces. This standalone program provides users with the ability to alter clock sources, manage signal routing, adjust sample rates, and pair iOS devices. The software empowers users to create tailor-made monitor mixes through its feature allowing them to direct inputs towards various outputs, which also facilitates assigning these custom mixes directly to headphone outlets for individualized monitoring experiences accompanied by visual representation of their setup.

Included within this innovative suite are features like Auto Gain and Clip Safe – both aimed at optimizing recording quality. Auto Gain skillfully calculates and sets appropriate input levels by examining incoming signals. Meanwhile, Clip Safe dynamically modifies gain in response to prevent any clipping from occurring during recordings thus preserving clean audio takes consistently across sessions.

Elevate Your Sound with Air Mode and Other Features

The Scarlett 2i2 from Focusrite incorporates the Air Mode function, which emulates the sound characteristics of their renowned ISA mic preamp. This feature effectively boosts high frequencies to produce a bright and clear output without any unwanted artifacts, perfect for adding sparkle to vocals or giving drums, acoustic guitars, and group performances an audible sheen.

With its fourth generation improvements, the Scarlett 2i2 brings vital tools such as Auto Gain and Clip Safe to ensure users can record at optimal levels while avoiding distortion. When engaged alongside Air Mode’s Harmonic Drive option, it delivers enhanced warmth and presence that is particularly crucial when recording vocal tracks in order to achieve both clarity and depth within your sound captures.

Complete Plugin Bundle: From Creation to Mastering

Focusrite supplements its Scarlett interfaces with the fully-equipped Hitmaker Expansion, a suite that provides creators with an entire arsenal for audio creation. This hitmaker expansion bundle comes standard with every registered Scarlett interface from July 1st, 2023 and onwards, featuring foundational software such as:

  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Pro Tools First Creative Pack
  • Softube Time and Tone Bundle
  • Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite
  • Focusrite Plug-in Collective

These tools unlock vast creative options while ensuring top-tier sound quality.

Within this bundle, users receive everything necessary to produce high-quality tracks including:

  • Antares Auto-Tune Access to refine vocal pitch correction and add various vocal effects.
  • XLN Audio’s Addictive Keys Studio Grand providing authentic piano sounds.
  • The ability to craft professional drum tracks using Addictive Drums 2 plugins.

-Cutting-edge amp sims catered for rich guitar and bass tones.

The Hitmaker Expansion also presents customers with entry into the Focusrite Plug-in Collective, which regularly offers complimentary software downloads along with exclusive discount opportunities. Access is provided to Splice Sounds Enhancing any studio setup’s value.

When it comes time for mastering tasks within a home studio setting—especially when integrating a studio rock kit—the incorporation of Brainworx bx_console Focusrite SC alongside the Red 2 & 3 Plugin Suite ensures that users have access to premium-grade finishing tools at their fingertips.

Connectivity and Power Supply: Seamless Setup and Use

Focusrite interfaces boast USB compatibility, ensuring ease of setup and use with various power sources. The notable characteristics include:

  • Being powered via USB which enhances portability by removing the requirement for an external power supply
  • Integration of USB connectivity to enable swift data transfer and minimize latency issues
  • Inclusion of a USB-C port in models like Scarlett 2i2 that offers even more rapid data exchange

These attributes contribute to making Focusrite interfaces a practical choice for recording and music production tasks.

Regarding power requirements, most ports following the USB 3.0 standard as well as numerous ones from the older USB 2.0 version can provide the necessary 900mA needed by Scarlett devices, adding versatility when it comes to connection possibilities. The Scarlett range includes models such as the Scarlett 4i4, which can be connected using either traditional type A or modern type C connectors without affecting its performance level. Setting up these units is made simpler thanks to Focusrite’s inclusion of their Quick Start tool within each interface package.

Built to Last: Focusrite's Commitment to Quality

Focusrite’s dedication to excellence is evident in their three-year warranty, which serves as a reassuring promise of durability and product reliability for the user. Especially within the Scarlett range, this commitment is showcased through the inclusion of a durable metal unibody case, making these products perfect for both studio environments and mobile recording setups.

The lasting stability that Focusrite interfaces provide has garnered positive feedback from users who appreciate their sustained high-quality performance. This enduring dependability raises doubts about the need to switch to alternative brands or update existing equipment frequently — highlighting Focusrite’s cost-effective advantage over competitors.

Making Music with the Pros: Focusrite's Industry Partnerships

Focusrite partners with seasoned industry experts to enhance the experience for their customers. As part of this collaboration, they’ve teamed up with Landr Studio, presenting users with a two-month subscription along with five free masters. This offer assists customers in refining and distributing their music through mixing and mastering services before releasing it on various streaming platforms.

Focusrite in Action: Real-world Applications

Focusrite’s USB audio interfaces are a staple in professional recording settings, providing high-quality sound reproduction and recording capabilities essential for musicians, podcasters, and content creators. These devices are acclaimed for their ability to deliver low-latency performance along with exceptionally clear sound quality—elements critical in the realm of professional audio production.

Designed with versatility in mind, Focusrite’s range is perfectly suited to both large-scale studios and smaller spaces without sacrificing sound excellence. Their utility is enhanced by various features including:

  • Pronounced headphone volume controls
  • Individual mute buttons for microphones
  • Modes that enrich voice quality
  • Bluetooth connectivity to integrate external audio sources

Such functionalities are integral to the Vocaster Two interface, which specifically caters to the needs of podcast producers.

For live streaming or while making a podcast, users find Focusrite’s Loopback function invaluable as it seamlessly channels computer playback into the interface allowing them to record this alongside their own input.


Focusrite delivers a cutting-edge audio interface experience with its Scarlett series, including the portable Scarlett Solo and multifaceted Scarlett 2i2. These interfaces guarantee professional studio sound enhanced by features such as Air Mode. The comprehensive Hitmaker Expansion bundle coupled with the intuitive Focusrite Control software empowers users with all necessary tools for full-scale audio production. Ensuring long-term reliability, each interface comes with a three-year warranty, solidifying Focusrite’s role as a dependable ally in your recording journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Scarlett interface do?

Focusrite’s Scarlett interface serves as an audio interface equipped to capture vocal recordings of superior quality using dynamic and condenser microphones. It boasts a significant range of input gain alongside a low noise floor, making it suitable for use in both professional and home studio environments.

Do I need software for Focusrite?

Indeed, the control software should be downloaded exclusively if your interface utilizes Mix Control or Focusrite Control, because during this process, any required driver will simultaneously be installed.

Can Focusrite work without computer?

Indeed, the Focusrite Solo 4th Generation is capable of operating in standalone mode, which allows it to be employed for live performances or scenarios where only monitoring is required without the need for a computer.

Is Focusrite good for beginners?

Indeed, Focusrite offers an excellent starting point for novices seeking to record audio with high quality due to its user-friendly interface.

Specifically, the Scarlett 2i2 version stands out as particularly accessible for those just beginning.

What is Focusrite used for?

Focusrite serves as an interface that bridges microphones and instruments with computer-installed software, perfectly suited for producing and blending music as well as podcast recordings.