Product Spotlight: Focusrite Generation 2 Scarlett Interfaces

Product Spotlight: Focusrite Gen 2 Scarlett Interfaces

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Everything you loved about the original Scarlett USB audio interfaces…and much more!

When Focusrite first unleashed its original family of Scarlett USB interfaces, it quickly garnered a lot of fans. Smooth, natural-sounding preamps delivered the kind of audio performance that had mobile music producers and singer-songwriters singing the Scarlett’s praises. In creating the second-generation Scarlett lineup, the Focusrite engineering team took a three-fold approach: Make them sound even better, easier to use, and deliver category-beating low latency times—a weak spot in many prosumer interfaces. We’re happy to report they got it right on all counts. From the 2-in/2-out Scarlett Solo to the 18-in/20-Out Scarlett 18i20, Focusrite is targeting users who range from singer-guitarists wanting to lay down vocals and guitar together to full-fledged band performances with a miked-up drum kit.

Under The Hood

Actually, the new Scarlett interfaces impress before you get under the hood. New, heftier metal volume knobs and streamlined chassis speak to new levels of serious performance. And those volume knobs now grant access to more evenly-tempered gain structures in the preamp circuitry. Dialing in professional-sounding mixes is enhanced with these updated ergonomics and control response.

 

2nd Generation Scarlett interfaces are bringing new levels of audio professionalism to home recording.

The big news for many will be Scarlett’s new, improved latency numbers. Creating complex multitrack recordings that use a boatload of FX, samples and plug-ins, can bog down modern DAWs during performance and playback. Focusrite has measured round-trip latency times for the Scarlett as low as 2.74ms, running Logic Pro X at 96kHz with a 32-sample buffer in OS 10.11. These sort of numbers have been the exclusive domain of expensive pro gear up until now. The detail and smoothness delivered by Scarlett interfaces are pretty remarkable when you factor in their very moderate price points.

The instrument inputs were also redesigned with increased headroom to take advantage of hotter pickups. Electric guitarists whose instruments put out a big front end load will relish this tweak.

More to Play With

All Scarlett interfaces ship with the new Focusrite Creative Pack. This hefty compendium of digital audio goodies is built around a new collaboration between Focusrite and Avid, makers of the industry-standard Pro Tools DAW. The Pack includes a free version of Avid Pro Tools First, plus a dozen very usable plug-ins. These include Tape Echo, which captures the retro sound of analog recording gear and the guitar-amp emulator, Eleven Lite. Also included are Ableton Live Lite, Softube’s Time and Tone Bundle, the Red Plug-In Suite from Focusrite, 2GB of samples from Loopmaster, and more.

A Scarlett For Every Application

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen

Singer-songwriters who prefer to record their instrumental and vocal performances in real time will find the Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen Audio Interface gives them the pro sheen they want without any sticker shock. Electric guitarists will like the way the newly designed instrument input deals with hotter pickups. You can also order the Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen Studio Pack that comes ready for recording action with a large-diaphragm C25 condenser mic and XLR cable plus HP60 closed-back headphones.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2nd Gen Studio Pack

You say you need more I/O? The Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen Interface doubles your connections with dual mic preamps and instrument inputs.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen

It’s also available in a Studio Pack configuration with the included mic, cable, and headphones. Either version makes a sweet choice for the singing acoustic guitarist who wants to record the guitar using a mic.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 2nd Gen

With its four analog outputs, MIDI I/O, and dual line/mic inputs, the Scarlett 2i4 is just the ticket for working with cue mixes, outboard synths and various live-performance scenarios. Because it has both ¼” balanced and RCA unbalanced inputs, it’s versatile when it comes to connecting pro and consumer audio gear.

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 2nd Gen

Stepping up the I/O count, the Scarlett 6i6 gives you the same great preamps as its smaller siblings, but adds two more line inputs on the back panel plus stereo S/PDIF I/O for connecting outboard digital gear. The two headphone amps can each deliver a customized monitor mix to separate performers. And the new Focusrite Control software mixer gives you access to internal hardware functions for intuitive signal routing and monitor connections. The 6i6 is a good fit for small groups, multi instrumentalists, and producers who are on the go.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd Gen

If you need to capture a lot of different sources—vocals, drums, synths, and guitars—take a look at the Scarlett 18i8. It’ll expand via ADAT to give you 8 more line inputs making it Focusrite’s most comprehensive desktop unit. With 18 discrete inputs you can avoid continually having to plug and unplug gear. The front panel houses four combo line/XLR inputs with four sweet-sounding Scarlett preamps. Four more line inputs on the back panel let you connect keyboards, mixers, and synths. There are also two S/PDIF inputs for capturing digital sources. Want even more inputs? You can connect an eight-channel preamp such as the Focusrite Octopre Mk II, putting a total of 12 preamps and 16 analog inputs at your fingertips.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 2nd Gen

The only rackmountable unit in the range, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 2nd Generation is squarely aimed at the home and project studio owner who needs plenty of clean gain plus lots of connectivity options. With eight Scarlett preamps onboard, you can record vocal groups and choirs. An ADAT expansion port lets you add eight more analog inputs and outputs—very helpful if you tend to use a lot of outboard processors.

You get a lot of routing and monitoring options with the 18i20. Two dedicated TRS outputs feed your studio monitors and have anti-thump circuitry. You also get eight more analog jack outputs, plus two stereo pairs with mirrored independent headphone outputs on the front panel. MIDI connectivity lets you bring your hardware synths into your DAW. A Wordclock Out allows you to sync to external devices.

Whether your recording and performance interface needs are minor or major, there’s probably a Scarlett interface that’s right for you.

Tags: Recording Audio Interfaces

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