Scarlett Solo vs 2i2

  • Time to read: 7 min.

Scarlett interface solo vs. 2i2 Which one is the best? An XLR microphone is what the pros use in recording studios and on stage during live performances.

We review both audio interfaces so you can make an easy decision when it comes to purchasing.

XLR mics (X connector, Locking connector, and Rubber boot) are the best way to get the clean, noise-free sound all true audiophiles crave. But to connect your XLR mic to your computer and record that high-quality audio, you need an interface.

Focusrite makes some of the best audio interfaces on the market. And in this review, we’re going to compare the Scarlett interface Solo vs. 2i2 (3rd Gen) interface.

scarlett solo vs 2i2

Ideal for Solo Performers/Podcasters

Scarlett Solo

Record guitar and vocals or interviewer/interviewee simultaneously to separate tracks. The Solo is compact, versatile, and compatible with Windows or Mac OS; the Solo helps you establish your home studio.

2 High-Quality Preamps, Studio-Class Audio

Scarlett 2i2

It’s far more versatile than the Solo, with two pro-quality preamps, mics, and instrument inputs. It has a super-clean interface and is compatible with all major DAWs.

Scarlett Solo Says “Less is More” While 2i2 Disagrees

While both of these XLR interfaces feature Focusrite quality, low latency, and portability, there’s much debate over whether or not the dual preamps of the 2i2 are worth the more significant investment. The only way to find out if less is more was to test them. So that’s what we did.

What We Were Looking For

If you’re intent on recording professional-quality audio on your computer, you can’t do without the likes of the Scarlett Solo or the more upscale 2i2. We wanted to know:

  • If the twin 2i2 preamps are really that important.
  • If the Scarlett Solo really is ideal for solo performers.
  • Whether the 2i2 justifies its significantly higher price point.
  • Whether direct monitoring serves any purpose for the Solo.

The Specs

First let’s breakdown each audio interfaces technical specs.

Common Features 1: 24bit/192kHz Resolution

You could easily spend the entire day reading conflicting opinions about whether or not 192kHz resolution is better than, say, 96kHz. Both the Scarlett Solo and the 2i2 offer 24bit/192kHz A/D resolution.

Scarlett Solo

192kHz analog to digital (A/D) resolution is alleged to provide more lifelike sound than you’ll get with a lower resolution like 96kHz. In truth, only the most rabid audiophile would be able to tell the difference.

2i2

Because both devices are products of Focusrite, you won’t find any difference between them when it comes to how they process those 192,000 24 bit samples per second. And again, unless your intended audience is dogs or maybe bats, no one is likely to notice the difference.

Common Features 2: Direct Monitoring

Some audio XLR interface devices send the input signal through your DAW first, creating a slight but real delay or latency between the sound you’re making and the sound you hear in your headphones. In contrast, both the Solo and the 2i2 offer direct monitoring, sending the sound directly to the headphones, bypassing the DAWs. The result: near-zero latency.

Scarlett Solo

With the Scarlett Solo, it’s debatable whether or not direct monitoring serves any useful purpose. After all, some argue that if it’s just a singer and their guitar, monitoring output via headphones is kind of a waste of time.​

2i2

With the 3rd generation 2i2, direct monitoring has a much more clearly defined purpose. After all, if there are multiple instruments playing and singers singing, things can get confusing. Being able to monitor everything in what is essentially real-time with any extraneous sounds eliminated can be valuable.

Winner: 2i2

Why? Only because the value of direct monitoring is harder to quantify when it comes to a single guitar/singer than it is with multiple musicians jacked in at once.

Which one are you leaning towards?

Unique Features: Scarlett Solo

More Compact

The Scarlett Solo is truly a compact wonder. At just 1.73 x 5.66 x 4.7 inches, it’s about 10-15% smaller than the 2i2, and it weighs about half a pound less. And while that might not seem like a lot, every little bit helps when you’re out busking.

Lower Price

Both audio interfaces are under $200, but the Scarlett Solo can be had for about 50% less than the 2i2. Sure, you might like the twin preamps of the 2i2 and the ability to add a fellow musician down the line. But if you’re a solo act at the moment and you’re on a budget, that 50% saving can’t be ignored.

Unique Features: 2i2

More Inputs

If you typically play/record with more than one person, you’re going to appreciate the extra inputs. Being able to capture two singers or speakers simultaneously to their channels can provide a leg up when it comes to the quality of the finished audio product.

2 Preamps

This is the feature that gets most people’s attention, and it’s easy to see why. Having dual preamps ensures that even if you have two guitarists and two vocalists plugged in simultaneously, everything will emerge from the amplifiers sounding clean and clear.​

Winner: 2i2

Why? It costs a bit more, but it’s a much more versatile tool.

Scarlett Solo vs 2i2: Pros and Cons

Below you’ll find the pros and cons of each audio interface. Let these help you decide with interface is best for your current setup.

Pros of Scarlett Solo

  • Extremely low latency.
  • Direct monitoring.
  • Light, portable and affordable.
  • Works with all popular DAWs.
  • USB power cable.

Cons of Scarlett Solo

  • It’s for solo performers all the way.
  • That USB cable is frustratingly short.
  • Some user reviews complain of confusing setup.

Pros of the 2i2

  • Can be used with one person or multiple artists.
  • Direct monitoring is a major plus.
  • 2 high quality preamps produce studio quality audio.
  • Remarkably compact and portable.
  • Works with all popular DAWs.

Cons of the 2i2

  • More expensive than the Solo.
  • No Midi output should that be important to you.
  • Some user reviews complain it adds color to the audio. Though we did not experience this. For us sound was crystal clear.

Final Verdict

It’s hard to find significant fault with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It is, after all, an acceptable option if you are basically a solo act and you’re working with a limited budget.

But if we assume that coughing up the extra 50 bucks isn’t going to be an issue, we have to come down on the side of the 2i2.
Not only is it on par with the Solo when it comes to delivering for solo artists, but it adds an extra layer of versatility without any loss of quality (thanks to the pair of preamps) that puts it over the top.

You May Also Like