Scarlett Solo vs 2i2: which audio interface is better?

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    Scarlett 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

    Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Guitarists, Vocalists, Podcasters or Producers to record and playback studio quality sound
    • Pro performance with great pre-amps – Achieve a brighter recording thanks to the high performing mic pre-amps of the Scarlett 3rd Gen. A switchable Air mode will add extra clarity to your acoustic instruments when recording with your Solo 3rd Gen.
    • Get the perfect guitar and vocal take with – With two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass so that they shine through. Capture your voice and instruments without any unwanted clipping or distortion thanks to our Gain Halos.
    • Studio quality recording for your music & podcasts – Achieve pro sounding recordings with Scarlett 3rd Gen’s high-performance converters enabling you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz. Your recordings will retain all of their sonic qualities.
    • Low-noise for crystal clear listening – 2 low-noise balanced outputs provide clean audio playback with 3rd Gen. Hear all the nuances of your tracks or music from Spotify, Apple & Amazon Music. Plug-in headphones for private listening in high-fidelity.
    • Easy Start – It’s easier than ever to get up and running with your Scarlett 3rd Gen with our online tool, Easy Start. Whether you’re looking to record or playback audio, we will help you get started.

    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

    Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface for Recording, Songwriting, Streaming and Podcasting — High-Fidelity, Studio Quality Recording, and All the Software You Need to Record
    • Pro performance with great pre-amps – Achieve a brighter recording thanks to the high performing mic pre-amps of the Scarlett 3rd Gen. A switchable Air mode will add extra clarity to your acoustic instruments when recording with your 2i2 3rd Gen.
    • Get the perfect guitar and vocal take with – With two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass so that they shine through. Capture your voice and instruments without any unwanted clipping or distortion thanks to our Gain Halos.
    • Low-noise for crystal clear listening – 2 low-noise balanced outputs provide clean audio playback with 3rd Gen. Hear all the nuances of your tracks or music from Spotify, Apple & Amazon Music. Plug-in headphones for private listening in high-fidelity.
    • Studio quality recording for your music & podcasts – Achieve pro sounding recordings with Scarlett 3rd Gen’s high-performance converters enabling you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz. Your recordings will retain all of their sonic qualities.
    • Easy Start – It’s easier than ever to get up and running with your Scarlett 3rd Gen with our online tool, Easy Start. Whether you’re looking to record or playback audio, we will help you get started.

    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: No products found.

    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?

    Casematix Studio Travel Hard Case Compatible with Studio Usb Desktop Stereo Recorders Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 , 6i6 , 2i4 , 18i8 , Solo Compact Usb Audio Interfaces and Recording Accessories
    • Great for storing and protecting your portable audio interface and USB recording accessories such as the pop filter. A hard durable exterior and soft foam interior protect your USB interface from damage
    • Customize your case to snugly fit the interface by removing the desired amount of diced foam blocks from the middle foam layer to fit the shape of your audio recording interface and studio accessories
    • Fits studio recording equipment and accessories within maximum dimensions of 15.5″ x 11″ x 4″. The external dimensions are 16″ x 13″ x 6″ and built with a carry handle, double latch closures and padlock security slot to keep contents safe
    • Wide compatibility fits many audio interfaces. Double-check your interface against maximum internal dimensions 15.5″ x 11″ x 4″
    • Includes CASEMATIX travel case for audio interfaces only and is not associated with manufacturer

    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: No products found.

    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.

    Michael Ocejo ( Editor-in-chief )

    Michael loves audio production. He especially enjoys the technical aspect of making music sound good! Michael also loves spending time with his friends and family and enjoying parties.

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