Hello... I'm Marc... and I'm a gear junky...! I've been playing the guitar and gigging in various bands for many years and in 2012 I got myself a job at Absolute Music to feed my habit and share my passion and knowledge of the products that I know and love. I'm going to use my blog to write short reviews of some of my favourite products to hopefully help others in their quest for finding the right gear for their needs and budget.
In this review I'm going to be talking about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface, which happens to be my interface of choice in my own home studio...
Although I have plenty of guitar gear, I'd always been more concerned with gigging rather than recording in my own home. However, shortly after joining Absolute Music, I decided that it was time to start building up a small home studio and naturally this would involve purchasing an audio interface to sit at the heart of it all and get sound into and out of my computer. Now, my budget wasn't the biggest in the world and I only really needed something small with a couple of inputs and outputs, so naturally I turned to my new colleagues for their advice.
One of the biggest complements that I can give the Scarlett 2i2 is that it came highly recommended by everyone I asked. In fact, after speaking to various colleagues and informing them of my needs and budget, the Scarlett 2i2 was the product that I found getting recommended again and again. It was therefore inevitable that this was the interface that I ended up plumping for.
So, I got the interface, simply because everyone else was raving about it so much, but I have to admit that at this point I didn't know anything about interfaces and did't have much experience with recording. At the end of the day, I wanted a simple, easy to use interface that delivers great sound and that I could use for recording vocals and acoustic guitar. Having now owned the Scarlett 2i2 for a few months, I have to say that it is IDEAL for this and it has completely exceeded my expectations.
I was told that the preamps inside the 2i2 were the same as the ones used in some of Focusrite's more expensive interfaces and that numerous recording professionals endorse Focusrite and in fact own their interfaces! While I was made aware that there are certainly better preamps on the market (such as the ones that are included with the compact Focusrite Forte interface), for my budget, the 2i2 was just what I needed. I've been blown away by how good this interface is and how nice it sounds, especially considering that it is priced for the 'budget' interface market.
For my first project I recorded my electro-acoustic guitar using a direct input into the interface and a microphone placed by the bridge of the guitar plugged into the 2i2's second input. The DI signal gave a beautifully warm and accurate recording and using the microphone added an extra element to the sound, which helped to portray a professional studio-sounding track. I couldn't believe that I'd done it all in my bedroom!
The 2i2 is really simple to use, having an LED placed around the gain knob of each input, indicating green when the signal is good, orange when it is peaking and red when it is distorting. For someone who doesn't know too much about the finer details of recording, it's perfect.
As I was using a condenser microphone to record, I naturally required a supply of 48V phantom power and the 2i2 is perfectly capable of delivering this. Simply push down the LED button to activate it! It also has a little slider for when you're recording a line level (e.g. a keyboard/synth) or an instrument (i.e. an electric guitar/bass).
The only problem I experienced with the 2i2 was with regards to latency whilst I was recording. However, reading the 'Getting Started Guide' that is supplied with the interface soon let me know that Focusrite was one step ahead! The 2i2 has a 'Direct Monitor' switch, meaning that the signal routes directly to your headphones, enabling you to hear yourself playing your instrument/singing with no latency. Problem solved!
I am using the Scarlett 2i2 interface with Logic on my Mac, although it comes with drivers for both Mac and PC. The software was easy to install, took no more than five minutes and I was soon recording my first piece. As a quick tip, it's worth checking that the drivers included on the DVD with the 2i2 are the latest ones. If not then you can click here to download the latest drivers from Focusrite's website.
It's also worth noting that the 2i2 has a hard metal case, making it durable and easy to use away from home. It also looks brilliant sat on top of my desk!
Overall this is a great piece of kit and in my opinion it would suit someone who is looking for their first interface or who wants a really decent sounding product for not much money. Although the 2i2 only has two inputs, I find it ideal for recording vocals and guitar and it is a great tool for any songwriter. For those requiring more, there are a number of other interfaces available in the Scarlett range that will give the same quality as this. I can certainly see why the Scarlett 2i2 was recommended to me so highly and in future, if I ever hear anyone requiring a small interface on a tight budget, I know exactly what I'll be recommending to them!
For more information on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, click the link below or give us a call on 01202 597180.