For budding producers, sound engineers, recording artists, and the like, building a small studio is a process many (if not all) go through. Finding the right piece of gear to satisfy all of your needs can be quite strenuous. You have to consider things like budget, compatibility, and usability. Having the appropriate audio interface is essential to any great setup. We’re here to remind you why the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is still the best budget interface on the market.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Front

Sound Quality

The most important factor to consider when investing in an audio interface is sound quality. The Scarlett 2i2 features well-made preamps that let you record studio-quality audio. Both inputs have gain knobs with clipping detection, which allows you to maintain a clean, crisp sound throughout your recordings. The 2i2 also supports balanced signals on both ins and outs. Having a balanced signal is essential when it comes to recording and mixing music. There’s nothing more distracting than the sound of an electrical buzz humming through an unbalanced system. Not a problem for this piece of gear!

Latency

Response time is another crucial aspect to take into account when you’re planning out your studio. Too much delay can ruin a good jam session. Luckily, the 2nd generation 2i2 rolled out with new and improved drivers, which (depending on your settings) can get you to an astonishingly quick 2.74 ms! You’ll be hard pressed to find a faster device, especially in this price range.

Compatibility

When you inevitably upgrade your various bits of studio gear, replacing multiple pieces due to compatibility issues can be a real headache. The 2i2 works with all current versions of Windows, OSx, and certain flavors of Linux. It also works with all major DAWs. The rear features L/R TRS outputs, and a simple USB 2.0 connection (with no power brick!) that plugs into almost any computer. The front hosts two XLR inputs for the preamps, with line/instrument toggles on each. The ability to plug and play with virtually any setup adds to the lengthy list of pros for the 2i2.

Appearance/Construction

An interface can come with all the bells, whistles, and free software you could possibly want, but if it sticks out like a sore thumb in your studio, buyer’s remorse is sure to set in. Fortunately, the Scarlett 2i2 is easy on the eyes. It’s sleek, compact, and well-built. It feels quite sturdy when you hold it, providing some peace of mind for those of us that fancy a slightly more mobile aspect to our respective studios. Every knob and switch is weighted appropriately. The aluminum casing reinforces the fact that this is not some flimsy piece of hardware, and, if you like red and black as much as we do, the color scheme makes this interface as eye-catching as they come.

Other Stuff

Like many pieces of gear, the Scarlett 2i2 ships with some juicy software extras. You get the Lite version of Ableton Live, which is a very popular DAW. You also get Softube Time and Tone, Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite, Novation Bass Station Virtual Instrument, and 1GB of Loopmakers samples. Even if you already have a DAW, the rest of the bundle is a great addition to anyone’s library.

Summary
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 covers all of the basics, and does it well. Its quality craftsmanship, versatility, and impeccable sound make it the best budget interface on the market. We highly recommend this for any small/home studio. The 2i2 handles your input with ease, flawlessly converts signals, and hooks up to practically anything, all without breaking the bank.
Specs:

  • 2 Balanced Front Inputs – XLR
  • 2 Balanced Rear Outputs – TRS
  • USB 2.0
  • Preamp Gain w/ Clipping Detection
  • Preamp Line/Instrument Toggles
  • 48V Mic Support
  • Direct Monitoring
  • Headphone Output w/ Volume ControlMonitor Level Control
  • Max Sample Rate: 192kHz / 24 bit

Release Date: June 1, 2016 (2nd Gen)
Retails Price: $149.99

More Reading

Focusrite Official Website
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