Review: Focusrite 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 Studio

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Review: Focusrite 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 Studio

Focusrite Scarlett
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Focusrite 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 Studio | Focusrite Australia | RRP: enquire for pricing

Focusrite has been at the heart of studios for decades, having been instrumental in shaping not only the modern recording studio, but also the workflow and process of recording and mixing a record. It’s no surprise then that they’re also industry leaders in the home recording space, as this becomes increasingly common and accessible for creators of all skill levels. Having been born from the late 80s and early 90s, Focusrite’s range of consoles are highly coveted, having been produced for a limited time, now immortalised in their ISA preamps and channel strips. Since then, they’ve forged ahead with increasingly accessible and practical recording solutions, using the tech at their disposal to pack everything they’ve built into practical (and now bus powered!) interfaces in the Focusrite Scarlett series.

Read more gear reviews here.

This range is expanded with the 4th Gen of Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, including the Scarlett 2i2 Studio 4th Gen reviewed here. The ‘Studio’ pack includes everything you need to get started, even including a ‘make-your-own’ microphone stand, Scarlett SH-450 headphones, a CM25 MKIII condenser microphone and of course, the fourth generation Scarlett 2i2 interface itself.

Connection is simple, with QR codes available to walk you through the install process for either the included software or getting the Scarlett connected to an existing recording rig! All the required cables are included and the 4th Gen 2i2 is bus-powered, meaning it gets power via the USB cable used to connect to your computer.

The Scarlett 2i2 is a two-in, two-out interface. The front panel has two Hi-Z instrument inputs, with dynamic halo metering, while the back has XLR/microphone inputs. There’s 48V phantom power available to use condenser mics, like the CM25 MKIII. The 4th Gen mic preamps are Scarlett’s most detailed preamps ever, with 68dB of gain available. Elevating the 2i2’s preamps is Focusrite Scarlett’s Auto Gain control with Clip Safe, allowing you to set the gain quickly and not worry about ruining an otherwise good take!

The preamps also include the redesigned AIR mode, designed to bring more high end, transformer-sounding preamps, more similar to the famous ISA preamps found on Focusrite’s external preamps or even their consoles. ISA preamps and consoles are known for clarity and low noise, while offering startling amounts of gain and practical EQ and filter options. While the Scarlett’s AIR mode doesn’t have all of this available, it does a great job at giving the clarity, weight and depth of a nice outboard preamp. The preamps alone do a great job at translating whatever microphone on whatever source they’re connected to, but the AIR mode gives an extra layer of fidelity.

The beauty of the Scarlett series overall as a whole is how easy and accessible they make music making. Every generation builds on what came before it, giving more power, clarity and control to the creators, with increasingly versatile and mobile solutions for recording. The condenser mic included, the CM25 MKIII sounds great. It captures a room with detail and a crisp colour, being able to handle dynamic sources as well as whisper quiet ones with ease. Having the ‘make-your-own’ mic stand available helps remove handling noise and bumps from recorded takes, which is inevitable with such a hi-fi microphone. The SH-450 provide a balanced, flat response, perfect for monitoring recordings and mixing them after they’re captured! Use these via the headphone output on the unit, with its own volume control!

The included studio software helps you route and monitor your Scarlett’s inputs and outputs and adjust things like sample rate, phantom power, and toggle between XLR and instrument inputs. The unit features a big master output volume knob, but you can adjust that here as well if your mouse is closer!

The 2i2 joins the 4th Gen Focusrite Scarlett Solo and 4i4 interfaces, that are a one input, two output and four input, four output interface respectively. What’s more, the whole range has output monitoring surrounding the output knob, a new feature for 4th Gen, allowing you to make sure you’re hearing the clearest version of your output.

Focusrite Scarlett range

The Auto Gain and Clip Safe additions are offered only to the 2i2 and 4i4 interfaces, but the whole range boasts the Dynamic Gain Halos that allow you to monitor the level of incoming audio.

All in all, the 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 Studio pack elevates everything we’ve known about the Scarlett range: accessibility, portability and great sound. The redesigned preamps available on the 2i2 and 4i4 can be automatically set, as well as featuring safety features to prevent them from clipping, while revised converters keep them sounding their absolute best. There’s routing options available within Focusrite’s software, where you can also adjust gain, phantom power, and Focusrite’s ‘Air’ that adds some of that magical clarity and weight that Focusrite are so known for. The Studio pack really is a studio in a box, and you’ll be up and running within minutes, with the tools and safeguards to capture great takes of fleeting ideas as they come to you. Focusrite’s products have been instrumental in the workflow of modern recording for decades now, and the 4th Gen Focusrite Scarlett interfaces are no different.

For more info, visit Focusrite.