Product Profile: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio

Focusrite just released the 4th generation (4th Gen) to their Scarlett Range of audio interfaces. Not just a refresh, the Scarlett 4th Gen range is a complete back-to-the-drawing board redesign and a major upgrade from Focusrite’ s current 3rd Gen Scarlett range of audio interfaces. 

The Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen shown here is a two-channel audio interface that has two quarter-inch Inputs on the front and two XLR inputs on the back. The back of the interface has a single pair of quarter-inch outputs to connect your studio monitors. The new 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 now has a redesigned front panel with added wider spacing between hardware knobs and connectors to improve the overall ergonomics. The switches on the front panel now control all primary settings for the interface. This means most hardware controls are now controlled digitally, including preamp gain, depending on what works best for your workflow. Alternatively, you can also use the available Focusrite Control 2 software to set your 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 preamp gain levels. 

The core of the 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 are two super-premium quality mic pre’s that have 69dB gain. The digital to analog converters are borrowed from Focusrite’ s flagship RedNet range and have 120dB of dynamic range in the output. It is important to note that the conversion and the overall quality of the preamps on the Scarlett 4th Gen range are significantly better, I believe, than any preamps offered in an audio interface at this price point by any manufacturer ever. They truly sound clear, pristine and have an amazing amount of headroom, not to mention sound sweet and musical. 

The Scarlett 2i2 and 4i4 now have a built-in Auto Gain function that automatically targets gain levels to peak around -12dBFS, ensuring the signal is loud enough for a high signal-to-noise ratio, while providing an appropriate amount of headroom to keep recordings away from clipping. Apart from the Gen 4 Scarlett Solo, all the interfaces in the new Gen 4 range have a new Clip Safe feature, which checks your levels up to 96,000 times a second and which significantly reduces the risk of clipping. When Clip Safe is engaged, the Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen continuously monitors input signals through a combination of analog preamp adjustment and DSP.

The Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen features a completely re-engineered Air mode, which adds musical presence and rich harmonics to help drive your tracks. The all-new Air circuitry features two distinct stages: Air’s all-analog presence section, which introduces a filter circuit that delivers the sonic character of the original Focusrite recording console, and Air’s DSP-based harmonic drive section adds rich harmonics to recordings and replicates the sound of driving a classic studio console. 

Metering on all knobs on the Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen have been redesigned with new dynamic gain halos with new modernized output metering. Scarlett 4th Gen’s halos fill up to show the level of the incoming signal, showing green or orange to show varying input levels like a standard audio meter. The whole halo lights up red if the input signal clips, which can be seen from any angle on the front panel. The Scarlett 4th Gen gain halos on 2i2 and 4i4 fill up to show the level the preamp is set to when the gain knob is turned. The preamp level is shown in white if there is no audio signal present. Input levels are shown in tri-state green, orange and red when an audio signal is present and which shows both the preamp gain and the level of the input signal at the same time.

All Scarlett 4th Gen interfaces now feature independent headphone volume controls. The 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 now has completely re-designed headphone outputs, capable of up to 116dB dynamic range. Ultra-low distortion, as low as -108dB, provides more than enough power for high impedance headphones. The headphones that have an impressive 120dB dynamic range for the monitor output have super-low distortion, as low as -112dB for an incredibly flat frequency response. 

The 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2 has Direct Monitor buttons that allow you to quickly select which signals they are hearing in their headphones and monitors, meaning you can monitor just computer audio or a combination of computer audio and the instruments connected to your analog inputs. Direct monitoring on the 4th Gen 2i2 is processed entirely on the hardware, meaning input signals are monitored in near zero-latency.

With the 4th Gen 2i2 Studio bundle, you also get a pair of Focusrite Scarlett SH-450 Studio Headphones and the latest generation of Focusrite’s CM25 III studio condenser microphone designed to be an all-around go-to microphone to record guitars and vocals. The 4th Gen 2i2 also now features Loopback, a feature only seen on the higher priced Scarlett 3rd Gen audio interfaces. 

Last but certainly not least, Focusrite has added a host of free added-value software to their Hitmaker Expansion bundle that you can download once you register your 4th Gen Scarlett 2i2. Much more than just the basics, you are getting virtually everything you need to make professional recordings from tracking to mastering, plus a wealth of virtual instruments covering pro quality guitar amp sims, keyboards, drum machines and much more, as much or more added value software than any competing product at this price point. It is important to note that the amount and quality of added-value software you are getting offers tremendous value and would cost many times more than the interface itself, if purchased separately. 

Backed up by Focusrite’s industry-leading 24/7 customer support, the Scarlett 2i2 Studio 4th Gen is truly an amazing bargain for what you’re getting. The Scarlett 4th Gen 2i2 Studio available now for $299.99.

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