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Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

As a satisfied owner of a 1st generation Focusrite 2i2, I was curious to see what changes they would make to the 2nd generation. The most obvious changes are cosmetic ones. The rotary controls for the headphone level and monitor level are now shinier, with black lines rather than grooves in the knobs to mark the levels, making it much easier to see the setting at a glance. The same is true of the black rotary input gain controls, which now have clearly visible red lines. In fact, the labeling of the entire front panel is noticeably clearer, being white on black now rather than gray on very dark gray. The headphone control has gained the traditional 0 and 10 markings, so Spinal Tap probably won’t approve. The same is true of the input gain controls. The case is the same excellent solid red metal case, now a touch brighter in color with the logo in gray rather than black. On the back, the ports are rearranged slightly, and the ‘ audio output sockets no longer protrude half a centimeter. Once you plug in ‘ jacks it’ll scarcely matter, but I thought I’d point it out. Also gone from the back are the screw holes; I’m guessing they’re now hidden under the rubber feet on the bottom of the unit. Once you plug the box in, an interesting change becomes apparent: The new 2i2 is faster to boot up. Whereas the old 2i2 would flicker its input LEDs a few times before settling down, the new one blinks once and is ready to go. The old units only took a couple of seconds to boot, so it’s not a big deal, but it shows the attention to detail and quality Focusrite put into their products. The fact that the USB ID has changed from 0x100016e4e to 0x100016db4 as well, suggests that it’s all new under the hood. As with the 1st generation 2i2, two of the best features of this audio interface are things you don’t get. There’s no power brick, because it’s powered straight from the USB bus; and there’s no driver disc, because it uses standard USB Audio Class protocols. Specifically, it’s USB 2. 0 Class Compliant. On the Mac, the 2i2 shows up as an AppleUSBDevice, and automatically appears in the System Preferences alongside the built-in Apple audio hardware. Open up Apple Audio MIDI Setup and you can change the format from the default 44. 1kHz 24 bit to 48kHz, 88. 2kHz, 96kHz, 176. 4kHz, or even a ludicrous 192kHz. Furthermore, no special drivers means it will continue to work with future versions of macOS. This adherence to standards also means that the Scarlett 2i2 is a great choice for Linux users. You plug it in, it works flawlessly using the snd-usb-audio ALSA module. I’ve no idea what the driver situation is like for Windows users, others will have to review that. The box is simple and obvious in its general usage. You have two input sockets on the front, which take either XLR connectors or ‘ jacks one for left, one for right. You have two ‘ sockets on the back for output one for left, one for right and you have a headphone socket, again ‘ but this time stereo. The knobs next to the input sockets control the input gain. Switches choose line level or instrument level input, and you can choose differently for the two inputs if you want to have two mono signals instead of a stereo one. 48V phantom power is also supported via a switch, but affects both inputs. The LED rings around the knobs pulse green with the signal. If they pulse orange, it means your audio clipped but you might get away with it. If they pulse red, it means your audio clipped really badly, and you might qualify for a job with a major label fighting in the loudness wars. A switch enables direct monitoring, or you can have your computer pass the audio back out and monitor that. Audio quality hasn’t changed with the new hardware as far as I can tell, though I didn’t do any double-blind tests. It’s certainly markedly better than Apple’s built-in audio hardware on my MacBook Pro, and the headphone output can easily drive a full-size set of headphones to ear-splitting volumes. Overall, an excellent entry level choice for any Mac or Linux user wanting to connect a musical instrument, or for use as a general purpose high quality audio interface. Check it out!

The second generation Scarlett 2i4 is our most versatile USB-powered audio interface, ideal for anyone needing a cue mix for performing or recording with a computer. It is compact yet flexible, with two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps, super-low latency*, MIDI i/o, four analogue outputs and the same class-leading sound quality and digital conversion as the rest of the latest Scarlett range. Take it anywhere, connect by a single USB cable to a computer, plug two microphones or instruments straight in, and easily record studio quality audio against a cue mix. Focusrite is the perfect partner for Pro Tools, and to celebrate this Scarlett 2i4 now comes with an exclusive version of Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, as well as Ableton Live Lite. It is also compatible with all other major DAWs, on Mac and PC. * Super-low roundtrip latency was measured at 2.74ms, working at 96kHz with a 32 samples buffer on Logic Pro X, running on a Mac Pro and OS 10.11


Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First Review

The Scarlett 18i8 is an absolutely perfect choice for the small/home studio that has moderate simultaneous input requirements. I am using mine for recording bass guitar and Navajo flute, as well as some light vocals, and it has performed perfectly, with clarity and ease of use. My unit is attached to my MacBook Pro (2016) via USB, and I’m using Logic X as my DAW. I’ve not had a single configuration issue with the Scarlett. OS X immediately recognized the Scarlett, including proper device naming, as did Logic X. I literally pulled the Scarlett from its box, plopped it on my desk, connected USB and guitar inputs, and I was recording within 5 minutes. Absolutely no hassles whatsoever. Physically, the Scarlett is built like a brick outhouse. Heavy and stout, it just feels of quality. If I had any minor nitpick for the unit, the only thing I can come up with is that the silver knobs are plastic; I would have preferred (and would have paid for) aluminum knobs for a superior tactile experience when turning the knobs. But, the plastic knobs do the job, and they look reasonably good, so there are really no issues here. Finally, over the past few months, I’ve made heavy use of the Scarlett and have not experienced a single problem with it. My previous interfaces were (a) Mackie Blackjack, and (b) a Tascam US-100. The Mackie was very good — and was built like a tank — but was limited in expandability. The Tascam worked only for a single device and it only showed up as a generic "USB Codec" within OS X and Logic X. The Scarlett easily eclipses both of those interfaces in flexibility and native OS X and Logic X integration, and is the equal of the Mackie in terms of build quality. I am one happy puppy, and have already recommended a smaller Scarlett to one of my band mates so that we can record and collaborate remotely. Despite this being my first Focusrite purchase, I am, needless to say, a total fan of Focusrite at this point. Definitely, a well-earned five star rating. -Read Reviews-

Four analog inputs: two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain; two newly-designed instrument inputs, designed to handle seriously hot guitar pick-ups

Class-leading conversion and sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit

Super-low latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP (measured at 2.74ms, working at 96kHz with a 32 samples buffer)

Two 1/4-inch balanced jack outputs to connect professional studio monitors; one headphones output with gain control; MIDI I/O

Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite Control, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrites Red Plug-in Suite, 2GB of Loopmasters samples, and monthly Focusrite Plug-In Collective offers

Although the unit works fine (haven’t tried all inputs yet), the first unit shipped had an issue with the INST and PAD indicator LEDs not aligning with the holes in the front panel and therefore difficult to view unless at an unnatural viewing angle. Upon receiving a replacement from Amazon today, this replacement unit also has the same issue and appears to be a manufacturing batch issue. If this can be rectified by Focusrite in a simple and quick manner, I will increase my product rating. UPDATE 6Feb17 – Chris at Focusrite expedited a replacement (excellent response!) – LEDs are now mtd correctly and unit is working, at least with two MICs so far, one condenser (48v) and one dynamic. Rating upgrade to 4 since I cannot test all inputs at this time and cost is a little steep. However, outward construction looks solid.

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