The worlds best audio interface just got better
Since it was founded by Rupert Neve in 1985, Focusrite has become one of, if not the go-to brand for both professional and home recording enthusiasts and musicians who want easy to use, reliable and highly portable options for laying down studio quality recordings. The Scarlett range in particular has become a major heavyweight in the industry and is now the number one selling range of audio interfaces in the world, with the likes of the Scarlett 2i2 garnering the MusicTech Value award for the 2i2 bundle and the entire range featuring award winning microphone preamps. So it came as a great surprise when the brand announced that they were endeavouring to improve on an already impressive range. However, the new selection of interfaces released for 2016 did not disappoint. The result was the Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation interfaces – their fastest and most impressive range of USB audio interfaces yet. Let’s take a look at how Focusrite improved on an already stellar selection of recording tools and why you need to consider the Scarlett 2nd Gen.
Improving An Industry Standard
Of course, everyone’s recording set up and subsequent requirements are going to be different, but the improvements inherent in the 2nd Gen range will appeal to all musicians and producers who take the recording process seriously. Perhaps the most impressive improvement straight off the mark is the super low latency, clocking in at a mere 2.74ms – the brand’s fastest USB performance yet. This lower latency ensures you’re getting an accurate representation of what’s being tracked, and of course ensures you’re not being thrown off course during the recording process! Interestingly, Focusrite can now lay claim to producing the world’s fastest USB recording interfaces – so you know you’re getting a decent piece of kit. This means you can use effects in real time without worrying about latency issues and your amp simulation software becomes far more responsive.
Guitarists will love the new instrument inputs, and in particular those who use hot or active pickups as the designers at Focusrite have not only made sure that you have a crisp clear connection, but a far superior input that can handle any pickup you throw at it with ease. You don’t have to fear any of that unwanted noise or disgusting clipping making its way into your recordings. This redesign also ensures any and all nuances within your playing are captured accurately. Whether you’re all about the riffs, or the intricacies and shoegaze effects the Scarlett range has got you covered. There’s also a more even gain structure built into the Scarlett mic preamp to allow you to accurately set and adjust your levels and analogue protection circuitry to stop those horrible power surges from destroying your equipment too. For the audiophiles out there, you’ll be pleased to know that the Scarlett 2nd Gen range operates at sample rates all the way up to 192kHz. For those recording louder amplifiers (is there any other way?) or drums the Focusrite Control software that comes with the 6i6, 18i8 and 18i20 really comes into play as you can engage the 10dB pad to get the best from your sound.
There’s been a redesign of the chassis, so it looks even cooler than it did before, which was in all honesty hard to beat. The new metal (not nu-metal) gain controls feel a lot sturdier in your hand and really add to the sleek aesthetic of the interface, which is seriously important when you want your studio to look its best too. You also have the same sturdy, rock solid designs across the entire range to safeguard against any of those minor bumps and bruises that may happen in transit. Just another of the many reasons the Scarlett range and in particular the Scarlet Solo and 2i2 models are so popular with travelling musicians who want to be able to record on the road, in the hotel room and when at home.
Software Bundle Included
Not content with releasing world class audio interfaces on their own, Focusrite have also included an entire suite of recording software. With each of the six different interfaces, you get Pro Tools First – the free version of the industry standard recording software. But that’s not all, guitarists will be pleased to hear that you also get 12 additional plugins which includes the coveted Eleven Lite – the ultimate guitar amp emulation software, Black Op for those who want to use iconic distortions and overdrives and a host of effects including Flanger, Vibe Phaser, Roto Speaker, Tape Echo, Studio Reverb and more. But it doesn’t stop there. You also get Softube’s Time and Tone bundle, the Focusrite Red 2& 3 Plug-In Suite, Novation’s Bass Station Virtual synthesiser and 2GB of Loopmasters samples to get you going.
Best of all, everything you get in the package is powerful enough for professional use yet super easy to learn so beginners can get started with minimal effort. Overall, you have pretty much everything you need to record a vast array of instruments at studio quality with the intuitive easy to use programs powerful enough to handle those late night editing, mixing and mastering sessions on a MAC or PC.
The Scarlett 2nd Generation Range
The Scarlett second generation range includes 6 studio quality interfaces, one of which, the 18i20 2nd Gen, is rack mountable. For those who need a complete recording set up for home or studio that is super portable and ultra-reliable, the Solo and the Scarlett 2i2 also come in recording packages that include newly revamped CM25 condenser microphone and HP60 headphones and XLR cable as standard – everything you need to get started on the road to a number 1 album.
The range includes:
- Scarlett Solo / Scarlett Solo Studio Second Generation Recording Package
- Scarlett 2i2 / Scarlett 2i2 Studio Second Generation Recording Package
- Scarlett 2i4
- Scarlett 6i6
- Scarlett 18i8
- Scarlett 18i20 – Rack mountable
Summary of features
The key new features of the Scarlett 2nd Gen range will appeal to those who want the ultimate confidence in their equipment. If you already have a Scarlett interface, you may be wondering why you’d want to upgrade, so instead of trying to convince you, here’s a list of the key features of the Scarlett 2nd generation interfaces and a comparison chart to help you choose which interface is right for you, just click the image to expand.
- 24 bit 192 kHz
- Low latency 2.74ms
- A more even gain structure
- Instrument input redesigned for hot pickups
- Analogue protection circuitry to stop power surges
- New metal gain controls
- Sleeker chassis
- Focusrite Control – for 6i6 and higher
- Redesigned headphones and microphones for studio packs
- Red 2 & 3
- Softube Time and Tone
- Ableton Live
- Pro Tools First featuring 12 free plugins
- Bass Station
- 2GB Loopmasters sounds and samples
Check out the video below featuring Matt DeFreitas with the Scarlett 2i2; Haula and her band with the Scarlett 6i6; and Icarus Dive in Offtape Studios with the Scarlett 18i20.
View the full range of focusrite recording equipment available at the Dawsons website.
Lee Glynn is a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist who lives in Liverpool, England. After moving to the UK from Perth, Australia, Lee enjoyed a successful career as guitarist in Liverpool based rock band Sound of Guns.
After releasing two albums, a myriad of EPs / singles and touring extensively around the world for 6 years including stops at Glastonbury, Latitude Festival, as well as the coveted Reading & Leeds Festivals, Lee decided it was a time for a change of scenery.
Utilising his experience in music journalism, Lee now works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he can still relay his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons blog and social media. Lee is still an avid guitar player and writer.