Focusrite Scarlett Solo VS 2i2: Which is Best For Indie Producers

After getting several emails and requests from my readers, I finally decided to write a comparison article between Focusrite Scarlett Solo Vs 2i2.

Typically, comparison between two company’s audio interfaces is common, but the comparison between the audio interfaces from the same company is rare.

Well, I’ve tried my best to put all the features, pros, and cons of these two audio interfaces here. If you are an indie producer and want to buy Focusrite entry-level audio interfaces then this comparison will be beneficial for you.

Well, first off, let’s see the basic features of Scarlett Solo and Scarlett 2i2 side by side, after then we’ll discuss them in detail.

Features Scarlett Solo Scarlett 2i2
Inputs One is 1/4” line/instrument input and the other is XLR input with 48-volt phantom power 2 simultaneous 48-volts phantom-powered mic/instrument inputs that support both XLR
Outputs Two 1/4” TRS balanced outputs for external monitors and one 1/4” headphone out Two 1/4” TRS balanced outputs for external monitors and one 1/4” headphone out
Included Software Avid Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, Three Month Splice Sounds Subscription, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Plug-in Collective Avid Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, Three Month Splice Sounds Subscription, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Plug-in Collective
Number of Preamps 1 2
Power Supply USB-Powered USB-Powered
Phantom Power 1 2
Portability Yes Yes
Latency Minor Direct Monitoring
  Checkout Price Checkout Price

Scarlett Solo VS 2i2: Which Focusrite Audio Interface is Best

scarlett-solo-vs-scarlett-2i2

There are some questions, you should ask yourself before going with one of these audio interfaces.

Let me point out them for you.

  • How many inputs and outputs do you need for your recordings?
  • Do you need a compact audio recording solution?
  • Do you need a USB powered audio interface or adapter based power supply is sufficient for you?
  • What about the stereo recordings?
  • How many Mic inputs do you need?
  • Do you need free recording software with the interface or you will purchase a separate DAW?

These are some common questions you should ask yourself before choosing an audio interface for you.

Below, we’ll discuss all these questions that will help you choose the one that best fits you.

Inputs and Outputs

Well, let us first discuss the inputs and outputs you’ll get in these two audio interfaces.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Ins/Outs

scarlett solo inputs and outputs

Focusrite Solo has 2 inputs; one is 1/4” line/instrument input and the other is XLR input with 48-volt phantom power. That means you can use one condenser mic with this audio interface.

The line/instrument input allows you to record digital and acoustic instruments as well as vocals with dynamic microphones.

Well, if you want to use two instruments simultaneously then you need an XLR cable for the first input and a 1/4” phono cable for the second one. That’s a big downside of Focusrite Scarlett Solo.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo has two 1/4” TRS balanced outputs for external monitors located behind the audio interface and one 1/4” headphone out at the front. I think, for an indie composer, one pair of monitors out and one headphone out is sufficient.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Ins/Outs

scarlett 2i2 inputs and outputs

This audio interface has 2 simultaneous 48-volts phantom-powered mic/instrument inputs that support both XLR and TRS inputs.

That’s a great thing as you can use both types of cables to record digital/acoustic instruments, dynamic mics as well as condenser mics.

It has the same outputs as Focusrite Solo such as 2 balanced TRS outputs for monitors on the backside and one headphone out on the front side.

So, it provides nothing more than these 2 amphibian inputs.

Another advantage that you get in this audio interface is both the inputs are phantom-powered so you can use 2 condenser mics simultaneously.

Points for inputs and outputs:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 6/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 8/10

Software

focusrite audio interface software package

With both the audio interfaces, you will get the same software package. This package includes,

  • Avid Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack: This includes hundreds of virtual instrument sounds, great-sounding effects pack and 500MB of loops.
  • Ableton Live Lite: You will get one of the finest beat composing software, Ableton Live lite with both the audio interfaces.
  • Three Month Splice Sounds Subscription: Focusrite also provides 3 months of Splice sounds subscription to the buyers under which you can download limitless loops and samples from Splice website.
  • XLN Audio Addictive Keys: When you register your Focusrite products you will get access to one of four virtual keyboards from XLN audio addictive keys.
  • Softube Time and Tone Bundle: This package comes with Softube’s three world class reverb, delay and distortion plug-ins, and mastering tool.
  • Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite: You will also get access to Focusrite’s in-house plugin bundle Focusrite Red Plugin Suite.
  • Focusrite Plug-in Collective: You will receive free versions of the all the software, as well as discounts on further purchase.

So from the software side, both the audio interfaces are great. You will get all the necessary software and plugins to record as an indie composer.

Points for Software package:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 9/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 9/10

Number of Preamps

focusrite scarlett solo 2i2 preamps

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 features two preamps where Focusrite Scarlett Solo has only one preamp. However, the quality of preamps for both audio interfaces is the same.

The company claims that the Scarlett 3rd Gen mic preamp is high in gain and gives you supremely transparent and low noise sound.

The signal-to-noise ratio of these preamps is 110.5dB which is far better than the old audio interfaces. You will definitely get a more clear sound with these preamps.

Both the audio interfaces are equipped with Focusrite 3rd generation preamps to come with Air circuit. You will get a separate switch for each preamp to activate this circuit that makes your guitars and vocals sound more brighter and spacious. Air circuit is the emulation of the legendary ISA preamp which was one of the famous preamps in the 1970s-80s.

The Air circuit also provides you more headroom that helps you in your mix. It adds space to each audio track and reduces the jumbling of the tracks.

In Focusrite Scarlett Solo you will get only one Air circuit switch. the Line/Instrument In does not have any Air circuit button. However, with Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 you will get this button for both the preamps.

Points for Preamp Quality and number of Air Circuit switches:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 6/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 8/10

Power Supply

focusrite scarlett 2i2 powere supply

Power supply is one of the important things you should take into consideration when you are doing mobile recording. For a home recording studio, an external power supply is acceptable as you have electricity all the time in your studio.

But, for mobile operations such as video shoots, songwriting, and bedroom producing a USB-powered audio interface is an ideal solution.

Thanks to the manufacturer, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Solo both are USB-powered devices. So you can use them anywhere without the need for an external power source.

However, there are some drawbacks to USB-powered devices.

Such as,

  • The data transfer rate of USB powered devices in not as fast as the external powered devices.
  • If you are using the audio interface with laptop then the laptop battery drain fast, especially when using Phantom power.

Although, the audio quality is the same as external powered devices.

So, if you are a songwriter, video editor, mobile recording engineer for videos, or an indie composer who wants to record your songs on your bed or table with a laptop then these audio interfaces are built for you.

Phantom Power

scarlett 2i2 phantom power

When you are using condenser microphones, phantom power is required. Without this feature, you can’t use condenser mics on your device.

Well, both the audio interfaces have onboard phantom power features so don’t worry about using condenser microphones.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo has one phantom-powered input and Scarlett 2i2 has two phantom-powered inputs. So, with 2i2 you can record two condenser mics instantaneously which is the great feature of this audio interface. Because most of the USB-powered audio interfaces come with only one phantom power input.

If one input is sufficient for you then you can go with the Scarlett Solo otherwise you should go with Scarlett 2i2.

Points for Phantom power

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 6/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 8/10

Recording Quality

As both the audio interfaces are using the same AD/DA converter chips and preamps so the recording quality is almost exactly the same.

However, compared to other Focusrite audio interfaces, their audio quality is slightly dull. The signal-to-noise ratio, dynamic range, bit depth and sample rates, and AD/DA converter play a big role in audio quality.

Both the audio interfaces have the SNL ratio of -128dBu (A-weighted), dynamic range for mic inputs 111dB (A-weighted), and supports up to 192kHz/24bit audio.

Also, both the devices use Cirrus Logic CS4272 codec stereo chip which is a reputable DAC chip in the world.

So the audio quality is good for both the audio interfaces.

Points for audio quality:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 7/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 7/10

Latency

2i2 direct monitoring

Latency plays a big role in audio recording.

Choosing an audio interface with higher latency would ruin your recording experience. It would impact the artist’s performance because he gets the sound a bit slower than the actual performance.

In digital recording, latency is common because of the internal routing of the audio interface and computer but it should be no more than 15ms-20ms otherwise your recording experience would be so scary.

Focusrite claims the maximum latency for their Scarlett audio interfaces is 2.74ms but it’s not the actual latency. latency depends on various factors such as the speed of the computer’s processor, amount of RAM, connection type, cable’s speed and the power source of the audio interface, the number of tracks recording simultaneously, and on the Sample rate and bit depth.

As you know, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Solo both are USB-powered devices. USB which carries data as well as power simultaneously affects the speed of data transfer.

You will definitely get 2.74ms latency if use 44100 Hz and 16bit recording setting. But with higher bit depth and sample rates, you will get more latency.

If you want to use the highest sample rate ie; 192kHz then these audio interfaces are not built for you. You can’t record with the terrible latency that these audio interfaces produce when recording at 192kHz.

Well, up to 96kHz and single track recording you will not get any latency problem but higher than 96kHz it’s not easy to record with these audio interfaces.

Focusrite 2i2 has the direct monitoring feature. In direct monitoring mode, you won’t get any latency. This feature is not available in Focusrite Scarlett Solo.

Always use a fast computer and in-box USB cable to get rid of latency problems.

Points for Latency:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 6/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 8/10

Build Quality

The outer cabinet of both the audio interfaces is built by metal with a red color matte finish. So they are durable and long-lasting.

However, the matte finish invites unwanted scratches on the surface so you should handle them carefully to avoid these unwanted scratches.

All the inputs and output ports are made of high-quality composite material which makes them long-lasting even with high usage. Buttons and knobs are made of high-quality composite plastic and rubber for better grip.

The company has used highly durable components on the internal circuits as well as provides a full one-year service warranty.

Points for build quality:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 8/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 8/10

Portability

The main benefit of Focusrite Scarlett Solo and 2i2 is they are fully mobile audio interfaces that you can use with your laptop for mobile recording and concerts.

Both the audio interfaces are USB bus-powered so you can easily use them with your laptop by just connecting the USB-C cable.

However, I have already told you, USB powered devices are a bit slower than external-powered devices but as it’s a USB-C audio interface, you can easily record two tracks simultaneously up to 96kHz/24Bit.

Both the audio interfaces are USB powered so you can easily use them with your laptop anywhere.

Points for Portability:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo: 9/10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: 9/10

My Verdict: Which Focusrite Interface is best for you

Above you have read all the features and benefits of both the audio interfaces. Now it’s time to choose one for your work.

However, I have already described both audio interfaces thoroughly even if you are still confused then first write down your primary reason to buy an audio interface.

If it’s sufficient to record one solo instrument and one vocal with a condenser mic simultaneously then you can go with Scarlett Solo but if you need two phantom power microphones which is common in drum recording then you should go with 2i2.

And, if your need is more than two inputs then you should choose high-end audio interfaces. In this case, these audio interfaces are not suitable for you.

If you are in mobile recording then both the audio interfaces are ideal for you but if you want to set up a home studio then I would suggest looking for better options.

This ultimate home studio equipment guide will help you in building your studio.

Writing down your needs is the best way to evaluate an audio interface before buying. I hope this guide has cleared all your doubts about these Focusrite Scarlett Solo and 2i2.

Share this guide with others on social media as it encourages me to write more valuable articles, and comment below if you have any unanswered questions regarding them.

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Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves music, writing and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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