If you are looking for an audio interface for recording and playback, the FocusRite 2i2 is a good entry level choice at a small price tag.

Audio Cable Interfaces

There are many different audio interfaces available on the market. Typically you will see them being one of the following types:

  • USB 2.0/3.0
  • Firewire 400/800
  • Thunderbolt
  • PCIe

At the consumer level, USB and Firewire audio interfaces are the most affordable. Firewire, which had major backing from Apple, has been phased out and users are encouraged to move to Thunderbolt. PCIe and Thunderbolt are great choices that offer less latency and fast throughput, but are quite expensive.

This leaves USB. Most of the audio interfaces out in the consumer market are USB 2.0 based. With the world of mobile computing becoming more prevalent, the use of USB ports on laptops has introduced many USB/Midi controller audio gear into the market. This has only proven to increase awareness and adoption. USB/Midi gear from companies like Akai, Novation, M-Audio, FocusRite, PreSonus have flooded the market letting Home Studios around the world flourish.

When it comes to hooking up all this audio gear to your PC or Mac, the natural solution is to look for a USB audio interface. The FocusRite 2i2 is such an animal and can be used for Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX operating systems.

FocusRite 2i2 Features

I sat down today to take a look at the 2i2 and looked at its feature set and played with it to get a sense of its quality, ease of use, and abilities. With most audio gear, you really do not know the full scoop until at least you play with all the knobs and test it. Here is some technical information and tips that can help in making an informed purchase.

Sample rate support:

  • 44.1 kHz
  • 48 kHz
  • 88.2 kHz
  • 96 kHz
  • 176.4 kHz
  • 192 kHz at 24-bits

USB 2.0 Port

  • To computer USB Type A male
  • FocusRite USB Type B male

Outputs can be connected to:

  • Passive speakers (amplifier + speaker)
  • Active speakers (powered)
  • Headphones
  • Analog mixer
  • Analog audio equipment

Mic Input

  • TRS/TS/XLR port
  • 48V shared Phantom power only for condensor mics
  • Preamp
  • Gain (db) control at 50 dB range
  • Dynamic Range 106 dB
  • Instrument switch
    • Switch to instrument for guitar, music instruments
    • Switch to line for keyboard, synthesizers, analog mixer
    • Inputs do not need pre-amp

Instrument Input

  • Combo TRS/TS/XLR port
  • Preamp
  • Gain (db) control at 50 dB range
  • Dynamic Range 106 dB
  • Line/instrument switch
    • Switch to instrument for guitar, music instruments
    • Switch to line for keyboard, synthesizers, analog mixer
    • Line inputs do not need pre-amp

Headphone Output

  • TRS balanced
  • Dynamic range 107 dB
  • For listening to audio from the FocusRite in headphones
  • You will likely need an adapter to work with your headphones

Main Output

  • TRS balanced
  • Dynamic range 106 dB
  • Connect to studio monitors analog mixer via TRS to TRS

Direct Monitoring

  • Routes input to the headphone and main output (ON)
  • This will allow you to hear yourself with zero latency (Inputs -> FocusRite -> Main output and Headphones)
  • As opposed to (OFF) (Inputs -> FocusRite -> USB -> DAW -> USB -> FocusRite -> Main output and Headphones)

Monitor knob

  • For controlling volume to main outputs

Headphone knob

  • For controlling volume to headphone

ASIO driver

  • Reduced latency
  • To set sample rate, run the ASIO ControlPanel program in the Program Files\FocusriteUSB folder
  • No DAW can be running to make this change
  • Set it to Sample rate like 192 kHz, 128 buffer size
  • Reboot Microsoft Windows
  • Go to Control Panel | Sound | Playback | Advanced and set the new sample rate
  • Go to Control Panel | Sound | Recording | Advanced and set the new sample rate

Recording Tips

When recording voice, to prevent feedback echo from the studio monitors here are some suggestions.

On the Scarlett Solo, the monitor knob controls volume for both main out and headphones

  • Don’t buy the Solo for this very reason as there are not separate knobs for cut off among other lack of features
  • Uses unbalanced RCA jacks as main output
  • Mic input is XLR only not combo
  • Instrument input is TRS only not combo
  • No phantom on instrument input

On the Scarlett 2i2, there are separate knobs for monitor and headphones

  • You will be able to turn down monitor knob so output doesn’t go to speakers
  • You will be able to turn headphone knob to hear all inputs
  • The two above will allow for no mic feedback/echo
  • Use headphones to listen while you are singing and adjust headphone knob
  • Turn gain on mic and instrument up or down to adjust volume

Software Included

FocusRite Scarlett comes with a rich array of software with the value being over the purchase price. This makes it an even sweeter deal.

  • ASIO driver
  • Ableton Live 9 Lite
  • Pro Tools First
  • Bass Station
  • Drum Pack
  • Loopmasters Sound Library
  • Red Plugin Suite
  • Softube

Ableton Live Integration

In Ableton Live, go to the Options | Preferences | Audio and select the in/out sample rate to your new sample rate setting.

Audio preferences
  Driver type: ASIO
  Audio Device: Focusrite USB ASIO
  Channel Configuration:
    Input config
       1 mono and 2 mono
       1/2 stereo
    Output config
       1 mono and 2 mono
       1/2 stereo
    Hardware Setup
       Sample rate: 44.1kHz
       Buffer size: 32
    Sample Rate
       In/Out Sample Rate: 1920000
       Default SR & Pitch Conversion: High Quality
    Latency
       Buffer Size: 32 samples
       Input Latency: 2.29 ms
       Output Latency: 3.02 ms
       Driver Error Compensation: 0.00 ms
       Overall Latency:5.31 ms

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