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Look at a list of top-selling audio interfaces, and you’re guaranteed to find a range of Focusrite products in the top spots. The Focusrite 2i2 is the slightly bigger brother to the popular Scarlett Solo, offering an additional input in a similar form factor. The 2i2 offers two Scarlett mic preamps that switch between mic and line level. The front panel is cleverly functional, with flickable switches to add Air (Focusrite ISA simulation), and output and headphone volumes. The input gain switches light up in green, yellow, or red to let you monitor for clipping. Eschewing signal indicators, this is a brilliant use of space. Direct monitoring is available via a switch between mono and stereo, and zero latency rounds out the 2i2’s impressive feature set.
Focusrite have been constantly improving their tech over 30 years, and this 3rd gen unit doesn’t disappoint with its impressive sound quality. Inputs support 56dB of gain through high performance AD/DA converters, and the high-headroom instruments are of excellent quality. Testing with a Telecaster, I had no need for a DI box, and was easily able to monitor via the Gain Halos. The Air ISA emulation really adds a lot to tone, bringing brightness to your guitar, and really excelling on vocals. Using an SM58, the top-end clarity of the vocals was open and clear, without being brittle. For a unit of its price point, the 2i2 offers a solid sound quality that will appeal to newcomers.
The 2i2 is designed to be beginner friendly, and everything about their configuration lends itself to pick up and play. The USB-C bus powered connection means it can travel with you and easily connect to computer or iPad Pro. The Easy Start section on their website is an extensive range of videos following a customisable path through your software setup. With their short, clear tutorials, you’ll be setup in no time. Using the interface itself, the clever design means everything is instantly accessible and easy to understand.
The Focusrite is targeted at those who value portability and budget over more inputs and digital I/O connectivitiy. What you get for the money is impressive, with great sound quality and enough inputs to record guitar and vocals simultaneously. Compared to the slightly more expensive Audient ID4, the Focusrite has more inputs and higher sampling frequency. As an affordable entry to the world of audio interfaces, the Focusrite 2i2 is worth considering for budding producers and recording enthusiasts everywhere.
Focusrite has managed to cover a lot of bases with the 2i2. It’s small, rugged, and affordable, with enough clever features to fit most use cases. For an introduction to audio interfaces, or something portable to travel with and power via USB, you can’t go wrong. If you’re need of more inputs, indicator lights, MIDI In/Out or S/PDIF, you’ll want to consider something in a higher price point. However, for a solid, clever, and cheap interface, the 2i2 lives up to its impressive reputation.
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