Focusrite has been a favourite of producers around the world for many years and their second generation of Scarlett USB Audio Interfaces have definitely lived up to the fearsome reputation. They’re not just for the major studio veterans either, with models designed for the individual artist and the bedroom pioneer. Maybe you want to get your rapper friend to spit a few bars over your beats or maybe you are the emcee and you wanna start recording your own tracks instead of paying some talentless fool in your neighbourhood, it really doesn’t matter.
If an audio interface is what you need then look no further than the aptly named, Scarlett Solo. It’s super compact making it extra portable and perfect for on-the-go recording, a fact further emphasised by the quality aluminium build that ensures it’s a tool built to last. It works with all major Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) including Ableton Live, Reason, FL Studio, Cubase, Logic and even Magix Music Maker, not to mention Pro Tools but more on that later.
When making your first purchase of anything it’s usually better to go with a trusted brand and Focusrite are all that and more. One look at all the names that endorse it (like Mark Hill, a former member of UK outfit, Artful Dodger) and it’s easy to see that you’re in good hands. Here’s my Focusrite Scarlett Solo review.
Cheapest Place To Buy: Amazon.com
Operating Systems: Windows and Mac
Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (Based on 464 ratings)
What Can It Do?
Focusrite boast of the studio-quality sound you get when recording with this interface and boy did they deliver. Their mic preamps are world renowned and they’ve tucked one of those bad boys into this tiny device, giving you 48V of phantom power whenever you want, for any microphone on the block. All the fuel comes from the USB port on the back that sits next to your right and left RCA outputs. You also have the option of powering it directly from the wall if you want to us it as a stand alone device.
You’ve got a 1/4″ jack input for your headphones so you’re going to need a something a little more serious than the ones that came with your iPhone. It sits neatly below the direct monitor switch and next to the humongous volume knob you have to control the levels of your output. Next, comes the 1/4″ instrument jack that’s perfect for guitar and even a bass in case you want to add some live elements and take your beats from good to great.
The Next Generation…
Did you notice the little ‘halos’ that surround the smaller volume knobs for your instrument and mic? They’re a visual aid to help you control the input and prevent clipping by glowing green (when you’re good) and red (when you’re not). That brings us to what we’re really after and that’s the mic input. A simple XLR that unlocks all your recording power and is suitable for any dynamic or condenser microphone.
What Can’t It Do?
If you cruise through some customer reviews, you’ll find the eye-browsing complaints about this little guy’s endurance. Apparently, using this interface for more than 5 or 6 hours at a time results in your main channel being overtaken by sudden robotic static that’s a hassle to remedy. Pair that with a lacklustre customer support system and you’ll understand why some haters wanna throw shade.
Also from my side, it would’ve been nice to have an independent volume control for your headphones that wasn’t affected by the main output of the device and vice versa. I recently used a similar interface that allowed me to isolate the headphones (with a bit of routeing) and leave the main output unaffected and it helps in a home studio environment.
Where do I begin with this one? I mean, it’s got more goodies than a Novation controller. The DAWs alone are enough to make you drool with bothy Ableton Live Lite and a small taste of greatness with Pro Tools First. Make no mistake, the full version of Pro Tools is a beast that comes with textbooks instead of a manual. However, this edition should be a lot more beginner friendly. Helping these guys along is the Focusrite Creative Pack that delivers twelve additional plugins to help with your creative pursuits, all taken from Avid’s acclaimed Eleven Rack collection.
To add to that, you get one full licence of xlnAudio’s Addictive Keys virtual instrument, which gives you free access to one their amazingly authentic piano plugins. Choose from Studio Grand, Mark One, Electric Grand and Modern Upright to get some world class right at your fingertips. They’ve also teamed up with the genius’ at Softube to bring you their Time and Tone bundle, which includes four of their exclusive plugins.
Focusrite wasn’t shy enough to give us a few plugins of their own too. The Red Plug-In suite is a welcome addition, giving you two virtual replicas of their most revered hardware effects. Want the cherry on top? How bout 2GB of free samples from Loopmasters to help you get going? If you do the math, that’s over $500 worth of downloadable extras that come with an interface worth only $99. Like, whoah!
Should I get It?
If this is your first time buying an audio interface, it’s definitely one to take a second look at. Whether you’re adding to your beat studio or just looking to record some good bars for your mixtape, you’ll be making the right choice getting to know a girl named Scarlett.
Got any more questions you’d like to ask? Have your own experiences with this device? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below.
Ryan C. Voller, Recording Artist – Producer – Lead Contributor for HowToMakeHip-Hop.com
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