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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Review (Quality & Features)

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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

Whenever they experience the need to produce a track with outstanding quality without the aid of studio equipment, producers and musicians require a solid audio interface they can utilise at all times. 

The Focusrite 18i20 equips recording activities with the highly regarded microphone preamps from the company and connects them with excellent 24-bit/96kHz as well as USB 2.0 quality.

Focusrite mic preamps are frequently used in renowned studios across the globe and offer audio interface quality that is comparable to recordings that have been professionally produced.

This article will review the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, which is a classy, understated audio interface that offers quality functionality for half the price of its immediate rivals. 

The 18i20 features eight microphone preamps, seamless compatibility with production-level sound systems, a small weight of under 7.5 pounds, and a subtle two-tone design with streamlined knobs and buttons. 

The third-generation 18i20 is a really alluring choice for producers and artists operating rapidly expanding recording facilities and operating on a budget thanks to its feature set, pricing, and general build quality.

Keep reading to find out more about the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, including its design, functionality, and whether it’s worth the investment.

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Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Main Highlights

  • Eight of the best mic preamps for professional performance – With the eight mic preamps on the 18i20, sound is greater than ever. The greatest performance microphone preamps the Scarlett line has ever seen will help you produce a brighter and more open recording. 

When you record with your Scarlett 18i20, an adjustable Air mode will enhance the clarity of your acoustic instruments by emulating the renowned Focusrite console.

  • Every input and output you may possibly need – The eight accessible line inputs can be used to record numerous instruments simultaneously, enabling users to multi-track and record the live performance. 
  • Sufficient inputs to turn any area into a completely functional recording studio – You won’t have any trouble collecting audio in an instant that is flawless and faithful to the actual source thanks to extremely low latency plus class-leading drivers.
  • Studio-quality playback that is incredibly clear – With Scarlett’s high-performance converters, you can capture and mix at upwards of 24-bit/192kHz and produce recordings that sound professional. 

Your recordings will keep all of their acoustic characteristics, allowing you to playback your track and hear every nuance.

  • Get the ideal guitar take using two high-headroom instrument inputs – You can connect your guitar or bass without sacrificing tone. Gain Halos can help you record your sound clearly and let your sound stand out in all its splendour without any unwelcome clipping or distortion.
  • All the gear you need to begin recording immediately – Focusrite has partnered with their preferred business partners to offer you a tonne of audio materials and software so you can start writing and recording music right away. 
  • Make imposing drums, lush keys, and strong guitars – Antares Auto-Tune Access, which enables natural sounding, almost real-time pitch modification for the best vocal takes, can help you produce vocals of studio quality.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Design

The Focusrite Scarlett is one of the best portable USB-powered models now on the market. The 18i20 is the biggest of the 6 Scarlett-line Focusrite audio interfaces. 

The 18i20 shares the same distinctive red-and-black design as its smaller brothers, but due to its power needs and mountability, it is a far better audio recording interface for integration with long-term studio installations.

Along with a USB-C cable enabling secure connection to every USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connector on Mac or Windows PCs, it also comes with one IEC power cord.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Review

The 18i20 can be used without slipping on desk surfaces thanks to its four low-profile rubber feet, or you may use the two included rack ears to put it in any 19-inch rack.

While the Scarlett 18i20 shares many of the same functionality and features as its predecessors, its front panel components and polish have significantly improved, especially the gain control knobs. 

The plastic knobs used in earlier generations seemed flimsy and provided minimal resistance, but they have since been upgraded to more sturdy metal knobs that provide “steps” for controlling gain more consistently and reliably—giving the overall appearance of permanence.

Additional small, barely indented buttons on the front panel provide access to a number of toggles, namely 48-volt phantom power as well as microphone/line switching. 

On paper, having physical buttons to access these features seems appealing, but the 18i20’s remote location may make using them difficult because they are small and provide no tactile feedback.

Eight built-in inputs are included with the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, two of which may be accessed from the front panel using microphone/instrument combo connectors. 

Users can attach inputs and mics simultaneously and switch between the two, although the interface is only capable of supporting eight inputs in total. The rear panel has eight line inputs and six extra microphone inputs.

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Performance

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20’s mic preamps and converters offer specs that are quite similar to those of the Apollo x8, including a gain spectrum of 56 dB and a max 24-bit/192 kHz AD/DA conversion. 

These numbers essentially indicate that the 18i20 can record audio at or beyond the industry standard at a quality that is on par with interfaces that cost two, three, or even four times as much as it. 

Even though all-in-one systems like the 18i20 frequently make technological concessions in order to conserve space and reduce costs, the technological reality is a little more sophisticated than that, and the 18i20 should have no issue creating high-quality recordings that are equal to industry standards.

In order to replicate the rich, expansive high-frequency performance of the company’s standalone ISA preamps, Focusrite has improved the preamps among the Scarlett series for its 3rd generation with brand-new “Air” settings. 

It’s a smart idea to practice with the Air setting before applying it to your audio recordings since it modifies the transmission before it gets to your DAW.

Advantages Of The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

The Scarlett 18i20 has a red and black design, two multi-input, balanced mic plugs on the front, conventional pad buttons, and 48v switches.

It contains LED metres that alert users to USB connections and plans for digitally distributing goods. In addition to a volume knob, dimmer and mute options, it also has 8 different LEDs to set input level. Additionally, the jacks have 2 headphone outputs and volume controls.

Although having an interface with lots of knobs and connections is nice, the sound that this device produces is what matters most in this situation. 

The company is renowned for producing high-quality equipment. The smallest amount of latency allows this device to deliver a clear and transparent sound.

It’s also fantastic that users may connect their guitar, headphones, and microphone to the front board and receive audio without turning on the DAW. 

With this device, you do certainly get a lot of clean and clear preamps. In comparison to other products on the market, they produce sound of higher quality.

The business offers interfaces that employ their MixControl software, which enables users to perform audio routing with less delay. 

If you are serious about creating some beautiful routing configurations for headphones, you do need to invest some time in learning the MixControl functions.

Customers who appreciated this product noted that it has excellent build quality and a wonderful sound interface.

It is also simple to use and compatible with iOS, Mac, and Windows. Its inclusion of a respectable software bundle was also well-liked by many clients.

Disadvantages Of The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20

Customers who were dissatisfied with some features mentioned that the interface lacks output indicators.

The idea that the supplied software is incompatible with Pro Tools further shocked Pro Tools fans.

Who Should Purchase The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20?

This audio interface is a remarkable technological achievement which would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.

Pound for pound, it competes favourably with audio interfaces that are substantially more expensive. 

It is a great option for users looking to upgrade from a fairly small interface to capture large audio ensembles, complete drum sets, as well as multiple overlapping inputs without splurging on a studio upgrade because of its future-proof expandability, durable construction, and industry-standard audio fidelity at a very affordable price point.

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Although the 18i20 isn’t perfect, we believe that its flaws mostly serve as possibilities for learning for aspiring artists. 

Experienced recordists may object to its converters or to forgoing line outputs in favour of headsets, but engineering is only the solution of problems, and the 18i20’s flaws are minor. 

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Although it lacks high-end capabilities like DSP, electronic gain control, and complex routing, these functions increase significantly to the cost of the device, which is why they are normally found on expensive equipment.

Final Thoughts

This product has been purchased by plenty of people, and they all seemed to like it. Bands and singer/songwriters who intend to track drums, record live performances, and supervise MIDI in and out should choose the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20.

Electronic musicians also get a lot from it. This product is for you if you want a lot of inputs and outputs together with high-quality sound. If you are using Pro Tools with UI, though, you should search for other options.

An interface’s audio output quality is a key determining element. The item has a fair price and is unquestionably worth every penny you spend, so far as cost is concerned.

Matt Brook

With a background in Journalism and years of experience in the industry, Matt brings a wealth of knowledge to the WiredClip team.

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