An audio interface is a piece of hardware that allows you to have more control over your recording setup (also see, ‘Best Audio Interface For Podcast‘).
Choosing the right one is key to achieving the best setup for your home, studio, or professional business.
With this in mind, let’s put the Scarlett 2i2 and Solo audio interfaces head-to-head so that we can see which one is best.
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Scarlett 2i2 Overview
The Scarlett 2i2 from Focusrite is an excellent entry-level audio interface with lots of potential to develop with producers.
It’s compact enough to fit on any workstation while yet providing all of the required functionality, dispelling the myth that you need a massive mixing board to capture your music.
Though built primarily for musicians, the 2i2’s functions are also useful for podcasting, voiceovers, and other types of audio recording.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is an excellent choice for individuals who want to get started with recording.
This audio interface is a good alternative for anyone on a limited budget or those wishing to get started in the realm of producing, mixing, and audio production in general because of its low price, mobility, and functionality.
The Scarlett Solo is also a wonderful alternative for songwriters who want to work on their ideas while focusing on the writing rather than the audio processing.
Scarlett 2i2 Vs Solo
Build And Design
Both interfaces have a deep crimson appearance that bears homage to the series’ moniker.
The black front panel houses one big rotary dial for level monitoring and two smaller ones for gain control.
The latter is embedded on red and green circles that change color depending on the mode you’re in.
Overall, first impressions are of a high-end product that pleasantly surprises the buyer with its low price.
They are also almost comparable in terms of construction. The metal housing immediately conveys a sense of dependability.
The buttons and ports are painstakingly built. When all cords are connected, they feel safe, and the interfaces are easy to use.
Inputs And Outputs
Both Scarlett 2i2 and Solo are bus powered audio interfaces, meaning you can use them with your laptop without the need for a power socket (also see, ‘Can You Use A USB Mic With An Audio Interface‘).
The Scarlett 2i2 comes with two independent mic inputs with Scarlett preamps and switchable 48V phantom power. It also has two line inputs, stereo monitor outputs and one headphone output.
The Solo offers just one microphone input and two line inputs, but it also has two monitor outputs and one headphone output (also see, ‘Best Headphones For Podcasting‘).
The left input on the Solo is an XLR input. Most of your microphones plug in there. An additional input is a 1/4 inch jack port.
It generally pertains to recording equipment. It is clearly identifiable by the guitar sign that is located directly over the port.
The left and right outputs on Solo are also two.
Both have RCA outputs. Make sure you have the proper cables if you decide to purchase this version.
Choose the Solo if you want a 14-inch output. The 2nd Gen is unique in that it has an RCA output.
Two dynamic inputs are in front of Scarlett 2i2. This enables you to use two microphones or dual instrument input for simultaneous recording.
Because they may be used with XLR inputs and 1/4 inch jack wires, I refer to them as dynamic. It also has a 48v phantom power button that you can use for both condenser and dynamic mics.
Additionally, you may utilize two XLR inputs for mics; one of the two inputs for speech or instrument. The back of 2i2 houses two additional outputs.
It has ports that are 14 inch jacks. There is still a significant discrepancy even if it appears that both the 2i2 and Solo have two inputs each.
However, 2i2 lets you simultaneously record from both channels.
Focusrite has been producing preamps for almost 30 years. The Scarlett series’ 3rd Generation mic pres are the most up-to-date yet.
The 24-bit/192 kHz converters provide clarity and depth that would have been unheard of in this price range two decades ago.
Furthermore, their trademark ‘Air’ mode adds a distinct high-end detail to vocal recordings.
As a result, the voice has an organic, breathy aspect to it. Giving them a nice, professional appearance.
Both Focusrite audio interfaces use identical preamps. One significant distinction is that the Scarlett 2i2 has two preamps whilst the Solo just has one.
As a result, the Scarlett Solo’s two inputs are controlled by a single preamp.
So, if you use both inputs at the same time, two signals are divided by one, giving you half the headroom and clarity.
In contrast, the Scarlett 2i2 has two separate preamps. During simultaneous stereo recording, there is no compromise in signal quality.
Latency is a significant consideration when selecting the correct interface for your studio.
Latency is the time it takes between sending a signal into an interface and hearing it through headphones or speakers.
The delay happens because the audio is processed in the digital domain before it reaches your ears when you sing, speak, or play an instrument into your interface.
As a result, the processing power of both your computer and the interface is important.
While both interfaces have minimal latency, the 3rd Gen models will perform better since their USB connection C ports transport data quicker.
Solo’s headphone output supports near-zero latency direct monitoring.
There is an additional delay sound flows via the PC and digital audio workstation.
You are able to hear your own sound immediately or the sound from the instruments from the interface when you choose the near zero-latency option.
Some audio XLR interface devices route the input signal via your DAW first, resulting in a little but noticeable delay or latency between the music you’re producing and the sound you hear through your headphones.
Both the Solo and the 2i2 provide direct monitoring, which sends sound straight to the headphones without using DAWs.
As a result, latency is near-zero. Direct monitoring has a much more defined role with the 3rd generation 2i2.
After all, if numerous acoustic guitar or instruments are playing and singers are singing in a music production, things might become complicated.
It can be useful to be able to observe everything in what is practically real-time, with any superfluous sounds removed.
It’s arguable whether or not direct monitoring is beneficial with the Scarlett Solo.
After all, some claim that monitoring output via headphones is a waste of time when it’s only a vocalist and their guitar.
You could easily spend an entire day debating whether 192kHz resolution is superior to, say, 96kHz resolution.
Both the 2i2 and Solo have an A/D resolution of 24bit/192kHz.
Because both devices are Focusrite products, there will be no variation in how they process the 192,000 24 bit samples per second.
And, once again, unless your primary audience is dogs or bats, no one will notice the difference.
The 192kHz analog to digital (A/D) resolution is said to provide more realistic sound than lesser resolutions such as 96kHz.
Only the most devoted audiophile would be able to notice the difference.
Conclusion: Scarlett Solo Vs 2i2
Scarlett Solo is a little marvel. It measures just 1.73 x 5.66 x 4.7 inches and weighs almost half a pound less than the 2i2.
While this may not appear to be much, every little bit helps when you’re out busking.
Both the Scarlett solo and 2i2 audio interfaces are around $200, however, the Scarlett Solo is almost half the price of the 2i2.
Sure, you could prefer the 2i2’s dual preamps and the potential to add a second musician later on.
However, if you’re a single performer on a tight budget, that 50% saving is hard to ignore.