Focusrite Interface Comparison – 3rd Generation Compared

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If you need a complete budget-friendly recording kit that you can set up quickly, there’s a range of highly portable Focusrite interfaces perfect for you. We offer up a quick 3rd Generation Focusrite interface comparison so you know which is the best Focusrite interface for you! Updated 2019

focusrite interface comparison

There’s a lot of different Focusrite interfaces out there aimed at the signer songwriters and home studio enthusiasts so choosing the right one for your sound can be a little confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Do I need multiple inputs? Do I want a portable option? What if I need something that I can record on my iPad? All these questions are probably going through your head when it comes to choosing something to record with.

So, we thought we’d make it easier for you by constructing a quick 3rd Generation Focusrite interface comparison that highlights the benefits of the range. You also get to see the recording kits and bundle deals available all whilst giving you an idea of the type of recording artist or producer they’re best for. This will help you decide which is the best Focusrite interface for your needs.

First of all - here's an easy to read comparison chart!

3rd gen focusrite interface comparison chart

 

Best Entry Level Kit: Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

We absolutely have to start with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface as this is the best entry-level audio interface in our Focusrite interface comparison for those dipping their toe into the waters of recording. Don't be fooled by the small price tag as its also ideal for professionals and touring musicians who want to capture their ideas anywhere and at any time.

So, what’s it got?

A budget-friendly option at £99, this is easily affordable and presents exceptional value for money considering the quality of recordings you get when you plug this thing in.

Hailing from the 3rd Generation of Focusrite interfaces, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB Audio Interface features one amazing-sounding Air enabled preamp. You also have one XLR input, one instrument input which is capable of handling all types of guitar pickups including those big-sounding active pickups as well as a headphone output with gain control and USB port for connecting to your PC or Mac. This provides everything you need for a plug-in-and-play experience and all the connections for recording an instrument and a microphone at the same time.

The Air enabled preamp has a switchable Air setting which allows the mic preamp to reproduce the Air effect of the original Focusrite ISA mic preamp. This gives your vocals a brighter, more open sound that really comes across nicely on recordings.

It’s lightweight at 0.4kg, small in size at just over 5 inches long and extremely well built, so you can rest assured it’ll cope with you throwing it in your backpack and travelling with it.

You get a host of free plugins bundled with the unit, as you do with all Focusrite audio interfaces, such as Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite – which are ideal programs to start recording with and industry-standard options in their own right. For home demos and high-quality solo recordings, you won’t find much better at this price point if you want a complete recording kit. If you want high-quality recordings and a mic and headphones set that actually stand up to the rigours of touring and home recording, this is a great choice.

Who’s it for?:

This works best for:

  • Entry-level home studio recording
  • Solo artists
  • Home demos
  • Studio quality single instrument recordings anywhere any time
  • Travelling musicians

 

Best for Songwriters: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

As we continue our Focusrite interface comparison, we have the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface to look at. This is probably the best Focusrite audio interface for singer-songwriters who need to track vocals and acoustic at the same time and yet again offers unbeatable value for money.

So, what’s it got?

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is a two-channel USB 2.0 audio interface – and happens to be from the best-selling USB audio interface family in the world, so you’re in good hands with this one!

This PC and Mac compatible audio interface is loaded with two Air enabled preamplifiers that record at 24bit/192kHz sound quality, which is more than enough for releasing professional-level tracks. This makes it an ideal option for those who need to record a guitar and vocals at the same time, or record two guitars, two mics or two line-level instruments at once in superb quality. The super-low latency (it’s not even noticeable!) allows you to capture recordings at studio quality levels and the class-leading sound quality within the award-winning preamps take your recordings to new levels. This is pro-level quality at budget-friendly prices.

2 x line inputs, 2 x instrument inputs and 2 x Air enabled preamps make this an incredible option for portable studios.

You also get all the software you need to get started such as Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack. You also get a free 3-month subscription to Splice Sounds when you set up a new Splice account!

Who’s it for?

This works best for:

  • Ideal for home studio enthusiasts
  • Professional studio owners wanting to capture ideas anywhere
  • Singer-songwriters
  • Recording 2 instruments in unison
  • Acoustic guitarists and vocalists
  • Piano/keyboard players and vocalists

 

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

If you’re looking to record multiple sources at the same time, specifically guitars and basses where you need plenty of headroom, then the Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is the perfect choice. Inspiration can strike at any time and rather than losing the muse, this allows us to take full advantage of high-quality recording on the move or any suitable environment.

So, what’s it got?

This impressive interface allows you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz and features two balanced instrument inputs and four line inputs. Connectivity isn’t a problem with this interface!

You can record at exceptional quality here as the Air-enabled preamps are the best Focusrite have ever used offering studio quality at all times. Best of all this Air enabled preamp allows you to imbue your vocal and acoustic recordings with a natural brightness and open sound.

You can use the 4i4 with your condenser mics as you have 48v phantom power, it is USB bus-powered and a whole host of recording software is included. This software includes Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack as well as Focusrite Red 2 & Red 3 Plug-In Suite along with the Softube Time & Tone Bundle and your choice of one of four XLN Audio Addictive Keys virtual instruments. It’s a recording studio you can put in your backpack.

Who’s it for?

This works best for:

  • Those with limited space
  • Studio owners
  • Producers
  • Singer-songwriters
  • Synth and keys users
  • Travelling musicians
  • Hotel and home recording

 

Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Next up, we have the solution for the professional studio owner who needs something that they can still move around.

The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface offers exceptional connectivity options and superb sound that producers of all levels will enjoy and appreciate.

So, what’s it got?

The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Generation has two high-headroom instrument inputs that can handle everything from passive to powered pickups on your guitars and basses. It can also handle your condenser mics thanks to 48v phantom power. Both these inputs benefit from the Air enabled preamps that give your vocal and acoustic recordings a brighter more open sound. Simply switch them on to take advantage of this incredible feature.

As for connections, you also have six more balanced Line Inputs and four Balanced Outputs – plenty to work with. This means you can record up to six mono or three stereo line-level sources. The high-performance converters also allow you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz – perfect for audiophiles.

Digital S/PDIF in and out along with MIDI I/O are present and you also have a pair of virtual loopback inputs so you can easily capture a stereo feed – perfect for live streaming or podcasting.

Who’s it for?

This works best for:

  • Studio owners
  • Producers
  • Synth and keys users
  • Travelling musicians
  • Podcast
  • Broadcasting
  • Streaming

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

The Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface is a massive jump in connections and designed for those studio owners who need world-class sound and a variety of inputs they can rely on.

So, what’s it got?

Again, this is perfect for recording engineers and producers who need to record on the fly as this is probably the best Focusrite audio interface for pro-level users who want to record on the fly.

You have four Air enabled preamps built-in which you can take advantage of and really add some air and life to your vocal and acoustic recordings. You also have two high-headroom instrument inputs and eight balanced line inputs. There are four mic/line inputs on the front and four fixed line-inputs on the rear designed for line-level instruments such as keys, drum machines and other line-level sources.

The two high-impedance, high headroom instrument inputs are especially useful for recording bass and guitar directly – they can handle all types of pickups!

Focusrite has also included four monitor outputs with Anti-Thump Technology and Speaker Switching – perfect for the studio owners out there.

Who’s it for?

This works best for:

  • Studio owners
  • Producers
  • Synth and keys users
  • Travelling musicians
  • Recording multiple musicians at the same time

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface

The final option in our Focusrite interface comparison is the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface. This is for the consummate professionals out there who need a rack-mountable option and an array of preamps and connections.

So, what’s it got?

This 1U rack-mountable audio interface boasts incredible simultaneous I/O options. You have eight mic preamps, 18 inputs and 20 outputs in total so you’re not going to run out of connections here.

You still have two high headroom instrument inputs for your active pickups, but you actually get eight Air-enabled preamps to sculpt your sound with. These switchable Air preamps gives you the same effect found on the original ISA mic preamps adding a brightness that you’ll really enjoy. This makes it an incredible option for those who like a lively sound in their recordings. You’ll appreciate the pads on each mic preamp if you’re recording live band setups too!

Again, you can record and mix at up to 24-bit/192kHz which is studio quality, and the improved A-D and D-A conversion is noticeable in your recordings.

Finally, the pair of virtual loopback inputs are also present and extremely useful whilst other studio friendly features such as a new built-in talkback microphone, two independent headphone outputs and speaker switching technology makes life a lot easier in the studio.

As with all the Focusrite audio interfaces you get Ableton Live Lite and Pro Tools First Focusrite Creative Pack included. There’s also Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite bundled in along with your choice of one of four XL Audio Addictive Keys instruments.

Who’s it for?

This works best for:

  • Studio owners
  • Producers
  • Recording multiple musicians at the same time

We hope you found our Focusrite Interface comparison useful, but if you want more information on any of these interfaces or on any Focusrite bundle deal, speak to our experts on 0151 448 2089 or call into your local PMT store to speak to our home studio and recording experts.

Updated 2019-09-09

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