I’ll review the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which is the first interface that I ever purchased for Logic Pro X (the 2nd Generation that is.) The new 3rd Generation is now out with USB C support and the “Air” setting, but you can also get a deal on the 2nd Generation if you want to save a few bucks, or need the older USB interface. Focusrite has a reputation for making professional and semi-pro gear. This unit is nothing if not durable. It feels like it’s made well with no cheap parts.
The unit has 2 inputs, making it useful for singer/songwriters that sing and play guitar at the same time. (Or if you want to jam with a friend.) It can take an XLR or 1/4 input. If you are using a condenser mic, it has 48v phantom power, but if all you have is a stage mic that will work too. You can select the Instrument input to plug a guitar in directly. The large knob controls your monitors, but if you don’t have monitors yet, you can still use headphones.
Each input has independent gain knobs, which are lit up with a cool looking green light. When the inputs start to clip, the knob light turns red, which makes it really useful when setting the gain level. The new 3rd generation introduces the “Air” button, which adds and EQ to the upper end. (Note Maag has the more famous “Air” moniker on their EQ 4. It’s the same idea, but obviously not the same thing for the price.)
Connection is pretty easy. There’s one USB connector. It doesn’t get any easier than that! There’s also quarter inch connectors for external studio monitors.
The latency is relatively low as well at 2.74ms, although you’ll probably want to set your DAW to low latency mode when recording. I did sometimes find the latency frustrating when recording vocals, but I still had latency issues even after upgrading to a Thunderbolt Apollo, so you’re probably better of sticking with the Focusrite for the money. Just set the DAW to low latency mode.
If you are interested in purchasing the Scarlett, consider using this link as we’ll get a few bucks to keep the site going. It’s the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio 3rd Generation Recording Bundle which includes a mic and headphones, which is a great deal if you are just starting out. It also comes with some really awesome plugins.
One of the nice pluses is that it comes with the Focusrite Red series of plugins. Bought separately, they would cost more than the 2i2 hardware! If you aren’t familiar with the RED line, they are professional studio grade rack units. The RED 3 is a VCA compressor and the RED 2 is an EQ unit. The plugins emulate these two classic units, and are a great addition to your plugin toolbox. (VCA compressors are what’s typically found in professional consoles, and used on the mix bus and in mastering.)
I really like the visuals of these two plugins. The red brushed metal and glass look more realistic than most plugins that I’ve seen. (I know what you’re going to say, it’s all about how it sounds, but isn’t it also about ease of use and how it makes you feel using it?)
If you are just starting out and strapped for cash, Logic Fiends recommends looking at the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Generation Audio Interface.
If all you’ve used is a graphic EQ (like Logic’s Channel EQ) then this will give you some experience with a parametric EQ. Instead of infinite frequency settings, there are pre-chosen ones and a few less bands. This can actually be quite useful as fewer choices makes for faster mixing. (Anybody that’s been in the situation of constantly second guessing if they should cut at 2.1kHz or 2.4kHz or 2.7kHz will know what I’m talking about.)
It also comes with Abelton Lite Live (this is a great way to play with Abelton on the cheap.) It also includes three plugins that I really like and actually bought separately. XNL’s Addictive Keys is a nice piano plugin that loads super fast in Logic Pro X. Also, Softube’s TSAR-1R reverb plugin is easy to use and flexible (and made our list of best reverb plugins), as well as Softube’s S73 Drawmer emulation, which is a great mastering plugin, and really useful on the mix bus.
It also includes Softube’s free Saturation Knob. But you can download that for free without actually buying anything.