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Focusrite Scarlett VS Clarett: Best Audio Interface For You

Focusrite Scarlett vs Clarett

A quality audio interface is crucial for any recording artist or anyone involved in sound production.

Although a piece of equipment is only as good as its user, I’ll also say, it doesn’t hurt to have stellar equipment.

If you’ve been having difficulty with your recent audio recordings, maybe you’ve hit a block and need an upgrade in your audio interface.

Allow me to show you the two best audio interfaces on the market by taking Focusrite Clarett vs. Scarlett head to head!

Table of Contents

Focusrite Audio Interfaces: Which Has the Better Overall Interface?

Focusrite Audio Interfaces

If you’ve dabbled in audio engineering, chances are you’ve heard of Focusrite.

The company is well known for having a variety of audio interfaces, each at a reasonable price point.

Not only that, but the fact they offer USB interfaces that work just as well as professional studio equipment has helped the company earn its popularity.

They sell individual pieces and tone bundle packages for those looking for an interesting deal.

Focusrite will likely have just the thing for you, whether you’re a beginner or and old hand at audio production.

The company’s two BIGGEST stars are the Focusrite Scarlett and the Focusrite Clarett, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

But if you’re wondering which audio interface will work for you, let’s get into a breakdown of the interfaces and see who comes out on top!

Focusrite Scarlett Interface

Focusrite Scarlett Interface

I’ll start off with the Focusrite Scarlett audio interface.

Scarlett interfaces are some of the most popular audio interfaces on the planet – for good reason!

The Focusrite Scarlett range has pretty much everything a studio engineer could ever want, all at an affordable price.

If you’re looking for an easy plug-and-play solo microphone input, I say, pick up the Scarlett Solo.

Still, if you need a professional studio-grade interface with its own midi input-output channels, you could try the Scarlett 18i20.

Meet the Scarlett Suite

Alright, given that we know the Scarlett suite comes with a wide range of products, where do I start?

The main differences among the Scarlett audio interfaces are the number of input and output channels you’re getting.

  • Basically, if all you need is one or two mic and instrument recording inputs, you’ll want the Scarlett 2i2 or the Scarlett 4i4. These have more channels than the Scarlett Solo, but fewer than the Scarlett 18i20, the most studio professional interface of the Scarlett range.
  • If you want professional studio sound without too many channels, then try out the Scarlett 18i8.

Here’s a full list of the Scarlett range interfaces to give you a clear view of the audio and input channels per product.

Scarlett Solo

Scarlett Solo
InputsOutputs
1x XLR input
1x ¼” line input
2x 1/4″ line outputs
1x stereo headphone output

Scarlett 2i2

Scarlett 2i2
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR inputs2x 1/4″ line outputs
1x stereo headphone output

Scarlett 4i4

Scarlett 4i4
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR inputs
2x ¼” line ins
1x 5-pin MIDI input
4x 1/4″ line outputs
1x stereo headphone output
1x 5-pin MIDI output

Scarlett 8i6

Scarlett 8i6
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR inputs
4x ¼” line inputs
1x 5-pin MIDI input
1x S/PDIF digital input
4x 1/4″ line outputs
2x stereo headphone outputs
1x 5-pin MIDI output
1x S/PDIF digital output

Scarlett 18i8

Scarlett 18i8
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR inputs
2x combi mic/line XLR inputs
4x ¼” line ins
1x 5-pin MIDI input
1x optical ADAT input
1x S/PDIF digital input
4x 1/4″ line outputs
2x stereo headphone outputs
1x 5-pin MIDI output
1x S/PDIF digital output

Scarlett 18i20

Scarlett 18i20
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR inputs
6 x combi mic/line XLR ins
1x 5-pin MIDI input
1x optical ADAT input
1x S/PDIF digital input
10x 1/4″ line outputs
2x stereo headphone outputs
1x 5-pin MIDI output
1x optical ADAT output
1x S/PDIF digital output
1x Word Clock Out

Why Is It a Big Deal?

After seeing all the Scarlett models, you might be wondering,

Okay, well, what’s all the hype about anyway? It’s all just a lot of different inputs and outputs, isn’t it?

Allow me to explain why Scarlett interfaces have been an absolute mainstay and are still a classic in the world of music producers:

Reason #1:

For starters, Scarlett offers insanely affordable units. I’m talking about STUDIO-LEVEL AUDIO QUALITY here, and you’re getting it at home for under $150!

Yes, the Scarlett Solo is just under that price point, with the most expensive from the range coming in at under $550!

Reason #2:

Second, remember that I’m talking about a USB interface.

Not to say that USB interfaces are bad, but I hope you can imagine the simplicity this offers you.

There’s no need for you to buy any other adaptors or extensions for the interfaces. All you need is your computer, and you’ll be set up and good to go!

Reason #3:

Third, Scarlett, well, Focusrite, for that matter, has amazing sound quality.

You can expect clean preamps with incredibly low noise levels while still getting great dynamic range!

Also, you don’t have to worry about delays in recording because the system’s low-latency AD conversion is extremely well done.

Reason #4:

Finally, if you haven’t had enough reasons to consider picking up a Scarlett interface, it also comes with a lot of added virtual bonuses like:

  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Avid ProTools | First
  • Three months of access to Splice Sounds
  • One free XLN Audio Addictive Keys software instrument
  • Focusrite’s Red 2 & 3 plugin suite
  • Softube’s Time & Tone plugin bundle
  • Focusrite Control (software interface for recording and monitoring)

So, when you get a Scarlett interface, you’re also getting two DAW options, high-class samples, and a bunch of other plug-ins that you can experiment with!

But before you run out and grab your new Scarlett interface, I think it’s time to introduce another contender!

Focusrite Clarett Interface

Focusrite Clarett Interface

Now, I’ll move on to the next challenger – the Focusrite Clarett interface!

The Focusrite Clarett range is essentially the newly updated version of the Scarlett range.

Think of it as a refresh of the original line, where Focusrite worked on the weaknesses of Scarlett and created a whole new audio interface.

So, what’s the main difference?

Focusrite Clarett does not only use a USB connection. It features a Thunderbolt-only connection, called the Clarett 2Pre.

Although, I think Focusrite noticed how limiting this can be for some users and started converting the Clarett line into a USB-friendly interface.

So, if you come across an older Focusrite Clarett model, don’t be surprised if you find a Thunderbolt plug.

Older models are still being sold alongside newer ones.

Before I get into it, I want to note that Clarett interfaces are typically more expensive than the Scarlett models because of the upgrades.

Meet the Clarett Suite

Essentially, since this line is the younger sister of the Scarlett range, you can expect them to offer similar units and their own tone bundle.

The differences per unit come in the input/output as well as the sound quality and latency levels.

So, it’s as easy as figuring out how many channels you need, then considering whether or not you’ll shell out some more money for a little better quality!

Now, I’ll give you a full list of the Focusrite Clarett range products to make it easier to see what you’re getting.

Clarett 2 Pre USB

Clarett 2Pre
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR input
1x optical ADAT input
1x Stereo Loopback input
1x 5-pin MIDI input
4x 1/4″ line outputs
1x stereo headphone output
1x 5-pin MIDI output

The closest comparison to this model is the Scarlett 8i6

Clarett 4 Pre USB

Clarett 4Pre
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR input
2x combi mic/line XLR input
4x ¼” line ins
1x optical ADAT input
1x Stereo Loopback input
1x 5-pin MIDI input
1x S/PDIF digital input
4x 1/4″ line outputs
2x stereo headphone outputs
1x 5-pin MIDI output
1x S/PDIF digital output

The closest comparable unit is the Scarlet 18i8

Clarett 8 Pre USB

Clarett 8Pre
InputsOutputs
2x combi mic/instrument/line XLR input
6x combi mic/line XLR input
1x optical ADAT input
1x Stereo Loopback input
1x 5-pin MIDI input
1x S/PDIF digital input
10x 1/4″ line outputs
2x stereo headphone outputs
1x optical ADAT output
1x 5-pin MIDI output
1x S/PDIF digital output
1x Word Clock Out

The closest comparable model is the Scarlett 18i20

What Makes It Great?

Like the Scarlett range, Clarett packs SERIOUS SOUND QUALITY into a small and affordable package.

If you’ve already used the Scarlett but are thinking of ways to upgrade your recordings, then consider the Focusrite Clarett suite.

You’re essentially getting all that the Scarlett already has to offer BUT with newer and clearer improvements.

Clarett vs Scarlett: A Full Feature Comparison

Clarett vs Scarlett- A Full Feature Comparison

Since you’re aware of the basic differences between the Focusrite Clarett vs Scarlett suites, let’s dig in a little deeper.

I could harp on about how these suites are similar, and how the Focusrite Clarett interfaces are just upgraded versions of Scarlett.

But I’m sure you want to know which specific features and categories were upgraded and how that affects the interface’s overall performance!

Keep reading to find out!

Expandability

Both ranges have options for expandability.

You can buy in-house with Focusrite’s Octopre expansions or any other expansions with S/PDIF or optical connections.

If you’re worried about your interface choice being too limited, I can put your worries to rest.

his feature allows for more freedom in the future to add more inputs if and when you need them.

The difference, however, is that all Focusrite Clarett interfaces have this expandability option, while only the Scarlett 18i8 and 18i20 models have this feature.

The Clarett 2Pre and 4Pre are essentially the same, only differing in the number of channels. It’s with the Clarett 8 Pre that you’ll start seeing a bigger difference.

You get 10 line outputs and 8 extra channels of ADAT output with the Clarett Octopre or any other device with an optical connector, giving way for expansion to a total of 16 Clarett preamps!

Dynamic Range

One of the best things about Focusrite interfaces is their dynamic range.

Scarlett preamps have a dynamic range of up to 111db A-weighted, while Clarett preamps have up to 119db A-weighted.

The higher dynamic range on Clarett interfaces allows you to get a CLEAN RECORDING even if you’re smashing out your drums or screaming out mega loud vocals.

The extra headroom means less clipping in your recording, making it sound as TRUE TO LIFE as possible without the need for additional pro tools.

Preamps

The Clarett offers some seriously high performing mic preamps.

Focusrite made sure that the Clarett interfaces give intense clarity and warmth to the recording, giving you a lot of leeway to play with your sound.

Now I say this, but Scarletts preamps reach a slightly lower dynamic range, so they’re still strong contenders.

Given the price point, you get an incredibly low noise floor without having to deal with any fussy extra pro tools.

My verdict?

  • If you’re doing at-home recording, then a simple mic preamp like the one you get from Scarlett 2i2 will work just fine.
  • Clarett interfaces may offer a higher dynamic range for preamps, but that’s not necessarily the best thing unless you need professional studio equipment.

Air Function

Focusrite’s “air feature” is available on BOTH Scarlett and Clarett interfaces which is great news for musicians who want to keep their sound as real as possible.

Air mode adds an analog effect to the preamp, letting way more detail and subtle nuances come through in the recording.

Where usually midi sounds and other technical recordings may be cold and harsh, the air feature makes the recording sound warm and alive in your ears.

The idea behind air mode is based on the Focusrite “ISA” preamp, which was one of their very first and best preamps.

Conversion

Focusrite has some of the best low latency frequency response interfaces on the market.

You’ll find impressive feedback and zero delay in your recordings thanks to these USB interfaces.

Portability

The Focusrite Scarlett and Clarett range are both equally portable and durable.

They’re lightweight, easy to carry, and will fit well in most studio setups.

Final Verdict: Who Wins?

Final Verdict

The Scarlett vs Clarett battle was close but I declare the Clarett audio interface as the winner!

The difference in sound quality simply can’t be beaten, and even though it’s more expensive, the tradeoff is well worth it.

Although remember if you’re doing more home studio sessions, the Scarlett is just as good!

I hope this article’s helped you make a better-informed decision about which is best for you!

If you still can’t quite decide yet, check out my comparison guides on Focusrite vs Presonus and Focusrite 2i2 vs 2i4.


Changelog:

December 12, 2022 – minor formatting edits

April 04, 2022 – updated links, minor content edits

About the author

cd38730de4e65cc7ce515086e48ba144

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.