From the portability to sound quality, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying an audio interface.
But most importantly, it’s what you NEED for a professional-sounding audio recording studio.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4. These two interfaces are almost identical, but differ in a few major ways.
These small details might make all the difference to your production needs, so let’s get right to it.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4: Face-to-Face Comparison
The Scarlett 2i2 and 2i4 are manufactured by Focusrite, an English company specializing in producing audio recording equipment.
Focusrite got its start in the 1980’s building consoles for recording studios. Since then, they expanded in the music industry, producing audio interfaces for music producers and recording artists.
The Scarlett 2i2 is the junior version of the 2i4. They are the same interface in looks and functionality, BUT — the latter has more features that can offer engineers more possibilities while recording.
The Scarlett 2i2 and 2i4 are the same in a lot of ways. They both offer the same audio recording quality, microphone support, and usability. But, there are several differences between the two products.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and 2i4 are the same in terms of their technical aspects. They’re both a USB audio interface, so they’re portable and powered via a laptop using a USB cable.
Just make sure to plug your laptop into an external power source while using these audio interfaces. Due to the phantom powering, these Scarlett audio interfaces running on a laptop battery alone might not be enough to power them up.
Buying either Focusrite Scarlett models also give you access to the same bundle of plug-ins and software. Below is a list of specs that both of these products share:
- A/D resolution – 24 bit/192 kHz
- Mic preamps – 2
- Analog inputs – 2 x XLR 1/4”
- Digital outputs – USB
- Power supply – USB
- Phantom power – Yes
- PC support – Yes
- Mac support – Yes
- Warranty – 2 years
The Scarlet 2i2 and 2i4 come with an anodized aluminum outer case. This material is both lightweight and strong.
The controls and knobs on the front are also of high quality, made of both aluminum and durable plastic.
For the price, the materials used in the 2nd and 3rd generation Scarlett are quite good.
Both versions of the Scarlett are identical in designs. They feature a red case with black front and rear panels and silver highlights.
A unique design feature for the Scarlett is the input meters for the two instruments. This integrated input design for the gain controls allows the circular lights that wrap around each gain knob.
Looking only at the cost itself, the 2i2 is a decent amount of money LESS than the 2i4. If the price point is the only factor that concerns you, then you might as well get the 2i2.
But this decision does not take into account the extra features you get with the 2i4. You get a MIDI in/out, the pad button, and a 4-channel output, none of which the 2i2 has.
If these things matter to you, then the 2i4 is the one to get despite the price increase. If not, then the 2i2 is the way to go.
READ MORE: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: Complete Review
Size and Weight
Both versions of the Scarlet are pretty close in size. But the 2i4 is a bit bigger and heavier because it comes with more hardware inside.
The dimensions for each interface are as follows:
- Height – 1.89”
- Width – 6.89”
- Depth – 4.52”
- Weight – 1.32 lbs
- Height – 1.85”
- Width 8.27”
- Depth – 5.43”
- Weight – 1.92 lbs
The differences are not huge between these two products. The 2i4 weighs a little over half a pound more and is bulkier. This is the trade-off that comes with having more features.
The 2i2 is lighter and more portable, but not enough to make a huge difference.
The main difference between the two audio interfaces is the number of audio inputs/outputs (I/O). Both come standard with two XLR inputs and a 1/4” headphone output. Both the 2i2 and the 2i4 also have two mono channel outputs.
The 2i4 goes beyond, though, and adds 4-channel stereo output and MIDI in/out. The 4-channel output is useful because it allows you to listen via headphones. This feature gives you the ability to monitor different audio that is coming out of the speakers.
The MIDI in/out makes the audio interface compatible with old keyboards and synthesizers. This feature is necessary for some recording artists and producers.
The larger number and greater variety of inputs/outputs the 2i4 has makes it the better choice of the two.
While these two interfaces have very comparable features. The 2i4 has a couple that the 2i2 completely LACKS.
These are listed below:
- Extra outputs – The 4-channel output gives you much more control when recording audio. The MIDI in/out enables you to connect devices that use MIDI to your audio interface. This will allow you to use a greater range of instruments and produce a wider variety of songs.
- Pad button – The pad button is a feature unique to the 2i4. Using the pad button allows the audio interface to reduce the gain of very loud sounds. This feature helps prevent audio clipping.
To summarize this battle between the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4, both versions of the Scarlett are great for their recording quality and workflow.
Yet, you can do MORE with the Scarlett 2i4. That’s not to say that you should rule out the 2i2; it depends on what you need from an interface.
Buy the 2i2 if:
- You’re looking for a budget audio interface
- You don’t need complex recording equipment
- You don’t need MIDI in/out
Buy the 2i4 if:
- You want more control when playing back audio recordings
- You need MIDI in/out
- You want the option to record in stereo or mono
- You want extra protection against audio clipping