From portability to sound quality, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying an audio interface.
That said, it’s vital to get the right audio interface for a professional-sounding audio recording studio.
In this article, I’ll be focusing on 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 both manufactured by Focusrite, an English company that specialize in producing top-quality audio recording equipment.
Focusrite got its start in the 1980’s building consoles for recording studios. Since then, they’ve expanded in the music industry, producing audio interfaces for music producers.
The Scarlett 2i2 is the junior version of the 2i4.
They are the same interface in terms of looks and functionality, BUT — the latter has more features that offer sound engineers more possibilities when 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 that may justify your investment.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and 2i4 are the same in terms of their technical aspects.
They’re both USB audio interfaces, so they’re portable and powered via a laptop using a USB cable.
But be warned of phantom power. Just make sure to plug your laptop into an external power source while using these audio interfaces.
You may find them sucking up your laptop battery power without you noticing.
Due to this phantom powering, these Scarlett audio interfaces will need more than a laptop battery to power them up and keep them running throughout your recording session.
Buying either of these 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 both come with an anodized aluminum outer case.
This material is both lightweight and strong, allowing them to survive transport and intense studio sessions.
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 these 2nd and 3rd generation Scarlett are quite excellent!
Both versions of the Scarlett are identical in terms of outer designs
They both feature a red case with black front and rear panels, as well as silver highlights and knobs.
A unique design feature of the Scarletts is the input meters for the two instruments.
This integrated input design for the gain controls is visualized by 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 are available on the 2i2
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 more affordable 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.
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 slightly bulkier. This is the major trade-off that comes with having more features.
The 2i2 is lighter and more portable, but compared to the 2i4, it may 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 with two standard XLR inputs and a 1/4” headphones 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 allowed me to monitor the different audio coming out of the speakers.
The MIDI in/out makes the audio interface compatible with old keyboards and synthesizers. I’d say this feature is necessary for some recording artists and producers.
The larger number and greater variety of balanced line inputs/outputs the 2i4 has makes it the better choice between the two.
While these two interfaces have very comparable features. The 2i4 has a couple that the 2i2 completely LACKS.
I’ve listed them 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 with 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.
Both can connect professional studio monitors to your main workspace.
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.
Check out my other comparison guides to widen your options:
- Focusrite Clarett vs Scarlett
- Focusrite vs Presonus
- Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
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