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Focusrite Solo vs 2i2 | Ultimate Buyers Guide

focusrite solo vs 2i2

Focusrite has been the brains behind world-class audio interfaces since the 1980s. If you’re in the market for one of its products, this Focusrite Solo vs Scarlett 2i2 ultimate buyers guide should be useful. My choice in this segment is the Focusrite 2i2 because of the number of options it offers.

However, the Focusrite Solo works well if you’re an artist/composer rather than a producer. Here’s a brief look at the Focusrite solo vs 2i2 and a breakdown of some of their key features.

Table of Contents

Focusrite Solo Vs Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2.jpeg

Pros

  • Includes two of Focusrite’s best mic preamps. 
  • Offers switchable air mode.
  • Record and mix at up to 192KHz/24-bit.
  • Includes Pro tools.

Cons

  • Outputs only contain ¼-inch jacks.
  • Software installation is a lengthy process.

Description

The Scarlette 2i2 3rd gen has two of Focusrite’s best-performing mic preamps. You can also use the switchable air mode to give your recordings a brighter sound. This is a truly high-performance converter device that allows you to mix and record at a range up to 192KHz, making it ideal for most home studios and professional setups.

Your editing will be a lot easier thanks to a wide range of pro tools software:

  • Ableton Live Lite.
  • Tone Bundle.
  • A three-month Splice subscription.
  • Softube Time.
  • First Focusrite creative pack.
  • Access to one virtual instrument at XLN Addictive Keys.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 | Complete Review

Focusrite Solo

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Pros

  • Two hum-free balanced output channels.
  • High-performance converter.
  • Record and mix up to 192KHz/24-bit.
  • Includes quick-start tools.
  • Includes one of Focusrite’s best-performing mic preamps.

Cons

  • Can only record using one input at a time.
  • Inputs aren’t universal as you have to use dedicated channels for XLR and ¼-inch ports.

Description

This is the solo version of the 2i2 Focusrite Scarlett, which means that you can only use one input in this device while recording.  Besides this one minor change, this model also gives you access to a high-performance converter that works at 192KHz and 24-bit. Note that you have access to two hum-free balanced outputs that can give you a crystal clear audio playback. This model also comes with a hefty set of free software to help with editing:

  • Ableton Live Lite.
  • Softube Time and Tone bundle.
  • Red Plug-in Suite by Focusrite.
  • Three-month splice subscription.
  • Access to one free XLN addictive keys virtual instrument

Feature Face-Off: Focusrite Solo vs Scarlett 2i2

Now it’s time to conduct a direct Focusrite Solo vs. 2i2 to understand which of these products has the edge.

Tech Specs

In/Out

This is where the differences between these two products really stand out. The Solo comes with two input channels—an XLR input and a ¼ inch jack port. The XLR takes in most of the mics you’ll use. On the other hand, the jack port is mainly for instruments and is recognizable thanks to the appropriate use of a guitar sign on top of the port. This model also has two ¼-inch outputs to let you play your work back.

In comparison, the 2i2 has two input channels as well, except these are dynamic input channels that work with both XLR and ¼-inch cables. This allows you to use either port for your instruments or your mics, offering greater flexibility in your recording process. 

Additionally, the Solo doesn’t allow you to simultaneously utilize both channels for recording, but you can do this with the 2i2. This is the biggest difference between these two products, in my opinion, and it’s a make-or-break for many users.

Winner: 2i2

Sample Rate

Both models’ sampling rate of both models is 192kHz at 24-bit. The frequency range of both is 20Hz and 20kHz.

Winner: Draw

Latency

Both devices have extremely low latency, as they’re top-of-the-line third-generation products. Their monitoring abilities are also excellent and offer zero-latency while using headphones.

Winner: Draw

PreAmps

The Solo comes with only one preamp, while the 2i2 offers access to two preamp ports

Winner: 2i2

Power/Phantom Power

Both run using USB ports, which is one of the stand-out features of Focusrite audio interfaces in general. Thus, you won’t have to worry about finding a plug point, and you can simply attach the devices to your laptop or computer.

Both can also supply up to 48V of phantom power.

Winner: Draw

Display

Both share pretty much the same switch and control alignment patterns. You’ll find three lights at the front, with the green light indicating which USB connections are in use. You’ll also find a set of lights placed around the gain knobs in each of the channels. There’s a connection between the red light and the second channel, and the green light and the first channel. These indicate when the gain levels are about to max out.

Thus, if you had to use this metric to make a choice, there wouldn’t be much difference.

Winner: Draw

focusrite solo vs 2i2 comparison review

Connection Type

The second-generation models of both these products utilize USB 3.0, but they both made the jump to Type-C cables in the 3rd generation.

Winner: Draw

Durability

When you’re picking between the Focusrite Solo vs. 2i2, you’d certainly want the hardware to be well-built and able to last the long run. Fortunately, both these models are extremely tough and rugged, as they’re made of the same composite material in the front and rear ends. This includes a machined aluminum material covering to give the desired stability.

In this regard, it’s safe to say that neither will give you any trouble with their quality casing.

Winner: Draw

Size

The Solo’s dimensions are 5.65 x 3.77 x 1.71 inches, while the 2i2 measures 7.68 x 2.09 x 1.32 inches. This makes the Solo much bigger. Additionally, while the Solo weighs 1.1 pounds, the 2i2 weighs 1.43 pounds in comparison, making it slightly bulkier as well. However, this makes sense as the 2i2 is also packed with more features.

Winner: 2i2

Cables

You’ll need to purchase the required additional cables separately for both.

Winner: Draw

Software Included

In terms of software availability, there’s very little to pick between the products. Both include various important software, such as Ableton Live Lite and Focusrite Creative Packs. This includes a host of plugins and tools for your editing.

Winner: Draw

DAW Integration

Both are compatible with all major DAW’s found in the market.

Winner: Draw

MC/Windows Compatibility

Both models work well with Windows and macOS.

Winner: Draw

Stand Out Features

By this point, there’s very little separating the Focusrite Solo vs. 2i2 argument. They’re third-generation products that have been subtly upgraded from their second-generation counterparts. This includes the addition of air mode for both products, bringing in some brightness and crispness to your recordings’ overall quality.

midi keyboard ultimate buyers guide

However, the Focusrite 2i2 stands out in these areas:

  • Dynamic Input Channels: While both models have two input channels, only the Focusrite 2i2 allows you to use both channels at the same time for your recording. Additionally, you can use both channels interchangeably, as either is compatible with instruments or mics.
  • Preamp Ports: Because of the above-mentioned feature, it makes sense then that the Focusrite 2i2 comes with two preamp ports, against the one available in the Solo.

Interface-Off

The Scarlett range has impressive audio interfaces, and both the Focusrite Solo and the Focusrite 2i2 will make any budding musician giggle with excitement.

Out of the Focusrite Solo vs. 2i2 face-off, we’d pick the Focusrite 2i2.

However, both products have their place…

Use the Focusrite 2i2 if you:

  • Are a sound engineer or music producer.
  • Have a home studio or small professional studio setup.
  • Are invested in recording and editing more than working with instruments.

Use the Focusrite Solo if you:

  • Are flying solo—artist or singer/songwriter.
  • Want to focus on recording your instrumental work or vocals.
  • Leave the editing and mixing to others.

About the author

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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.