Focusrite vs Presonus | Ultimate Comparison Guide

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When producing music in your home studio it’s important to find a quality audio interface. Getting the best out of your sounds when recording instruments and vocals is crucial.

To help in your search for finding the audio interface that’s right for you.  We are going to compare the Focusrite vs Presonus interfaces. Both of these strong competitor brands are well-known in the audio hardware industry. They both create a range of intermediate and high-quality sound recording interfaces.

In this article, I’ll be comparing the Presonus AudioBox and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. And which one of these two is better for your music production studio.

PreSonus AudioBox

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres

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PreSonus is a well-known brand used by many artists in their recording studios. The AudioBox is a great interface if you’re looking for reliable, quality performance.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Independent level control for stereo headphones
  • USB Bus Powered
  • Compatible with almost all recording software for Windows and Mac

Cons

  • Windows users have to install a driver from the PreSonus website
  • Not as modern design

Design

The Presonus interface is a little dated in its appearance. But its specs and capabilities are up to date and modern. It has two input combo jacks in the front where you connect your instruments and microphones, whether they are TRS or XLRs.

It comes with two knobs and gives each channel a gain of up to 50dB. These knobs and all the buttons on the interface are rigidly attached and well-made. One such button is for the phantom power function.

Additionally, it comes with an LED display that monitors signal strength and USB connectivity. The back of the interface has the USB port for connecting to the PC. Including a pair of ¼” Main Out, a set of MIDI In/Out, and a phone port for headphones.

The box is compact and won’t take up a lot of space, no matter where you place it. Made of metal to ensure its durability, but it’s also light enough to carry around when you’re on the go.

Sound Quality

The Presonus interface records 24 bits at 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz sampling rates. Making it great for recording vocals, electronic, and acoustic music. It gives you a lower signal to noise ratio because it comes with quality microphone preamps.

What makes the AudioBox stand out is that it comes with the Studio One Artist DAW. Studio One is one of the best software out there for the product. But, if you would rather use a different DAW such as Logic Pro, it’s compatible with others.

Features

  • 2 combo mic/instrument Ins and includes Class A mic preamps
  • 1×1 MIDI In/Out
  • 2 gain knobs of up to 50dB
  • Sample rate of 24 bits at 44.1 to 96 kHz
  • LED display for signal and connectivity strength
  • Studio One Artists
  • +48V Phantom Power

Reviews

People love the PreSonus Audiobox for the number of functions you can get out of it despite its small size. The low latency options allow smooth use compared to similar audio interfaces.

Another function that hooks people into this particular model is how it comes with MIDI I/O functionality. You can hook up your favorite synths to record your beats. The best part is, this interface won’t even be in the way with its compact size.

The biggest feature that people rave about in their reviews is Studio One Artist DAW. Studio One is one of the more popular DAW on the market, and it’s with good reason. This DAW provides everything you might need when it comes to creating your own beats.

My favorite feature is how it’s a single window, drag and drop workflow, making it easier to use than others.

The PreSonus is made of metal, making it strong and more durable than its competitors. It’ll last longer, and in the event of an accidental fall, it’s much less likely to take damage and break.

This makes it ideal for those looking for an interface that could last them for years.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

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Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 | Complete Review

Focusrite also makes audio interfaces that are popular and loved by music producers. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen isn’t any different. The 2i2 nd gen offers great features and high-quality sound for a more affordable price.

Pros

  • Incredible sound quality
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Scarlett family options
  • Affordable

Cons

  • No MIDI Input or outputs
  • Not good for multiple vocals/instruments at the same time

Design

A huge part of the appeal of the Scarlett 2i2 is the immediate way it catches your eye. Like the PreSonus, it’s made out of metal but still lightweight if you need to go anywhere. It’s sleek curves and color make it very eye-catching.

Not only that, but the LED lights around the knobs that not only help you see them but brighten up the box.

This interface is perfect for beginners. This interface is straightforward and isn’t jam-packed with features and buttons. It comes with 2 XLR and TRS combo jacks on the front, and each side has a gain knob that goes up to 46dB.

It also has a phantom power knob, direct monitor switch, line/instrument switch, main output knob, volume knob, and a headphone port. It also has green or red LED lights that let you know if you are good or clipping as you record.

Sound Quality

Along with an attractive design, the Scarlett 2i2 is great for capturing high frequencies. What makes it stand out are the two high-quality preamps for live recording. It has a sample rate of 24 bit at up to 192 kHz. This is perfect for high frequencies produced by acoustic instruments.

The Focusrite comes with great value recording studio essential Pro Tools. This is also compatible with most popular DAW such as Logic and even Studio One.

Features

  • 2 combo jacks for XLR/TSR
  • 2 Focusrite preamps
  • 2 gain knobs of up to 46dB
  • Sample rate of 24 bits up to 192 kHz
  • LED display for clipping
  • 48V Phantom Power
  • Pro Tools bundle:
  • First Focusrite Creative Pack
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Softube’s Time and Tone Bundle
  • Focusrite Red Plug-In Suite
  • 2GB Loopmasters samples

Reviews

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 brings in a lot of good reviews for a multitude of reasons. One thing people talk the most about are the preamps and high-frequency sound capabilities. The high frequency added on with Focusrite amps creates clear, high-quality sound.

It’s perfect for anyone recording acoustic instruments. It’s also great for electric guitars and analog equipment. No matter what instrument you are recording, the sound comes through sounding great on the Scarlett 2i2.

You get more value for the money you spend with the bundle that comes with loads of free software. This is a great interface especially if you’re beginning, and you’re not quite sure where to start.

People tend to like the Focusrite is the small pads underneath it, helping it to stick to any surface. The addition of these little pads actually helps with its durability.

PreSonus Audiobox vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Features Face to Face

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
$99.95
$153.99
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PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
$99.95
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
$153.99
-

As you can see, when reviewing Focusrite vs Presonus both of these audio interfaces are decent products. But it can still be hard to choose which is right for your studio setup. I’m going to take this time to compare the products head-to-head to see what the differences are.

Hardware

When comparing the Focusrite vs PreSonus are both durable as they are both made of metal. They will last longer than alternatives made out of plastic. The strong build will keep the components inside of them safe and sound.

Not only are they both well-made, but both products are small and compact. They’re not in the way no matter where you put them, and they’re light. If you need to take them somewhere else for recording purposes, you won’t be struggling to carry them.

And again, when we compare the hardware, we run into more similarities when it comes to the cables. Both interfaces have 2 combo jacks, and where the USB plugs into it. All in all, when it comes to the basic hardware, the two are very much alike.

I would choose the Focusrite due to its attractive design and easy interface. The PreSonus isn’t as straightforward in the end.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

Software Included

The PreSonus comes included with the Studio One Artist DAW. This is a very high-end product that many produce use as their go to DAW.

The Focusrite comes with a bundle pack that includes the lite version of Ableton Live. This will allow you to start making beats out of the box.

Now when it comes to VST, the PreSonus is lacking. Once again, the Focusrite bundle comes into play and has some VST included within it.

Even if the Focusrite only has a lite version of a DAW program available, it still wins the software battle. This is because they have included a massive bundle of vsts and samples to you for such a low price.

Best Audio Interface For Abelton

mixer vs audio interface cartoon letters

DAW Integration

Both the PreSonus AudioBox and the Focusrite Scarlett have compatibility with most DAW’s. This means a no clear winner can  and both of these interfaces win when it comes to DAW integration.

Mac/Windows Compatibility

Windows and Mac are both used by music producers.  Thus, it is important to find out if the audio interface you are looking to buy is compatible with your PC or laptop.

PreSonus is compatible with macOS 10.11 or higher, and Windows 7, 8, or 10.  Focusrite is compatible with macOS 10.10 or higher and Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. Because Focusrite supports one earlier version of Mac, it takes the win for Mac compatibility.

Imac and mac mouse on a desk

Tech Specs

The real battle between the two audio interfaces come down to the differences in their tech specs. So, I’m going to go a little more in-depth about their specs to help find the winner out of the two.

Ins/Outs

Both products are similar when it comes to the ins and outs, but there is one difference. The PreSonus has 2 combo input jacks for your mic and instruments. 1 output jack for your headphones, and an in/out for MIDI. Now, the Focusrite also has 2 combo input jacks but also has 2 balanced output jacks for ¼-inch connectors.

Due to the fact that PreSonus has MIDI compatibility and Focusrite does not, this is an area where PreSonus pulls through for a win.

The Presonus is a system that is better for recording many types of instruments and synths. The Focusrite is more straightforward with acoustic and electric instruments.

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres

Sample Rate

The sample rate is where we see a huge difference and changes the game between the two by a good bit. Where the PreSonus has a decent sample rate of 24-bit at up to 96 kHz.

The Focusrite takes the cake with a sample rate of 24-bit all the way up to 192 kHz. This increased sample rate also adds on to the preamps to create a new level of high-frequency. This feature is perfect for  instrument setting.

When it comes to which interface has the better sample rate, there’s no question. The Focusrite wins by a long shot.

Latency

Latency is something all music producers have to deal with but getting it low is important all the same. PreSonus has an option to diminish latency. They blend the playback stream coming from your computer with the interface’s input signal.

Focusrite has low latency and can operate at even lower when tweaked.

When it comes to latency, there is no clear winner as both have low latency.

Preamps

Both of these interfaces have high-quality preamps, so which has the better set? Even though the PreSonus has a pretty fantastic pair of preamps. Focusrite reviews bolster about the preamps and how they are one of its best features.

Focusrite pushes through another win when it comes to preamps. This is due to their high-quality and the aid they receive with the sample rates. Don’t let this discourage you from the PreSonus, though. The PreSonus preamps are Class A and produce high-quality sound. These are still high quality even if they aren’t as high frequency as its competitor.

focusrite vs presonus

Phantom Power

Phantom power is an important feature when running external equipment such as mics. Both audio interfaces come with 48V phantom power switches that turn it on and off.

Another draw as both PreSonus and Focusrite match with their phantom power feature. A lot of systems these days come with this feature because it’s necessary for all the mics out there that need it. It’s rarer to not find one that has it than one that does not, especially with name brands.

Display

So, what about the display and the look of the equipment? The PreSonus has a more dated look to it and comes with more switches and knobs then what you’ll find on the Focusrite. The Focusrite is straightforward.

Focusrite pulls through yet again, with the appearance of the interface. Not only does the Focusrite look more appealing, but it’s a go-to for beginners with its transparency.

laptop with daw music software

USB Type

And finally, what level of USB do they use to connect? The PreSonus uses USB Bus-powered, and the Focusrite is also USB Bus-powered. It doesn’t help to narrow down the decision, but it’s good news. Both of these interfaces work out pretty well when plugged into the PC. When it comes to the USB type, we find ourselves with another draw.

So, who wins the battle of the tech specs? It’s a close fight as both have a lot of the same specs. But the Focusrite does have a better set of specs and shines through the comparison battle.

Stand Out Features

  • Focusrite comes with an amazing free software bundle.
  • Focusrite has a better value for the money.
  • The high-frequency recording capabilities in Focusrite are outstanding in comparison to PreSonus.
  • PreSonus comes with MIDI capability, whereas Focusrite does not.

Conclusion

The final countdown of the Focusrite vs PreSonus audio interface battle. The PreSonus AudioBox and Focusrite are both good audio interfaces. They both deserve the large amounts of praise that they get from their reviewers. But, it comes down to what your needs are, and which is better for them.

Use PreSonus AudioBox If…

  • You need a MIDI in/out
  • You want a free copy of Studio One Artist
  • You need optimal gain up to +50 dB
Sale
PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2x2 USB Audio Interface, Blue, PC/Mac - 2 Mic Pres
  • Bus-powered USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface
  • Compatible with almost all recording software for Mac and Windows
  • 24-bit resolution; 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz sampling rates
  • 2 combo mic/instrument inputs with high-performance, low-noise, high-headroom mic preamplifiers
  • Includes Studio One Artist DAW software and 6+ GB of third-party resources
  • Includes the Studio Magic Plug-In Suite
  • Frequency Response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • PreSonus (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Use Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 If…

  • You are new to home music production
  • You need high-frequency recording, such as by using acoustic instruments
  • You don’t need a lot of inputs
  • You want the free bundle of software
  • You want more out of your value
Sale
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
  • Two of the best performing mic preamps the Scarlett range has ever seen, now with switchable air Mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound. Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass. Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources.
  • High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
  • Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 3-month Splice subscription, and your choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, all available via download upon purchase and registration
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: FREE D16 Devastator 2 upon registration and download.

Because I  prefer the Focusrite doesn’t mean that it’s the better of the two products. Both are useful in their own way, and it comes down to what you are trying to use them for.