When producing music in your home studio, finding a high-quality audio interface is important.
Getting the best out of your sounds when recording instruments and vocals is crucial.
To help in your search for the USB audio interface that’s right for you, allow me 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.
By the end of this article, it’ll be clearer which one is better for your music production studio.
Let’s get started.
PreSonus is a well-known brand used by many artists in their recording studios.
The AudioBox is a great audio interface if you’re looking for reliable, quality performance.
- Compact and lightweight
- Independent level control for stereo headphones
- USB Bus Powered
- Compatible with almost all recording software for Windows and Mac
- Windows users have to install a driver from the PreSonus website
- Design isn’t as modern
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 audio interface has a 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. It’s made of metal to ensure its durability, but it’s also light enough to carry around when you’re on the go.
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 mic 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 this type of product.
But, if you would rather use a different DAW such as Logic Pro, it’s also compatible with others.
- 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
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 audio 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, for good reason. This DAW provides everything you might need to create your own beats.
My favorite feature is how it’s a single window, drag-and-drop workflow, making it easier to use than other interfaces.
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 far less likely to take damage and break.
This makes it ideal for those looking for an audio interface that will last for YEARS.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
READ MORE: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 | Complete Review
Focusrite also makes audio interfaces that are popular and loved by music producers, from the Focusrite Solo to the Clarett.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen isn’t any different. The 2i2 2nd gen offers great features and high-quality sound for a more affordable price.
- Incredible sound quality
- Lightweight and portable
- Scarlett family options
- No MIDI Input or outputs
- Not good for multiple vocals/instruments at the same time
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.
Its sleek curves and color make it very eye-catching!
Not only that, but the LED lights around the knobs brighten up the box and make it easier for you to see them.
This audio interface is perfect for beginners.
It 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.
Along with an attractive design, the Scarlett 2i2 is great for capturing high frequencies. What makes it stand out are the two high-quality mic 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 a great value recording studio essential Pro Tools. This is also compatible with more popular DAW such as Logic and even Studio One.
- 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
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 brings in a lot of good reviews for a multitude of reasons.
One thing people talk the most about is the mic 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. I’ve found it works great with keyboards and even a Launchpad.
No matter what instrument you are recording, the audio 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 audio interface especially if you a beginner, and you’re not quite sure where to start.
People tend to like the small pads that the Focusrite has underneath it, helping it stick to any surface. The addition of these little pads actually helps with its durability too.
PreSonus Audiobox vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
As you can see, when reviewing Focusrite vs Presonus, both of these audio interfaces are great products.
But it can still be hard to choose which is right for your studio setup. Let me take this time to compare the products head-to-head to see what the differences are.
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 lightweight and won’t get in the way wherever you put them.
If you need to take them somewhere else for recording purposes, you won’t be struggling to carry them.
When we compare the hardware, we run into more similarities when it comes to the cables. Both audio interfaces have 2 combo jacks and have the same area where you plug in the USB.
All in all, when it comes to the basic hardware, the two are very much alike.
We would personally choose the Focusrite due to its attractive design and easy interface. The PreSonus isn’t as straightforward in the end.
Recording Software Included
The PreSonus comes included with the Studio One Artist DAW. Many producers use this very high-end product 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.
Both the PreSonus AudioBox and the Focusrite Scarlett have compatibility with most DAW’s, from Garageband to Ableton.
This means there’s no clear winner in this regard. Both of these interfaces win when it comes to DAW integration.
Windows and Mac are both used by music producers. Thus, it is important to determine if the audio interface you want 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.
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 of the two.
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 headphone output jack, 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.
The sample rate is where we see a huge difference, and it changes the game between the two by a good margin.
The PreSonus has a decent sample rate of 24-bit at up to 96 kHz, while 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 to the preamps to create a new level of high frequency. This feature is perfect for any instrument setting.
When it comes to which USB audio interface has the better sample rate, there’s no question. The Focusrite wins by a long shot.
Latency is something all music producers have to deal with, but getting it low is important all the same. PreSonus has the 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.
Both of these audio 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 the preamps and how they are one of its best features.
Focusrite pushes through another win when it comes to preamps 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.
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 this 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.
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 compared to the Focusrite. The Focusrite is more straightforward.
Focusrite pulls through yet again, with the appearance of the USB audio interface. Not only does the Focusrite look more appealing, but it’s a go-to for beginners with its transparency.
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 in this comparison battle, if I do say so myself
Check out this guide to know which is the best audio interface for Thunderbolt.
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.
The final countdown in this 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 high-quality headphone output
- You want a free copy of Studio One Artist
- You need optimal gain up to +50 dB
Use Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 If…
- You are new to home music production
- You need high-frequency recording, such as when 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
Just because I prefer the Focusrite doesn’t mean that it’s the better USB audio interface for you.
Both are useful in their own way, and it comes down to what you are trying to use them for.
If you want to keep looking for best audio interface alternatives, check out my comparison guide on Focusrite Clarett vs. Scarlett.
December 12, 2022 – minor formatting edits
May 25, 2022 – updated internal links
March 30, 2022 – updated links, updated images, minor content edits