You can’t write a review of a 3rd gen Scarlett series interface without mentioning “Air” mode, and that’s for good reason. In the past, Focusrite has reserved “Air” for their higher-end line of audio interfaces, the Clarett series. Now 3rd generation Scarlett units are coming with this much-desired feature.
But what does “Air” do? Back in the day, Focusrite used to manufacture transformer-based ISA preamplifiers. “Air” mode allows the user to flip a switch and immediately emulate those old preamps. A wonderful warm vintage tone awaits anyone who uses it.
Connectivity is great for a mid-level 2-channel interface like this. You get two combo balanced XLR/ 6/3mm jack line inputs with optional +48v phantom power, two balanced 6.3mm line outputs, and a single 6.3mm headphone jack. The whole thing connects up to your Mac or PC using an integrated USB Type-C port on the rear.
One minor complaint is that Focusrite have only included a USB Type-C to Type-A cable, leaving those with Type-C based setups to purchase an additional cable themselves. This seems silly when they’re touting it as a Type-C interface.
This isn’t an interface for people that like a million knobs and buttons, Focusrite is all about practicality and simplicity with their control layout.
Each XLR/line input has it’s own dedicated gain knob, with inst and Air buttons below it. There’s a large master volume knob that feels great and tactile in use. The headphone jack has a smaller volume knob located directly next to the master volume control.
Finally, there’s a switch on the front to enable the +48v phantom power and a direct monitoring switch.
Recording quality isn’t an issue with the 2i2 3rd generation. You’ll get 24-bit/192 kHz recording quality out of the box. The newly upgraded preamps are a big improvement on the (already very good) previous model. Overall we’re very impressed with the sound quality you can get out of this unit.