Overall

The much loved Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has hit its 3rd incarnation. Popular with home recording enthusiasts and professionals around the world, Focusrite is a brand name that most are familiar with. The 3rd generation introduces upgraded preamps, USB Type-C connectivity, and the introduction of their proprietary “Air” mode. This interface packs a lot of punch for the money.

Pros

  • “Air” mode gives you the warm vintage tones of transformer-based ISA preamps
  • Very clean preamps provide excellent recording quality

Cons

  • No Type-C to Type-C cable included only comes with a Type-C to Type-A cable

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.

Controls

Focusrite Scarlett...

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.

Sound quality

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.

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