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The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Pack contents
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Pack contents IBTimes / Jeff Li

Who is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Pack for?

  • For content makers who needs two inputs concurrently, and needs connectivity through XLR and 1/4" jacks, the Scarlett 2i2 interfaces the audio inputs to any computer via an USB connection
  • For musicians who pursue a more musical sound quality, the Scarlett interface preamp produces a more natural sound than leading USB microphones
  • For content makers who needs a portable set up, the Focusrite Scarlett interface runs on USB power, and can be used with a battery powered laptop, making it a great device for recording on the go
  • People who are just starting to create contents and just want to get all the gear needed to begin, but also wants the flexibility to upgrade to a more professional set up in the future, the Focusrite Scarlett is an interface

While the recent pandemic induced lockdown has presented many with a crisis of being kept from their workplace, for some it has turned out to be an opportunity to explore another career option through content creation from home. The online economy is now more relevant than ever and the ripple COVID-19 is expected to last well into the future.

With my recent experience and review of the Blue Yeti-X microphone, I saw how high quality sound can be recorded from a simple single USB microphone setup. But what if I want to go to the next level, beyond a single condenser microphone? What came to mind was the Focusrite Scarlett.

Having had extensive experience with the Focusrite Scarlett Solos previously in a broadcasting set up, these are my go-to devices as an interface to do some recording on the laptop or home computer. Getting hands on with the third generation Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 studio, I had the opportunity to check out the latest model Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.


The sound recording studio in a box

The Scarlett 2i2 Studio pack contains everything that you need to set up for pro-level sound recording from home. It contains the Scarlett 2i2 interface, a condenser microphone including the adapter to attach to a microphone stand, monitoring headphone as well as the cables needed.

This means from picking up the sound, to receiving the analogue signal to converting it to a clean digital signal that can be inputted to the computer via USB, to even monitoring the recording - you have everything that you need to make a start immediately. This especially makes the 2i2 studio pack suitable for those who are just starting to create contents, but see a potential to add instruments or upgrade to better pro-level microphones to their set up in the future.


Scarlett 2i2 upgraded

Starting with looking at the Scarlett 2i2 interface, it's quite an upgrade from the Scarlett Solo that I was used to. Starting from the USB output which used to be the USB-B port - which I never had a problem with - going to the updated USB-C port, which simply makes the cable easier to source in 2020 - if you ever lose or damage the included cable that is.


The footprint of the Scarlett 2i2 is actually not much bigger than a flagship smartphone, and its height is roughly half the width of a smartphone. This size makes the module fit nicely on a desk, under the monitor, or across the top of an ATX tower desktop.


The Scarlett 2i2 is encased in a red metal case, with black mirror finished front and back panel. The build and aesthetics is both professional and stylish, the quality can be felt from all the ports and knobs.

To me the Scarlett is a great investment, because it has all the quality and flexibility that a content maker would need far down their creative career, but is not over complicated to be intimidating to the beginner.

All the features that make the Scarlett great have stayed the same, for example the weighted gains knobs that allow for accurate and smooth adjustments, the 48V phantom power that drives condenser microphones and the peak signal indicator LED (Coined 'Gain Halos' by Focusrite) around the input knobs that shows green, orange and red depending on the input signal level. It's worth nothing that this is also all done without the need of any external power source, as the Scarlett is powered by the USB-C port it connects to the computer - it's a dream set up for people running around with their laptop to record interviews or music.


Focusrite did not stand still however, as they upgraded their software game. Instead of the plug-and-play that I was used to, there is now a Focusrite software that can be used to control the 'Gain Halo' colors, Sample Rate, and even the input mode for both ports, including Line/Instrument input, or Air input mode - designed for optimal microphone inputs.


Microphone and Headphone

The condenser microphone that comes with the 2i2 studio pack is a cardioid microphone (picks up sound mainly from the front), and being a condenser microphone, it is powered by the 48V phantom power, and has a nice dynamic sound. The microphone is designed to be attached to microphone stands via a swivelling bracket that is also included.


I actually compared this microphone set up with many other USB microphones that I have on hand, because I was genuinely curious about the advantage of the elaborate set up of the Scarlett system as opposed to USB microphones that only need one USB cable. The result was surprisingly noticeable. With the included condenser microphone, the vocal sound coming from the Scarlett system sounds more musical and has a natural timbre to it that the accuracy and precise sound of the USB microphones lacked. So for people who take that natural tonal quality of their audio recording seriously, this setup will truly give you that extra nuance in your content.


The headphone that came with the kit (HP60 MKIII) has an obvious nod to the classic Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones from a design standpoint. The construction is solid, and gets all the basics right: metal adjustable headband, comfortable earcups, closed-back that minimizes sound leakage during recording, and a single sided, generous length of 1/8" jacked cable (With an screw-in 1/4" adapter). Fun fact: Scarlett made the cable on the headphone the exact same length as the XLR microphone cable - 3 meters, which is a minute detail, but I'm sure musicians will know and appreciate the importance of small details like this.

Final Remarks

For those who are starting out, but are serious about the musical tonality of their audio recordings or can see themselves upgrading their microphone set up in the near future, I would recommend the Scarlett 2i2 over a simple USB microphone. The studio pack saves beginners the potentially intimidating selection process of the standard gears by providing a simple but well-built set of microphone and headphone. The duo-input means you're even able to get two people conversation in an interview situation or capture two instruments at once in music recording. The Scarlett 2i2 is an USB interface that you can start with, that can stay with you till the end.

David is a tech enthusiast/writer who is often on the move, but since the lock-down is on a mission to explore gadgets to improve his 'home work'. This is a contribution to an ongoing IBTimes review series on gadgets for Home Productivity.