USB Audio Interfaces

It is no surprise that Focusrite boasts that their 2i2 is ‘The best selling USB monitor interface in the world.’ I could talk for hours about the joys of owning this little red box.

Best Home Studio Audio Interface

Focusrite 2i2 Scarlett

The little red box I’m talking about is, of course, the Focusrite 2i2 Scarlett. I couldn’t find a single bad review about it, and I thought it was worth the price tag just to get the Softube Time and Tone plug-in Bundle and the Focusrite Red Compressors.

Focusrite 2i2 Scarlett

The reality is that the Scarlett 2i2 is a fantastic product. Playback latency is noticeably better than the US-122 and output to my monitors seems improved too - although I do put this down to love for the product, not my hearing or reality!

These Are The Top 2 USB Audio Interfaces For 2019:

  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 – This ships with Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, and the Softtube Time and Tone Software Bundle. The unit has two inputs for recording and two amazing mic preamps.
  • Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 – This also ships with the same bundle described for the 2i2. This unit has two additional outputs and can control Midi.

Why I Picked The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

As you can see, I am smitten with the Focusrite products, the only choice to really think about is the number of input and output channels you need and whether you need to control MIDI.

I went for the 2i2 as I didn’t need MIDI (this time around), and I just needed two outputs for the monitors. As I said above, the inclusion of the Softube Software Bundle is almost worth the full price tag, so this is an undisputable bargain in anyone's books.

Features to Look out for the Home Studio Bundles:

  • The quality and durability of the hardware.
  • The look of the unit – as this will take pride of place in your studio!
  • Consider the ‘freebies’ that come with the hardware unit. What DAW do they offer, are there any bundles included and is there a limited offer after product registration.
  • D/A Converter Quality.
  • XLR Input Availability.
  • Line Level Input Availability.
  • Independent Headphone Connection.
  • XLR Monitor Output.
  • Ease of use. Are the controls all on the front of the unit? How are the ergonomics?

Take a Look at the Focusrite In Action Here:

Not really into massively commercialized YouTube Videos, so check this out. Karun’s vocals and the backing guitar track are perfectly captured on this amazing little box. There’s a bit of blurb about the interface but mostly just beautifully recorded audio.

Focusrite boasts that the Scarlett Product Range has ‘gone platinum’ – and it’s not difficult to see why.

A Need for Something Better – My Adventures With USB Audio Interfaces

My interest in mixing was really sparked after I decided that I wanted a way to record my drums and be able to fix the odd performance glitch with my playing.

I used to be an avid reader of Modern Drummer, and after reading many interviews with drummers, I was hearing about beat-detective in Pro Tools. I was intrigued to find out more and try it out for myself.

Entry Level

The seed was sown, and I soon purchase the M-Audio entry-level version of Pro Tools. It came with a keyboard and a small 2" M-audio USB interface.

I connected it to my HP laptop at the time, and life was good for six months. I soon realized that to connect my DAW to some decent monitors, I’d need something more than a budget level audio interface.

After a little research and deciding I’d also like something to hook up my electronic kit up with midi, I opted for a Tascam US-122 MkII audio midi interface.

I had some faith in the Tascam brand as I own an old 24 track Tascam Neo which is a bit cumbersome but still works well for recording drums - if I keep it a little longer, I’ll be able to call it vintage!

Except for some latency issues, the US-122 worked well. But finally, it was a little bit of a mystery when it came to driver installations on my Mac. Especially as on my PC and laptop, it worked fine!

Rolling Downhill

After the last iOS update on my Mac, the US-122 did an auto driver update, and things went downhill from there - pops and cracks galore. (see my post on troubleshooting cracking noises coming from speakers.)

I tried to roll the driver back and got myself into a bit of a mess. Backtracking, I couldn’t get hold of the old driver version from Tascam Technical Support and, therefore, could not get rid of the crackling noises. The US-122 was quickly becoming my most hated piece of kit!

Thank You Mrs Williams!

As I run my home studio as a hobby, my wife allows me to spend money when I can prove something is broken. I played her the crackling noises and with a grinning face told her, “my audio interface thinks it’s a popcorn machine, I need a new one.”

Popcorn!

With a new audio interface signed off and a budget set below $150, my love for the little red box was born. And I now wish the US-122 had died earlier!


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