Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4: What will work for you best?

These days, many people are starting to explore making music at home. It could be due to the advancement of technology, the coming down of professional equipment prices, or the fact that lots of us are stuck at home now. Whichever reason it is, a high quality audio interface is often required, and in this post, we are going to take a closer look at the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4.

They are both made by the Focusrite, a company based in England that specializes in making audio interfaces and accompanying software. They also have a group of sister companies that serves the audio market, but in their own different ways.

Both models have enjoyed relatively good success since their launch years back and through their new iterations, and till this day, they remain popular for their target group of audience.

Let’s examine how different they are and determine which will suit you better depending on your needs.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4 comparison table

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | FirstFocusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
  • Two of the best performing mic preamps the Scarlett range has ever seen, now with switchable air Mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound. Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass. Two balanced line inputs, suitable for connecting line-level sources.
  • High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
  • Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 3-month Splice subscription, and your choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, all available via download upon purchase and registration
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: One year of completely FREE distribution of your next single with TuneCore!
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Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | FirstFocusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
  • Two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of even gain; two instrument inputs. Two 1/4-inch balanced jack outputs to connect professional studio monitors; one headphones output with gain control; MIDI I/O
  • Class-leading conversion and sample rates up to 192kHz / 24 bit; super-low roundtrip latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP
  • LIMITED TIME OFFER: FREE Venomode DeeQ, Maximal 2, and Pivot, plug-ins upon registration and download.
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 2GB of Loopmasters samples, Choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, all available via download upon purchase and registration
  • Compatible with Windows 7 and higher, and Mac OS X 10.10 and higher. Frequency response – 20 Hz – 20 kHz ± 0.1dB. Supported Sample Rates: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz. Focusrite now offers a 3-Year Warranty on this and all other Focusrite products.
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Overview

Focusrite is an English company that started out in the 1980s, and they started off by building consoles for recording studios. As time went on, they ventured into producing audio interfaces that both music producers and recording artists can use.

When it comes to the two devices we are discussing today, they are similar in terms of looks and functionality, both sporting a red anodized aluminium casing.

The 2i2 can be said to be the junior version of the 2i4, and in fact, the 2i4 is now no longer in production. It is unlikely that you can find a new model these days, so your options are really limited to used sets only.

I first heard about them when I picked up the guitar, and later on a friend asked me to join him in producing our own music for a small event he organized. It was really a great experience and opened my eyes to the high quality devices made by Focusrite.

More about 2i2

PROS

  • Very low latency
  • Value for money
  • High quality sound
  • Direct monitor ability
  • Solid build, sturdy, and ergonomically designed
  • Dials are made with good amount of tension, feels very high quality
  • Includes phantom power for condenser mics
  • LED display allows you to tell if signal is peaking or not

CONS

  • No Phono out, no MIDI in
  • Does not have analogue inputs in the back
  • XLR cable that is included is not the best quality

More about 2i4

PROS

  • Very clean 24 bit audio in and out
  • Easy plug and play setup
  • Preamps have a neutral tone
  • Software compatibility is great
  • Solid construction, similar to 2i2
  • Very low latency
  • Able to record multiple instruments at one time
  • Cue mic feature
  • Direct monitor feature

CONS

  • Might encounter some driver problems
  • No longer in production

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4: Similarities

In this section, we look at a few factors where these 2 models are similar. But please be aware that these 2 models are actually made to serve different types of users, so you shouldn’t base your buying decision just on this article. It is more important to be sure about your needs and how each one can fulfil them.

Technical features

Both of them are USD audio interfaces. You can plug them into a laptop (be sure to have an external power when using laptop due to phantom powering) or desktop and get power this way.

When you purchase either of these models, you get access to the same plugins and software. Here are the common items they both share:

  • A/D resolution – 24 bit/192 kHz
  • Mic preamps – 2
  • Analog inputs – 2 x XLR 1/4”
  • Digital outputs – USB
  • Power supply – USB
  • Phantom power – Yes
  • PC support – Yes
  • Mac support – Yes

Design and build quality

Both the models are small form factors which makes them easy to bring around from studio to home or vice versa. 

I personally love the red metal casing that makes it look very slick and enhances the entire appearance of your studio. They do not weigh a ton but enough to feel solid and expensive (though they are not). 

They both also feature an input meter, where you can monitor gains simply by looking at the lights around the knobs. 

recording guitar in a studio with focusrite audio interfaces

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4: Differences

In this section, let’s look at how these 2 audio interfaces differ. Knowing them will enable you to make an informed decision on which will suit your needs better.

Inputs/Outputs (I/O)

This the key difference between the 2 audio interfaces. 

Both models have 2 XLR inputs, and 1/4″ headphone output. They also come with 2 mono channel outputs.

For the 2i4, it comes with a 4 channel stereo output and MIDI in/out. This is really useful as it allows you to listen via headphones. You also gain the ability to monitor different audio that is coming out of the speakers.

With a MIDI input/output, you are able to make use of older keyboards and synthesizers. 

You can use this with a wider range of instruments and produce a wider range of songs too, particularly useful if you are a more advanced producer. 

With the 2i4, you also have a pad button that allows the device to prevent high end cutoff and reduce gain of very loud sounds

Direct monitoring with option to blend

2i4 also has this feature where you can listen to the input without or close to zero latency. It is useful when you want to record yourself and do not wish to be bothered by latency.

Note about the Scarlett 2i4

The Scarlett 2i4 was one of the products in the 1st and 2nd generation of Scarlett audio interfaces. They have since moved into the 3rd Gen series of Scarletts where the 4i4 essentially replaced the 2i4 within the product stack.

The 2nd generation of Scarlett devices are not in production anymore, but you can still find one in specialty stores or on Amazon.

If you are interested in the latest model of the 4i4, check it out here:

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First

Two of the best performing mic preamps the Scarlett range has ever seen, now with switchable Air mode to give your vocal recordings a brighter and more open sound.

Two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass.

Two balanced line inputs for connecting synthesizers, drum machines and other line-level sources.

Four balanced outputs for clean monitoring and sending audio out to effects pedals

High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.

Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.

Includes Pro Tools

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In Conclusion: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4

Depending on your needs, both the 2i2 and 2i4 performs incredibly well and is the weapon of choice of lots of producers and musicians around the world. 

They are highly regarded and will serve most purposes. The key thing is to consider what your needs are and choose the one that suits you best as they have quite a number of overlapping features.

Also, you need to consider if you are willing to purchase a second hand unit for the 2i4 or invest in the newer generation which is the Scarlett 4i4.

Here is my recommendation. 

Buy the 2i2 if you:

  • are a beginner musician/producer
  • don’t need MIDI input/output
  • don’t want anything complex
  • have a lower budget

Buy the 2i4 if you:

  • want to have more control over the controls and options
  • need compatibility with older devices
  • want more protection against audio clipping

Buy the 4i4 if you:

  • have similar requirements to the 2i4
  • have an eye on future growth of your skills
  • prefer a brand new machine

Hope this article helps you out in choosing the right compact audio interface. Enjoy the journey!

audio interfaces Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4 pinterest