Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4: What will work for you best?
The main difference between Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is that the 2i2 is a junior version of 2i4. 2i2 is catered towards beginners while the 2i4 offers more options.
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.
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Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs 2i4 comparison table
|Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First||Check Current Price|
|Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First||Check Current Price|
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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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.
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.
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:
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!
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