Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs. Solo [2023 Compared]

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Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th Gen
  • Price to Performance: 9
  • Input / Output: 9
  • Sound Quality: 9.5
  • Connectivity: 9.5
  • Additional Features: 9
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 4th Gen
  • Price to Performance: 9.5
  • Input / Output: 8
  • Sound Quality: 9
  • Connectivity: 9
  • Additional Features: 8.5

Focusrite Scarlett Solo vs. 2i2 Features

Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Generation

  • 4th
  • 4th

Connection

  • USB-C
  • USB-C

AD/DA

  • 24-bit/192kHz Resolution
  • 24-bit/192kHz Resolution

Dynamic Range

  • 120dB
  • 120dB

Inputs

  • 1x back panel Neutrik® XLR input
  • 2x rear panel Neutrik® XLR connectors
  • 1x front panel ¼” (6.35mm) jack input
  • 2x front panel Neutrik® ¼” (6.35mm) jack sockets

Input Gain

  • +57dB
  • +69dB

Phantom Power

  • Yes
  • Yes

Input Frequency Response

  • 20-20kHz ± 0.06dB
  • 20-20kHz ± 0.06dB

Outputs

  • 2x rear-panel ¼” (6.35mm) TRS jack sockets
  • 2x rear-panel Neutrik® ¼” (6.35mm) TRS jack sockets
  • 1x front panel stereo ¼” (6.35mm) TRS jack socket
  • 1x front panel stereo ¼” (6.35mm) TRS jack socket

Output Frequency Response

  • 20-20kHz ± 0.02dB
  • 20-20kHz ± 0.02dB

THD + N (AD/DA)

  • -110dB/-115dB
  • -110dB/-115dB

External Power

  • No
  • Yes

Dimensions

  • 1.83” x 5.63” x 3.78” (46.5mm x 143mm x 96mm)
  • 1.87” x 7.09” x 4.60” (47.5mm x 180mm x 117mm)

Weight

  • 0.84lbs (382g)
  • 1.31lbs (595g)

Box Contents

  • Scarlett Solo Interface
  • USB-C to USB-A Cable
  • Scarlett 2i2 Interface
  • USB-C to USB-A Cable

Features

  • Air Mode
  • Inst Toggle
  • Loopback
  • Direct Monitoring
  • Software (Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Hitmaker Expansion Bundle)
  • Focusrite Control App
  • Air Mode
  • Inst Toggle
  • Auto Gain
  • Clip Safe
  • Loopback
  • Direct Monitoring (Stereo & Mono)
  • Software (Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Hitmaker Expansion Bundle)
  • Focusrite Control App

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs. Solo Scoring Model

focusrite scarlett 2i2 vs solo, quantitative analysis scoring model

Price to Performance

The Scarlett Solo offers tremendous value for its low price. While the interface has half the inputs as the 2i2 and can only be powered by the bus, it also costs a fraction of the price. It also has the same number of outputs, as well as a comparable set of features barring Clip Safe and Auto Gain. In addition, there isn’t a huge bump in sound quality between the two either. With all that considered, we rate the Solo a solid 9.5 out of 10.

While the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 does cost more, it also offers more flexible routing with extra inputs. Additionally, the ease-of-use from the Clip Safe and Auto Gain functions make the interface more useful for both beginners and professionals. The interface also has slightly better preamps, and can be plugged into the wall as well. However, it’s not the most you can get for your dollar since the Solo offers almost the same features, which is why we rate the Scarlett 2i2 a respectable 9.

Input / Output

The Scarlett Solo has a single Neutrik XLR port at the back, and a 1/4″ input on the front. As for outputs, it hosts two balanced TRS outputs on the rear, and a 1/4″ TRS jack for headphone output. While the outputs are the same as the 2i2, you get half the inputs, which is perfect for a small recording setup with an instrument, microphone, and studio speakers, but still somewhat restrictive. If it had just a bit more, we’d rate it higher than 8.

With the Scarlett 2i2, you get a bit more headroom for dropping vocal tracks with twice the microphone and somewhat better Neutrik® instrument inputs. This makes the interface more flexible for studio recordings than the Solo, earning it a score of 9.

Sound Quality

The 4th Generation Scarlett Solo is a definite upgrade from its predecessor. We paired the interface with our studio monitors as well, and we were surprised at how clean, defined, and powerful our audio sounded. Similarly, we were able to record some phenomenal sounds using our Rode Podmic and a pair of studio headphones. What’s more is that the upgraded outputs were able to drive our 80 Ohm headphones with zero background noise. From those results, we rate the Scarlett Solo a solid 9.

The Scarlett 2i2 is a slight step up from the Scarlett Solo. Since it has 12 additional decibels of gain, using our Shure SM7B was a breeze. The preamps sound really nice, especially with AIR more active. Plus, we didn’t get any noise on the AD/DA conversion either. Based on its performance, the 2i2 earns a score of 9.5, just above the Scarlett Solo.

Connectivity

The 4th Gen Focusrite Scarlett Solo comes with a modern USB-C connection, which, unlike the older formats, is reversible and more future-proof. The interface is completely bus powered as well. Since it’s a lot better than TRRS, USB-A, and mini-DIN ports, we rate the Solo a solid 9 in the category.

Like the Scarlett Solo, the 4th Gen Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 has a USB-C connection, however, it also has support for both 5V DC power from the wall, as well as bus-powered operation. For that, we give the 2i2 a slight edge with a score of 9.5.

Additional Features

The portable Scarlett Solo has a built-in Air mode, an Inst toggle, Loopback channels, and the option of Direct Monitoring. It also comes with add-ons such Ableton Live Lite, Pro Tools, Focusrite Control, as well as the Hitmaker Expansion Bundle as a cherry on top. We’d rate the interface higher than 8.5, but we had to dock some points for the missing power button, as well as its always-on LEDs, which can be a bit annoying in the dark.

The Scarlett 2i2 has all the same features as the smaller Solo, but goes a step further, offering both Clip Safe and Auto Gain for easier recording, as well as the option of monitoring in Stereo and Mono. The Air mode is one of our favorite features after Clip Safe, and adds an interesting color to our preamp sounds. If we could only switch it off without unplugging, we’d rate it higher than 9.

Verdict

Factoring in our scoring model, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is the undisputed winner with a total average score of 9.2. The biggest factor working against the Scarlett Solo is its fewer inputs, although the headphone out is a close second since it struggles with stereo imaging with high-impedance headphones. The 2i2 in comparison is remarkably clean with zero noise, has solid AD/DA conversion, and gives an air of quality to any recording.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Focusrite has done a great job on the impeccable hardware, fitting in a modern USB-C port as well. However, the Solo does miss the mark when it comes to its always-on LEDs, which is not ideal when working in the dark. Additionally, it would be nice to have a power button on the more expensive 2i2, though it’s by no means a deal-breaker.

Like the Scarlett Solo, you get an Inst Toggle, Loopback, and a bunch of bundled software, but the Scarlett 2i2 has just a few more practical features such as Clip Safe, Auto gain, and Mono/Stereo Direct Monitoring. You also get a bit more headroom with higher gain for gain-hungry condenser microphones as well.

While not as big a bang for your buck as the Scarlett Solo, the 4th Gen 2i2 is still remarkably cheap for its I/O and extra features, punching far above its weight. With its quality workmanship and fantastic visual feedback, it would be tough not to recommend the new Focusrite Scarlett 2i2!