We looked at the bulk of the new Scarlett range of interfaces last issue in MusicTech. This is the third generation of those best-selling interfaces and is Focusrite’s relatively low-cost entry point to pro audio. The range costs from around £99 to £449, pretty much depending on the number of inputs and outputs you require, but there are also a couple of bundle options available, one of which we have on test here.
With the Scarlett Solo Studio bundle, you get the Solo interface, a microphone and a set of headphones, all for just under £200 – great value on the face of it. Solo is the entry-level Scarlett interface, ideal for mobile musicians as it’s almost pocket-sized, buss-powered and a nice, solid unit. You get a high-impedance instrument or line input, a mic input and a couple of outs for monitors. There’s a Direct Monitor option on the front panel for less latency when recording and playing back, although latency figures for the new Scarletts have been improved.
The interface is incredibly quiet and delivers great results for both recording and playback. The microphone is a condenser with a good response across the range with crisp and deep results, and feels reassuringly solid.
The biggest surprise is provided by the headphones, offering a very decent sound quality only slightly coloured at the low end, but sounding great for monitoring and playback. These might have been the weak link, but not so.
As if having all of the hardware is not enough, you also get a great software bundle: Avid’s Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite, XLN Audio’s Addictive Keys keyboard instrument, Softube’s Time And Tone bundle (with three kinds of effects and mastering plug-ins) plus two sets of Focusrite plug-ins.
That’s a lot of hardware and software for a pretty minimal outlay. There’s also a 2i2 Studio bundle available that replaces the Solo with the two-in two-out Scarlett. Either represents great value and both are superb options if you’re starting out or want to get back into making music. You simply get everything you need, with fabulous recording and playback options for not very much cash. Could you ask for more? We doubt it.
- USB audio interface, condenser mic and closed-back headphone bundle
- Interface comes with quality preamp, ‘super stable’ low latency drivers, 111dB dynamic range
- Software includes Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite 10, Softube, XLN Audio and Focusrite plug-ins
- Air feature for a brighter, more open sound
- 3-metre cable