Compared to some of the models in Focusrite’s Clarett Series, the Scarlett Series is known for its more affordable models aimed at home users. Yet the Scarlett 18i8 is among one of the most versatile audio interfaces you can get under $500, making it an interesting prospect. Let’s take a closer look!
You know what you are going to get when it comes to the design of a Scarlett unit – red, red and red! Focusrite don’t do anything differently with the Scarlett 18i8, which is fine by us – you will find a simple but stylish aluminum chassis painted with a vibrant scarlet red, along with an all-black control panel.
Focusrite also make use of red and green for the rings around the control knobs, which act as peak indicators – a nice addition. Ultimately, it’s a simple design, but one that works very effectively. As for the build quality, if you have any experience with a Scarlett Series unit, you’ll know it is made to last.
So, it may share some looks with its lower-priced Scarlett brothers, but what about the features? To start, the Scarlett 18i8 offers a huge 18 inputs and eight outputs, which is a lot of flexibility when you have a more advanced studio setup. These comprise eight analog inputs in the form of four combined XLR/TRS ports (all on the front) and four line-level inputs around the back, as well as a further 10 digital inputs, accessible through the use of ADAT expansion. Each of the front inputs has its own control cluster, including a gain knob.
The outputs include two 1/4” TRS ports for monitors, two headphone outs and the USB connection, while round back you will also find a pair of SPDIF and MIDI ports too. Overall, very flexible in its I/O configuration and very practical for a growing home studio.
Under the hood, Focusrite deliver four of their second-gen preamps and electronics. You’re looking at a max depth of 24-bit and a max sampling rate of 192kHz. The package is made even more complete with a great selection of included software. Focusrite ships these babies with a copy of Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite and more.
If there’s one thing the Scarlett Series is known for, it is great performance. Of course, the Scarlett 18i8 is no different, with a solid studio-grade performance and ultra-low latency for monitoring. However, all of the extra connectivity options make a big difference and make this unit very flexible indeed.
With two monitor outputs and two headphone outputs, you can be incredibly precise during your recording sessions. Aside from the core performance, the overall ease of use is probably the best attribute that is shared across the entire series.
At the end of the day, even at around $500, Focusrite’s Scarlett 18i8 comes across as a well-priced solution for home studio engineers who need more versatility. Focusrite has taken a proven concept and expanded it to fit new requirements. That trademark performance and ruggedness is still there, only in a more flexible platform.