Focusrite’s Scarlett audio interface collection is fairly extensive, with models ranging from entry-level devices to premium interfaces for professional studios. However, for quality home recording, the low mid-range Scarlett 2i4 proves one of our favorite sub-$200 audio interfaces on the market in 2018. Worth taking a closer look? We think so!
When it comes to the design of the Scarlett Series, there’s a similar theme running throughout the collection – red! These devices prove very eye-catching and, providing you don’t have an aversion to bright red, you will be pleased to have this sitting on your desk. With a bright red aluminum chassis, a black control panel, and red and green highlights on the controls themselves, it’s a very attractive interface and feels a little different to many of the others.
Standing at 8.27” wide and 5.43” deep, it’s still a portable interface, and comes across as a tough little machine. Nothing you’d be afraid of chucking into a backpack to take on the road. Finally, the I/O options and controls are quite standard in their setup, with inputs on the front and outputs on the back.
With aesthetics covered, let’s move onto what can make or break an audio interface – the features! Firstly, the hardware in the USB-powered Scarlett 2i4 is very solid. The list starts with two award-winning mic preamps, which really impress as they are found in devices across the Scarlett Series – even higher-end models. Then we have the second-generation class-leading A/D converters, capable of reaching 192kHz resolution with no noticeable latency.
One of the Scarlett 2i4’s defining features are its four outputs in the back, which make this device a very versatile interface indeed. You get a quad RCA cluster and a dual balanced 1/4” TRS, as well as MIDI I/O options (and don’t forget the headphone jack).
At the front, you have a similar setup to the lower-priced Scarlett 2i2, with two combined TRS/XLR inputs, each with their own chunky gain controls. However, you also have the addition of attenuation pads on each input channel, a stereo/mono switch, and a source select switch for headphones monitoring. Throw in a good haul of software, including Ableton Live Lite and an extensive library of included plugins and effects, and the Scarlett 2i4 should be a tempting prospect.
It’s not just a pretty face as the performance on offer with the Scarlett 2i4 is consistent and very versatile. The mic preamps deliver a well-balanced sound that is clean and surprisingly transparent, while the instrument lines are just as impressive – plug in a guitar with even the most aggressive pair of active pickups and you’ll still get a pristine result. If you are into recording guitars, this interface is a solid option, with Focusrite having established their authority in this market for a long time.
At the end of the day, Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i4 is another winning addition to the Scarlett family, which brings a tangible upgrade compared to the entry-level 2i2. It’s reliable, consistent and has been proven countless times – for home studios and guitarists in particular, this audio interface is a sensible option.