In this Focusrite Scarlett Solo review, I'll show you Scarlett's smallest offering; a compact, affordable, USB audio interface and pre-amp, built for solo recording.
The Scarlett Solo takes inputs from one XLR cable and one 6.3mm jack, and feeds them into your computer via a USB cable. It’s an interesting piece of kit that straddles the markets for portable and starter audio interfaces.
What is a Pre-amp for?
A pre-amp is a vital piece of kit that takes audio inputs at a higher quality than you would normally expect from your PC’s onboard soundcard.
In this case, the pre-amp also comes with gain and monitoring controls. This lets you fine-tune your levels as you record. If you’re looking to start using an XLR condenser microphone, then you need a pre-amp to send power to it.
Who’s it for?
The Scarlett Solo is aimed at those on a budget or on the move. At £94 (or less if you shop around and catch a deal) it’s a really competitively priced piece of hardware. If you need an extra mic input, then you’ll have to shell out around £40 more for the Solo’s bigger brother, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (reviewed here).
How Does the Scarlett Solo Sound?
It sounds far better than my work laptop’s bog-standard onboard sound card. The clarity, depth, and accuracy of the sound is immediately noticeable. Grab yourself some good headphones and a nice mic, and you’ll be impressed with the leap in fidelity you’ve just made.
The climb to audio ‘perfection’ is expensive and incremental. But, you can make a solid step up with the introduction of a good interface like the Scarlett Solo.
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Day to Day Use
As a podcast editor and voice-over artist, I use the interface to both listen to and record audio. On a personal and totally subjective note, I'd have gladly paid the price for the Scarlett Solo just to have access to a nice volume knob. The tactile and premium feel is one of the nice features on this interface. It gives you more control and connection to your audio.
The Scarlett Solo works simply and easily enough to let you ‘set and forget’ when you’re recording. An LED ring around the gain control lets you know if you are peaking (red), about to (orange), or lower (green).
Monitoring the inputs through headphones is easy. Just flip the switch to ‘monitor’ and manage the playback volume with the volume control knob. There is no perceptible lag between your inputs and the feedback on headphones.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Review Summary
This is not an interface for setting up multiple microphones and outputs. Where it excels, is in being small, simple, and unobtrusive.
There's one cable in, one cable out, and a few controls to manage in between.
If you want an interface to take out and about with you, or to complete your solo recording setup, then the Scarlett Solo is a safe bet that balances cost, construction, and convenience.
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