Audio Interface Tips

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Setup Guide for Flawless Audio Quality

Getting your hands on your first audio interface can be intimidating. But it is actually a very easy process, and the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 setup can be seamlessly completed in just a few minutes.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 setup requires you to install the Focusrite Control drivers and register the device. Connect it using provided USB C cable (use adapter for e.g. thunderbolt ports), and pick the interface as input device. Connect your mic with an XLR cable and using the knobs adjust your gain.

I really enjoy working with Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, as you could already read in my recommendation of the best interfaces for podcasting.

This short table summarizes key differences between the most popular Focusrite Scarlett models. I own the 2i2 model and it is a great device for podcast recording (Improve Podcast School show is recorded using the 2i2).

Scarlett SoloScarlett 2i2Scarlett 18i8
Customer rating4.7 out of 5 stars4.7 out of 5 stars4.8 out of 5 stars

Podcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett SoloPodcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2Podcast gear - Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
ConnectivityUSB Type-CUSB Type-CUSB Type-C
Mics XLR Combo124
Mic Preamps built-inYesYesYes
Ins / Outs2-22-218-8
Max sample rate192kHz/24-bit192kHz/24-bit192kHz/24-bit
Phantom PowerYesYesYes
Direct MonitorYesYesYes
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Comparison between Scarlett Solo vs Scarlett 2i2 vs Scarlett 18i8

Scarlett 2i2 is an amazing digital interface that produces professional-quality sound. Though it is a power-packed device, it is fairly easy to set up and use. In this post, we will discuss how to set up and use Scarlett 2i2.

Software Needed for Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Setup

Before you can connect and use Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, you must download and install Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 drivers. Downloading the drivers is a must to use the audio interface.

Simply follow these steps:

  1. Go to Focusrite Webpage.
  2. Go to the Downloads page.
  3. Choose the brand (that’s Focusrite), Product Range (that would be Scarlett), and Product Type (the model that is 2i2).
  4. Find and download the latest version of the Focusrite Control driver that is compatible with your operating system.
  5. The Focusrite Control driver would get downloaded to your system. You will find it in your downloads folder.
  6. Install the software now-
    • PC – Double Click on the .exe file and follow the instructions.
    • Mac – Double click on the DMG file
  7. Restart the system.

Scarlett 2i2 is class-compliant on Mac computers. It works with the default Mac drivers and needs Focusrite Control only for adjusting settings or remote control.

When you buy a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, you get bundled software free of cost that you can use to enhance your recording experience.

Bundled software that comes with Focusrite

  • Avid Pro Tools – Hundreds of virtual instrument sounds and 500MB of loops.
  • Ableton Live Lite – This is a top music-making software in the industry.
  • Three-Month Splice Sounds Subscription – You can use millions of high-quality, royalty-free one-shots, loops, and presets.
  • Addictive Keys from XLN Audio – When you register your first Focusrite or Novation hardware, you can access one of four virtual keyboards to create interesting music.
  • Softube Time and Tone Bundle – You will get Softube’s world-class reverb, delay, and distortion plug-ins, and a user-friendly mastering tool with Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
  • Focusrite Plug-in Collective – You will get free versions of the most innovative software,
  • Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite – It accurately models our classic Red 2 equalizer and Red 3 compressor.

Create an account during Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 setup

You must register your Focusrite 2i2 to access the driver control and the free software that comes with the equipment. You can go to the Focusrite website, go to support, and click on Register A Product to create an account and register your Scarlett 2i2.

You will have to select the model name from a drop-down list and provide the Serial number of the device. The serial number is printed on the base of the interface, and the bar code on the box. Once you have registered, you can Go to the My Software Page and access all the bundled software.

Setting Up Your Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Now that you have registered your audio interface and installed the driver software, it’s time to get started.

Scarlett 2i2 and all the other Scarlett interfaces come with a USB-C port that you can directly connect to your computer. They operate on USB 2.0 protocol which gives them maximum compatibility. 2i2 is bus-powered, meaning that it receives power from a USB connection and not a power adapter.

If you are using it with a Mac with only thunderbolt port you will need a simple dongle USB to thunderbolt adapter. I use this one.

Update the audio settings of the system

Since your computer plays audio through a selected audio device, you will have to update your audio settings after connecting your Scarlett 2i2 to the computer. You need to select Scarlett 2i2 as your system’s audio device by updating the sound settings. This will help your DAW recognize which is your audio device and which are your input and output streams.

You will have to switch it manually every time you plug your audio interface.

Settings for macOS

  1. Click on the Menu Bar, select the Apple icon, and choose System Preferences.
  2. Select Sound
  3. Now go to the output tab, and choose your audio device.

Settings for Windows

  1. Go to the Windows Taskbar, right-click on the sound icon, and choose Playback devices.
  2. Select your audio interface and click on Set Default.
  3. Click Ok to close the menu.

In some DAWs (check the best DAW for podcasting recommendation in this post), you might have to select the device as your DAW audio device. Now that we have set up Scarlett 2i2, let’s discuss the basic steps of recording sound on it.

Setup Your Recording Session with Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Connect your Headphones

If you want to record while using your headphones, you can plug the headphones into the headphone jack on the front panel of Scarlett 2i2. There is a small knob to control the output levels of the headphones.

I recommend always recording with your headphones to control your gain, and avoid sound leading.

Here are my recommendation for best podcasting headphones, and quick table below:

Sennheiser HD280 ProSony MDR-7506Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80Focal Listen ProShure SRH-1540

Sennheiser HD280 ProSony MDR-7506Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80Focal Spirit ProfessionalShure SRH-1540
Summary recommendation#1 – an industry standard for working on podcastsLightweight and great for podcasting remotelyA perfect combination of quality and luxuryHigh-end combines the quality of closed and open back headphonesHigh-end audiophile grade headphones
Gold-plated adapterYesYesYesYesYes
Carrying BagNoYesYesYesYes
Zippered Hard Travel CaseNoNoNoNoYes
Detachable CableNoNoNoYesYes
Additional Pair of Ear PadsNoNoNoNoYes
Impedance64 Ω63 Ω80 Ω32 Ω46 Ω
Frequencies range8Hz – 25kHz10Hz – 20kHz5Hz -35kHz5Hz -22kHz5Hz -25kHz
Sensitivity SPL/mW113 dB106 dB96 dB102 dB99 dB
Ambient noise red32 dBAnot specified18 dBAnot specifiednot specified
Weight10 oz (285 g)8.1 oz (230 g)9.5 oz (270 g)9 oz (255 g)10.1 oz (286 g)
Cable StyleSingle-exit, not detachableSingle-exit, not detachableSingle-exit, not detachableSingle-exit, detachableDual-exit, detachable
Cable Length9.8 ft (3 m)9.8 ft (3 m)9.8 ft (3 m)13.1 ft (4 m) &4.6 ft (1.4 m)6 ft (1.8 m) – two cables
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Connect Studio Monitor to Audio Interface

You can connect the studio monitor to the interface using a ¼ inches TRS cable. Use balanced cables to make the connection. The large knob on the monitor helps you control the TRS level.

There is a risk of creating an audio feedback loop when loudspeakers are active while monitoring a microphone. You should turn off or turn down monitoring loudspeakers while recording, and use headphones for overdubbing.

Connect Your Mic

You can use any mic with Scarlett 2i2. Since there are two inputs on this interface, you can connect two mics. You can also connect one mic and one instrument. Use an XLR cable to connect the mic to the equipment as it will let you utilize the full gain range of the device.

If the mic has a jack plug on the end of the cable, it will need an adapter so that you can use it with the XLR part of the combo connector. If you insert the jack plug directly into the interface, you would receive less gain on your device.

Important: some mics, like Shure SM7B will sound very quiet with majority of interfaces, including Scarlett Focusrite series. This is not the interface, but SM7B is very sensitive so you need an inline preamp to boost the signal.

You can find great inline preamps in the table below, or check this post to find more tips on how to make audio interface louder (fix gain issues).

Cloudlifter CL-1FetHead PhantomFetHead
Customer rating4.8 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars4.6 out of 5 stars

Cloudlifter CL1FetHead PhantomFetHead
Best suited fordynamic miccondenser micdynamic mic
Form factorstand-alone devicedirect mic plugindirect mic plugin
dB gain added+25 dB+18 dB+27 dB
Phantom power passingnoyesno
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Why Setting Up Your Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Correctly is Important?

  • If you want your podcast to reach as many people as possible, you must deliver great content and great sound quality. Setting up your equipment correctly is incredibly important to make sure you get the best audio quality possible. The audio will be crystal clear, free from interferences.
  • When you are recording a podcast or playing for a live audience, you don’t want to lose precious time due to faulty settings. You wouldn’t want your guest or audience to keep waiting for you to start. If you have your interface already set up to your ideal settings, it can be more or less as simple as plug-in and record. You can put your focus on giving a great performance.
  • When you have a consistent signal, it’s easy to sound flawless between edits or additions, and again. Many amateur podcasters tend to overly rely on sound editing for improving sound quality. But if you can avoid sound issues in the first place, you can speed up the entire post-production process.

Here are some additional setup tips to make sure your audio interface and microphone sound great.

In conclusion

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 comes with high-quality Focusrite analog preamps that guarantee top-notch audio. It comes with audio specifications that lower down distortion and noise even more and give you a greater dynamic range. The mic preamp can accept a higher input range.

It includes Focusrite’s AIR function which you can individually select on each channel. The AIR function slightly changes the preamp’s frequency response to mimic the sonic characteristics of Focusrite’s ISA microphone preamps. This will give your sound extra liveliness.

With all these exciting features available in this compact device, all you need to do is to spare a few minutes and learn its correct setup. Once you do that, you are all set to record a crystal clear podcast and amaze your audience.

About the Author

Neha Pathak

Hi! I am Neha Pathak. I am a podcast enthusiast, and I wish to share my experiences with you to help you improve your podcasts. I am also an avid hiker and a cyclist.

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