Focusrite Scarlett Solo Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Audio Interfaces

There’s a very slim chance that, as a musician, you haven’t worked with any of Focustrit’s gear at some point in your life. The brand is known for making cutting-edge audio interfaces that offer superior quality at affordable prices.

Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo is a convenient entry point to the pro world of audio. Focusrite managed to make their preamps attainable to non-pros, and their latest Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) is a perfect example of that. It packs a load of features in such a small average-priced device, where it offers two independent recording channels, and it doesn’t limit your recording capabilities. 

In our Focusrite Scarlett Solo review, we’ll be looking at these features closely, and we’ll see what the buzz is all about in the. 

Impressive Hardware that’s Easy to Use

Focusrite Scarlett Solo’s strong suit is its hardware. The minimal outlay has a lot to offer compared to its compact size, which counts as a pro itself for being a perfect portable on-the-road companion for you. 

It comes with two separate input channels to plug any device you want; an XLR input on the front left with a gain knob and a ¼ inch Hi Z TRS can switch between the instrument and line levels, which also comes with its knob. 

The XLR knob handles hot pickups efficiently, a problem people complained about in the previous version of the Scarlett Solo. To choose between the two channels, you just move the ‘Channel Select’ switch. 

Output ports include a USB port for data transfer and charging and an RCA line for speakers at the back. On the right front, you’ll find the headphones out alongside its own monitor switch. 

The headphones are of great quality compared to their price. Their only downside might be that the sound comes off as a bit colored at the lows. 

Sublime Recording Quality

Focusrite has been building professional and amateur preamps for nearly 30 years. There’s a reason why artists like Madonna, La Roux, and Kaiser Chiefs have chosen their equipment; these guys know what they’re doing! 

The expertise is evident in the Scarlett Solo, specifically in the Air mode that does an impressive job miking up your recording vocals. According to Focusrite, the Air feature “breathes life into vocals,” and honestly, it does! 

You’ll notice the difference using a high-quality mic; the mids become clearer with a subtle, seductive vibe, as the equalization is tailored towards the higher frequencies, producing a brighter, more open sound to your recording. The condensing effect of the mic helps with that, too. On top of that, you get switches for phantom power (48 volts) with its own visual indicator, allowing you to get the best out of this condenser microphone. 

Given that you manage to find the gain level suitable for you and enjoy the high sample rates that go as high as 192kHz / 24 bit, you’ll be getting a clear, crisp sound for your recording. 

I’m in love with the front panel’s monitor mainly because of its negligible latency when recording and playing back. Thanks to the amazing monitor, dealing with the EQ while recording is as easy as pie, and you can listen to what you record in real-time, which is a huge plus. 

Specifications

  • Dimensions: 3.77 x 5.65 x 1.71 inches
  • Item Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Inputs: 1 XLR and 1 1/4″ line/ instrument
  • Outputs: 1 stereo RCA and 1 1/4″ output
  • Dynamic Range: 105 dB
  • Halo LED indicator system
  • Phantom Power 48V
  • Resolution: 24-bit/ 192 kHz

Pros

Apart from the eye-popping hardware and the newly introduced audio enhancements, the Scarlett Solo comes with a rich bundle of software and plug-ins that are super helpful in the recording process. 

The bundle comes with Focusrite’s proprietary Avid® Pro Tools® | First Focusrite Creative Pack with hundreds of virtual instrument sounds, loops, and sound effects. It also includes Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Ableton® Live Lite, Focusrite’s Red plug-in suite, and their Plug-in collective. 

Again, we can’t help but salute the amazing build quality of the Scarlett Solo. That aluminum chassis embodies many features, and it’ll take some wear and tear along the road. It also won’t take up much space, making it a perfect companion for small gigs. 

Lastly, this audio interface is among the easiest to use among its counterparts on the market, making it perfect for beginners because of its easy learning curve. 

Cons

The main concern with this unit is its limited input and output ports. If you’re a pro or looking for something more than a simple setup, the Scarlett Solo won’t be enough for you. 

The setting of a recording band or jamming with your pals to produce new music won’t work here. You’ll need something more advanced. 

What Customer Reviews Say

Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo is a success on the internet. The device has made it to Amazon’s Choice list with an overall rating of 4.8 on Amazon from 21,959 reviewers. An impressive 86% of the reviewers gave it a five-star rating, as opposed to only 3% who gave it between one and two stars. 

The overall sentiment among reviewers is positive. Reviewers loved the plug-and-play style that’s both effortless and easy to use by beginners. They also praised the sound quality and tutorials that Fucosrite has provided to illustrate how to use the device. 

On the other hand, the software bundle didn’t grab much attention from reviewers; they think it’s pretty amateur-ish and needs a long time to set up. Overall, it’s more of a shiny marketing strategy rather than an actually efficient addition. The worthy software would still require you to subscribe.  

Conclusion

Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo is what you’re looking for as a beginner or a semi-pro in terms of an efficient audio interface. In a compact device, you’ve got your XLR and line inputs, your headphones, and RCAs, alongside an impressive customizable interface that gives you an impressive 24-bit sound quality.

One couldn’t be asking for more!