Scarlett interfaces are one of the most popular types of interfaces on the market. I know so many musicians who swear by them, largely thanks to their simple layouts and easy-to-use designs.
Two of the top contenders in the Scarlett line are the Solo and the 2i2. They’re incredibly similar to each other, only having a few slight differences. If you’re considering getting one of these, you may be wondering which one is better for you. Let’s check them out.
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Both interfaces are compact and intended to be used in small studio setups. They’re not the types of interfaces you can use to run a full studio. Rather, they’re made for musicians who want to build a recording setup for themselves at a desk or practice space.
They’re both incredible interfaces. I found the quality to be largely the same between both of them as they share many similarities in terms of design. However, there are a few slight nuances from each one that set them apart from each other.
Solo vs 2i2
The Solo is the smaller option of the two. It only has 2 inputs. One of them is a line input while the other is a preamp. This means that you can record a condenser microphone and an instrument like a keyboard or bass guitar at the same time.
I would use the Solo if I were to just do simple recording projects that had me playing one instrument.
The 2i2 has a few more inputs, making it more versatile. With the 2 preamps and 2 line inputs, you have way more room to do larger recordings with more instruments and people.
Even though it’s a small interface, I could see anyone doing small band demos with it, having multiple musicians playing.
All interfaces have headphone jacks. It’s a vital part of the recording process. However, the tools for you to use around the jack are what sets certain interfaces apart. The 2i2 is the better interface in this case.
It has a monitor control while the Solo doesn’t. You can only control the monitor level of the solo through a computer. I’d find this to be incredibly frustrating, especially if I had the interface closer to me than I had my computer.
If you’re sitting at your computer with easy access to it while recording, the lack of a monitor control on the Solo most probably won’t bother you. You could easily change it while setting up for your recording.
Since these interfaces share the same design, you’re going to get the same recording quality from both of them if you record through a single input. So, there’s tight competition between them if you’re trying to discern which one gives you the better sound.
However, the difference here comes in the number of inputs that they have. Since everything on the Solo is running around the single preamp, I found that you get more definition in your sound from the 2i2. Multiple preamps give you better control over what you’re recording.
The difference here is incredibly small, though. Most people won’t notice it, so I don’t think choosing one of these interfaces purely based on which one sounds better isn’t a good move.
Latency is something that I’ve always found to be incredibly frustrating when I do recordings. There’s been a few times where I’ve spent hours trying to fix the problem, only to find that I was using a high-latency interface. So, it’s always something I look out for when checking new interfaces out.
Thankfully, all the Scarlett interfaces are known to be low-latency products. I’ve heard the 2i2 being mentioned in a few conversations about low-latency interfaces. It’s the clear winner here as it has less latency than the smaller Solo. Again, the difference is very slight.
If you’re planning on recording while running multiple tracks at the same time, the 2i2 would be the better option. The Solo would work as well. It’s just that it has the potential to be a bit more frustrating to set up.
The Solo is cheaper than the 2i2. Since it has fewer inputs and no direct headphone monitoring, it comes at a more affordable price. There’s about a $50 difference between the two interfaces, so the price range isn’t that big.
However, $50 can easily be used to buy other gear to be used in your small studio setup. I can see the price difference being something that clearly defines someone’s choice between the two interfaces.
If you’re okay with spending more money, the 2i2 is the higher-quality option as it gives you more to work with. If you’re on a tight budget, the Solo will still serve you very well. If you plan on recording multiple instruments at once, it would be worth waiting and saving for the 2i2.
I’ve found both interfaces to be extremely portable. I personally use a 18i8 Scarlett interface for my drums, and even that is incredibly portable. So, portability isn’t something to worry about with these smaller interfaces.
I think the better comparison to make is the exact sizes of the two interfaces. If you’re setting up a small desk studio, you should check how much space you have to place an interface somewhere. The 2i2 is a bit bigger than the Solo due to the extra inputs.
Both of them will comfortably fit on top of a computer tower. However, the Solo will fit into tighter spaces much easier.
Which Interface Is Better for You?
With both interfaces having the same build and design qualities, the biggest deciding factor for which one to get will be your intention with it. You should get the 2i2 if you want the interface with the most versatility and room for larger recordings.
If you’re just wanting something to record yourself and an instrument, the Solo is a perfectly good option. I know a few people who use the Scarlett Solo to lay down demo guitar tracks. They don’t need anything bigger for that. It’s also the cheaper option of the two!