This model is the 3rd generation of the critically and commercially acclaimed Scarlett Solo line of audio interfaces, and it is not just a prettier version since it also comes with many improvements that make upgrading to this model well worth it.
There’s a lot to say about this nifty model, but if we were to pick just one main advantage, that would be the ease of use that it offers. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Audio Interface comes packed with features that advanced users can use, but it doesn’t overwhelm the amateur music creator.
The audio interface is intuitive, and it comes bundled with various DAWs and samples from popular providers, which makes it very easy to start creating music immediately. What’s more, even though it has received very obvious improvements compared to its predecessor, the Focusrite Scarlett Solo has maintained the same affordable price.
This makes the improved version an even more attractive deal, and it is always nice to see brands that do their best to keep their customers happy. Overall, this nifty model delivers a serious upgrade, and the excellent sound quality and ease of use make it a great choice for both experienced artists and new recording enthusiasts.
The product comes bundled with free software, ProTools First and Ableton Live Lite, and while this is indeed an advantage, unfortunately, these programs are not very user-friendly. They require a lot of time to set up since you need to create multiple accounts, and dealing with downloads and digital licensing can be a pain.
However, you’re not forced to use the included software since the audio interface is compatible with all of the best software available on the market. Thus, users can still choose the software that they feel most comfortable using.
Main features explained
This is the 3rd generation of Focusrite’s highly-rated line of audio interfaces, and with it, the brand has continued its plan of providing great sound for a good price point. All of the improvements that the 3rd generation provides come without any extra cost since this model has the same starting price point as the previous generations.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the upgrades that customers can enjoy with this model. For starters, the mic, variable line, fixed-line, and instrument inputs, as well as line/mon. outputs have all been improved compared to what the 2nd generation had to offer.
After analyzing all the specs, the inputs and outputs benefit the most from the wider gain and dynamic range, as well as the higher input and output levels.
The unit also comes with additional input and output configuration that make it a great choice for musicians who are hardware-based. The drivers and the software have also seen improvements since the audio interface now comes with newer and better software compared to past generations.
The headphone amp driver is also now cleaner and louder so that you can use it to practice on your guitar at any time of the day and enjoy the same high-quality sound you’re used to when using speakers.
The new dedicated “Direct Monitor” button will now let you quickly switch between monitoring via the right and left line-outs that are fed to your headphones and speakers directly. The monitoring is also lag-free, a feature that customers appreciate since it allows users to build busy tracks and listen to themselves singing over previously laid material without a hitch.
Other improvements that we will talk about in-depth later on include the Air Button, the switch to lightning-fast USB-C ports, as well as full native support for the iPad Pro so that you can create music anywhere.
Better audio quality and latency
One key feature of the new Focusrite Scarlett Solo is its super-low latency that will let you monitor native plug-in effects in real time. The new USB-C ports make USB latency so low that you won’t notice any delay, and you shouldn’t encounter any issue with round trip time either.
The Dynamic Range figure is now around 110 dB, which is a noticeable improvement not only when compared to the last generation but other products in this price range as well. The gain range has been improved as well, from 50 dB to 56 dB.
To add to that, this is the first product in the Scarlett series to come with a front panel Air switch. This addition will help get the preamp even closer to the air effect of the Focusrite original ISA mic preamp. It will give your vocal recordings a more open and brighter sound.
Additionally, you get the switches for the 48-volt phantom power, and the aforementioned direct monitoring button and the headphone jack. Overall this unit boasts a very clean and elegant design that gets the job done.
As far as the quality of the sound is concerned, this model provides excellent results that are significantly superior to what you would get using the standard onboard sound card on your laptop or computer. Switching between the two will make it easy to notice the clarity and depth of the sound that the Scarlett Solo offers.
You do need to keep in mind that this is a budget option, which means that you won’t get the perfect sound that hardware that’s considerably more expensive can produce. However, if we take into account that this is an inexpensive and simple home set-up, the climb in sound quality that the Scarlett Solo produces is enough to impress.
Ease of use
To help new users get started, the unit also comes bundled with a plethora of useful software so that as long as you have a guitar, mic, and cable, you should be able to create a complete arrangement using just what Focusrite has provided in the package.
The unit also excels at being a simple product that is easy for beginners to figure out since there’s just one cable in, a cable out, and very few controls that need to be managed. The user interface is very easy to understand so that you don’t end up having to spend hours reading the user manual.
It’s the kind of product that anyone can use and that you can then set and forget about it when you’re recording. It does what it needs to do, and then it lets you focus on recording, without getting in your way. Some may find the product a bit too basic, but this is also its main appeal, so we can’t fault it for that.
The gain controls also have an LED ring around them that will glow red when you are peaking, orange when you are about to, and green when you are lower. There’s also a volume control knob so that you can easily manage the playback volume.
Purchasing this model will also give you access to the entire Focusrite Plug-in Collective, which is a huge online library with plug-ins from some of the best creators for you to download for free.
What’s more, the device has a very compact size, which makes it ideal for small home setups, and the minimalist layout looks great, and it is simple to operate even by novices. The unit is also built to last since it features a durable metal chassis so that you can take it with you when traveling without having to worry that it will get damaged.
With this model, the Scarlett Solo range of products has made the switch to USB-C instead of the old USB-B format. It may not seem like a big deal, but let us tell you why it matters. For starters, the transfer rates on the USB-C port are vastly improved, and this helps minimize latency to undetectable levels.
However, the one improvement that you’ll notice immediately is the fact that you will no longer need to flip the USB cable over and over looking for the correct orientation. USB-C is reversible, which means that it can be plugged in easily no matter how you hold it. The port is also smaller, which helps maintain the elegant and minimalistic design of this model.
The USB-C port also makes it possible to connect the Scarlett Solo to an iPad Pro, so this way, you won’t even need to take your laptop with you. All you need to set the unit up is plug it into the iPad, open your favorite music-making app, and start creating. It is now easier than ever to use the Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen anywhere you go.
The unit is also protected from damage caused by power surges since the inputs and outputs are now safeguarded using a wired analog protection circuitry. This helps keep both the interface and all of the instruments or devices connected to it safe.
Aside from the free software that you get bundled with the interface, Focusrite has also partnered with Splice to give all owners of the Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen a 3-month free subscription of the award-winning Splice Sounds software. With it, you get access to millions of high-quality and royalty-free one-shots, loops, and presets.
Overall, the Scarlett Solo is an excellent purchase for all aspiring musicians who are on a budget or always on the move. It is priced competitively, and it gives you access to great sounds and features.