Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 4: A Whole New Class of Scarletts

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 4: A Whole New Class of Scarletts

By Drew Robertson

 Focusrite has been an industry giant for over 30 years and has been a staple choice for both professionals and amateurs alike. The Scarlett line of interfaces has been the go to choice of aspiring artists and engineers since 2011 with the release of the first generation of interfaces. 2023 marks the introduction of the fourth generation of Scarlett interfaces and Focusrite has at long last made substantial updates and upgrades to the line-up. Let’s take the new 2i2 out for a spin!

 Build and Features

For long time users of the older models of 2i2 the formfactor will be very familiar, but there’s been some nice changes in the 4th generation. Starting with the front we find all our primary controls but you’ll notice that the XLR combo jacks of the past are gone. Now the front of the unit now has a pair of balanced TRS inputs with the XLR inputs having been moved to the rear of the interface to make cable management easier, a very nice design change. The gain pots for both channels are now digital encoders and feel very precise. Around each pot you’ll find a digital halo meter which is quite accurate and a very welcome upgrade of the original design which is effectively a peaking light and nothing else. The channel controls are quite familiar if new in arrangement, but we’ll find two new options here. The first one is the new Auto mode and the second is the new clip safe mode. When engaged they will try to automatically manage the incoming signal gain for nice crisp audio levels, a nice feature for new users just getting started. Returning to the Scarlett line is the custom air circuit, this time getting some upgrades I’ll discuss below. Surrounding the large monitor knob we’ll find another halo meter, another welcome upgrade from older models. Flipping to the rear of the unit we find another upgrade, the ability to power the 2i2 from a wall socket. For years the 2i2 has been subject to some level of noise floor due to their usb only power. With the extra plug you can choose to power the unit from any standard USB wall brick, which can make a lot of difference in noise floor. I really like what Focusrite has done here, they have made some excellent changes to the physical device and retained its premium feel making it feel like a worthy upgrade.

 Electronics and Software

While the outside is both functional and aesthetically pleasing the real truth is on the inside. Focusrite has gone all out in this department both in terms of the new electronics and the new Focusrite Control 2 software. Focusrite has listened to user feedback and the pre-amps of the 2i2 have gotten a significant upgrade and now pump out up to 69dB of gain, enough to drive a Shure SM7b and just about any other high performance mic on the market. The new pre-amp design has a fairly flat uncoloured sound that is full and pleasing. The newly modified air circuit now has two modes to enhance your sound. The first mode is similar to the 3rd generation’s air circuit but with some new electronics, while the 2nd mode adds an additional harmonic drive circuit for some extra colour. Overall I like what the air circuit is doing and the additional harmonic colour is a nice upgrade. Focusrite has also upgraded the D-A converters to the same circuits that can be found in the professional RedNet range with the 2i2 now capable of a whopping 120dB of dynamic range. There’s also a new headphone amp that boasts more power and clarity over previous generations. Along with all the new electronics comes some new control software. Focusrite Control 2 allows for complete remote control of all of the pre-amp features in a pleasing and easy to use interface. Sadly monitor and headphone controls are still only available on the device, so you’ll still need to keep it somewhat accessible. I appreciate the change and upgrades Focusrite has made here and the 2i2 continues to deliver great sound.


The Scarlett line has been on the market for more than 10 years and something new needed to be done to keep it fresh and competitive in an ever tighter market and I think Focusrite has delivered. They were diligent in taking years of critical user feedback and implementing those changes. The new converters are clear, power and full and at long last I’m able to drive even the quietest of mics without an expensive external pre-amp or gain booster. The Air circuit continues to be a great feature addition to the line-up and I’m pleased to see innovation here rather than more of the same. Focusrite has upped their game with the new line of Scarletts and I’m excited to see what they bring to the table next, if you’re looking to retie your older 2i2 or looking to get something to upgrade your setup the 4th generation is certainly worth it.

 Drew Robertson is an audio engineer, live sound tech and educator based out of London, ON.

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