The Mac has always been the preferred platform for musicians and whether you use Logic, GarageBand or something else, a great audio interface is an essential piece of equipment. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a perfect addition for someone looking to record their first masterpiece or the seasoned professional who needs a high quality, portable interface.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Hardware
Focusrite is well known by audio engineers and recording technicians around the world for their high quality microphone preamps and the Scarlett Solo stays true to that legacy.
The Scarlett Solo is a compact USB 2 in / 2 out audio interface which allows you to connect a single microphone and a musical instrument, like a guitar, bass or analog synthesizer.
In addition to the single high-quality XLR microphone input which provides switchable 48V phantom power, the Scarlett Solo has a high quality ¼” TRS input which can be switched from instrument to line input with the front mounted switch. The precision digital converters deliver studio-quality 24-bit resolution at sample rates of up to 96kHz and a dynamic range of over 105dB.
As a class compliant audio device, no drivers are needed and since the unit is bus powered, the Scarlett Solo simply plugs into your Mac using the included USB 2.0 cable, making it a perfect travel companion for those remote recording sessions. The Scarlett Solo monitors your recording levels with what Focusrite refers to as “halo” indicators. These LED rings surround the input volume control knobs and flash green to indicate that your input levels are correct. If your input volume gets too high, the indicators change to red. We found this to be a much easier way to monitor your levels while recording as opposed to the more conventional meters or single flashing indicator when volumes get to loud.
The Scarlett Solo also has a ¼” headphone jack on the front which is controlled by a large volume knob to its left. There is also a toggle switch above the headphone input to allow for direct monitoring of your input so you can hear exactly what is being recorded without latency. The back of the Scarlett Solo has two (unbalanced) RCA style plugs to connect speakers, which are also controlled by the volume knob on the front.
The red anodized aluminum case gives the Scarlett Solo a nice look and a sturdy feel but keeping it lightweight at just over one pound. At just under 6” wide, 4” deep and 1.8” high, the Scarlett Solo will easily fit into a gig bag or even an oversized laptop bag for easy transport.
The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Software
We tested the Focusrite Scarlett Solo, with the latest version of GarageBand running on a MacBook Pro with OS X Yosemite. The Mac immediately recognized the device and automatically switched the GarageBand audio input and output to use the Scarlett Solo as the primary device. We found the sound to be crisp and clean with no distortion, even during those times when the halo indicators pushed into the red zone. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo will work with any Mac with a USB 2.0 compliant port and running OS X 8.0 (Mountain Lion) or higher.
For those of you that are not fans of GarageBand, or are looking for an alternative, The Focusrite Scarlett Solo includes a comprehensive package of additional software that can be downloaded using a unique Bundle Number that is included on an activation card inside the box.
The software package includes Ableton Live Lite, 1GB of Loopmasters sample content, the Novation Bass Station virtual synth and the Focusrite Scarlett Plug-in Suite (Compressor, Gate, EQ and Reverb).
Set-up of the Scarlett Solo is quick and easy as you’ll see in this video.
The Bottom Line
We were very impressed with the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. The ease of use combined with the clean sound makes this a great choice for anyone looking to record a single instrument with an accompanying vocal. The Scarlett Solo retails for $125.99 but is available from Amazon for $99.99 with free shipping.
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