Last year in April I talked about the audio interface that I’ve been using for years now.
So everything about audio interfaces has been said and done, right? Wrong.
The Focusrite Scarlett Series goes into its third round.
I’d say that we the masses have come to the conclusion that this is one of THE best external USB sound card out there.
Nowadays my audio interface would cost around 140$ instead of 175$ back then.
Nowadays the Scarlett 3rd Gen with to inputs costs 10$ more, so there’s that.
Either way you’re making a great decision.
With the highest possible selling numbers and the fact that, if you’ve watched ever a YouTube video about music or music production or whatever, you saw one, believe me. I know for a fact that certain audio engineering universities use them to introduce newbies into the common denominator known as “Focusrite Scarlett”.
Beginner to pro is dependent on this minimal setup as it comes with phantom power…
Phantom power explained:
When you buy a cheap headphone nowadays you either get one with a pink jack or one that connects via USB.
Both types don’t get enough current in order to work for high-end-production mics. Then there’s the 6,3mm jack, also
reserved for guitars and certain other mics that also reach somewhat higher levels of professionalism, but if you want to be
taken serious and produce on a serious level, you need to spend some bucks in order to get an audio interface that has this
feature. Don’t get me started on a work around aka phantom power goes to your mic and the phantom power connector
needs to be combined with your PC. In cases like these, it’s easier to go with the masses, trust me.
Here you can see the unique ports of a device that support phantom power.
The mic itself has 3 pins that must go in there, otherwise there’s no connection.
Don’t worry about another jack or incompatibility. This port was introduced in 1966 and
has been the industry standard ever since. So don’t panic and think this will change soon.
I don’t want to delve too much into the mathematics in regard to this subject, but via conversion
it’s possible that the USB audio interface converts current for your phantom powered mic.
This is a rule of thumb, because when we compare audio interfaces that have 1 or 2
ports, it’s no problem to connect ONLY the audio interface via USB with your laptop
or PC, but when you need 3, 4, 5 or even more ports, you’ll need an extra power supply.
Which can end very badly when you travel a lot.
A big plus on USB audio interfaces in general:
You bought a used audio interface on eBay or Amazon? Either buy one of the two that
I mentioned or one that you’d prefer and sell the old one that you bought because of a lack
of knowledge. Now if we would scale this financially to the size of an analog synthesizer, you
might be screwed. Analog synthesizers sometimes break by just standing in your room.
Being that they’re old components and old electronics and what not. A lot can break
in such a synth. With an audio interface you can’t do much damage to yourself.
So instead of reading my article here like I’m a cars salesman that tries to rip you off.
See it more to a soft nudge of experience. Sooner or later I’ll also grab the wrong
audio interface by chance, but this’ll help you grow to know what you want exactly.
Delving into stats and numbers and whatnot:
From the first to the second to the third generation was a graduate improvement of 5db dynamics.
The third installment comes with USB-C, while some might think that this will improve the
data-rate, this is not true. Sadly we live in a world where USB 2.0 is still common. 2008
USB 3.0 was introduced. USB-C means only that you can plug it in either way. In theory
USB 1.0 could also be USB-C, if you know what I mean. The letters tell you what’s the form.
Like A, B, C, micro, mini, nano. The number tells you the connection speed. While 1.0
is the slowest and 4.0 is the fastest at the moment… almost 90% of everything still
runs on 2.0, which is a heavy drag! It’s like we would’ve stuck with dual core CPUs for 11 years!
Luckily 3.0 is not needed in this case. Then there is USB that delivers only current, only data
or can handle both but only half as good, which defies the purpose of USB in general.
There is also a common theme when it comes to USB audio interfaces. If you know one,
you know most of the rest as well. If something doesn’t work it’s either because of
your PC / Mac, a faulty driver or you really had bad luck and got a bad unit.
Fortunately this risk is nowadays very rare. You even get starter bundles and lite
DAW kits as a sample to what you would like to try from Ableton 10 to Pro Tools and
other software. Not to mention bundles which reduce also the cost in general.
From video editing to…
Beats producing and deejaying. One way or another you need an audio interface.
If you’re still using your on-board sound card and you’ve either recorded something
with your PC keyboard or a MIDI-keyboard or via mic port, you’re used to the bad
quality and the heavy latency issues. I also didn’t know how fast audio programs
would and should run. How could I know? I just watched some videos and everybody
said it would be necessary. If you’re really fresh, first thing would be a good PC,
after that the audio interface and THEN VSTs, electric guitars, mics and all that
stuff. I did it the other way around and wasted a lot of time with horrid workflow.
Don’t repeat my mistakes.
Behringer has also great audio interfaces for as much as 50$, but consider that
you might expand recording projects in the future and it would be really dumb
to buy 2 50$ Behringer audio interfaces.
#1 Windows sadly allows only one audio interface. Therefore, you need to have
one solid and good one instead of 10 crappy ones.
#2 Technically it’s a one-time investment. It’s not like your average internet
bill or smartphone bill. Once paid you profit from the gear for years to come.
As always: Let me know what you think or if you need any help whatsoever.
See you next time.