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Is Focusrite any good?
Old 5th May 2013
  #1
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Amywamy93's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Is Focusrite any good?

Hello!

I'm going to be getting my first Mac in a few months, and I want to get an audio interface, and condenser microphone.
I've found this package called Focusrite Scarlett Studio. It looks quite good, and the demo video makes it look and sound quite good as well. As a first time buyer of something like this, I was looking for some expert opinions of what you think about it, or if any of you have the product?

Old 5th May 2013
  #2
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Lotus 7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amywamy93 ➡️
Hello!

I'm going to be getting my first Mac in a few months, and I want to get an audio interface, and condenser microphone.
I've found this package called Focusrite Scarlett Studio. It looks quite good, and the demo video makes it look and sound quite good as well. As a first time buyer of something like this, I was looking for some expert opinions of what you think about it, or if any of you have the product?

Focusrite makes a wide range of interfaces from the one included in this package to much more sophisticated, expensive units. They tend to provide competitive performance at each price point. Focusrite is not noted for being a major microphone or headphone manufacturer, and to assemble this package they have just re-branded a low-cost Chinese mic and some unknown headphones.

The 2i2 interface is a very basic "starter" device which is fine if you don't ever expect to need more than (2) channels of recording capability. The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a $150 (114€)interface and is competitive at that price point. The Studio package adds a cardioid condenser mic, headphones and a short mic cable for an additional $100. You will still need a mic stand, so it's not really complete. You're essentially buying a $65 (50€) mic, $30 phones and a $5 mic cable. Components built to those price points are really "scraping the bottom of the barrel", but then again, it's a very low cost way of getting your (acoustic recording) feet wet and the package can probably be sold for 60 to 70% of it's original cost if you decide to upgrade in the future.

There are other packages (or more commonly called "bundles") available through the major, national audio retailers at various levels. Retail stores can assemble their own "bundles" using mics from one manufacturer, an interface from another, and headphones or even powered monitor speakers and possibly other components from another manufacturer. Those "bundles" may provide better overall performance because the components are each better examples of their respective types.

If a bundled system contains all the particular components you want, they can be fantastic bargains, since they are always priced much lower than the separate cost of each part.

The alternative, which is typically the way most beginners tend to go, is to pick each component individually. Pick an interface that meets your current and expected near-future needs, a mic that has good reviews for the type of recording you want to do, and some decent headphones, or if you can afford them initially, some powered monitors. Remember, the microphone is the component that actually converts the sound of your performance into an electrical signal, and it will determine the overall quality and "character" of the recording much more than any other part. For virtually all recording situations, the mic is by far the most critical and important part of the recording chain. There are many fine, low cost mics made by companies like Audio Technica, MXL, Blue, AKG and Line Audio that are great ways to start a recording chain. Mics at the low-end of a major microphone manufacturer's line are usually far superior than some unknown mic from a primarily non-mic manufacturer.

I have no specific experience with the Focusrite mic and headphones and it's a relatively new package, so they may be OK. However at the price point of the package, I would not expect great things, especially from the mic, and it's very likely that you would be soon shopping for something better. Remember, reviews from individuals who have purchased such a system are likely to be from someone with little of no experience with anything better. There is one Amazon.com "review" of the Scarlett Studio that is really a "non-review" in that it just states that the package "quality is excellent" with no frame of reference at all. Sweetwater Sound does have a handful of good reviews, so it may be worthwhile contacting one of the (usually quite helpful) Sweetwater sales "engineers" to get their opinion of the real sound of the system. Sorry, don't know of a similar UK retailer.

By hanging around this forum or the "Low end Theory" forum you can acquire some knowledge of what works for beginners.
Old 6th May 2013
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Amywamy93's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Focusrite makes a wide range of interfaces from the one included in this package to much more sophisticated, expensive units. They tend to provide competitive performance at each price point. Focusrite is not noted for being a major microphone or headphone manufacturer, and to assemble this package they have just re-branded a low-cost Chinese mic and some unknown headphones.
Even though Focusrite is quite a good company, when they make bundles they probably do put low-cost Chinese mics, and unknown headphones. They make the products look so great in the videos, but I would buy it because I don't have any music recording equipment at all since I'm starting out (I've been using a pro studio at college for the past two years, so I know what to do :P).
I might just go and buy it all separately, but it might work out a bit more expensive, but then again the equipment would be of better quality!

Thanks for your reply, again very helpful. You guys are very helpful here on this forum! :D
Old 6th May 2013
  #4
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Hi Amy,

It depends what you're planning to do with it all. If you're looking to record live instruments and vocals, I'd probably put your money into getting a reasonable mike (SM58 and up - we use a Beta 58) and a decent USB audio interface with good quality transfer - we're using a Lexicon Alpha, which gives a 24-bit dump via USB to the DAW, and lets you plug in one instrument and one mike for simultaneous two-tracking, or swapping out for multi-track recording, as well as jack, phono, and headphone outs, all of which seem to be pretty good quality. I think Focusrite do some similar interfaces also, probably at a competitive price.

Just my two-penn'orth - I'm a relative n00b also, and working on a relative shoestring, but am learning it's worth getting good quality basics one piece at a time and building up. Again, it all depends what you want to do. :-)

Cheers,

Sarah
Old 6th May 2013 | Show parent
  #5
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Lotus 7's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amywamy93 ➡️
...I might just go and buy it all separately, but it might work out a bit more expensive, but then again the equipment would be of better quality!...
If you do decide to go the "separate" route, you might want to take a look at the MXL V67G, Blue Spark, or CAD M179 mics. All offer very good vocal recording performance at their price points. For recording an instrument like an acoustic guitar, the performance of the Line Audio CM3 cannot be beat for the cost - its sound clarity and quality rivals several mcs that retail for 5X to 10X its cost.

For low to moderate cost/decent performance headphones take a look at the Sony MDR-V6, Sony MDR-7506 and Audio Technica ATH-M50 (all closed-back) or AKG K141 Mk-II (open-back).

For USB interfaces, Focusrite , MOTU and PreSonus all make good "starter" units. When picking an interface, please do think about what your future needs might be and get something that has expansion capability to meet those needs.

Sometimes spending a bit more initially can actually be a long-term saving if it prevents you from having to replace everything soon after you start. On the other hand, if saving for a better system means waiting too long, creatively it's not a bargain at all. Whatever you decide, just do it!

Best of Luck.
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