Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 Audio Interface - First Look

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I've been recording audio for most of my adult life. First as a radio DJ and production engineer, and later as a musician. With the advent of affordable and nearly ubiquitous recording gear, I find many guitarists are wasting money on audio interfaces that are simply overkill.


I have tested them all, including the most expensive, top-end, audio interfaces on my 2017 iMacPro and I have to say, value for the money, I am not impressed with the high-end stuff. But I am indeed impressed with the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 - third generation.


Focusrite has been in this business as long as anyone and they have a great reputation. So when I unboxed the 8i6 I admit that I had high expectations. I wasn't disappointed.





Right out of the box the 8i6 impresses. It's solid as a rock and very well constructed. It contains two outstanding pre-amps that punch way about their weight. And these two preamps now come with switchable Air mode to give your recordings a brighter and more open sound. There are two high-headroom instrument inputs to plug in your guitar or bass. Six balanced line inputs for connecting synthesizers, drum machines, and other line-level sources. Four balanced outputs for clean monitoring and sending audio out to effects pedals or other outboard gear.


The unit does 24-bit/192 KHz conversions and to make a long story short, it just works and sounds great.


SPECS


2 Mic Preamps

2 Instrument Inputs

6 Analogue Inputs

4 Analogue Outputs

S/PDIF Digital IO

MIDI I/O

3-Year Warranty





SOFTWARE


The 8i6 comes with a boat load of cool software...depending on where you buy it, you should either get SECTION A or SECTION B.


SECTION A


FREE Nugen Audio Monofileter Elements plug-in upon registration and download. Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite, 3-month Splice subscription, and your choice of one free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument, all available via download upon purchase and registration.


SECTION B


Ableton Live Lite music production software

Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack

Free 3-month Splice Sounds subscription with new Splice accounts

Focusrite Red 2 & Red 3 Plug-In Suite

A choice of one of four XLN Audio Addictive Keys virtual instruments

Softube Time & Tone Bundle

Access to the Focusrite Plug-In Collective


In either case, the value of the software exceeds the cost of the unit itself.


SETUP


One of my problems with some of the other interfaces I have seen is they are difficult to set up. Not the 8i6. You simply go to a website and download everything you need and you are set up. The software on the Focusrite quick start tool is so easy to understand that even a complete novice could figure it out. A+!


PERFORMANCE


The unit is easy to configure using software that comes with the Scarlett called Focusrite Control. You can assign all sorts of characteristics from LINE v. INST and control ins/outs.


The MIC-PREs are whisper quiet. I found the controls to be responsive and effective. You can dial in how much gain you want on each input and can control signal level out to monitors and headphones. (You can use two different sets of headphones and control each headphone's output level!)


Everything just works. And while that doesn't sound remarkable, compared to my experiences with several other interfaces, including some costing four times as much, that wasn't the case.


USE CASES


Podcasters, multi-instrumentalists, producers, home recording buffs.


CONCLUSION


Focusrite interfaces are well-known for great quality at an affordable price. You may think you need to spend more money than the $299.99 price but you don't.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!





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