Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs Apollo Twin MKII (Solo, Duo, Quad)

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While both of these interfaces are on completely different tier levels, they are probably the most popular ones out there.

The Scarlett 2i2 is the best-selling small- and affordable audio interface on the market, while the Apollo Twin MKII models are the most popular high-end ones.

In this post I’ll attempt to dive into the differences of each interface and give you a better understanding of which one you should choose according to your own needs.

Let’s start with the Scarlett one…

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen, which is the latest version of the Scarlett series, is one of the most popular USB Audio Interfaces currently on the market.

It’s the younger brother of the Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen which is one of the best-selling Audio Interfaces in the world…

This is mainly due to its great construction quality, great performance and really affordable price.

The 3rd generation of the Scarlett series got a couple upgrades when compared to the 2nd gen, which are:

  • The inputs and outputs all benefit from wider dynamic range, gain ranges and higher input and output levels.
  • It comes with an “Air” circuit that, when engaged, gives a slight boost to the “air” frequencies, brightening up the sound.
  • USB-C port instead of the traditional USB 2.0.

It has 2 XLR inputs and 2 outputs.

All Scarlett preamps are of great quality and feature an even gain structure, which allows for accurate gain level setting.

The instrument inputs are designed to be able to handle really hot pickups for recording electric guitar.

The channel controls are fairly simple;

Gain knobs and Line/Instrument switches for each channel as well as the Air switches.

Note: Like I mentioned earlier, the Air Switches give a slight boost to the “air” frequencies, brightening up the sound, which is unique to the 3rd gen series.

A 48V Phantom Power switch, a Direct monitoring On/Off Switch and a Headphone volume Knob.

Note: The direct monitoring feature can be switched from Mono to stereo, in case you’re running a stereo microphone set.

It’s small, compact and very durable… it looks like a little red brick! Ideal for recording at home or taking on the road!

The knobs on the device are pretty easy to rotate; they are not stiff at all and seem like they were made to last.

One cool thing about this Interface is that it comes with Pro Tools, Ableton Live and a suite of software and samples, so you can start recording straight away.

If you are like most home recording musicians, then this one will suit you well, especially if you’re on a budget…

It’s easy to use, works well and also comes with those added downloads, which I think is just great!

One BIG issue is that it doesn’t have MIDI input/output!…

Still, it’s definitely a good Audio Interface, especially since it sells at the same price that the older generation did, but it simply comes with some extra features.

Let’s take a look at its performance;

The latency while monitoring is surprisingly low, about 6ms.

But should you have some issues with it, you can always switch the direct monitoring on, which will give you true direct monitoring with zero latency.

As far as the recording quality goes, I honestly can’t complain.

It sounds very clear; the sound doesn’t get distorted like it does with some really cheap Audio Interfaces like the UM2…

With the UM2 I noticed that if the signal was a bit too hot, not necessarily clipping but around -3dB, it would sound distorted.

This won’t happen here.

Sure, there are a lot of other alternatives out there which you should also consider, but the Scarlett 2i2 is one of the best ones… for the price, of course.

On last thing is that I’ve read multiple comments online where people complained about the drivers and that the interface would suddenly stop working.

This has never happened to me, but it’s worth mentioning just in case.

Related: If you’re interested in reading more about other Audio Interface comparisons, here are a couple of posts I wrote:

Included Software

Pro Tools | First, Ableton Live Lite and a suite of software and samples, as well as a Free XLN Addictive Keys license.

The Red 2 & 3 Plug-In Suite, Softube Time & Tone Bundle and 2GB of Loopmasters Samples are included as a free download.

What do you get in the box?

  • The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Interface
  • USB Cable
  • Free Software Keys

Features

  • Two natural-sounding Scarlett microphone preamps
  • Up to 192kHz audio resolution with super-low latency
  • Air circuit
  • Mono/Stereo Monitoring control
  • Compact, lightweight and sturdy enough to take with you anywhere
  • Includes Pro Tools | First, Ableton Live Lite and a suite of software and samples
  • Free XLN Addictive Keys license with purchase
  • Red 2 & 3 Plug-In Suite, Softube Time & Tone Bundle and 2GB of Loopmasters Samples are included as a free download.
  • Focusrite offers a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

Specifications

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can check the Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen’s price and reviews.

Moving on…

Apollo Twin MKII (Solo, Duo, Quad)

Apollo Twin MKII Audio Interface.
One of the best on the market.

The Apollo Twin MKII Audio Interfaces are definitely not geared towards the newbies of home recording for the simple fact that they are PRICY!

They are, however, the best audio interfaces for small home studios currently available, which means that if you are serious about home music production and want to achieve the best sound you possibly can, then you should consider them.

There are three different models available of this interface; The Solo, Duo, and Quad.

One would think that this just means that the interfaces each have one-, two-, or four inputs, however this isn’t the case.

It’s actually describing the number of processors which come built-in and which allow you to use plugins, which come included when you buy the interface, in real time.

The processing is done by the interface and not your PC, meaning that there’s absolutely no latency.

It’s literally in real time, as if it was being processed by the real hardware that’s being emulated.

The more processors the interface has, the more plugins you can simultaneously load.

This is one of the reasons why the Apollo twin MKII interfaces are so expensive, because it’s a feature unique to them.

However, their preamps are the absolute best you can find on an Audio Interface, and the A/D and D/A conversion is also of the highest quality you will ever find in an Audio Interface.

This is why the Apollo Twin MKII Solo, which is the most affordable model, costs about four times as much as the Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen.

The build quality is, as you would expect, fantastic.

The sample rate and bit-depth can be as high as 192kHz/24-bit, which is more than anyone could ever need.

The Inputs are: 2xXLR/TRS combo jacks with Burr-Brown preamps, 1xTRS Instrument input, and an optical input that allows you to add eight more inputs via ADAT.

The outputs are: 2×1/4” monitor outputs, 2×1/4” line outputs, and 1×1/4” headphone output.

Note: This interface uses thunderbolt 2 connectivity and you’ll need an adapter if you want to connect it to your PC via USB.

One important note is that it doesn’t have a MIDI input/output!…

When looking at the top of the interface you’ll see a big Knob, which is used to control a bunch of things depending on what you choose, which I will describe now.

The “Preamp” button which allows you to control the preamp section, and the “Monitor” button which allows you to control the Monitor section.

When hitting the Preamp button, you can choose between the first or second preamp.

After this you can use the input selector to;

  • Choose between mic or line level inputs.
  • Enable a High Pass Filter.
  • Enable +48v Phantom Power.
  • Engage a PAD.
  • Invert the Phase.
  • …and link the Two channels.

When hitting the Monitor Button, you get access to;

  • The “Talk Back” feature, which enables the little microphone built into the interface.
  • The “Dim” feature, which lowers the level of the monitors to a set level when pressed.
  • The “Alt” button which switches between the two sets of monitors.
  • The “Mono” button which simply sums everything to one mono track.
  • And lastly, the mute button.

Here’s an image of the controls I just described:

Let’s take a look at its performance;

The Apollo Twin MKII Interfaces sounds absolutely fantastic.

The signal-to-noise ratio is excellent and they provide you with a lot of headroom.

You should never have any issues with the quality of your audio when recording with them.

Included Software

The Apollo Twin MKII come with a couple superb-sounding plugins for free.

However, as soon as you register your interface you get some special one-time offers trying to get you to purchase more.

I personally think that the included ones are more than enough, but you may want to get a couple extra.

What do you get in the box?

  • The Apollo Twin MKII Solo, Duo, or Quad Interface.
  • The Power Adapter

Note: It doesn’t come with the thunderbolt cable included, so you’ll need to get your own.

Features

  • Sounds amazing, with next-generation AD/DA for maximum fidelity
  • Use outstanding UAD Powered Plug-ins for tracking and mixdown
  • Preamps sound pristine, and Unison technology gives you spot-on emulations of classic preamps
  • Includes Realtime Analog Classics plug-in bundle with accurate emulations of vintage analog hardware
  • Thunderbolt gives you ultra-low latency and huge bandwidth for higher sample rates and track counts
  • Compact design makes it perfect for mobile recording, mixing outside of your studio, and even performing live
  • Hands-on control over your monitor outputs
  • Cascade up to 4 Thunderbolt-equipped Apollo interfaces and 6 total UAD devices

Specifications

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see the price and reviews of the Apollo Twin MKII.

Basic Differences

While both Audio Interfaces are good options for home recording, the Apollo Twin MKII has much better sounding preamps and also better A/D and D/A conversion, and it can run plugins all on its own, which is something the Scarlett 2i2 can’t, plus it also has more features in general at the expense of having a higher price tag.

Conclusion

IF you are just starting out, I wouldn’t recommend the Apollo Twin interface…

It’s way too expensive and while it may sound better, a lot actually, you probably won’t notice that much of a difference when comparing it to the Scarlett 2i2 simply because you haven’t yet trained your ears.

On the other hand, if you are serious about home recording and want a piece of gear that you will never have to upgrade from, then The Apollo Twin MKII is your best bet, hands down.

I hope you found this information useful.

Have a wonderful day!

Facundo

2 thoughts on “Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 vs Apollo Twin MKII (Solo, Duo, Quad)”

  1. bonjour Facundo , je viens de remplacer mes 2 enceintes hi-fi Davis par 2 enceintes Focal trio 6 de monitoring , avec une scarlett 2i2 , je suis très content du rendu sonore , pensez vous qu’en achetant une carte son type Apollo twin , le son sera vraiment meilleur , je pense avoir une bonne oreille , sachant que je ne mixe pas , c’est que pour l’ecoute , mes sources sont radio internet de bonne qualité , site streaming qualité CD ou FLAC . Merci d’avance pour vos conseils
    ROB

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