Last Updated on February 27, 2020 by Facundo
The Scarlett 2i2 and the Audient iD4 are two of the best-selling small Audio Interfaces currently available that you can use in your home studio.
However, there are some key differences between them which you should know before going forward and spending your cash on any of them.
In this post I will go over the differences, their specs and features, as well giving you my opinion on which one to choose depending on your needs.
Let’s get started with their basic differences first;
The Scarlett 2i2 comes with two XLR/TRS combo inputs which each have a preamp, while the Audient iD4 only has one XLR/TRS combo input (one preamp), as well as a D.I. input.
The overall sound quality of the Audient iD4 is better when compared to the one of the Scarlett 2i2.
Lastly, the Audient iD4 is about $50 more expensive.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen 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.
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!…
Take that into account when deciding on the interface you’re going to purchase.
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.
Are you looking for a new DAW? Here’s a list of the best DAWs currently available!
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.
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.
What do you get in the box?
- The Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Interface
- USB Cable
- Free Software Keys
- 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
First of all, you might have noticed that the Audient iD4 only has one XLR/TRS combo jack with one mic preamp, instead of two like the Scarlett 2i2…
Yes, this interface actually features fewer inputs, and costs a bit more…
But there is a good reason for that.
The Audient iD4 is an overall better-quality interface than the Scarlett 2i2;
The construction quality is probably the best I’ve ever seen on one of these small interfaces.
It’s made completely out of aluminum and feels very solid.
Not only that, but it does have some weight to it, which is always nice.
The dials are very solid as well since they don’t wiggle at all when you rotate them… Actually, the big one does wiggle a tiny bit…
But it’s certainly nothing to worry about.
On the front of the interface you get the ¼” D.I. Input as well as the ¼” and 3.5mm headphone outputs which offer free latency monitoring.
On the back you’ll find the USB 2.0 connector, the ¼” outputs to connect to your monitors, the 48v phantom power On/Off switch, and the XLR/TRS combo Input.
On the top You’ll find the Mic Gain control, D.I. gain control, the Monitor mix dial which controls the mix between your direct zero latency monitoring and your computer’s playback…
And a button to mute your speaker Output, as well as the iD button.
When activating the iD button, you can use the big dial to scroll through- or adjust any settings in your plugins or DAW.
It can also be used to scroll through libraries…
Otherwise, the big dial allows you to control the volume of the outputs (Headphones and Speakers).
Also, if you press the iD button once, it will activate a -15dB dim for sudden volume reduction.
Note: Just like with the Scarlett 2i2, the Audient iD4 doesn’t have MIDI I/O.
Just like with the Scarlett 2i2, when you purchase the Audient iD4 you can also download loads of free programs and plugins.
Read more about that here.
Lastly, this interface provides you with a set of indicator lights which work as a meter, ranging from -36dB to 0dB, with the top indicators representing the mic input, and the bottom ones representing the D.I. input.
It can record up to 96kHz/24-db which is more than enough to get excellent recordings.
Let’s take a look at its performance;
As far as the sound quality goes, this Interface is just fantastic…
The preamp sounds extraordinary, and I have to admit that the overall recording quality is better than the one of the Scarlett 2i2…
Especially the D.I. input, since it’s one of the best sounding ones I ever tried.
It provides you with a lot of headroom, and the signal-to-noise ratio is excellent!
The only issue you may run into is not having enough inputs… But You can get the bigger model, the Audient iD14, if you need more.
Contrary to what I’ve read online about the Scarlett 2i2 drivers, no one seems to have had any issues with the Audient ones.
This is a clear pro, in my opinion.
What do you get in the box?
- The Audient iD4 Interface
- USB Cable
- Free Software Keys
- 2-in/2-out USB Audio Interface
- 1 x Class-A Audient Console Mic Preamplifier
- 1 x Discrete JFET Instrument Input
- High Performance Converters
- iD ScrollControl Mode
- Zero Latency Monitoring with Monitor Mix & Pan
- Main Speaker Output
- Class-AB Headphone Amplifier with Dual Outputs
- Monitor Control Functionality
- USB2.0 Bus Powered
- All-Metal Enclosure
- Windows, macOS and iOS compatible
- Free plugins and software with ARC
Here’s a link to Amazon where you can check the Audient iD4’s price and reviews.
Which one should You Get?
I think that the most important thing to consider here is the budget…
Both Audio Interfaces are great, but the Scarlett 2i2 is a lot cheaper and offers twice as many inputs.
However, the Audient iD4 beats the Scarlett 2i2 in every other aspect since it sounds better, has a better construction, even though the Scarlett is still very well built…
The drivers seem to be better, and the D.I. input is, like I mentioned earlier, extraordinary.
So, if you need a budget friendly interface with more inputs, go for the Scarlett 2i2…
If you want the best sounding one, go with the Audient iD4.
Now, what if you want more inputs but you don’t necessarily mind spending a bit more and getting one that sounds just as great as de iD4?…
One other alternative
If you want the same Audio Interface, but with two preamps instead of one, then I would absolutely recommend the Audient iD14.
The great thing about the Audient iD14 is that not only does it provide two XLR/TRS combo inputs as well as a D.I. input…
But it can be expanded through the optical input which allows for an extra 8 channels of ADAT at 44.1kHZ or 48kHz, 4 channels of ADAT at 88.2kHz or 96kHZ, or 2 channels of S/PDIF between 44.1kHz and 96kHz.
To do this you would need to purchase something like the Behringer ADA8200.
This means that you can get an excellent interface that can record up to 10 simultaneous tracks, if you connect it to an A-D and D-A converter like the Behringer I just mentioned.
This one is much more expensive; actually, twice as much as the Scarlett 2i2…
Especially if you buy the extra A-D and D-A converter to expand the channel count.
But the audio quality you can get from the Audient Interfaces is much higher than the one from the Scarlett ones…
Plus, you will need to upgrade from the Scarlett 2i2 at some point, while with the Audient iD14 you probably won’t ever need to.
So, this definitely depends on your needs, preferences, and budget.
But I would honestly go with either one of the Audient Interfaces simply because of their overall sound quality.
Nonetheless, the Scarlett 2i2 is still an excellent Interface and I don’t think you can go wrong with it.
All in all, I believe that the clear winner is the Audient iD4 or the Audient iD14, simply because of their sound quality.
But if you don’t have the budget for any of them, then the Scarlett 2i2 should be more than enough to cover your needs!
Note: If you want an even more affordable alternative that provides 4 inputs, as well as MIDI I/O, then check my recommended gear page where you’ll find the Behringer UMC404HD.
I hope this information was useful!
Have a great day!