Audio Interface Comparison Chart

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Mic Preamps
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Analogue ins
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6
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Analogue outs
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4
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Connection
FireWire
USB
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Matching Products:

iTrack Solo
Scarlett 2i2
Forte
Scarlett 2i4
Saffire PRO 14
Scarlett 6i6
Saffire PRO 24
Saffire PRO 24 DSP
Saffire PRO 26
Scarlett 18i8
Saffire PRO 40
Scarlett 18i20
Liquid Saffire 56
VRM Box
Product
Video
Mic Preamps

Mic Preamps

Also known as the “mic pre”, this is the microphone preamplifier, which amplifies the generally very small signal from a microphone up to line level. Focusrite is renowned for its mic preamps, which come in a number of varieties, each offering different features and benefits.

Liquid Preamps

Liquid Preamps

A special Focusrite mic pre that is capable of emulating almost any kind of microphone preamplifier ever made, from transformer input types to the latest transparent op-amp-based design, using powerful digital and analogue modelling technology.

Analogue ins

Analogue ins

The purpose of an interface is to get signals in and out of your computer. While some of these signals will be from microphones, many will be at line level – for example from keyboards. The term “Analogue In/Out” refers to line level inputs and outputs provided by the interface.

Analogue outs

Analogue outs

The purpose of an interface is to get signals in and out of your computer. While some of these signals will be from microphones, many will be at line level – for example from keyboards. The term “Analogue In/Out” refers to line level inputs and outputs provided by the interface.

Headphone outputs

Headphone outputs

One or more special outputs specifically designed to drive a pair of headphones – ideal for monitoring your work when you can’t or don’t want to use loudspeaker monitors.

Instrument inputs

Instrument inputs

Unlike line inputs, these are high impedance inputs designed to suit the level and particularly the impedance of an instrument such as a guitar. The high impedance avoids the sound of the instrument being changed by loading it. Keyboards, however, are generally better connected to line inputs.

48V phantom power

48V phantom power

Some microphones need power, either to drive active circuitry, or, more usually, to polarise the plates of a condenser microphone. The industry standard voltage for this purpose is 48v DC and it is supplied via the connecting cable, rather than by means of a separate power cord (possibly hence the name “phantom”).

Analogue input pads

Analogue input pads

A pad in the audio sense is an attenuator – something that reduces the signal level, allowing an input or a microphone to accept higher levels than normal without introducing distortion.

S/PDIF I/O

S/PDIF I/O

S/PDIF (“Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format”) is a stereo digital connection originally designed for consumer audio, and using phono connectors. S/PDIF in and out enable you to get digital audio signals direct into your computer, and thus avoiding conversion to and from analogue, which can reduce the quality. Very useful if you have S/PDIF compatible digital devices, such as a ISA One with a digital card, or some FX units and keyboards.

ADAT I/O

ADAT I/O

An optical data transfer protocol developed by Alesis in the early 1990s for their ADAT digital recorders, which allows transmission of up to eight channels of digital audio data through a single TOSLINK optical digital interconnect. Since its introduction it has become common on many pieces of digital audio equipment. It can be used at higher than standard 44.1/48kHz sample rates by reducing the number of channels carried by a single interconnect.

Virtual loopback inputs

Virtual loopback inputs

A digital routing feature of some Focusrite interfaces where an input is provided in the audio interfacing software to allow a signal to be routed from any computer application into a digital audio workstation app running on the same computer. Useful for capturing audio from virtual instruments etc.

MIDI I/O

MIDI I/O

Music Instrument Digital Interface, a  serial interface that lets electronic musical instruments to communicate with each other and with computers. Originally, the information carried primarily consisted of instructions to play notes, performance control settings, and instrument configuration data, but over time the types of messages carried have increased in variety and complexity. Modern controllers, including a wide range of Novation products, allow all kinds of effects, looping and sample-triggering to be performed live via MIDI.

Max sample rate

Max sample rate

The sample rate of a digital system tells you how often the instantaneous signal is measured digitally to create the data stream that’s recorded. This determines the highest frequency you can record or play back – it’s half the sample rate. “Standard” sample rates are 44.1kHz (CD) and 48kHz (DVD); next up are 88.2 and 96 kHz (ie twice the standard rates) and sometimes you’ll see 192 and 176.4 (four times). We can’t hear above about 20kHz so you’d think 44.1kHz sampling was sufficient, and often it is. However sampling at higher rates (typically 88.2/96) allows the filters required in digital audio to be well outside the human hearing range, which can improve the quality.

Max bit depth

Max bit depth

The number of bits used to represent a digital signal. The more bits, the higher the dynamic range – the distance between the loudest and the softest sound you can record or play back. However, we can only hear around 20 bits’-worth of dynamic range, so 24-bit is all you need for an input or output. For digital processing you may need more, but it will be dithered down for output.

Connection protocol

Connection protocol

USB (Universal Serial Bus)

Developed in the mid-1990s to standardise the connection of power and data between computer peripherals (including keyboards, disk drives, audio interfaces and other devices) and computers. The latest incarnation is Version 3 (data rates up to 4Gb/s), but this is overkill for audio applications. Versions 1 (<12 Mb/s) and 2 (<280 Mb/s) are  sufficient for the majority of audio applications: USB 2.0 has the edge in complex or mission-critical applications.

FireWire (IEEE 1394) 

A standard for high-speed serial communications and real-time data transfer between computers and hard drives, audio interfaces and other devices. It was originally developed by Apple Inc., who called it FireWire. Unlike USB, which is essentially simply a system for connecting peripherals, Firewire has networking capabilities as well. The original implementation (FireWire 400 or 1394a) was capable of data transfer up to 400Mb/s while the later Firewire 800 (1394b) provides up to 800Mb/s.

Thunderbolt

A hardware interface for the connection of peripherals such as displays and hard drives to a computer. It uses the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP) and combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) interfaces plus limited DC power. Developed relatively recently, it can be used with FireWire devices via an adaptor if they are compatible – and all Focusrite FireWire interfaces are. Sometimes an additional power supply may be required, as Thunderbolt does not supply as much current as FireWire.

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FW 800 Comp.

FW 800 Comp.

A FireWire audio interface seldom requires any more bandwidth than the 400Mb/s of FW400, so you can use a FW400 to FW800 adaptor cable to go between the two. And in most cases a newer computer will have FW800 interfaces anyway.

FireWire ports

FireWire ports

All Focusrite Firewire-based interfaces are compatible with Thunderbolt, using a Thunderbolt to Firewire adaptor. As Thunderbolt only provides a small amount of power, you are recommended to use the power supply provided with the interface.

Thunderbolt Comp.

Thunderbolt Comp.

Thunderbolt is a hardware interface for the connection of peripherals such as displays and hard drives to a computer. It uses the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP) and combines PCI Express (PCIe) and DisplayPort (DP) interfaces plus limited DC power. Developed relatively recently, it can be used with FireWire devices via an adaptor if they are compatible – and all Focusrite FireWire interfaces are. Sometimes an additional power supply may be required, as Thunderbolt does not supply as much current as FireWire. 

Bus Powered

Bus Powered

Indicates that the device can be powered entirely by DC power supplied down the interface cable. USB, FireWire and Thunderbolt interfaces all supply power in this way, though the amount of power they provide varies, with FireWire providing the most. Some devices can be bus-powered for most of their functionality but require an additional power supply for additional features such as Phantom Power

Power Supply Included
Connects to iPad
Official 'Made for iPad'

Official 'Made for iPad'

A licensing programme for developers of hardware and software peripherals that work with Apple's iPod, iPad and iPhone, referred generically as iDevices. Indicates that the device has passed a range of tests required by Apple for approval under the scheme.

DSP Effects

DSP Effects

“DSP” stands for Digital Signal Processing, and DSP technology is a core part of modern audio equipment. Here it’s used to provide features such as compressor/limiters, reverberation, equalisers and more.

VRM**

VRM**

Virtual Reference Monitoring

A Focusrite technology based on Digital Signal Processing (DSP) in which real-world monitoring environments (typically a certain type of loudspeakers in a certain type of room) are modelled for headphones, allowing the listener to experience how their mix will sound in multiple listening environments without having to own them.

Routing software

Routing software

Computer software that allows you to connect different parts of an interface to different aspects of other devices, for example which physical socket on the box is fed to what input on your Digital Audio Workstation.

Direct Monitoring

Direct Monitoring

Direct, or “Zero latency” Monitoring

Almost any kind of digital signal processing takes time, resulting in an audio delay (called latency). As a result, if you monitor a signal after processing (for example a vocal being fed into your DAW) you’ll hear a delay that may be impossible to work with. Direct Monitoring (aka Zero Latency monitoring) avoids this by letting you monitor the signal going into the interface, so you avoid the delay. It essentially connects the input of the device to the output so you can hear it directly.

Word Clock I/O

Word Clock I/O

A special clocking signal for synchronising digital signals between different units. Primarily found on older, high-end products. More commonly, digital signals (such as AES/EBU and S/PDIF) include clocking information embedded in the digital audio stream.

Jitter Elimination

Jitter Elimination

Jitter is the unwanted variation (usually rapid) of the clock rate in a digital audio system. Clocking must be rock-solid to ensure that the proper relationship between audio samples is maintained. Jitter can audibly degrade the quality of sound, especially in stereo spreads and at high frequencies. It can even affect whether or not drums are in time.

LED metering

LED metering

Gain Halo

A feature unique to Focusrite interfaces, where an LED ring around the input level control gives you an instant go/no-go indication of input level. Green means there is a signal present; red means it’s too loud.

Bundled Software***
Standalone Operation
Rackmountable
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iTrack Solo
1
0
2
2
1
1
Y
0
N
N
N
N
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0 / 30-Pin
N
N/A
N/A
Y
US only
Via 30-pin
Y
N
N
N
Y
N
Y
Gain Halos
N
N
N
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Scarlett 2i2
2
0
2
2
1
2
Y
0
N
N
N
N
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
Y
N/A
N
N
N
N
N
Y
N
Y
Gain Halos
Y
N
N
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Forte
2
0
2
4
1
2
Y
2
N
N
N
N
192kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y
OLED
Y
Y
N
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Scarlett 2i4
2
0
2
4
1
2
Y
2
N
N
N
Y
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
Y
N/A
N
N
N
N
N
Y
N
Y
Gain Halos
Y
N
N
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Saffire PRO 14
2
0
4
4
1
2
Y
0
Y
N
Y
Y
96kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
1
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y (Jet PLL™)
2 Segments
Y
Y
N
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Scarlett 6i6
2
0
4
4
2
2
Y
2
Y
N
N
Y
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
N
Y
Via Camera Kit
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y
Gain Halos
Y
Y
N
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Saffire PRO 24
2
0
4
6
1
2
Y
0
Y
Y (Input only)
Y
Y
96kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
1
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y (Jet PLL™)
5 Segments
Y
Y
N
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Saffire PRO 24 DSP
2
0
4
6
2
2
Y
0
Y
Y (Input only)
Y
Y
96kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
1
Y
Y
Y
N
N
Y
Y
Y
Y*
N
Y (Jet PLL™)
5 Segments
Y
Y
N
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Saffire PRO 26
4
0
6
6
2
2
Y
2
Y
Y (Input only)
Y
Y
96kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
1
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y (Jet PLL™)
5 Segments
Y
Y
N
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Scarlett 18i8
4
0
8
6
2
2
Y
4
Y
Y (Input only)
N
Y
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
N
Y
Via Camera Kit
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y
Gain Halos
Y
Y
N
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Saffire PRO 40
8
0
8
10
2
2
Y
2
Y
Y
Y
Y
96kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
2
Y
N
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
N
Y (Jet PLL™)
5 Segments
Y
Y
Y
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Scarlett 18i20
8
0
8
10
2
2
Y
2
Y
Y
N
Y
96kHz
24-bit
USB 2.0
N
N/A
N/A
N
Y
Via Camera Kit
N
N
N
Y
Y*
Y (Output)
Y
5 Segments
Y
Y
Y
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Liquid Saffire 56
8
2
8
10
2
2
Y
2
Y
Y
Y
Y
192kHz
24-bit
FireWire 400
Y
2
Y
N
Y
N
N
N
N
Y
Y*
Y
Y (Jet PLL™)
5 Segments
N
Y
Y
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VRM Box
0
0
0
2
1
0
N/A
N/A
In Only
N
N
N
48kHz
24-bit
USB 1.1/2.0
N
N/A
N/A
Y
N/A
N
N
N
Y
Y
N
N
Y
N
N
N
N
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  • ** Virtual Reference Monitoring
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