Focusrite Scarlett Studio Bundle Review – Need Scarlett 2i2 or Solo for streaming?

They may not be the most flashy piece of technology you can add to your desktop setup, but an audio interface unlocks so many interesting audio options that it might just be one of the most exciting – if you’re a total nerd, that is.

Despite being a little bit more expensive than the real deals in the basement, it is Solo and 2i2 in Focusrite Scarlett series are easily some of the best sound interfaces you can pick up as an enthusiast.

Focusrite Scarlett Studio Bundle Review

With a relatively affordable price point and a feature set that actually works for many different use cases, both the Solo and 2i2 in the Scarlett series are easy to recommend.

But just in time for the gift season, they are now available in the Focusrite Scarlett Studio Bundle, which packs in either 2i2 or Solo with an XLR microphone and a pair of monitor headphones at a price comparable to premium USB microphones.

Although the included extras are quite utilitarian – the screens are not nearly as comfortable as the best headsets – the sound interface is great and the microphone is good, despite not having the really simple and streamlined software from USB-connected competitors.

It’s easy to categorize USB microphones as the simple “plug-in-and-play” option and paint XLR as the more professionally focused, granular alternative. But in my experience, this is not so much down to the hardware as the software that comes with the products.

When it comes to connecting a Focusrite Scarlett to your computer and connecting a microphone, it’s as easy as anything else, just with an extra layer. It’s when it comes to implementing things like noise reduction that the proprietary audio packages you get with something like the Yeti X or EPOS B20 give you a simpler path than diving into third-party solutions.

This is where you can really see that Focusrite is more geared towards music recording than streaming, because what you get with Studio Bundle though is a lot of free plugins and startup workspaces – great if you play music, less so if you want a squeaky clean sound to your stream.

But on the flip side, even though it’s a lot more work, you can see this as an opportunity to create a more custom sound suite for yourself – the whole point of getting an XLR is, after all, to have a professional level of flexibility. Even with several premium options, such as the aforementioned EPOS B20, the included audio software with USB microphones can leave a lot to be desired, and here you can just focus right away on putting together something that works for you.

In terms of value in the Studio Bundle, despite coming in a large exciting box that would really be a fun gift regardless of the very practical nature of the product, the included monitor headphones and microphone in the Focusrite Studio Bundle are not the best so you can consider downloading the interface only if you are buying for yourself.

However, you will not come close to grabbing a few better cans and a plush microphone within the approx. £ 70ish, you save by choosing the little red box, so if you do not have a suitable set of over-ears or an XLR-connected microphone already, or plan that this should be the only sound output you make, it is not an active bad deal. But if your budget extends to the extra few hundred it would take to pick up one of the more popular XLR microphones and a more advanced set of headphones, it’s still no use paying for what you would upgrade.

In this regard, it is also worth noting that the included microphone with Focusrite Studio Bundle is a capacitor microphone. “Capacitor” microphones are more sensitive to noise than the “dynamic” XLR-connected microphones people usually choose when streaming, as dynamic microphones are better at omitting the background intrusions that often occur in a gaming stream as a pc fan or clack mechanical keyboard.

Do you need an audio interface for game streaming?

The simple answer here is probably not. You can definitely get away with using a USB microphone and there is a reason why the Blue Yeti is ubiquitous in the stream of hobbyists and professionals.

But for the same reason, there is also a reason why audiophiles swear by XLR-connected microphones and dent over claims of more expensive USB options.

So why would you need an audio interface for game streaming?

If you want high quality sound that is still flexible enough to do fun things with, then you need an audio interface and XLR microphone. For example, if you want to add some silly modulations to your repertoire – like emulating the narrator from Darkest Dungeon or putting autotune on your voice – then having a clean signal makes it a lot easier, and that’s something many great streamers do.

Many USB microphones are very self-contained, only work with the included software, and are therefore only as good as that program. While working with a Focusrite Scarlett, you can take your sound to more creative places.

In addition, interfaces in general, and specifically the Focusrite Scarlett series, have a Direct Monitor feature that lets you hear the audio signal entering the device. Whether you’re podcasting or streaming, this allows you to keep an eye – or rather an ear – at what’s going on, so you can adjust the levels to prevent sounds from clipping if things get violent, or telling about your viewers / listeners can really hear your significant other singing in the shower from upstairs.

Outside of gaming streams, both the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and Solo have instrument inputs that let you record your own physical instruments in a DAW like (the included ones) Pro Tools or use your computer as an essentially silent amplifier.

The Scarlett series stands out as an affordable sound interface that does not spoil your instrument signal with absolutely knotty distortion if you try to play something with a little chest hair – making it perfect for rock and metal players, or any kind of guitarist, bassist, or another musician who wants to take advantage of the abundance of amazing free amplifier sims or effects suites out there.

So even though you may not want to take advantage of these right now, you know that it will not be useless if you ever want to in the future.

Do you need Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or Solo?

When it comes to choosing whether to buy Scarlett 2i2 or Solo, you do not have to worry about the inside. Both interfaces have the same quality insides, and the only choice you make is whether you need two full XLR inputs or one.

If your use case streams or records a podcast with two people in the same room, each with their own XLR microphone, then you need to use 2i2 to record them both at the same time.

But if you fly … solo … Scarlett Solo has the individual XLR input you need, as well as an additional instrument input you can use for a guitar or similar music producer.

Is the Focusrite Scarlett Studio Bundle worth it?

As we discussed above, although the included headphones are not the most comfortable, you need to buy a lot of 2nd hand to see a marked improvement for the same price as the Focusrite Studio Bundle.

On the input side, the included condenser microphone is not ideal for a busy computer desk, and investing in a different dynamic microphone can serve you better in noisy environments.

But having said that, the Scarlett Studio Bundle microphone has worked better for me than many others I’ve tried, especially with extra noise reduction – so it’s definitely good enough. But then you have to weigh up why you are bothering with an audio interface at all; if it is to have almost perfect, background-free sound for your stream or podcast, then you might want to look at a dynamic microphone.

At the time of writing, a Scarlett Solo gives you back ~ £ 90 on Amazon UK, with the Studio Bundle at just over £ 160. When the most popular standalone XLR microphones cost around £ 100, with some closer to £ 300 alone, you can see that there is a decent value proposition in the bundle, even if you end up upgrading the accessory.

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