The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is one of the most popular budget audio interfaces available today. On nearly any recording forum, it’s almost guaranteed to be mentioned when users ask for low cost interface suggestions without the need for a large number of channels, and it seems to have gained even more interest since it was featured in some of Misha Mansoor’s videos about recording guitars. I recently decided to buy a Scarlett 2i2 so I could see if it’s truly such a solid choice.
The world of budget, portable audio interfaces is in great health. There are many options available today of very high quality. Preamps and converters in budget interfaces have reached a level that would have seemed impossible at such a low price point 10 or 15 years ago. If you don’t need to record a huge number of inputs simultaneously, there’s no reason you can’t make great recordings these days with a $200 interface (or even cheaper).
Even though it’s harder than ever to go wrong, I’m going to focus on one of my personal favorites: the Creative Labs E-MU 0404 USB 2.0. It’s been around for quite a few years and is actually discontinued now, so you may wonder why it’s even worth considering since I just mentioned how many great options there are these days, but these interfaces are pretty easy to find and I feel they’re still one of the best options out there. I even found a retailer selling one in a never-opened box less than 6 months ago. If you check eBay somewhat regularly, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one, and I believe it’s a worthy choice even if it has to be purchased used.
No matter how creative you are…
No matter how good your gear is…
No matter how long you spend editing and mixing…
Things will never sound great unless you get them right at the source.
Garbage in, garbage out is one of the most applicable phrases to apply to recording. “Fix it in the mix” has become a popular catchphrase as well, but I have no idea why, as it is almost always a misnomer. More often than not, attempts to make things sound “right” when they didn’t before will be futile. Spend time getting things right from the beginning and your job will be much easier and more rewarding. The quality of your source material is what will make or break your recording.
Great for musical styles requiring robot-like gating, but not a good solution for sloppy playing
(image courtesy of Adam “Nolly” Getgood)
Quite a few of my favorite recording engineers put out extremely high quality material from their home studios. Some of these individuals have now fallen into awesome opportunities to record in commercial studios, but what they all have in common is their ability to create incredible sounding recordings on budget gear (and likely less than ideal room acoustics). These engineers prove that you don’t have to spend a ton to make high quality recordings. Kick back and take a listen.
Ah, the comfort of a home studio!