Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Review: Does it worth $12?

With the latest Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3, the manufacturer continues a success story. The Scarlett series of audio interfaces has enjoyed great popularity since the first generation. Thanks to it’s high quality at affordable prices. Let’s see what they offers in this focusrite scarlett solo gen 3 review.

focusrite scarlett solo 3rd gen review 3

Focusrite has found a recipe with its red interfaces that obviously works well. With its two input channels and a single preamp, the Scarlett Solo is the smallest representative of the series.

9.5Expert Score
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen Rating

The entry-level and travel interface in its third edition.

Good Points
  • Air circuit,
  • Compact design,
  • Direct monitoring,
  • Solid metal housing,
  • Very good microphone preamp,
  • Comprehensive software package,
Bad Points
  • No separate volume controls for monitors and headphones.

Not only does Focusrite offer three interface series at once, but they also offer an unusual variety of models. Currently, probably no other manufacturer offers as many audio interfaces as Focusrite.

The Red series is for professional environments. The Clarett series for studio projects and demanding sound tinkerers. And for price-conscious home users, there’s the Scarlett series. The British manufacturer has now revised the latter again.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen: Important Features at a glance

  • Two-channel USB audio interface,
  • Microphone preamp with phantom power and air circuitry,
  • Line / instrument input,
  • Two balanced sound outputs,
  • Conversion with up to 24Bit/192kHz,
  • Direct monitoring,
  • Comprehensive software package,

Features and Specialties

Externally, the third generation of Scarlett audio interfaces differs little from its predecessors. There is an attractive new feature of the Scarlett Solo on the rear panel. Instead of RCA jacks, there are now balanced jack outputs for connecting studio monitors.

Focusrite Scarlett front features
The Scarlett Solo offers connections for a microphone and a line or instrument signal on the front.

The Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen is connect via a USB-C interface to the computer. The protocol is still USB 2.0. Which is absolutely sufficient for two channels at up to 192 kHz sampling rate and offers high compatibility. It includes an adapter cable from USB C to USB A.

Focusrite Scarlett back features
On the back of the new edition of the Scarlett you will find symmetrical jack connections for studio monitors.

Of the two channels, one is a mic preamp with XLR input and offers a gain control, a 48V phantom power selector for powering condenser mics. And the “Air” circuit. This is intended to emulate the sound of the legendary Focusrite ISA preamps. The second channel of the Focusrite Solo Gen 3 lends itself to recording line and high-impedance instrument signals such as electric guitars.

You can connect a pair of headphones to the front panel. The volume control of the current Scarlett Solo turns out large and feels very valuable in hand. It is a pity that the headphones and monitors of the Scarlett Solo cannot be adjusted separately in volume. However, it is pleasant to note that Focusrite has apparently improved the headphone amplifier.

While older Scarlett models were somewhat weak, especially when operating high-impedance studio headphones. The Scarlett Solo in the third generation has no problems operating headphones with an impedance beyond 200 ohms at sufficiently high levels.

Hope you are enjoying this focusrite scarlett solo gen 3 review. You can also read Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Review.

Sound Performance

Focusrite has redesigned the preamps of the Scarlett’s third-generation audio interfaces from the ground up. As a result, the Scarlett Solo‘s microphone input also delivers good values for the price range. With a maximum gain of 56 dB and an inherent noise of -128 dB(A).

The preamps sound pleasantly neutral, to begin with. Noise is not a problem even at high gain values. If you activate the air circuit, the sound opens up. A clear emphasis on the higher frequencies occurs, and it sounds as if the signal is slightly compressed.

While the effect can be intrusive on a bright-sounding microphone, it sounds very pleasant on voice and acoustic guitar with neutral to more muted characteristics. For beginners in particular, who may not yet own a condenser microphone, can use the Air circuit to conjure up quite usable and finely resolved sounds from a dynamic microphone like the Shure SM58 into the DAW.

A direct signal from an electric guitar also does not cause any difficulties for the Scarlett Solo Gen 3. Sharp strokes are record true to the original, and noise is not an issue here either with a buffer size of 128 samples.

The Scarlett Solo on a Mac already achieves a roundtrip latency of just under 11 ms. Which is remarkable for this price range and completely sufficient for software monitoring through the DAW. However, there is also the possibility to monitor the input signal latency-free via direct monitoring XLINKX.

The sound characteristics of the preamp and converter of the current Scarlett interfaces is very well in the “big” Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen. in the audio examples.

Other Features

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen comes with a comprehensive software package. Including Ableton Live First, Pro Tools First, XLN Addictive Keys, and the Focusrite Red plug-ins. However, of particular note are the normally paid-for plug-ins from Softube. Which are included as a Time & Tone bundle and are tried and true professional tools.

Conclusion of the Focusrite Scarlett solo 3rd gen review

The Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen from Focusrite is an excellent USB audio interface for beginners. We can unreservedly recommend to anyone looking for an interface to record their voice or instrument at home. The improved preamp doesn’t need to hide behind many more expensive interfaces. The Air circuit is a nice feature that expands the sound palette of the Scarlett Solo a bit more.

However, the Scarlett Solo is also built solidly and compactly enough, so it can definitely serve as a travel interface on the road. A really useful software package rounds out the package. Overall, Focusrite offers a high-quality package at a fair price with the Scarlett Solo in its current third generation.

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