Focusrite 2nd vs 3rd Gen and others - help please

I am thinking about upgrading my 2i2 2nd gen to a 18i8 3rd gen for the 4 combo inputs on the front.

Q1: I remember some talk about issues with 2nd gen maybe that were corrected with 3rd gen. @Koldunya was this you or @howard that were discussing? Does anyone know?

Q2: Alternatives to Focusrite and why would I want to care or buy different? 4 combo inputs are the requirement for sure.

Anything else I should be considering?

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The word is that the 3rd gen Scarletts improved on the DIs. Previous ones were reported to overload/clip pretty easily and so people used DIs into the mic input as is tradition with mixers.

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This one is on the way for me …


I am not keen on this Focusrite ‘feature’…
The mic preamps now feature Focusrite’s acclaimed Air mode that provides the coveted Air effect modeled on the company’s legendary ISA console transformers to give your voice and instrument recordings a brighter, more open sound.

I like clean, all day long.
I like 8 vs 4, and I really like that there are 4 on the backside!
@DaveT, what does all this mean?..
It has 40-bit DSP-driven cue mixing onboard that lets you set up four independent stereo mixes quickly and easily
What does that do that the focusrite doesn’t (or so it appears)?
When would one use the ‘mixer’ in our context?


You know, recently when listening to my bass soloed in my DAW, I feel like there is clipping, but not any from amp or input into DAW. This must be the issue. Doesn’t always happen but in some setups it does indeed do this. Interesting.

This Roland may just win my Christmas giftcards that have been sitting here wondering what to get spent on.

This is a multichannel version of the knob that lets you monitor a mix between the inputs and the DAW output. If you have a group you can do 4 different monitor mixes in the DAI and send them back out to everyone near 0 latency because it all happens before it hits the DAW.

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And the gift cards go to…the Roland!

I wanted some extra inputs to leave a Ric-O-Sound setup plugged in (I am lazy), along with my normal input and sax mic input(s) vs. plugging and unplugging etc.
I like ‘pristine VS Preamps’ too.

Thanks for the tip!

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It also has some reverb effects for the monitor mix if you have a singer or just want it to sound a little more cohesive in people’s ears.

The only drawback I see is that it’s USB 2.0 and has been out for awhile. All good if they keep updating the driver to track OS versions.

I was pretty salty at first that my Focusrite 18i20 3rd Gen was still USB 2.0 despite having a USB C socket on it. PreSonus does the same thing in this price range, though, so they aren’t sinning alone. That said, performance is fine and I got it brand new for $400 (vs $550…). Hard to complain about that. It comes with a USB C to B cable so I ended up buying a C cable since I have one C socket on my motherboard and I wanted to use it vs another hub XD

Yeah, this is what I read people talking about. You wouldn’t see it on the device’s meters but it was audible in audio. Focusrite now advertises “High headroom instrument inputs” XD

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And that’s what made me very confused!!

For a bunch of noobs this forum has some serious high quality info!!! You all rock.

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To clarify, this mode is totally optional and is off by default. It’s enabled by a button on the interface itself.

It’s in the Focusrite Control software for the 18i20 :unamused:

But yeah, it’s definitely off by default.

@John_E how much do you care about preamp quality? That’s the big differentiator for these entry level audio interfaces. Usually will only matter for mics, instruments will all be more affected by other factors.

If you really care about mic preamp quality, then there are better choices than Focusrite - MOTU, SSL, some others. Both MOTU and SSL make 4-input versions. Another advantage is the SSL has a knob that goes to 11 :rofl:

Otherwise the Focusrites are probably as good as any other consumer-grade DAI.

The next option is to step up to the next tier, which starts at around $750-1k, but I don’t know too much about them. @DaveT might.

If you are just running instruments in, and don’t care about mic preamp noise floors, then the better Focusrites are probably as good a choice as any of the other in this tier.

This guy’s comparison videos are great:

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I’m running a 3rd Gen Focusrite Scarlett @howard. I’ve read the manual but I can’t find the ‘fix my crappy timing button’. Is that something that MOTU offers?

I do care for sax, which I am finally getting set up properly to record.
I do not really care for the whole Focusrite software thing either, give me buttons.
I ordered the Roland, let’s see what she can do.

Only in the $2000 and up models

No but it comes with groupies, which is almost as good

Would it be possible to take more than one input through this mixer and use an output to go to the input of my amp?
If so this thing just solved another thing for me.

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You could just buy a mixer, a pair of PA’s, and sell the now useless amps :slight_smile:

Many mixers have audio interfaces built in. Unfortunately usually they are after mixdown, which is not what you generally want for recording in a DAW.

Reason I ask this is i need a 2 channel mixer for Ric-O-Sound fun.
Don’t need the mixer to record into my DAW of course, but would need one to combine my two signal paths back to my amp for just playing. If I can use this mixer feature in the DAI, and send one of the outputs to the amp, would do the trick.