Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Even when tested with a distorted electric guitar, the recording and playback through studio monitors still sounded great. Same with the microphone preamp. At its price, this is our top recommendation for home offices and simple recording jobs. The Halo LEDs around the knobs are also extremely helpful. No complaints.
If you don't need a lot of i/o, the Focusrite Scarlett will save you some money and give you all the basics for small-scale recording projects. I tested it with electric guitar, acoustic, bass, and vocals, monitoring with both open air studio monitors and direct monitoring with headphones.
I was also able to play my instrument while listening to a song playback on the computer, which is great for guitar covers and YouTube videos.
Here's one I did using the Scarlett Solo:
The audio interface makes it very easy to mix the two. To get my instrument louder, I'd turn up the instrument input and turn down the direct monitor volume. So it's a simple device, but Focusrite is one of the biggest name in the audio interface business, and these smaller form interfaces are great to save money if you don't need more complexity.
We'll cover more details in my full Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd gen review, below.
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Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen Price Guide
Like I said, the Scarlett Solo is priced to sell. But if you want to compare and look at some of the bundles available, we have it here, updated in real time.
Prices updated Tue, December 05th, 2023.
Pricing from Sweetwater
Price Alert Tool
Price History for Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface
|Current Price||$129.99||December 2, 2023|
|Highest Price||$129.99||March 2, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$90.99||July 13, 2023|
Last price changes
|$129.99||September 9, 2023|
|$99.99||August 31, 2023|
|$129.99||August 3, 2023|
|$99.99||July 15, 2023|
|$90.99||July 13, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Home studios, offices, small recording projects, instruments, instrument monitoring.
Note that we do not provide number ratings for audio interfaces.
Preamps and sound/recording quality
There are technical differences between preamps in audio interfaces that can impact sound and recording quality. Unwanted noise, distortion, latency, and coloration of your tone can change depending on the preamp in question.
With Focusrite, as best I can tell, they're using a high quality preamp, even in their cheaper interfaces.
The main cost-cutting measure taken is to reduce i/o to only the XLR and instrument input. If you don't need or want the additional i/o, this won't even matter.
So I know there's a Focusrite brand preamp, though I'm not sure if there are variations in quality between them, or if there are multiple types. Converters will have a say in sound quality as well, so we have to acknowledge that the internals here are hard to pin down.
At no point did I notice any issues with tone coloration, unwanted distortion, latency, any kind of unwanted noise.
Playback and recording were absolutely crystal clear.
So if Focusrite is taking other cost-cutting measures, I definitely could not tell, and I have zero complaints about the sound.
Other features and specs
The feature list is pretty standard for an interface this size. As I mentioned earlier, I really liked the Halo indicators on the level knobs for each channel. This made it really easy to dial back gain if I needed to.
On the right of the front panel, that large knob controls the direct monitoring levels, which I tested with a pair of studio headphones.
I'd recommend the larger-form studio headphones with the over-ear design.
I also tried the in-ear Audio-Technica ATH-E40 headphones. You don't get the same fullness of sound as you do with the larger headphone set, but it still sounded really good, which speaks to the quality of the 3rd Gen Solo.
Here are some additional features worth mentioning:
- Air switch
- 48V phantom power
- 2 x 1/4" analog outputs
A note about outputs
For studio monitors I used the Adam Audio T7V set, which only have XLR inputs. This is not unusual for high-end studio monitors, but I had to get a TRS to XLR cable in order to hook them up, because the Scarlett is only has the two TRS outs.
It got me thinking: Why do more audio interfaces not have XLR outputs?
Maybe someone who is more technically savvy than I am can comment on that.
In my humble opinion, it would have been really nice to have XLR outs on the back of the Scarlett. That said, this is true of most audio interfaces, even the bigger ones.
Price and Value
The Scarlett Solo is one of Focusrite's most affordable audio interfaces. There are also a lot of bundled packages that include headphones and sometimes microphones.
These can save you some additional money.
So this is a very high-value option if you don't need expanded i/o. Check the price guide above for an updated number, because pricing and availability is always subject to change.
The wrap up
We trust the Focusrite brand for recording gear, regardless of price range. My experience with the Scarlett left no complaints, so we'd recommend it for basic recording setups and small home studios.
If you have questions about our Focusrite Scarlett review, drop them in the comments section below.
We answer every comment, so we'll help out as much as possible.
See you there.