Looking for an entry-level audio interface in the market, can be a challenge at times. Especially if you are just starting out as an engineer or producer, it can often times be confusing. But do not fret, today I have prepared a “Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 review”, which is in my opinion, a great product for the recording enthusiast!
An audio interface with a sleek and stylish design, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, is a part of the “Scarlett” line of audio interfaces that are designed to be compatible with “USB 2.0”. Similar to its predecessors, it comes with a variety of quality inputs and outputs, to meet the needs of various recording situations.
With its four mic pre amps and expansion capability, the Scarlett 18i8 is ideal for recording multiple tracks and instruments at home, or even in the studio. Scarlett 18i8 is also compatible with Mac, PC and iPad (Apple Camera Connection Kit required for iPad).
Next, I will be walking you through some of the important features of this interface.
- Rugged metal uni-body chassis
- Two headphone outputs, each with its own volume control
- Four award winning Focusrite mic pre-amps with 18 inputs and 8 outputs
- High quality 24bit 96KHz audio interface for Mac, Pc and iPad
- Comes with an authorization code that allows access to Ableton Live Lite, Scarlett Plug-in Suite (RTAS/AU/VST), Red 2 and Red 3 plug-in suite (AAX/AU/VST), the Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Novation Bass Station, and 1GB of Loopmasters samples.
Let’s talk a bit more about some of the features above, and see how it will be a benefit to you.
As you can see from the features stated above, the Scarlett 18i8 has a fantastic expansion capability. In other words, it will allow you to record even more instruments in the future, if you ever need to. The first two inputs at the front of the unit (universal XLR/TRS connectors), accepts mic, instrument and line level signals, and inputs 3 to 4 accepts mic or line level signals (same connectors as input 1 and 2).
There are also four line inputs (TRS connectors) provided at the back. The awesome thing is that, you will be able to add an additional 8 digital inputs, thanks to the ADAT optical digital connector (at the rear of the unit) that can be used to connect with external mic pre-amps like Focusrite’s “Octo Pre MK II” (sold seperately). The two seperate headphone outputs (TRS connectors) with individual volume controls, also allows the engineer and the the musician to each have their own monitoring.
And lastly, Focusrite’s precision 24bit, 96KHz sampling A/D and D/A conversion, allows for the most accurate audio signal possible to be transmitted into and out from your digital editing software on PC, Mac and also iOS apps!
Rugged and Ready
With the Scarlett 18i8, you don’t have to worry about durability. This unit is housed in a tough, compact red uni-body metal case, that will definitely allow you to bring along this interface on your tours or gigs, without having to worry about a thing.
The input level controls are also innovatively designed with signal halos-LED rings around it, which gives you a straightforward indication of the signal level – green means there is a healthy signal level and red indicates an overload. Also, the big main monitor knob, together with a mute button very close to it, ensures that you will always have easy access to the main monitor levels.
What makes it worthwhile with the Scarlett 18i8, is the fact that it comes bundled with a free software. You will be provided with an activation code (inside packaging), that will grant you access to Ableton Live Lite (through online download), together with Focusrite’s Scarlett plug-in suite and Red 2 & Red 3 Plug-In suite. Take note that you need to register the product first before downloading.
You do not have too worry about compatibility issues with the plug-ins, as the Scarlett plug-in suite is designed to be compatible with all major DAWs. In case if you are wondering, the suite provides you with EQ, Compression, Gate and Reverb effects. All these are essential tools that you can use in your mixes!
Here’s a great video of the Scarlett 18i8 in action!
The Pros and Cons
- Great solid metal uni-body chassis
- Comes bundled with free software
- Versatility in connections (ADAT, USB, S/PDIF, MIDI)
- Expansion capability (able to connect to external mic pre amps)
- Very intuitive design for monitoring controls
- High quality and transparent mic pre-amps
- Too many free samples or plug-ins that you might not need
- Packaging does not come with an installation CD (must be done on-line)
- No individual phantom power control (one button controls inputs 1-4)
Whether you are a looking forward to a serious career as a producer, or just an enthusiast wanting to record your band’s latest demo, the Scarlett 18i8 is the perfect choice. Don’t worry about not needing the extra mic pre-amps or the other inputs and outputs.
Because when the time comes where you and your friends come together to record a jam session, you will be glad to have those options (trust me! I’ve been there!).
Either way, for those who are more serious about your music, I would definitely recommend the Scarlett 18i8. As an engineer/musician myself, I know how important it is to have quality recordings, regardless of the size of my productions. And with the high quality, transparent mic pre-amps, packaged in a sturdy and rugged metal case, this very affordable interface is definitely on my list of “Best Buys”!
Thanks for reading this review and I hope you have enjoyed it. Do leave comments or questions below!