Pro Audio Files

Recording a Song w/ the Focursite Scarlett Solo

Hi, it’s Warren Huart here of Produce Like a Pro, and today, I’m going to look at the entry level Focusrite IO. The entry level interface.

So it’s the Scarlett Solo. Tiny little thing, but it’s everything we need to make some rock and roll history.

Alright, so in here, we have a rather fetching looking unit. It has a mic input and a separate gain control. Obviously, there is a phantom on/off control for a condenser microphone. Then we have a quarter inch input. This quarter inch input has an instrument in — an instrument gain selector and a line gain selector. Now, you might ask why that is. Obviously, if you plug a guitar in, it’s going to have a completely different impedance to a line input from say, a mic pre or something like that.

Or probably in most instances, say a keyboard. And that of course has its own gain control. Over to the right, we have a monitor volume control, and we have a direct selection, which you can turn on and off, and a headphone output.

Now, the direct selection is basically so I can just listen to say, the microphone or the guitar input directly off it. You might ask why would that be? Well, when you’re not using HD systems, and you’re using say, Pro Tools standard native systems, you might get a pretty heavy latency if you’re playing an intricate guitar part, it could probably be a little stressful trying to go [imitate guitar] all that delay could sort of be a sixteenth note out.

So what I often do when I’m using this kind of stuff is I turn the direct monitoring on, then I can hear what’s coming in on the quarter inch input here directly over the track. We’ll show you how it works. It’s pretty nifty.

Okay, on the back, we have a USB cable, and we have a RCA left and right output for powered speakers. Okay, that’s basically it.

So let’s plug this little baby in and take it for a spin. Okay, here is our cable. Dun dun dun! USB. We’re going into my old, beaten up MacBook Pro here. Alright, fantastic. Okay, so we’ve got Pro Tools open here. Let’s go up and hit our playback engine and select the Scarlett Solo USB. This baby here. And okay.

Okay, new session. Let’s get — let’s go for rock guitar. We’ll just let it default to 44.1kHz, 24-bit, that’s fine. You know what, just for the hell of it, I’ll go to 48kHz, because most of my templates, if I end up mixing this song that we’re about to write from scratch, it’ll be at 48kHz.

Okay, we’ll just save it on the desktop for the time being. Okay, so here we have it. Here’s our nice template. Alright, let’s plug in some headphones and have a listen to what they’re giving us.


That works for me. Let’s start off with a rhythm electric guitar. Cool. So it’s plugging in our guitar. I’m a guitar player, so I’m going to start with guitar. Okay, so let’s go to our input. We’re on input two here.


There’s a little latency there.


It’s not terrible. Let’s get some decent level. You see there, it’s —


I like this. So it’s green, it lights up on the outside, I keep going up.


I’m a — I always push it to the limit a little bit on the —


Keep going. See where it overdrives.


It’s clipping a little bit in Pro Tools occasionally. We’ll just come down slightly here. Okay cool. Now what we’re going to do here, because of slight latency, I’m going to go to the direct monitoring.


Also, it’s interesting. So what I can hear is a little bit of the DI with the distorted guitar together. Okay, cool. Let’s try it.


Cool. So that was a twelve-bar funk groove. Let us take it and loop it.

So I’ll make it repeat. Do a couple of extra bars here. So what I’m doing to do that is I’m highlighting, and then I’m hitting Option+R, and then I’m putting in the amount of numbers. See? And then we’re looping it. Pretty straight forward.

Okay, so we have a funky guitar part. Let’s put another funky guitar part against that. So what I did there is I did Shift+Option+D, and I will take off the active — what this does is by duplicating the track, I duplicate all the inputs and the outputs and everything, so now what I can do is I can pan the old one over to the right, and the new one to the left. So say, for instance, I can play something against it.


Cool. So that’ll do it. Take a quick listen. I’m in input there. Input is Option+K, in and out.


That riff is my favorite. I’m going to copy it to here.


And here. And here.


That one is great. So the original, copy that, paste it over here.


Cool. So now let’s take those two twelve bar sections and hit Option+R, and here we go. Okay, so now we have two guitar parts, left and right. Let us do some bass. Now, they had a keyboard bass input on this, but let’s do some real bass. I’ll use the same thing. I’ve got to Shift+Option+D and create a new track and hit bass guitar, and the reason why I’m going to do that is because it gives me all the inputs.

Okay, so we have our bass plugged in. Let’s go to our Eleven setting here. See if there’s any presets. Overdrive, cream crunch, modern. I wonder if it has any bass settings? Let’s go vintage clean for the heck of it.


Bass has a little bit more output, so let’s bring it down here.


I’m fine with that. The only thing I would change is obviously a little more bottom end here. Let’s see what EQ they’ve got going on here. Nothing. So that’s good. Alright, great. We don’t need a verb going in there, or a delay on the chorus or anything. Obviously, the headphone output will stay constant.

Okay, great. Let us try this.


Cool. I like that second one. I think I had the part down by the second time.

Okay, so copy, which is the C button, V to paste, and now we have three sets of twelve bar playing bass and some guitar.

Okay, cool. So we’ve got a Lewitt LTC-550 setup here, which is a nice condenser. I’ll try not to smash everything while I try to plug it all in. Okay. So let’s plug it in here, let’s bring the gain down first. We’re going to create a brand new channel, so Shift+Command+N for new, audio track, the term for create. We’re going to come in and see built in microphone one there. Let’s call this acoustic.

Now, next thing to do would be to hit phantom.


A little bit of a thump there.


Okay. So those of you who watched in my video will know I mic between the 12th and the 14th fret or on the body low down here if it’s a pencil condenser. I do that quite often. It sounds fantastic. We’ll just do 12 and 14 fret out here. No fancy settings on the mic, just set to cardioid.


Let’s make something up.


Cool. Okay, let’s highlight all of that. Again, all twelve bars, hit Option+R, and let’s do our same thing. It’s highlighted, so I’m going to hit Shift+Option+D, active playlist. Let’s do acoustic — um, let’s call it acoustic 2. Let’s pan one slightly left, one slightly right.


Cool. That was basically it. I think I just want to get that ending better, so I’m going to go in here on that last one, I’m going to hit Command+K, which selects my pre-roll, and I’m going to put in 2 bars, just to give myself a chance to do it, go into record…


Okay. So that second time around was pretty cool, so let’s take those twelve bars and let’s hit C for copy, let’s paste it in here and the end here. Okay, great.

Alright, let’s have a listen and see what we got. Alright, let’s have a listen and see what we’ve got. Okay, great, what we have is drums.


Bass guitar.

[drums and bass]

[drums, bass, guitar]

[full mix]

Great. So basically, it’s a pretty straight forward, easy to use device. I mean, you could make records on it. I don’t really see any disadvantages, and with the line input here, as opposed to an instrument input, you could — you know, you could plugin a keyboard, or another mic pre, and you know, upgrade your system slowly by buying a higher quality mic pre.

Having said that, you know, the mic pre isn’t bad in this. I mean, soloing these acoustics, let’s take the pre-roll off.


Let’s add a bit of verb to that. Let’s pretty them up a bit.

[acoustics, adding reverb]


Great, so I really like that little device. The Focusrite Scarlett Solo. It’s something I could just pack into my luggage when I’m traveling and working with bands in other parts of the world, I could just take it with me and make music. To be honest, I do do that. I have another little device like that.

This may sound a little better, to be honest. The mic pre sounds really good, the line amps sound really good. That’s — I have done music for cartoons when I was making a record a couple of years ago, and my engineer would work on the tracks, and I would do — he would send me stuff, and I would do overdubs in my hotel room, and then upload it to him, and he’d drop it in and drop it into the mix.

So I know that this kind of stuff is a reality, and as you can see, it’s quick, it’s easy to use, it’s fast, it’s not complicated. I like the simplicity of it. We’re talking, you know, one USB cable, a mic cable, and a guitar cable, and some headphones, and you’re rocking.

Now, obviously there’s RCA outputs on the back, which we could take to powered speakers, but 99% of the time for me at least, I’d be working on headphones with something as simple as this, but you could plugin some powered speakers if you have them as well.

It’s a simple, easy way to get started. I think it’s a great product. I really do. And it sounds great.

So thanks ever so much for watching me, Warren Huart on Produce Like a Pro. Please leave some comments and questions below, I will endeavor to do my best to answer them. I love hearing what you guys think. Also what you use. What do you use, and do you have this, and how do you find it?

So please engage, and have a marvelous day!

Warren Huart

Warren Huart

Warren Huart is an English record producer/musician/composer and recording engineer based in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at
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