Recording with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Studio Bundle
We are going to check out the Focusrite Scarlett Studio. The Focusrite Scarlett Studio is a studio-in-a-box. It’s an interface, it is headphones, and also a microphone. It also comes with Cubase LE, which is the light version of Cubase. I don’t actually use Cubase. I did years ago, but I use Pro Tools, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to use the interface, the headphones, and the microphone with Pro Tools 10, which I have on my laptop here.
So let’s open it up! So here we have it. We have an interface. So here we have two mic pres. We have an XLR input around this outside here, and on the inside, you have a quarter inch input. This quarter inch input is selectable between the line and instrument, and the reason for that is you’ll get a different impedance for each one of those inputs.
For a line inputs, you’re probably going to have a lot of output, so if you wanted to take a synthesizer, which can have a ton of output, you select it to line. If it’s an instrument like a DI from a guitar, that’ll be a lot lower input, so it’s probably padding the input stage, so it’s like a pad for the DI.
Here we have a gain control here. Obviously for our preamp, which works for everything, obviously. Whether it’s a mic pre, line, instrument, or XLR input. So you have two of those, which are identical. So you can do stereo keyboard, you can do guitar, bass, stereo micing on instruments, etcetera. So it covers most things, to be honest, with exception of doing a full drum kit, you could probably do 90% of recording using this.
Okay, here is your phantom on/off for your condenser microphone. Here is a control allowing you to listen to the direct signal or the monitor signal. What that would mean is like, if you just wanted to listen to the input coming in here, or the monitor of the actual mix.
Here is an overall volume control, which goes to our outputs on the back. Flip it around, you’ll see a left and right output. These would go to powered speakers, or a power amp and speakers. Presumably setup like this, so we just have a pair of small powered speakers.
Then last, but by no means least is our headphone control. So obviously, if I was working on my own, which I’m going to be, I would just turn down the monitors if there was monitors attached, and just monitor through the headphones.
Also on the back is of course, the USB connection, which goes into our computer.
Okay, so that’s pretty straight forward. Nicely laid out. Makes perfect sense to me. USB cable to connect it. Next is our microphone. It’s a little mini condenser. It’s not tiny, but it’s a smaller condenser. It’s a cardioid condenser. 90% of the time, you’re going to use your microphone on cardioid anyway. If you wanted to use hyper or super cardioid, that would be in a live situation, or when you have a lot of mics going on the same source. I rarely — you know, even when I’m using expensive mics like U67s or U87s, I very rarely use them on anything except for cardioid, unless I’m using them as an omni in a room, or a figure of eight when I’m trying to get a source on either side, but 99% of the time, I’m on cardioid.
So this will get you through most situations. Straight forward looking mic. I’m assuming this is the front. As per usual, you’ve got logo, and cardioid symbol on the front.
Mic cable. It’s all nicely in red for scarlet. Great thinking. So there’s our mic cable. Mic clip, and last but no means least, a pair of Focusrite Scarlett headphones. If you’ve watched any of my other videos, you’ll notice I did a five key components of a recording studio, when you’re first starting. This pretty much covers most of it. You know, you’ve got your DAW, you’ve got your microphone, interface, and headphones. I mean, this is the beginning of making music.
So it’s a good little thing. I’m glad that they make this, because a lot of people, there’s so much choice in headphones, and microphones, and interfaces, and a lot of them are very comparable, so I’m glad someone’s done an all-in-one system like this, because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it, because ultimately, if you end up buying this and you become an incredible producer, engineer, you’re going to change out things as you go.
You might change your headphones. What you first might do is get a more expensive mic, etcetera etcetera, so it’s nice to get it all in one go and take that choice out.
So let’s see what it sounds like. Okay, so let’s quickly connect it. Pretty straight forward. Two completely different cables, so even if I try, I couldn’t plug in the wrong end, and trust me, I would if I could.
Okay. And it lit up. Yay! We have power. Okay. Let us open Pro Tools. We have — I have Pro Tools 10 on this laptop. Not the latest and greatest, but the one that works really well on this laptop. This is an old laptop. At least by modern standards. It’s about six years old.
Alright, so let’s create a rock guitar setting. So let’s just have it on the desktop as Rock Guitar Focusrite. Great. Okay. So large. It comes with and without an adapter, which is nice. That means I could use this straight — so these could be my headphones — this is quite obviously useful, because if I do end up using these headphones and liking them, I might want to monitor and use them for lots of different sources, because being familiar with something is probably more important than the product themselves, because if you know these headphones inside and out and you use them on different sources, then you’ll be able to mix on them, because you’ll be used to hearing mixes on it.
Okay. So let’s change our playback engine in Pro Tools to see the Focusrite. And Scarlett 2i2 USB comes in.
Now, I didn’t load any drivers, so that’s nice. It just recognizes it straight away. God bless it. I think on a PC, you might have to load the drivers, but on an Apple, it comes up straight away. So it’s going to reopen the session now. Put on the headphones. Yeah, there it is.
The headphones sound good. I’m used to using Ultrasone headphones, and they have a lot of highs and a lot of really tough mid-range. This is a little softer in the mid-range.
Good bottom end.
But definitely useable. And like I was saying earlier, if you know your headphones, that’s more important, because I could take this adapter off and plug it into my iPhone and listen to some music, and get used to hearing great recordings and mixes, and then when I plug back in here, my ears are going to be accustomed to it, so.
Alright, so let’s try out the mic pres. Let’s do a guitar. Let’s start on an electric guitar part. We have a loop ready to go here. We’ll just write a song and try this thing out.
Let’s plug in our Pacifica here. For those of you watching my other videos, you’ll know that I like this guitar a lot, and one of the things I like about it is it costs about $600 and Seymour Duncan pickups.
Okie dokie. So let’s have a listen. Okay, so we’re going to have to go in here and setup our IO properly.
Okay. I’m not sure why it did that. It might just be, you know, because we changed to the Focusrite from the IO, but you can see I just dragged it over. Now hopefully, it’ll come to life. Let’s go to Rhythm Guitar.
Okay, so —
We’re on instrument, we’re plugged into the middle here, gain is on zero at the moment, or nothing, I should say.
Okay. It looks like an EQ has come up — Oh, not on, so that’s good, but it’s there ready to go. Eleven has given us a vintage CR, whatever that is.
There’s a little bit of latency.
Might not come through on the camera, but I’m just feeling a little bit.
Now, it’s probably doable.
If I go to my setup here and go to the playback engine, I’ve got the minimize additional IO latency on. If I take it off…
It’s about the same, but let’s put it back on. See which one it’s doing. So here’s with the minimize additional IO latency on.
It’s okay, but if I mute here, for instance, and select my direct monitor and put it on, I’m just going to hear the DI.
It’s quite a high output from this pickup, and so my gain is on zero here.
It would lead me to believe that if you had an active guitar, you might have to be careful, because this is just normal, passive Seymour Duncans, but if these were like EMGs or something that had a lot more output or even more powerful active pickups like that, I’m not sure if zero would be enough here.
So this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to monitor just the DI so I don’t hear the latency. Alright, so let’s just try making up some funky riff.
[guitar DI and drums]
Cool. Let’s listen back to that with the effect on. Let me see what it feels like.
[guitar and drums]
Kind of works. What I’m going to do now is just for shnits and shniggles is I’m going to play that while we’re monitoring it without the direct on. So let’s take the direct off and see if that latency is killing me or not.
[guitar and drums]
Cool. I could definitely hear the latency. Let’s just see what it’s like on the playback.
[guitar and drums]
Compare it to this.
[guitar and drums]
It’s definitely more in the pocket when I don’t hear the latency, so that’s kind of a nice feature then. So you know, what I’m doing is I’m going and I’m selecting the direct monitor so I’m just hearing the signal coming in, and then I am muting it here and then I’m just hearing the DI. It’s not as pleasing to listen to, however sometimes, you know, obviously you’re going to be recording amps and stuff, so it’s not going to be that big of an issue.
Okay, so let’s take this.
[guitar and drums]
So eight bars of it here. So we’ve got to highlight that and hit Option+R and I’m going to make that 12. So there we go. Far more than we need.
There we go. Now we have a little guitar part here. Okay, so we tried the DI. Let’s try the DI for bass.
So we’re going to create a bass input. So let’s record a stereo track. The bass one they’ve given us is an instrument one, so let’s do this. We’ll do Shift+Option+D, active playlist, alternative playlist, no, no, no, nothing is grouped so it doesn’t matter, hit okay, and it just basically duplicates this input here. So that gives us — like, if I — it gives me an amp on it, an EQ ready to go, I’ll just rename it Bass Guitar.
That’s the bass only.
So a little bit of peaking there. Let’s see what it’s like really in the track. Because we’re not printing with these effects on. If I wanted to do a little less distortion — I like this grit, but if I wanted to do less, I can obviously adjust it afterwards.
Okay, so I’m going to turn this off so I’m not monitoring that. Here we go.
[guitar, bass, drums]
Cool. So just a quick groove idea to follow that. Same thing. Take 8 bars, Option+R, probably only need four. There you go. Alright, so that’s cool. Let’s put the — unmute that and hear it.
[guitar, bass, drums]
I kind of like that with the grit on it, but I’m going to bring it down just a little bit on the grit.
[guitar, bass, drums]
Cool. Works nicely. Okay.
Alright, I don’t think we need to do any lead guitar. Let’s try the microphone input.
Okay, great, so we have our Scarlett on a stand here. Our Scarlett mic is called the CM-25 by the way. So I’m going to flip it around like this, and I’m going to mic my acoustic like so. So what I’ve got is I’ve got it somewhere between the twelfth and fourteenth fret. I’m slightly tilted away from the sound hold as well, so it’s not too boomy.
Okay, so let’s plug in our mic. And we’ll go into the two, so I’ll leave my DI set in. I personally like to leave things as setup as possible, because when I’m working on my own and writing, I like to be able to just move quickly between things. So my template here, they don’t have some things, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to create a brand new track, Shift+Command+N. Create one new mono audio track. Hit return. Let’s call it acoustic. Input 2.
There it is!
Okay. Let’s do the same trick. I’m going to — it’s on direct monitor, so I’m going to mute it there.
Sounds good. Okay, so let’s just jam along so we can make up some acoustic guitar to go along with this funky guitar riff.
[mix, tracking acoustic]
Cool. There’s something there that works. Okay. We have the occasional peak. I don’t really care about that. Option+C. Don’t reduce your input level for just one or two tiny peaks. Whatever people tell you. Don’t do it, because an occasional clip is not going to kill you.
Cool. That’s fine. So let’s take that 8 bar section. Create a new track here. Copy it in. Do it again. Option+R. Let’s make it seven. There it is. Okay, so now we have an acoustic there. Let’s do a really quick mix of our elements.
Cool. So there it goes. It’s kind of nice. I’m going to solo that acoustic and give it a listen.
Alright, so this is a really inexpensive system, so phew. That’s a pretty darn good sounding mic.
I’m not a singer, so I’m going to make something up on the spot and humiliate myself just to see what it sounds like as a vocal mic.
Okay, so let’s create another audio track, because it’s going to come in that same input. Same thing, Shift+Option+D. Don’t need the active playlist, the alternative playlist, nope. Just go here and call this Vocal.
Let’s have a listen. Center this again.
Okay, so a little bit of a latency I’m hearing, so I’m going to flick over to my direct monitor only.
Probably a little hot. I’m not using a pop screen. We’re doing this quickly to test it out, so I have no idea what I’m going to sing. I’m not even a singer. I write songs, but I don’t sing them.
[mix, tracking vocals]
Okay. Got a little bit of a peak there that I can’t deal with. Went on a little bit too long, so let’s just bring the input down a little bit. Occasional transient peak is okay, but when it comes to like, a vocal staying red for that long, we don’t want that.
[mix, tracking vocals]
Cool. So probably split the difference of the signal. You could get a little bit hotter, but that feels about right. So what I’m going to do here is do Shift+Option+D, and I’m going to leave active playlists, so I’m going to duplicate the whole thing here. Okay, so it’s a four bar phrase, I’m going to take the second four bars, lay it over the first, take the first four bars like this, lay them over the second, take it out of record, and let’s have a listen.
Okay cool. So it’s a very simple little — could be a commercial on TV. There you go, you could write your own commercials. It’s really, really straight forward. That’s a really good sounding mic for —
Works perfectly well. Let’s put a little — let’s see what comes standard here. Cool. So we’ve got a channel strip here, Pro Tools one.
Adjust release time. Super fast.
Cool. A quick bit of compression there. Put that on both.
[vocals, then mix]
Great. So there you go. In fifteen minutes, we have written and recorded a song.
And commercial coming to you any day. No, but that’s really straight forward. So it’s good. That’s a good sounding mic. I mean, it’s a really inexpensive system, so obviously, I’m using Pro Tools as my DAW because that’s what I’m most familiar with, but those of you that are familiar with Cubase or you’re starting off from the beginning, it comes with Cubase LE, and everything I’m doing there, you’re going to be able to do.
That’s a template that Pro Tools provides with a drum beat already in it. I could play a drum beat in. Obviously, everything else that’s on here could be — you know, the only other thing we haven’t tested is maybe a line in from a keyboard, but you’re going to go in, select it to line as opposed to instrument, otherwise, we’ve tested all the functions. Really straight forward.
You could obviously plug in some powered speakers as well, but we’re just keeping it to the things they supply. Headphones sound good, it’s quick and easy to use. Obviously, if you’ve got questions and stuff on settings and everything, please leave them in the comments below, and thanks for watching Produce Like a Pro!