The cheaper end of the audio interface market has improved hugely over the last few years. Not too long ago, picking an entry-level interfaces was like walking a minefield littered with disappointingly flawed units, waiting to catch you out.
Luckily there are now plenty of options that deliver acceptable sound quality, reliability and reasonable feature sets without breaking the bank. Focusrite’s Scarlett range of USB interfaces is a great example. The Scarlett line-up extends all the way up to the 18i20, a feature-packed 18-in, 20-out model with eight preamps, but the more modest end of the range is probably what’s got people most excited, offering beginner-friendly options at excellent value for money.
At the very bottom of the range, the Scarlett Solo is our recommendation for complete beginners to recording. With just two inputs (one mic preamp, one line input), it’s a basic setup, but it sounds good and it’s enough to get you started recording instruments and vocals.
There are cheaper interfaces on the market, but it’s worth saving up for the Solo, which also comes bundled with Focusrite’s Red 2 and Red 3 plugin suite, offering modelled emulations of the company’s iconic Red EQ and compressor units. It’s a very nice addition at this price point, and bear in mind that the Solo’s RRP is £89 but it’s widely available for less than £65 if you shop around. If you can stretch to the next model up in the range, the 2i2 (RRP £119, street price around £90), you’ll gain an additional mic preamp and balanced line outputs.