The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a 2 input, 2 output XLR amp that plugs into via USB to a computer. I upgraded to using it about 4 months ago and I'm glad I did.
If you're using an XLR microphone or instrument to record onto a computer, this is a perfect entry level pro amp to start with. It has two XLR inputs on the front, which you can manually control the gain of individually. These gain controls also show the colors that correspond to the peak levels of your audio. Green, Amber, and Red.
Setting It Up
To set it up, you run your XLR microphone, in this case my Heil PR-40, into port #1. Then turn the gain to roughly 2 or 3 o clock, switch direct monitor to on, plug in headphones (using a 1/4 to 1/8 stereo headphone jack adapter) to monitor yourself. Lastly, just plug in the USB cord into the back of your Scarlett and your computer. Now you're almost ready to record.
Using it for Both Input & Output
When using the Focusrite make sure to set it for the input and output device for my system (which on a Mac you can easily do by option clicking the volume icon). This way all of computer's sounds will go through the Focusrite. I do this all the time actually, specifically because that little hiss sound you get in your headphones when no sounds are playing on your computer doesn't happen with the Focusrite.
Now, you won't be able to properly monitor yourself unless you turn the volume way up on the Focusrite, which when you're talking to someone over Skype, may make them extremely loud. To fix this, go into your Skype settings, then to the Audio/Video tab and turn down the Skype volume. You can also do this by pressing option + command and the up and down arrow keys.
Depending on what application you're using to record, input 1 and input 2 may both come through as mono left and right. So double check that you've changed the settings in your app to dual mono before exporting the file.
48 Volt Power
I co-hosted a Google Hangout on Air and also recorded a quick interview via webcam with Pat Flynn using the Focusrite and two lavalier microphones, and the Audio Technica AT899 lavaliers that I use need external power or a battery to run. Luckily this Focusrite can provide 48 volt power through the XLR ports.
Another cool feature of this Scarlett 2i2 is that you can plug in Monitor style speakers (which means they are higher quality and havezero latency so that what comes out of them doesn't get picked back up by the microphone). The plugs on the back aren't your typical RCA outputs though. They are ¼” TRS Jack outputs, so make sure the monitor speakers you buy have those inputs. Some monitor speakers that I'd recommend are either the M-Audio Studiophile AV 40's or the KRK Rokit's.
That's it for this review. I really like this Focusrite. It is sleak, small, sexy, and sounds great with my Heil PR-40. For just over a hundred dollars I highly recommend it.
If you're interested in picking it or anything else I mentioned up, links to them all are below. For more gear recommendations from me, including all the equipment I used to make this video, go get my free gear guide.
Also, I've reviewed the Scarlett Solo (a one XLR input device) as well. You can view that review below.