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Focusrite Scarlett 4th Gen

Matias

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Just announced the refresh of the most popular audio interface line on the market, now with 120 dB of Dynamic Range and auto gain. Very curious to see how they measure.


Pricing:
  • Solo: $139.99
  • 2i2: $199.99
  • 4i4: $279.99
  • Solo Studio: $249.99
  • 2i2 Studio: $299.99

The 2i2 4th Gen:

Line outputs (Balanced)
Frequency Response 20-20kHz ± 0.02dB
Dynamic Range 120dB
THD+N -109dB
Maximum Output Level 16dBu
Impedance 100Ω

Headphone outputs
Frequency Response 20-20kHz ± 0.1dB @ 33Ω / 300Ω
Dynamic Range 112dB @ 33Ω 115dB @ 300Ω
THD+N -99dB @ 33Ω -108dB @ 300Ω
Maximum Output Level 2.5dBu into 33Ω 10dBu into 300Ω
Maximum Output Power 32mW into 33Ω 22mW into 300Ω
Impedance 50Ω

Analogue to Digital Converter
THD+N -110dB
Dynamic Range 120dB

Digital to Analogue Converter
THD+N -115dB
Dynamic Range 130dB (A-Weighted)


1693480677988.png
 
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AnalogSteph

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Ah, so that might be why the 3rd gen Scarlett Solo has been on sale lately. (EDIT: 3rd gen prices have actually been slashed considerably. Solo €139.99 --> €99.99, 2i2 €209.99 --> €139.99, 4i4 €279.99 --> €199.99. 8i8 to 18i20 remain as-is. You can now get a Solo for a good bit less than a Minifuse 1.)

Wow, so no more CS4272 then, huh? The data strongly suggests ESS converters. (ES3039Q2M + ES9821 perhaps? Maybe AK5572. The DAC data would match a BD34301EKV but I doubt they'd use such an exotic chip.)
EDIT: CS43198, now that seems more like it. And a trusty CS5381 for the ADC would make sense, too. (They must be getting a much better deal on those than us mere mortals that have to shop at distributors.)

Focusrite can't seem to catch a break in the headphone output department... now they've got a decent amount of power / linearity but output impedance is way up. :rolleyes:

EDIT: EUR retail prices:
  • Solo: €154.99
  • 2i2: €219.99
  • 4i4: €309.99
  • Solo Studio: €279.99
  • 2i2 Studio: €339.99
Some neat features there... Solo finally gets a dedicated headphone level knob, and 2i2 up have auto gain setting and clip safe (a level watchdog / auto gain adjustment). Going by EIN and features, I would guess THAT preamp ICs, like the MOTUs. They're certainly aiming at the M2/M4.
 
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Rick Sykora

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I have several DACs and a couple of audio interfaces, and really like my MOTU m4. Most notably because of the useful level meters. These really have saved me from damaging speakers or my hearing. I have been asked many times to build VU meters into amplifiers, but really see more value in knowing whether there is significant signal level BEFORE I turn on my amp or plug in headphones.

Like Focusrite quality but surprised that some level indication has not been incorporated into updated audio interfaces.:)
 
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Matias

Matias

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They do have the ring LEDs around the gain knobs that turn green/yellow/red with the input signal approaching clipping. But that is for inputs only, not sure about levels on the HP output.
 
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Matias

Matias

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EDIT: CS43198, now that seems more like it. And a trusty CS5381 for the ADC would make sense, too. (They must be getting a much better deal on those than us mere mortals that have to shop at distributors.)
Cirrus Logic CS43198 indeed are excellent DAC chips, as seen on the Topping D70 Pro OCTO DAC and the Moondrop Moonriver 2 Ti dongle.
 

MachOne

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Omitting a 1-2 3-4 source switch on the 4i4 headphone output is a real shame.
 
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Blumlein 88

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Wonder if they'll do the 18i20 4th gen?
 

restorer-john

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I think I'll get a new 2i2 just for fun. The V2 and V3 have been excellent little devices for my purposes. I wonder how far away they are from release? Not showing in online shops over here.
 

dfuller

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If they are indeed finally retiring the CS4272, this is a good thing. The performance of that thing is honestly pretty terrible, especially the god-awful ultrasonic performance.
 

Blumlein 88

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If they are indeed finally retiring the CS4272, this is a good thing. The performance of that thing is honestly pretty terrible, especially the god-awful ultrasonic performance.
I'm clearly in favor of improved gear. OTOH, I have the 1st gen 18i20. It was lots of versatility for the buck and acceptable performance. If that sounds lukewarm, that is because it is. Yet it is acceptable. I've used it and never has it been a bottleneck to anything other than measuring other gear. In use for playback, or recording it has never held back my results. Sometimes good enough is good enough. Better than good enough if they don't have to pump up the price is even better. I don't think much of the ultrasonic performance on graphs, but I cannot hear ultrasonics. I had a Focusrite Forte, and it did have a better mic pre. Quiet with 75 db of gain. Useful for dynamic or ribbon microphones. So if they release an 18i20 4th gen I might want one. Will need to find a good home for the one I have.

I do wonder, what the point of the Clarett series will be if the 4th gen Scarletts have better performance. Maybe they'll be improved as well.
 

Ricardus

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I might grab a 4th Gen to use as my DAC at the house. I have a Gen3 in my shop for running tests on my builds and making quick demo recordings.
 

AnalogSteph

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If they are indeed finally retiring the CS4272, this is a good thing. The performance of that thing is honestly pretty terrible, especially the god-awful ultrasonic performance.
I do have to wonder what kind of deal they are getting on their converters.

In reels of 4000, CS4272 go for $7.09 (CZZR) / $9.61 (DZZR) a pop at Mouser (Int'l).
Same, CS43198-CNZR are $10.81 each. (CS4398 are $11.07.)
Same, CS5381-KZZR go for $30.35 each (the effects of the chip crisis are still very much visible there, same as with the CS5361 which goes for $12.15, i.e. you pay more for what's essentially the CS4272 ADC portion than the whole codec).
Meanwhile, buying just 100 ES9822QPRO will set you back $7.09 a piece for what is arguably a better-performing ADC.

So worst-case, there would be $37.44 worth of converters in $139.99 worth of interface for the Solo. I wouldn't say it's unprecedented, but about the only thing that comes to mind with a similar ratio would be the Asus Xonar D1 / DX (CS4398 + CS5361 at €55ish back in the day). I've been saying that these old Xonars are worth more in parts than on the used market these days (the D1s in particular generally go for <20€ around here, I mean who still wants a PCI soundcard anyway?).

It does make me wonder whether we won't continue seeing the 3rd gen Scarletts in parallel to the new models for a while.

For fun, I collected the pricing from product bulletins back in the day:
CS4398 (2003): $4.32 (10K)
CS5361 (2002): $4.95 (10K)
CS5381 (2003): $14.95 (1K)
CS4272 (2003): $5.57 (10K)
You can see how the CS5381 was never expected to be a big mass-market item, while the others very much were. The last 6 dB really cost you.

USD inflation since 2003 has been about +66%. So CS4272-DZZR pricing would be right in line with that, while CZZR still reflects its ongoing popularity. All the others still are substantially up from when they were first introduced.
 

AnalogSteph

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I do wonder, what the point of the Clarett series will be if the 4th gen Scarletts have better performance. Maybe they'll be improved as well.
Keep in mind that the Clarett+ still has substantially more analog headroom due to higher supplies. That gives it 2-4 dB better dynamic range across all connections, and THD+N on the inputs is better as well. It has ADAT input, too. I almost can't imagine they'd already replace a model that only launched two years ago.

I've gone through the specs for the 4th gen Scarletts again, and the Solo appears to be the odd one out in several respects, even if it did finally gain its headphone level knob:
  1. Maximum microphone input level is +9.5 dBu, with a 57 dB gain range, like the 3rd gen, so that's probably the old circuit. 4th gen can accept +16 dBu and has a 69 dB gain range, courtesy of what I guess is a THAT chip.
  2. Mic / Line / Inst input dynamic range is 113 / 113 / 112 dB(A), as opposed to 116 / 115.5 / 113 dB(A).
  3. Mic / Line input THD+N at -100 dB is given at minimum gain, rather than +8 dB.
They could probably have gotten away with throwing a CS5361 in there to be honest. The strategy at Focusrite appears to be ordering a lot of the same parts in bulk though.
 
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computer-audiophile

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If it came with a Linux software bundle it would be perfect for me. (I don't have a practical problem though, I'm fine with what I have).
 
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Matias

Matias

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Awesome video, thanks @Julian Krause for that.

AD and DA conversion is very nice indeed, but I have to agree that there is still room for improvement on the headphone outputs. I know it is bus powered but still 100+ mW 32 ohms would have been nice.

But overall a very significant upgrade to the 3rd gen and below. Well done, Focusrite.
 

dimezis

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Safe mode and auto-gain aside, it looks like Motu M2 is still a slightly better deal?..
Its latency is better, the noise floor is lower, and the output impedance is lower.
 
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