The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen is a powerful and versatile 18-input, 20-output USB audio interface aimed at professional home studios and musicians. This third generation model builds on the success of the popular Scarlett range with improved converters, lower latency, and new Focusrite MixControl software.
In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features, sound quality, software bundle, and overall performance of the 18i20 to see how it stacks up against competitors and if it’s worth the investment for home studio owners and gigging musicians.
- 18 inputs and 20 outputs
- 24-bit/192kHz conversion
- 4 newly designed mic preamps with Air mode
- 2 independant headphone outputs
- 8 analog outputs
- 8 line inputs
- 2 instrument inputs
- MIDI I/O
- Monitor mixing and FX software included
- USB-C connectivity
Sound Quality and Conversion
The Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen utilizes the latest high performanceFocusrite converters to deliver pristine audio quality with 119dB dynamic range on the inputs and 121dB on the outputs. This puts it right up there with some of the best interfaces in its class like the Presonus Quantum and RME Babyface Pro.
The mic preamps have also been redesigned and now feature Air mode which emulates Focusrite’s classic ISA preamp sound. This adds a subtle sheen and warmth to vocals and acoustic instruments, making them sound more professional. The instrument inputs also sound clear and responsive, translating guitar and bass tones accurately.
- with 8 Mic/Line Inputs; 2 Instrument Inputs
- Bundled Software - Mac/Win
- USB 2.0 Audio Interface
- Dual Headphone Buses
- MIDI S/PDIF I/O
For monitoring, the 18i20 provides two independent headphone outputs with separate mix controls so two performers can dial in their own cue mixes. The main outputs feed speakers confidently even when pushing high volumes without any distortion or harshness. Overall, the sound quality lives up to Focusrite’s excellent reputation.
Connectivity and Software
The Scarlett 18i20 utilizes a USB-C connection to hook up to your computer. It’s compatible with USB 3 ports and also works with Thunderbolt 3 computers for plug-and-play connectivity. There are also optical ADAT inputs and outputs for expanding the I/O capabilities by connecting external mic pres or ADAT compatible gear.
Bundled software includes Focusrite Control for routing and low-latency monitoring, and the Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite of effects and amp sims. However, the most exciting inclusion is a Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack license for getting started with Avid’s industry standard DAW.
Ease of Use
Despite the abundance of inputs and outputs, the 18i20 maintains a clean, logical layout on the rear panel which makes it easy to hook up. The front panel provides instant access to headphone and line input monitoring levels.
The Focusrite Control software provides matrix-style routing between all the inputs and outputs as well as monitor mix controls. It offers full customization for your workflow but may require some learning curve for new users. Fortunately, the 18i20 comes with printed documentation walking you through the basics of setting up your interface.
Who is it for?
With its robust I/O count, great converters, and pedigree mic preamps, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen is ideal for home studio owners who need to record drums, guitars, vocals, and other instruments simultaneously. Musicians with bigger rigs and those collaborating with multiple performers will benefit.
While it’s full-featured for professionals, the intuitive software and layout also make this a great step-up model for beginner and intermediate producers ready to upgrade from entry-level interfaces.
Comparison to Other Models
The 18i20 sits above Focusrite’s Scarlett Solo, 2i2, and 8i6 interfaces, offering more I/O and headroom for larger recording sessions. It compares well to competitors like the PreSonus 1824c but adds nicer preamps and ADAT expandability.
The Clarett OctoPre gives you 8 mic pres for a bit less, but no additional line inputs or MIDI. Moving up, the RME Babyface Pro FS provides pristine conversion in a portable interface but fewer physical inputs. Overall, the 18i20 hits a nice sweet spot of value in the crowded prosumer interface market.
- Excellent sound quality with professional grade converters
- Versatile high headroom mic preamps with Air mode
- Plenty of I/O for complex recording sessions
- Independent headphone mixes for performers
- Bundled software adds value including Pro Tools First
- Rugged metal construction
- Focusrite Control has some learning curve
- No dedicated power switch
- Small screen for mixer view
With upgraded converters and mic preamps, seamless USB-C connectivity, and well-designed software control, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 continues to be one of the best prosumer interfaces available. It provides an exceptional value for home studio owners who need plenty of I/O, great mic pres, and excellent sound. Despite some interface software quirks, the 18i20 gets the fundamentals right and will provide many years of high-quality service.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen:
What computer connectivity does it use?
The 18i20 uses USB-C connectivity which is compatible with USB 3 ports or Thunderbolt 3 computers.
How many mics can you record at once?
With 4 mic preamps plus 8 line inputs, you can record up to 12 mono sources simultaneously.
Does it come with any software?
Yes, it includes Focusrite Control software plus Ableton Live Lite and Softube Time & Tone bundle plugins. It also has a Pro Tools First license.
Is Thunderbolt better than USB?
Thunderbolt has lower latency and can transmit more bandwidth. However, for the 18i20 USB provides plenty of speed and stability. Thunderbolt compatibility is convenient if you own a new Mac.
Can you expand the number of inputs?
Yes, using the ADAT optical in and out you can add up to 8 channels of additional I/O from external mic pres or ADAT compatible gear.
Are there any compatible accessories?
Focusrite offers the Red 8Pre expander and the RedNet series for adding more I/O. The 18i20 is also compatible with the Clarett Thunderbolt interfaces.
What are the dimensions?
The 18i20 is 12.6 x 8.58 x 1.73 inches (320 x 218 x 44 mm).
|Focusrite Scarlett 18i20
|PreSonus Studio 1824c
|Max sampling rate
|Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite
|Studio One Artist
|MOTU Performer Lite
The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen interface provides professional quality audio conversion in a feature-packed unit with plenty of I/O for studio recording and live performance. It’s a versatile option for home studio owners who need great mic preamps and flexible routing options to capture high-quality tracks. Musicians with more complex setups will appreciate the abundance of inputs and outputs combined with exceptional sound. Despite a few minor drawbacks, the 18i20 delivers outstanding performance and value for a mid-range interface.
- with 8 Mic/Line Inputs; 2 Instrument Inputs
- Bundled Software - Mac/Win
- USB 2.0 Audio Interface
- Dual Headphone Buses
- MIDI S/PDIF I/O
- 【Professional Sound Chipset 192kHz/24Bit】: This Condenser Microphone has been designed with professional sound chipset, which let the USB microphone hold high resolution sampling rate. SAMPLING RATE: 192kHz/24bit!!! Smooth, flat frequency response of 30Hz-16kHz--Extended frequency response is excellent for singing, speech and Voice over, Performed perfectly in reproduces sound, high quality mic ensure your exquisite sound reproduces on the internet.
- 【Plug And Play 】: The microphone has USB 2.0 data port which is easy to connect with your computer and Linux operation system, and no need extra driver software, and no need for an external sound card. Double shielding USB cable reduces interference. That makes it easy to sound good on a podcast, livestream, video call, or most any other kind of recording.
- 【16mm Electret Condenser Transducer & Magnet Ring】: With the 16mm electret condenser transducer, the USB microphone can give you a strong bass response. This professional condenser microphone picks up crystal clear audio. The magnet ring, on the USB microphone cable, have a strong anti-interference function, which makes you have a better feel.
- 【Sturdy Boom Arm Set】: With a pop filter and a foam windscreen, the condenser mic records your voice and the sound is crystal clear, the shock mount holds the microphone steady with damping function. Particularly good for video voiceovers; podcasts; YouTube video; skype conferences and so on.
- 【Compatible With MOST OS】: For all Laptop, PC and Mobile phones. But if you want connect with phone, you need an OTG adapter (not included). Strong output, no distortion, low power consumption. PACKING LIST: Condenser Mic + Adjustable Scissor Arm Stand + Metal Shock Mount + Pop Filter + Foam Mic Windscreen + Table Mounting Clamp + USB-B to USB-A Cable.
- High-Resolution Sound Quality by Professional Audio Team - With custom-made aluminum fascia and 40mm neodymium drivers, we bring you powerful bass and dynamic stereo sound. Put on these over-ear headphones and experience every detail of your music in stunning quality.
- Dual Mode and Never Power Off - Enjoy up to 72 hours of playtime in wireless mode, or switch to wired mode using the included two audio jack cables (6.35mm to 3.5mm and 3.5mm to 3.5mm). With wired mode, your headphones will never run out of power.
- Maximum Comfort and Space-Saving Design - The over-ear, ergonomic design is comfortable for long-lasting wear, with a rotatable and foldable structure for a proper fit and great sound isolation. Soft memory cotton and skin-friendly protein leather add to the comfort, while the foldable headband saves space and makes it easy to carry.
- Music or Audio Sharing - This headphone's unique feature enables multiple people to listen to music or watch videos together. Simply pair the main headphones with your device via Bluetooth or connect to a 3.5mm audio cable and then plug the 6.35mm jack into the main headphones and the 3.5mm jack into additional headphones for a seamless audio sharing experience.
- Wired Aux Jack Lock Design - To ensure a stable connection, we've added a jack lock system to the aux plug. You can connect the jacks and sockets with confidence, knowing your connection won't be lost.
- Elevate your recordings with studio-quality sound using our upgraded 3rd Gen Scarlett mic preamps, delivering unrivaled audio clarity and precision
- Unleash the magic of our Air mode, inspired by the legendary ISA mic pres, to add that signature touch to your recordings and achieve unparalleled sonic excellence
- Say goodbye to clipping and hello to pristine guitar and bass recordings, thanks to our high-impedance, high-headroom instrument inputs that ensure distortion-free performance
- Save time and dial in your ideal input levels effortlessly with the iconic Gain Halos, providing instant visual feedback for perfect recordings every time
- Immerse yourself in a world of pristine audio precision with our two balanced outputs, offering unparalleled monitoring, mixing, and mastering capabilities for exceptional sound quality
- [XLR Mic Input] One XLR microphone input interface is set on the gaming audio mixer, which is great to up your audio quality with your XLR setup. The XLR mixer is a stepping stone to upgrade your live streaming. Audio mixer offered built-in 48V phantom power which opens up more choices for mics. Directly use it with your condenser microphone but do not deal with added peripherals.
- [Individual Channel Control] Gaming audio mixer for one mic recording with smooth volume slider fader take your streaming recording to a whole new level with full pleasure. Four independent channels set on the DJ mixer give audio volume of the MICROPHONE, LINE IN, HEADPHONE, and LINE OUT channels individual control. Configurable on the PC audio mixer instead of just operating on your game or streaming software.
- [Mute and Monitor] The front mute and monitor buttons but not at the back, make it easier to get the audio interface use. Ability to mute audio, the audio mixer for streaming prevents background noise from damaging your live broadcast. Real-time feedback between speaking and hearing will not distract your attention, which encourage you to speak more confidently.
- [Sound Effects] The sound mixer supports four pre-recorded customized button that can be recorded and activated at the press of button to save more time post production. 6 kinds of voice changing modes change your output style. 12 auto tune changes the tone of your voice. The podcast mixer being able to add different and fun effects is a huge bonus for your streaming or game voice.
- [Controllable Vibrant RGB] RGB button on the audio mixer DJ meets different live streaming themes. Lights on the video mixer is vibrant but not harsh on your eyes. Flowing or frozen RGB color rotation in a decent pace presents a greatly strong impression as a "light show" to your audience. Even a streaming equipment accessory will not be dull looking when video production.
- Bass Sound: Enjoy the clear sound and supreme comfort with the OneOdio FUSION headphones. Neodymium magnets drivers deliver powerful bass and clear details, great for playing musical instrument like guitar, e-drum, and listening music etc.
- Built to Stay Comfortable: The soft padded ear cushions are specifically designed for monitor headphones comfort and noise isolation. The headband is adjustable and stretchable for you to find the desired angle you like to fit in.
- No More Adapter: A long-style 6.6-9.8 ft coiled cord easily reaches from the TV or stereo to your chair. A standard-sized 6.35mm plug and a 3.5mm plug are included. They both are completely detachable, you can plug in the mixer you want to use.
- Single-sided Monitoring: 90° swiveling earcups for single-ear monitoring anytime; self-adjustable and flexible headband delivers a fatigue-free listening experience that can last for hours, perfect for monitering and mixing.
- Works with: All devices have 3.5 or 6.35mm audio jack. Bass sound, durability, and comfort. These are the headphones you've been looking for.
- 🎤【Professional Podcast Equipment Bundle】The Podcast Equipment Bundle is equipped with BM-800 microphone, Mic adjustable suspension scissor arm stand, Shock mount, Pop filter, Anti-wind foam Cap, Power cable, Live sound card. This professional recording studio package was designed for podcasting, streaming and recording music and short video. What you get is a complete set of professional podcast equipment bundle.
- 🎤【Excellent Sound Quality】The condenser microphone bundle has been designed with 2021 professional sound chipset, ensuring your voice is captured in high detail. The cardioid pickup pattern is more suitable for recording podcasts, vocals and other voice works. The condenser microphone records the sound source in front of the microphone directly and provides a rich, mellow sound.
- 🎤【High Compatibility Podcast Kit】The podcast equipment bundle can be used in most mainstream operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS, in addition, the voice changer is compatible with smartphones (Android and IOS). This audio interface can be used on any mobile phone, computer, tablet iPad, PS4, Xbox, Switch and any game platform.
- 🎤【Functional Recording Studio Package】This voice changer has multiple sound effects. You can connect to different devices (computer/ mobile phone/ laptop) by using different connection methods. Change your voice anytime, anywhere, call with friends, chat on for WeChat, live and sing, take video on TikTok, Youtube, etc. The podcast equipment bundle will bring more fun to you and make your recording more creative.
- 🎤【100% CUSTOMER SATISFACTION GUARANTEE】After you get the condenser microphone bundle, please charge it first. We are a company dedicated to the research and development of podcast kit, we provide 12 months warranty, and 40 days no reason to return, if you have any questions in the process of use, please contact us in time, we will solve any problems for you within 12 hours.
- Podcast, Record, Live Stream, This Portable Audio Interface Covers it All – USB sound card for Mac or PC delivers 48 kHz audio resolution for pristine recording every time
- Be ready for anything with this versatile M-Audio interface - Record guitar, vocals or line input signals with two combo XLR / Line / Instrument Inputs with phantom power
- Everything you Demand from an Audio Interface for Fuss-Free Monitoring – 1/4” headphone output and stereo 1/4” outputs for total monitoring flexibility; USB/Direct switch for zero latency monitoring
- Get the best out of your Microphones - M-Track Duo’s transparent Crystal Preamps guarantee optimal sound from all your microphones including condenser mics
- The MPC Production Experience - Includes MPC Beats Software complete with the essential production tools from Akai Professional
- 2-channel USB Audio Interface with 1 XENYX Preamp
- Instrument Input
- Phantom Power
- TRUE STUDIO MONITOR – Based on the highly reviewed Edifier bookshelf speakers, professionally fine-tuned to a near-flat responsive curve for artists and music creators.
- STUDIO QUALITY SOUND – 1-inch silk dome tweeters and 4-inch composite woofers produce a clear, smooth, and overall sound. MDF wooden structure helps to reduce resonance and reveal the true sound.
- FLEXIBLE CONNECTIONS – 1/4-inch balanced TRS input, an unbalanced RCA input, an unbalanced AUX input, and a front headphone output are equipped to connect to devices, such as mixers, computers, tablets, etc.
- THOUGHTFUL DUAL MODE DESIGN – Freely switches between monitor mode – to listen to true audio for music production and music mode – to enjoy daily music for relaxation according to your needs.
- EASY-TO-USE CONTROLS – Equipped with two knobs to adjust high- and low-frequency controls separately, and a convenient front-panel knob to set volume and sound modes.
- Easily create music productions, livestreams, and podcasts on Mac, PC, iPad, and iPhone
- Record vocals and instruments with rich, full sound using Vintage Mic Preamp mode
- Produce with industry-leading software including Ableton, Melodyne, UJAM's Virtual Drummer, Marshall, Ampeg, and more
- Harness USB bus power for on-the-go recording with class-leading 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion
- Studio-quality headphone amp, MIDI connections, 48V phantom power, and Direct Monitoring for latency-free recording
Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen
The Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen is a highly versatile and professional-grade USB audio interface designed for musicians, producers, and audio engineers. With its third-generation technology, the 18i20 offers exceptional audio quality, low latency, and a wide range of input and output options. It features 18 inputs and 20 outputs, including eight high-quality Scarlett microphone preamps with switchable Air mode, allowing users to achieve clear and transparent recordings or add a subtle analog warmth to their sound. The interface also includes ADAT and S/PDIF digital connectivity, making it expandable to accommodate additional gear. Additionally, the Scarlett 18i20 comes with Focusrite's innovative Control software, enabling intuitive and flexible monitoring and routing capabilities.
Ease of Use
Value for money