Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface Review Best Price
The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen is a versatile USB audio interface that provides everything you need to record music and podcasts at home. This third-generation Scarlett interface builds on the success of the popular 2i2 and 6i6 models, offering more inputs and outputs in a compact desktop unit.
In this review, we’ll take an in-depth look at the features, sound quality, design, and value of the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 to see how it stacks up for home studio use. Whether you’re looking to track vocals, guitars, electronic drums, or a full band, the 8i6 provides an impressive set of tools in a small package.
Overview and Features
The Scarlett 8i6 is a 24-bit/192kHz audio interface with 8 combo XLR/TRS inputs and 6 balanced line outputs. The front panel offers two natural-sounding Scarlett mic preamps with plenty of clean gain for vocals and acoustic instruments. There are also two Hi-Z instrument inputs for directly connecting guitars or basses.
Other key features include:
- 8 combo mic/line/instrument inputs
- 6 balanced line outputs
- 2 Scarlett mic preamps with up to 60dB of gain
- 2 Hi-Z instrument inputs
- 24-bit/192kHz conversion
- MIDI in/out
- Main monitor mix control
- Ideal for home studios & podcasters
With 8 inputs, the Scarlett 8i6 gives you the flexibility to record drums, keys, guitars, and vocals all at once. The 6 output channels allow you to create custom headphone mixes and route tracks to external hardware. There’s also a front-panel monitor mix control so you can blend the direct inputs with the computer playback.
The Scarlett interfaces feature Focusrite’s tried-and-tested mic preamps, known for their transparency and ability to add subtle harmonic warmth. The instrument inputs enable hi-impedance connectivity for guitars, basses, and synths without the need for DI boxes or re-amping.
One of the key upgrades in the 3rd gen Scarletts is the addition of USB-C connectivity. The USB-C port provides plug-and-play operation with modern computers and iOS devices. The Scarlett MixControl software also enables detailed routing, monitoring, and metering from your computer.
Focusrite’s Scarlett range is renowned for its transparent, high-quality sound, and the 8i6 continues this tradition. The Class-A mic preamps and 24-bit/192kHz converters deliver excellent sound quality that rivals many higher-priced interfaces.
The mic pres are extremely clean and neutral, providing up to 60dB of gain for mics while adding minimal noise and coloration. Vocals come across with exceptional clarity and detail. Acoustic guitars also have a rich, pure tone thanks to the pristine preamp sections.
One area where the Scarlett interfaces excel is their low-latency performance. The direct monitor mix capability enables you to record with real-time input monitoring and software effects, even at low buffer sizes. This is crucial for tracking vocals or live instruments with reverb, compression, or amp sims.
The instrument inputs also sound fantastic and really give you that “amp-in-the-room” feel. Electric guitars and basses retain their natural tone and dynamics when plugged straight into the Scarlett. Of course, you can still re-amp later using one of the line outputs if desired.
Overall, it’s hard to fault the sound quality of the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6. The transparency is excellent across all inputs and outputs, providing a neutral starting point or your mixes. If you’re looking to capture clean, professional audio at home, the 8i6 delivers impressive performance and fidelity.
Design and Compatibility
The Scarlett 8i6 sports the signature redFocusrite livery and intuitive control layout. The front panel provides access to the monitor mix knob, headphone volume, and direct instrument inputs. All other connections are on the rear panel.
Build quality is excellent with metal construction throughout. The unit feels sturdy and road-ready if you plan to transport it between studios. The smaller footprint takes up less space than other 8-in/6-out interfaces too.
Connectivity options include USB-C, MIDI I/O, and 8 quarter-inch combo jacks for XLR mics, 1⁄4” instruments, and line connections. The 6 line outputs are on balanced TRS jacks along with S/PDIF digital out. Everything is neatly arranged and clearly labeled.
The Scarlett 8i6 works seamlessly with Windows, Mac, iOS devices, and major DAW software like Pro Tools, Logic, Ableton, and more. The MixControl software enables detailed routing when you want to go beyond the zero-latency direct monitoring.
Overall, the streamlined design makes the 8i6 easy to set up and operate. Connect your mics, instruments, and monitors, install the drivers, and you’re essentially good to go. The compact size takes up minimal space in your studio setup without sacrificing hands-on control.
Pros and Cons
Here are some of the key advantages of the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6:
- Excellent transparent sound quality
- 8 combo input channels provide flexibility
- Natural-sounding Scarlett mic pres
- Hi-Z instrument inputs for guitars/bass
- 6 TRS line outputs for expansion
- USB-C connectivity and iOS support
- Direct zero-latency monitoring
- Works with all major DAW software
- Compact and rugged metal construction
- No inserts or microphone preamp controls
- Headphone output is a bit weak
- Software routing can be complex initially
- No onboard EQ/dynamics like Clarett range
While the 8i6 lacks a few bells and whistles like inserts or onboard processing, it nails the fundamentals of sound quality, mic preamps, and interface design. The simple control layout is ideal for setup and portability.
Advanced users may want additional I/O options or built-in preamp controls, but the Scarlett range hits a sweet spot for home studio owners needing pro-level audio interfacing.
How It Compares to Other Interfaces
So how does the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 stack up against competing models from PreSonus, MOTU, SSL, and Native Instruments?
The 8i6 sits in a crowded mid-range category with interfaces like the PreSonus Studio 68, MOTU M4, and SSL 2+. It matches or beats these models in terms of sound quality, DAW compatibility, and overall usability.
Key rivals at this price point include:
- PreSonus Studio 68: Great value with 8×4 interface, but no USB-C and fewer color options
- MOTU M4: Excellent sound and compatibility but limited to 4 ins/4 outs
- SSL 2+: Lovely transparent preamps but no Hi-Z inputs and fewer outs
- NI Komplete Audio 6: Very capable 6-in/6-out model but no USB-C or MixControl software
The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 compares very favorably thanks to its mix of connectivity, sound quality, design, and software integration. While every interface has pros and cons, the 8i6 hits a sweet spot in terms of value for money.
So who is the Scarlett 8i6 ideal for? Here are some of the musician types who will benefit most from this flexible USB interface:
- Home studio owners – With 8 combi inputs, the 8i6 lets you record full band demos, vocals, podcasts, and more in your home studio. The 6 outputs provide room for expansion down the road.
- Guitar/bass players – The hi-impedance instrument inputs make the 8i6 a fantastic choice for guitar and bass rig recording. You can reamp tracks or record amped tones with ease.
- Mobile recording – Compact size and USB-C operation makes the 8i6 easy to transport for mobile recording sessions, voiceovers, or video shoots.
- Studio upgraders – If you’ve outgrown a 2-input Scarlett, the 8i6 provides a logical upgrade path with more I/O and latest USB-C connectivity.
- DAW producers – With reliable ASIO drivers, zero-latency monitoring, and DAW MixControl integration, the 8i6 excels for music production and beatmaking.
For studio owners who need quality I/O, excellent preamps, and cross-platform compatibility, the Scarlett 8i6 hits the mark. It’s a versatile hub for recording a range of instruments, mics, and other audio sources.
Verdict and Recommendation
Overall, the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 earns a strong recommendation as a premium USB interface for home and project studio owners. It delivers professional results in an affordable, compact package.
The transparent mic preamps, hi-Z instrument inputs, and crisp 24-bit/192kHz conversion provide excellent sound quality for the price. While not as feature-packed as some interfaces, the 8i6 focuses on nailing the core fundamentals of great audio.
If you’re looking for an interface to take your home recordings to the next level, the 8i6 is a fantastic choice. It provides ample I/O for full band recording in a rugged, portable form factor. DAW integration is seamless, and the monitor mixing capabilities are very intuitive.
In the sub-$300 interface market, the Scarlett 8i6 hits a sweet spot between value, quality, and functionality. If you don’t need tons of extras like inserts or onboard EQ, it’s easy to recommend based on sound alone.
Overall rating: 4.5/5 stars
The Scarlett 8i6 provides professional 24-bit/192kHz sound and flexible I/O perfect for home studio owners ready to take their recordings up a notch.
Frequently Asked Questions
What comes included in the box?
The Scarlett 8i6 comes with the interface unit itself, a USB-C cable, and download codes for the MixControl software, Ableton Live Lite DAW, plugins, loops, samples, and additional content.
What sample rates and bit depths does it support?
The 8i6 supports sample rates up to 192kHz at 24-bit depth on all analog inputs and outputs. This allows pro-level audio recording and zero loss of fidelity.
Does it work with iOS/Android devices?
Yes, with USB-C connectivity you can plug the 8i6 straight into your phone or tablet. It’s compatible with iOS and Android devices.
How many audio sources can you record at once?
With 8 combo jack inputs, you can record up to 8 simultaneous sources like mics, instruments, synths or line level connections.
Is MIDI included?
Yes, there are standard 5-pin MIDI in and out connections on the back panel for adding external MIDI gear or instruments.
The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen interface provides an excellent centerpiece for any home or project studio setup. It captures audio smoothly thanks to the transparent preamps, hi-res conversion, and ample input connections.
While it omits some advanced features like inserts or EQ, the 8i6 focuses on flawless audio quality and reliable performance. For the price, it’s hard to find another USB interface that can handle so many mics, instruments, and outputs in such a compact chassis.
If you’re searching for an interface upgrade that won’t break the bank but doesn’t compromise on sound, the Scarlett 8i6 is easy to recommend. For more I/O options, also consider the 18i8 or 18i20, but the 8i6 hits a real sweet spot if your needs fall within its capabilities.
- [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.
- 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
- 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
- [Improved Sound Quality] The PC audio mixer comes with one XLR microphone interface and one instrument interface. The two input interface aims to elevate your recording or instrument creation to studio-level performance. The audio interface delivers original sound reproduction that captures every nuance for your podcasting.
- [XLR Microphone Interface] Equipped with XLR microphone interface, the recording audio interface grant you the freedom to connect your XLR microphone to capture studio-grade vocals. Enjoy convenience of 48V phantom power for directly using with condenser microphone and an intuitive mic gain knob to fine-tune input levels.
- [Instrument Input and Audio Output] Whether you're a guitarist or bassist, the podcast mixer get you covered. Connect dedicated instrument input and experience rich and authentic tones. Audio output with a separate volume knob ensures precise control over playback levels.
- [Direct Monitor Functionality] Stay in control of your sound with the direct monitor featured on the vocal audio interface. Adjust the volume using the dedicated monitoring knob, allowing you to monitor your recordings in real-time.
- [Compatibility and User-Friendly] Compatibility of the audio mixer ensures smooth operation with both Mac and PC, and you can connect with instrument while the plug-and-play functionality makes installation a breeze.
- 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
- Value-packed 2-channel USB 2.0 interface for personal and portable recording.
- 2 high-quality Class-A mic preamps make it easy to get a great sound.
- 2 high-headroom instrument inputs to record guitar, bass, and your favorite line-level devices, plus MIDI I/O.
- Studio-grade converters allow for up to 24-bit/96 kHz recording and playback.
- Comes with over $1000 worth of recording software including Studio One Artist, Ableton Live Lite, and Studio Magic Plug-In suite.
- Bus-powered USB 2.0/iPad audio interface for personal and portable recording; no additional power supply needed.
- Contains 2 combo microphone/instrument/line inputs with low-noise, high-headroom, Class A preamplifiers and +48V phantom power for condenser microphones.
- Comes with Capture Duo for iPad, a one-tap recording application with wireless transfer to Studio One.
- Comes with over $1000 worth of recording software including Studio One Artist, Ableton Live Lite, and Studio Magic plug-in suite. Also compatible with almost all recording software for Mac, Windows, and iPad.
- Equipped with 2 balanced ¼” TRS main line-level outputs and a stereo headphone output with independent level control.
- Exclusive to this Bundle: Waves Musicians 2 with 6 Indispensable Audio Plugins:Renaissance Compressor, Renaissance Equalizer, Renaissance Vox, Renaissance Axx, Doubler and SuperTap
- All the software you need — Includes Ableton Live Lite and Avid Pro Tools Artist, plus the Hitmaker Expansion software bundle. Get exceptional vocal tracks with Antares Auto-Tune Access, Sonnox VoxDoubler, and Relab’s LX480 Essentials reverb. Drums from XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums 2, Synths by MASSIVE from Native Instruments and XLN Audio’s Addictive Keys.
- Huge 120dB dynamic range — Scarlett Solo uses the same converters as Focusrite’s flagship RedNet interfaces, found in countless high-end studios worldwide.
- Scarlett mic pre — Get great sound from any microphone with Solo’s detailed ultra-low-noise mic pre.
- Hi-Z instrument input — Plug straight in and guitars sound and feel great – perfect for using with amp sims.
- Focusrite Vocaster Two Podcast Interface - USB A-C Cable - (USB Power Supply Not Included) - Focusrite 3 Year Limited Warranty
- Broadcast quality sound - Get studio sound in seconds from Vocaster's high quality mic input
- Over 70dB of gain - Get the best out of any mic, no booster needed
- Auto Gain - Set your level in seconds, just push the button, start talking, and let Auto Gain do the rest
- Enhance - Select one of four podcaster-approved presets and reveal the true quality of your voice
Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface Review
The Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen is a highly versatile and professional audio interface designed for musicians, producers, and audio engineers. It is part of the popular Scarlett series known for its exceptional sound quality and ease of use. The 8i6 model features six inputs and six outputs, including two high-quality microphone preamps with switchable Air mode, enabling users to capture recordings with a bright and airy sound. It also offers two high-headroom instrument inputs for direct guitar or bass recording, along with four line-level inputs for connecting synthesizers, drum machines, and other gear. The interface boasts high-resolution 24-bit/192kHz audio conversion, providing crystal-clear sound and low-latency performance. With its comprehensive I/O options, robust build quality, and seamless integration with popular recording software, the Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 3rd Gen stands as a reliable and impressive tool for audio enthusiasts seeking professional-grade recording capabilities.
Ease of Use
Value for money