Is Focusrite Scarlett Solo a Preamp? The Facts Explained

The world of audio recording is a confusing one. You might have seen the Focusrite Scarlett Solo and considered buying it for your mic or guitar. But is the Focusrite Scarlett Solo a preamp?

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is an audio interface with a preamp to amplify the microphone’s signal. Not all audio interfaces have built-in preamps, but the Focusrite Scarlett Solo does. Additionally, you can also use a dedicated preamp with the Solo.

Read on to learn a few essential facts about the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. The article will help you understand everything you need to know about audio interfaces.

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The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Has a Built-In Preamp

We can’t consider the Focusrite Scarlett Solo a simple preamp. It’s an audio interface, which means that it’s so much more than that.

The built-in microphone preamp is only one of the features. And it’s not just any preamp either – it’s a high-qualityOpens in a new tab. one that will boost your microphone signal significantly.

The built-in preamp allows you to get a better and louder sound from your computer speakers.

Additionally, the direct monitorOpens in a new tab. feature wouldn’t even work without it. You need to boost any kind of analog signal if you want to hear it.

Wondering what a preamp is? Keep reading.

preamplifier’s primary role is to convert your weak signal into a strong one. The amplified signal can now go into a more powerful amp, and it can get extremely loud if you need it.

The Scarlett Solo’s preamp reduces noise and improves sound quality.

Note that it only has one preampOpens in a new tab., meaning you can plug in only one microphone. That’s why it’s called Solo.

If you want to record with two microphones, get the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2Opens in a new tab. from It has the same high-quality build and sound as the Solo but has an additional microphone port.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools Opens in a new tab.
  • High-performance converters enable you to record and mix at up to 24-bit/ 192kHz.
  • Quick start tool to get up and running easier than ever.
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle,...

Last update on 2024-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Is an Audio Interface

So, we know that the device has a built-in mic preamp now. But we call this device an audio interface, not a preamp. Why?

An audio interface is a different type of equipmentOpens in a new tab.. Many audio interfaces haveOpens in a new tab. preamps baked in, but it’s not the main feature.

An audio interface convertsOpens in a new tab. your analog signal into a digital one that your computer can use. 

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is perfect for you if you want to record your singing. It also has a port for an electric guitar or bass.

An Audio Interface Isn’t a Preamp, but It Can Have One

You need to have a preamp or amp before you plug the microphone into your interface.

Otherwise, you can’t capture any sound. That’s precisely why most audio interfaces come with a preamp for your microphone.

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is no exception to this. It uses a high-quality preamp that amplifies your microphone’s signal without sacrificing any sound quality.

If you’re skeptical about the built-in preamp, use it first. I guarantee that you’ll be happy with what you hear from Scarlett Solo.

You Can Add a Preamp to the Focusrite Scarlett Solo

While you don’t need a preamp, you can add one. 

For example, if you want to add a vocal preamp to add some effects or fine-tune the sound on the go, it’s much easier and better to do it on a dedicated preamp than software.

It only makes sense if your preamp has some effects you need, though. There’s no point in running a regular preamp to it.

To use a preamp with your Scarlett Solo:

  • Connect your microphone to the preamp
  • Then, use a ¼ inch cable to connect the preamp to the Scarlett Solo
  • Just to be safe, lower the volume on your preamp before you plug it into the Scarlett Solo. The audio interface expects a weak signal, not something that’s already amplified. If you turn the volume up too much, you’ll get unwanted distortion and could even damage the interface.

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo Records High-Quality Audio

Don’t get tricked into buying cheap audio interfaces. “But it’s only a device for recording!” is a very common phrase I frequently hear.

But everyone who has bought a dirt-cheap audio interface will tell you how bad it sounds. A $40 interface will wreck your sound quality. 

Focusrite only makes high-quality equipment. The Scarlett Solo will bring your music to life, and your microphone will sound better than ever.

The microphone preamp is first-rate. Use it in place of a dedicated amp or preamp. You won’t lose any quality when recording through this audio interface.

You Can Plug One Microphone Into the Focusrite Scarlett Solo

It’s in the device’s name – Solo. You only get one microphone input port, and that’s it. If you want to use two microphones, get the 2i2 that I mentioned above.

The audio interface is perfect if you want to practice at homeOpens in a new tab.. You can also bring it with you to the studio.

Alternatively, if you want a portable setup with an iPad or laptop, setting your Scarlett Solo up with a notebook is super easy. It’s the same as on your desktop computer and requires no additional steps.

It’s a bit more difficult on the iPad, though. I recommend watching this YouTube video for a clear guide:

It’s amazing to see how much potential this little audio interface has.

You Can Plug an Instrument Into the Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Are you a talented singer and guitar player at the same time? The Scarlett Solo got you covered.

You can plug in an electric guitar or bass. Use a recording software, maybe add drums, and call yourself a one-man band.

You don’t even need an amplifier for the guitar. So, it’s a perfect device for any sound recording and monitoring.

It’s near impossible to find a better all-in-one solution for singer-songwriters than the Scarlett Solo.

Use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo To Monitor Your Recording

One of the main features of this audio interface is that it lets you monitor yourself. You can hear your instrument and voice by plugging headphones into the headphone jack.

Simply hit the Direct Monitor button, and you’ll hear yourself with no added latency.

We also have to commemorate the Scarlett Solo here because the monitor volume knob is incredible. It’s high-quality, so it’s very satisfying to use.

Record Up to 24-Bit/192 kHz With the Scarlett Solo

Audio bitrate is importantOpens in a new tab. for sound quality. Some cheaper audio interfaces won’t let you record in 24-bit/192 kHz. That bitrate is considered studio quality, so it’s important for recording.

You can get away with lower bitrates for listening, but not for recording. Always strive to get the best sound quality possible.

The Scarlett Solo records in up to 24-bit/192 kHz, which means you won’t lose any sound quality when recording. 

Of course, you can step the bitrate down if you need to. However, it’s best to keep it at the maximum possible bitrate at default.

Final Thoughts

The Focusrite Scarlett Solo is a high-quality audio interface that lets you connect your microphone to your recording device.

It has an excellent microphone preamp built-in, but that’s only one feature of this audio interface. Most people buying the Scarlett Solo get it to record audio, not for its preamp.

You can use the Scarlett Solo with a desktop computer, laptop, and iPad, and it connects to an electric guitar or bass, making it perfect for aspiring singer-songwriters.

The device has built-in monitoring through the headphone jack. Simply plug in your headphones, and all sound will be directed to them.


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I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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