The Scarlett 18i8 is the third generation in the iteration of this best-selling, award-winning Scarlett series.
Focusrite has been creating affordable interfaces, which exude premium audio quality since they started the Scarlett series, and the 3rd generation is definitely an interface that packs a punch!
It’s one of the more affordable 8-channel audio interfaces that we’ve featured on the list, yet it provides superior sound quality compared to other interfaces, as it offers 192 kHz/24-bit sound resolution. Not to mention, the unit has recently been released, and they’ve redesigned the preamps for it.
This is a great audio interface from industry favorite Native Instruments. It comes with an extremely clean and symmetrical design making it aesthetically pleasing with any studio setup. This interface features a wide range of connectivity for its price. It features plenty of outputs and inputs, so you should be able to connect it to almost any home studio setup with ease. This will allow you to plug in your studio monitors and your subwoofer with no problem. An excellent interface from one of the best companies in the industry. This interface is a must have for beginner producers looking to step up their production quality.
Construction of the Audio 6 is reassuringly solid. Weighing in at around 1.9 lb (850 grams), the internals feel suitably protected in a rugged but attractive black and silver metal chassis. Once unboxed and we’d finished admiring the overall aesthetic our attention was quickly drawn to the rather huge analog volume control that’s centered on the glossy top panel. In practice, the utility of this oversized dial can’t be overstated and we loved just how convenient it became to make volume adjustments with barely a second thought. The remaining regular sized knobs are made of rubber and turn smoothly, and the various buttons give a satisfying click when pushed. Rubber feet on the bottom of the unit provide stability while protecting the chassis and your desk. Overall we were impressed with the build of this interface.
The unit also includes MIDI input/output, optical input and a SPDIF input/output.
On the brushed aluminum front panel you’ll find two analog XLR/TRS combo inputs for microphones and instruments, each with a complementary gain control and a standard line/instrument switch. XLR retaining locks add a small professional touch. Moving along we find separate controls for monitor and headphone volume. Headphone input, a headphone source switch, a mono switch, and a direct monitoring switch for zero latency monitoring.
Located on the rear are a further two 1/4″ TRS inputs and four balanced 1/4″ outputs, MIDI in/out sockets (for those with legacy synths and drum machines) and digital stereo input and output (SPDIF / RCA). Finally for the rear, we find a USB socket, and a 48V phantom power switch enabling you to connect condenser microphones.
Preliminary browsing through user reviews of the Komplete Audio 6 seemed to suggest some occasional problems with the drivers provided for the interface. We forged ahead with installs on a Windows 10 desktop and a 2015 Apple Macbook Pro, having downloaded the most recent drivers from Native’ website. Installation on Windows 10 of driver version 4.2.0 was quick and painless, resulting in a straightforward settings panel being installed. On our Macbook we’re running OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) which does not appear to be officially supported by the most recent Mac OS X driver, a Native Instruments representative confirmed however that internal testing has revealed no significant problems and indeed installation on our Macbook was as expected with no issues to speak of so far. Stability of the drivers was not in question with us suffering no dropouts, popping or hissing on either operating system.
Audio quality from the Audio 6 is clear and punchy and on par with competition in its price range. We found the gain controls to provide more than enough volume for quiet microphones. However noted that the headphone output is not quite as blaringly loud as some other interfaces. Volume should be sufficient for general use but the maximum level did fall just a little short of our expectations. In contrast, we were thoroughly impressedwhile recording at the interfaces limit of 24-bit/96 kHz. The level of latency experienced was minimal.
Additionally, it includes a wide range of free software, including Pro Tools, Ableton live, etc, so this unit is great for those who potentially don’t already have a DAW or plugins.
The inclusion of four ins and outs plus MIDI in and out combined with the impressive design. It’s rugged construction and solid performance make this a top contender in this price range. Highly recommended. Overall, as you might be able to tell, we particularly like the Scarlett 18i8, and there’s a reason why this is the 3rd generation and it’s one of the best selling audio interfaces of all time.
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