The Scarlett 18i20 from Focusrite is a multi-channel USB-based audio interface that features eight of the company's microphone preamplifiers, and is designed specifically for use in a computer environment. The microphone preamps deliver excellent headroom and dynamic range with low noise and minimal distortion. The two front-panel inputs also offer 10 dB pads for handling high level inputs without distortion.
The interface features eight analog input and outputs, with the remaining I/Os of the eighteen inputs and twenty outputs being handled via digital. The analog inputs can be accessed via six Combo XLR/TRS microphone/line connectors, while the two front panel Combo inputs add instrument inputs and the 10dB pads. Ten analog line outputs, which include two independent headphone outputs on the front panel, take care of the analog output, while ADAT and S/PDIF digital I/O, plus MIDI I/O and Wordclock out for digital synchronization extend the functionality of the unit.
The ADAT interface can be used to bring in digital sources, or to add extra preamps for situations that require recording a complete band. The included Scarlett MixControl software delivers a low-latency 18 x 16 DSP mixer with powerful routing and monitoring capabilities. Additionally, the unit ships with a comprehensive set of software tools, including a DAW, a plug-in pack, a virtual instrument and 1GB sample library, suitable for using on Windows, Mac, and even iOS platforms. iOS functionality requires the separate purchase of Apple's Camera Connection Kit.
The Focusrite Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-In Suite (AAX, Audio Units, VST) delivers accurately modeled plug-ins based on the classic Focusrite Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor hardware. The plug-ins allow for conveniently exploring the sound of the hardware originals from within Pro Tools (10 and above), along with other audio software. The software is a free download for new and current owners of the Scarlett 18i20.
In addition to the Red 2 and Red 3 Plug-in Suite, the interface includes the Softube Time and Tone Pack. Modeled after the Drawmer 1973 FET Stereo compressor hardware, the Drawmer S73 Intelligent Master Processor is a plug-in that aids in balancing and shaping a mix. TSAR-1R Reverb adds space, depth, and width to a sound. Change settings with a single slider, from realistic three-dimensional rooms to dramatic and dreamlike halls. Tube Delay is an echo effect that can go from clean to rude by overdriving its three modeled tube stages - delivering everything from realistic room echoes, to rockabilly style slap back, to dub reggae echo. Saturation Knob is a modeled output distortion unit that adds grit and warmth – use it to fatten up bass lines, add some harmonics and shimmer to vocals, or simply destroy a drum loop.