Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

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T_Daston
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby T_Daston » Fri May 26, 2017 11:44 pm

Hi folks,

just bought me a Scarlett 2i2 (2nd gen) & Rode NT2-A today to do some guitar & vocal recording.
I might be able to test some stuff for you the next days on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS - that is if you bear with a recording newbie along the way :)

So far I could get the 2i2 to record in Audacity (didn't get Ardour 5.9 to work yet) - pretty much plug 'n' play experience.

What was unexpected is, that turning the gain knob didn't seem to have any effect on the recording levels - for me those were always at around -50dB to -40dB and I constantly need to add approx. 20dB in Audacity to get to well audible levels. Noise levels were no issue (if any, probably driven by my cheap headphones) & clipping seemed far away - I guess rather a nuisance in post-processing than anything else, but maybe I'm missing something important here?!

The headphone jack output worked after I had set the output in Audacity to 'Scarlett' (USB device was detected to my surprise) - the playback volume could be set to all reasonable levels for my taste (especially after the above mentioned 20dB adjustment in post-processing).

The direct monitor function worked - though there was a rather small adjustment sweet spot to get in work. I basically had to max out the microphone gain level and nearly so the headphone volume (to 8) - anything slightly to the left of this setting and I couldn't hear myself, anything slightly to the right and it buzzed - which left me with only one single workable volume setting. As a result, when adding a guitar playback replay while directly monitoring my vocals I couldn't match the volume of both tracks as I would have liked to - in total a rather disappointing first experience.

Again, I don't know whether this is supposed to work that way in that price range, was due to my inexperience, the OS or my cheap (inappropriate impedance level?) phone headphones (--> any valuable tips or my headphone upgrade for the given combo highly welcome).

@ Admins: pls. shift this article to where appropriate, in case it doesn't fit ...

T_Daston
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby T_Daston » Sun May 28, 2017 2:56 am

Ok, here's the next update on the Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen).

1. Scarlett was automatically detected & could easily be set as input/ output device in the Ubuntu 16.04. LTS audio settings (with such settings replacing my internal motherboard sound card (Realtek ALC892) with no sound issues on Youtube, etc ...). The difference in sound quality was noticeable in favour of Scarlett, though not by a huge margin in my personal opinion (wouldn't go the extra EUR 100,- if it wasn't for the XLR connections, which I require for the microphone).

2. Could get Ardour 5.9 to work on ALSA (and later on JACK) - again in both cases Scarlett was detected and could be set as an input/ output device. I ran into issues/ findings thereafter:

(a) as opposed to Audacity, changing the input gain levels on the device had an impact in Ardour (i.e. waveform changed in size), which was nice to see

(b) while I could see the input levels in the editor, I couldn't hear any sound on my headphones (I only later found out that this was because each track, when created/ added to the editor, does not automatically link the sound output to the master track), which I expected to be a given - luckily no Scarlett/ Linux issue

(c) monitoring oneself/ listening to the recording was still an issue/ annoying as the output was far too quiet (and I believe my cheapo consumer headphones weren't even of the high resistance type). It was explained somewhere, that this was due to the Scarlett device being powered by the USB connector and as such couldn't provide enough power in order to amplify the headphones correctly. If that's true, than I wouldn't recommend purchasing this device - actually any USB powered device - unless someone knows exactly how he/she will deal with this issue beforehand.

The only possibility to test that, were some old wall-powered infrared headphones (which I hated and wanted to sell on ebay long ago, given they loose signal once you're out of line-of-sight of the transmitter). Once plugged in & powered, the result was excellent - I had no issue hearing the output even on tracks recorded with min. gain levels.

Again, unless I'm getting something entirely wrong here I cannot understand Focusrite's design choice to not at least offer a power supply socket to this audio interfaces.

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Alan Perros
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby Alan Perros » Sun May 28, 2017 9:25 am

Hi there !

I'm currently using a Scarlett 6i6 2nd generation on a laptop with the latest Mageia/Gnome 5.1. The soundcard is recognized instantly, everything works fine with ardour, jack & pulseaudio.

That being said, there's two functionalities that you'll need the proprietary soft (focusrite mixer under win$ or mac only) to use: the -10dB pad and the "instrument" switch (to switch the 1 & 2 inputs from "mic/line" to "instrument").

Personally, I don't need that at all since I'm using this piece of hardware to record an acoustic guitar with a pair of mics. So for me, it works 100% on linux.

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wjl
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby wjl » Sun May 28, 2017 1:17 pm

I can confirm what Alan said. Scarlett 6i6 2nd gen works like a charm with Debian and all music-related programs. Lovely interface, and sounds great!
more about me on my blog

badpixel
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby badpixel » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:52 am

Arnd wrote:Just a brief update:

I started debugging of the USB data exchanged between "Focusrite Control" and my 2nd generation 18i8

Hi,

I decided to reply to you, because I believie you are the only that can answer my question.

Should I buy 2gen 18i20, or hunt for 2nd hand 1gen (what's not easy in my country[Poland]?

I want this device mainly for htpc/music playback (using 5.1 or 7.1 in future) and karaoke fun (I want to ged rid of noisy behringer mixer, I got for free years ago by musician brother[because of noise it generates]). My wife is using analog radio tuner and and line-input[laptop] extensively, and there's also bluetooth adapter connected. I can buy 1818VSL 2nd hand way cheaper, but I saw it doesn't work stand-alone, and prefer to have inputs mostly on the back(it's HTP in home/flat saloon, not recording studio ;-)
And I would like to use control knobs for inputs(especially for mics/karaoke)

I would use old Audigy 2ZS, etc, got plenty of them, but they are all PCI :-/ So it's time to upgrade ;-)

I know this interface is a bit pricey, etc, but I'm hunting for second hand, and I know it will serve me for years.
The size is not a problem. I'm forced to use 19" rack for my HTPC setup anyway, because I need plenty of storage(I can buy for under $100 used 2x4Gb FiberChannel 16-bay HDD raid controller/case, which I want to fill with 16x10TB HDDs)

I'm not musician, so nothing will happen if card will be unsupported fully for months and there will be minor glitches.

I'm a linux systems administrator, 've been distro developer for years, so libs/kernel patching/recompiling is not a problem for me.
But I'm not programmer/hw hacker, so I believe USB debugging is out of scope of my knowledge/interest(bet never say never).

So like I wrote before, I would like to use routing of input channels to outputs and control(would be good if it would works in standalone/offline mode) and control inputs using knobs on panel.
I know 1Gen is better supported than 2nd, but because of lower latency(I don't need it, but maybe could be usable for Karaoke if I would like to play with effects) better avaibility and lower/similar prices of 2Gen, it would be reasonable to buy better device (2Gen, because of latencies)

So after writing basic informations about me, could you @Arnd recommend me buying 1Gen or 2Gen?
Have you given up on debugging development or is it slowly coming to full support of 2Gen?

(I promise to never, ever blame you @Arnd for your recommendation, and wanted to hear answer from you, because most people would tell me "Buy this cheap behringer crap because it works out-of-the-box!!". I'm not scared of challanges and system-tuning ;-)

daeavelwyn
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby daeavelwyn » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:41 am

Hi badpixel,

I've a scarlett 18i20 2nd gen, clearly, you CAN'T use the internal mixer of the 2nd generation with linux (no ALSA support for now). This limitation doesn't concern the 1st generation, you will find futher way to use the internal mixer. In my case I also have a scarlett 18i8 1st generation that perfectly works. I use the fulup-bzh mixer (https://github.com/fulup-bzh/AlsaJsonMixer) and I can set and route everything with it.

So to sum up, if you don't need so much internal routing, scarlett 18i20 2nde generation is a better choice because it affords lots of improvement regarding the 1st gen. But if you really want to use internal routing, you have to choose the 1st generation.

You can also buy the 2nde gen and install a win7 with focusrite control to manage the internal routing, once the routing is made, you save it into the card and can use it with other linux computers (personnaly, it's the way I' using it, I hope ALSA will support the internal mixr fully one day, but it's a kind of wrkaround for now.)

Hope it helps,

regards

badpixel
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby badpixel » Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:07 am

daeavelwyn wrote:I've a scarlett 18i20 2nd gen, clearly, you CAN'T use the internal mixer of the 2nd generation with linux (no ALSA support for now). This limitation doesn't concern the 1st generation, you will find futher way to use the internal mixer.

Thanx for reply, but I still have few questions ;-)

I am wondering what 'mixer' means. Because in ALSA terminology(maybe I'm wrong) hardware mixer was hardware mixing of multiple sources, like emu10k1 DSP. I loved it, because it caused less audio cracklings, no wine xruns(lags in games), lowr CPU[even on core 2 DMIX can use 1-4% CPU) usage when using multiple programs(there was also patched OpenAL) then using DMIX (Alsa software mixer,),

1) Does Scarlet contains that kind of mixer, or is it more signal router +volume control?

2) I want to use it mainly as sound card for htpc and karaoke system. Maybe I could live with windows VM, but what about volume knobs on front panel for inputs? Will they work without ALSA support (it's a must have for microphones for me [for karaoke])

3) Do you plan to continue reverse engineering of 2gen mixer (do you think it's too hard, that nobody will ever iplement it?

4) Used 1Gen have similar price tag to 2Gen (in Poland used vs new is about 18-25% difference [I can find only two used 1st gen now and one 2gen]). So which revision of 18i20 would you personally choose now (knowing about lack of mixer support, but lower latencies and sound quality[does it even make difference, os is it marketing only?])?

TIA!

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wjl
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby wjl » Thu Jul 20, 2017 11:23 am

badpixel wrote:which revision of 18i20 would you personally choose now


Having the 6i6 2nd gen, I would always go for the 2nd gen again. Mine runs with 5.3ms latency in Ardour, no hiccups and/or xruns.

And I also live with the solution @daeavelwyn pointed out - setting it up once with Windows, never changing it normally. If I needed 8 mic preamps, it would be the same - I'd take the 18i20 2nd gen. Or maybe for putting together a small recording studio for a band, I'd go with a small Soundcraft or Behringer console, which give you 16 or 32 inputs (preamps) simultaneously. The latter come with Linux virtual mixing consoles as well.

But for me, the 6i6 is enough - doing mostly sound for video, and also using it as an input for my newly aquired fretless bass.

HTH,
Wolfgang
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daeavelwyn
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby daeavelwyn » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:17 pm

@badpixel

1) yes, it's all about routing / volume control
2)Windows VM hasn't worked in my case (USB issue with focusrite driver and VM)
3)I'm not aware with reverse enginering, but ALSA dev should be
4)I definitively bought a 18i20 2nde gen, but i'm looking for a portable usb device I can bring with me to record live gig or outdoor gig with my band (I also have a octopre that adds 8 inputs throught ADAT). It's light, and USB can be plugged into every laptop.

As wjl mentioned, Berhinger or soundcraft also could be good point for you. Honestly i'm not sure this is the cheapest way o make what you want. A soundcard like the scarlet is really more dedicated to home studio's musicians.

I personaly also have a bananapi (using airplay) with a usb3 hardrive (as media center), an good old sony 5.1 kit (with yamaha sub), and as a soundcard, I use a terratec aureon 7.1 (https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B0046Y59SO/ref ... 91_TE_item) with optical cable and a HDMI/coaxial adapter and I get real 7.1, media center and aiplay for less than the price of a scarlett 18i20 !!

gramos
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby gramos » Tue Jul 24, 2018 9:43 pm

Hi all, I want to buy a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd Generation, and I have Linux Debian (Unstable) I know that there is no mixer software for it, but would like to know if it is fully working with ardour. So if I connect once using a Windows and set the route then I can use it without any problems. Thanks!

randyg
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby randyg » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:42 am

gramos wrote:Hi all, I want to buy a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd Generation, and I have Linux Debian (Unstable) I know that there is no mixer software for it, but would like to know if it is fully working with ardour. So if I connect once using a Windows and set the route then I can use it without any problems. Thanks!


I am using the Scarlett 18i8 2nd Gen with Ubuntu Studio and Ardour and it works great! I haven't really tested it much using ALSA, but have no problems with JACK audio.

geoffrey
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby geoffrey » Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:21 pm

I have had some success decoding the proprietary Scarlett 18i20 2nd Gen USB protocol and updating the ALSA mixer kernel driver to control the 18i20's internal mixer. Progress so far:
- Most USB messages involving setting parameters (input, mixer, and output routing, and mixer and output gains) decoded
- Control of master gain added to ALSA mixer driver:
Screenshot from 2018-08-07 22-18-03.png

So, there is hope that we might be able to control the Scarlett 2nd Gen internal mixer controls from Linux soon!
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

daeavelwyn
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby daeavelwyn » Wed Aug 08, 2018 9:30 am

@geoffrey : I love you man ! Could you please provide an ALSA version including those changes ?

geoffrey
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby geoffrey » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:03 pm

daeavelwyn wrote:@geoffrey : I love you man ! Could you please provide an ALSA version including those changes ?

It's not close to ready for public consumption yet, but if you know how to apply a patch and compile a kernel I can send you what I've got so far. Can you PM me and we can discuss?

5wJ58
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Re: Focusrite Scarlett Second Generation

Postby 5wJ58 » Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:25 pm

That's great news geoffrey!
Will it fix my issues with no sound after coldboot?

I'm having this problem and can't solve it for days:
https://forum.manjaro.org/t/no-sound-fr ... down/32824

For now I have to boot into Windows (dualboot) and reboot into linux mint otherwise the output is shown but i can't hear anything.

Thank you for your hard work!


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