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Simeon Amburgey

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 3rd Gen. | An Unplanned Adventure Begins

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Well, the road can throw you some curves and I am navigating through one at the moment. 
These unplanned adventures can go in so many ways so I am hoping this one results in a good outcome.

I normally travel with my PreSonus Studio 6|8 which is a built like a tank interface. On a recent trip, however, it looks as if the Main Output control was bent somehow during handling. There have been some unusual audio problems I am not absolutely sure to trace back to the Studio 6|8 but could not take any chances so I had to find some type of backup plan.

I had been very interested in the new 3rd Gen Scarlett series from Focusrite and the Guitar Center closest to where I am staying had them in stock. I needed at least 2 additional audio inputs and MIDI support and the 4i4 seemed to be right for the job. I have not had a chance to go to the venue to troubleshoot the Presonus but I can tell you already that I am VERY impressed with the 4i4!

It is BUS Powered using a USB C connector to standard USB 2.0/3 adapter and has MIDI In and Out on the rear panel which is great. The form factor is a little over 1/3 the size of the Studio 6|8 which is great to pack it into my carry on and not worry about things getting mishandled.

My road computer is a mid-2013 MacBook Pro (sorry 🙈)I mainly use it to run HALionSonic 3, Omnisphere and Kontakt 6.
I can't wait to see how it works not only on the MacBook but also when I have it working with my Windows setup at home.

I will definitely follow up with more of my experiences.
Please let me know if any of you have worked with the Scarlett 3rd Gens as well; I would love to hear your feedback.

 

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I've looked at the Scarlett line and I was equally impressed. So much so that when my Layla 3G dies, I'll probably end up buying the 4i4.

I can't seem to mentally get it out of my head that I'm going to be increasing my round-trip latency going from a PCI connection to a USB--but I'm sure I'll get over it.

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11 minutes ago, razor7music said:

I've looked at the Scarlett line and I was equally impressed. So much so that when my Layla 3G dies, I'll probably end up buying the 4i4.

I can't seem to mentally get it out of my head that I'm going to be increasing my round-trip latency going from a PCI connection to a USB--but I'm sure I'll get over it.

I know the feeling.
After my original SoundBlaster LIVE, I moved to an ECHO GINA interface which was amazing for me at the time. ECHO really seemed to have had it together and was so disappointed when they got out of the interface business. I also used their Firewire interface and was not able to continue using it because of Mac OS changes.

One of the things I am looking forward to testing for sure when I get things going again is comparing the latency/performance of the 4i4 over the Studio 6|8. Presonus recently updated their Universal Control driver package and it seemed to give me a boost in how the Studio 6|8 performed.

Stay tuned for updates as they develop. ;) 

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So all went well with the Scarlett 4i4!

I was very impressed with how it performed and its smaller form factor. Being BUS-POWERED and with the MIDI In/Out jacks in the rear panel was a plus. The PreSonus Studio 6|8 requires an external power supply as it uses their Class A preamps (which sound great by the way). The MIDI and digital in and out are on a breakout cable (using a 9 pin DIN connector) which adds extra overhead with setup. In this situation, the PreSonus seems better suited for use in a  stationary environment with the 4i4 being a better choice for times I have to be mobile. It is the age-old principle of finding the right tool for the right application. I have included a couple of pics below to illustrate the form factor difference.

My past experiences using PreSonus interfaces have been very positive. Their build quality is rock solid and their drivers continue to improve bringing additional performance boosts and stability. The Guitar Center did not have any PreSonus interfaces on hand or I might have looked at one of the smaller interfaces like the PreSonus Studio 24c as it looked like it would be appropriate for this particular situation. 

Thanks again for allowing me to share, with the hope it might help someone who could be faced with a similar situation. 

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I've got 3 Scarlett interfaces: the 2i2 for my laptop, the 6i6 for my "house" PC, and the 18i20 in my studio. They're all 1st gen, but I love them all.

It's the preamps that stand out for me.  I've got two GA Pre 73 Neve clones (one upgraded with Carnhill transformers), and unless I'm purposely driving the Pre 73 to distort, they sound identical to the Scarlett pre's. 

My Behringer mic-pre's in comparison sound harsh, my Yamaha pre's sound clean but slightly clinical, but the Scarlett's just sound musical.

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OK!!!!

So back home and plugged the Scarlett 4i4 into my setup. 
When I first installed the drivers and launched Cakewalk it already came up with 48k and a buffer size of 128 and 2.7 ms latency; I was completely blown away at the responsiveness that I was experiencing.

The first thing I tried was loading one of the 11 + GB Pianos in SampleTank 4 which previously would not play unless I had a minimum buffer size of 256. The Scarlett  just made everything feel like I was playing a brand new instrument.

I have a few Rice Krispies going on so I am going to check the USB bus assignments making sure the 4i4 is on a dedicated channel but so far it is  has been an amazing experience.

Thanks for allowing me to vent, share, ramble. There is surely more to come...a lot more!

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8 hours ago, Simeon Amburgey said:

I have a few Rice Krispies going on so I am going to check the USB bus assignments making sure the 4i4 is on a dedicated channel but so far it is  has been an amazing experience.

Although it was on one of the Intel USB 3 buses it did not seem to like port 1. Using the USB Tree app I was  able to make sure it stayed in its own channel and moved it to port 2 which did the trick; krackles be gone!

I am discovering more and more how a dedicated USB bus and port makes all of the difference (even on a MacBook as I found out the hard way).

There is still somewhat of getting used to the way the interface works but so far it has been a real pleasure. There is an ease in going to different sample rates and buffer sizes that feels more fluid than what I have previously experienced.

The biggest game changer is what I mentioned earlier; responsiveness and performance at low latency. It just makes me feel more connected to my instrument.

 

Edited by Simeon Amburgey
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5 hours ago, Simeon Amburgey said:

Although it was on one of the Intel USB 3 buses it did not seem to like port 1. Using the USB Tree app I was  able to make sure it stayed in its own channel and moved it to port 2 which did the trick; krackles be gone!

This will probably spin around and bite me in the butt down the road. I have stayed on a FireWire interface because it is dedicated and not managed by Windows as USB is. When the day comes that I switch to a USB interface, I will probably forget reading this advice.

Edited by mettelus
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On 7/31/2019 at 3:18 AM, mettelus said:

This will probably spin around and bite me in the butt down the road. I have stayed on a FireWire interface because it is dedicated and not managed by Windows as USB is. When the day comes that I switch to a USB interface, I will probably forget reading this advice.

We're in the same club.  I've been very happy with my two FW interfaces (TC Electronic and Steinberg)... In fact I've never even owned a USB interface, having moved from PCI (my last was an Echo Gina 3G) to Firewire.  Once I got the right PCIe FW add-on card, it truly has been plug and play -- no jumping through hoops or any tweaks necessary for rock solid performance.

My next upgrade will be to Thunderbolt, probably in 2-3 years...  Until then, I'll be chugging along worry-free with my "outdated" Firewire units!

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Yeah, I just upgraded my laptop at work and I'm connected to my port replicator via a Thunderbolt 3 (USB C-type) connection. I did a bit of research because I'm a geek, and man, that Thunderbolt 3 is amazing. Fast, and can carry so many different types of data. I'm starting to lean towards a Thunderbolt 3 type audio interface.

Of course, that's when my Echo Layla 3G dies or becomes obsolete. I'll also have to consider the cost of adding a new expansion to my DAW for a TB 3 port--since I don't have that now. Of course I'll do my geeky research on all the pros and cons first.

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2 hours ago, razor7music said:

Yeah, I just upgraded my laptop at work and I'm connected to my port replicator via a Thunderbolt 3 (USB C-type) connection. I did a bit of research because I'm a geek, and man, that Thunderbolt 3 is amazing. Fast, and can carry so many different types of data. I'm starting to lean towards a Thunderbolt 3 type audio interface.

Of course, that's when my Echo Layla 3G dies or becomes obsolete. I'll also have to consider the cost of adding a new expansion to my DAW for a TB 3 port--since I don't have that now. Of course I'll do my geeky research on all the pros and cons first.

Well, the USB C on the 4i4 also supports a native Thunderbolt driver which is amazing that it is forward compatible with the high speed ports.

I am praying for some  projects to come to allow me to upgrade my production computer ;) 
I do think that Thunderbolt, USB C are definitely the future and what an amazing one it potentially can be.

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1 hour ago, Simeon Amburgey said:

Well, the USB C on the 4i4 also supports a native Thunderbolt driver which is amazing that it is forward compatible with the high speed ports.

I am praying for some  projects to come to allow me to upgrade my production computer ;) 
I do think that Thunderbolt, USB C are definitely the future and what an amazing one it potentially can be.

I see that the 4i4 has a USB-C port, but that is showing as a USB port--not the TB port. I'm not sure I understand what you mean it supports the native TB driver?

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1 minute ago, razor7music said:

I see that the 4i4 has a USB-C port, but that is showing as a USB port--not the TB port. I'm not sure I understand what you mean it supports the native TB driver?

When I was installing my 4i4 here at home I did a full installation the first time and saw a Scarlett 4i4 Thunderbolt driver in Device Manager. I had a couple of hiccups on my initial installation so I removed it and installed again but this time performing a custom installation selecting only the USB driver. So it appears that the 3rd Gen products support Thunderbolt in some way by providing a separate Thunderbolt driver; that is if I am understanding this correctly but it sure seems reasonable.

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1 minute ago, Simeon Amburgey said:

When I was installing my 4i4 here at home I did a full installation the first time and saw a Scarlett 4i4 Thunderbolt driver in Device Manager. I had a couple of hiccups on my initial installation so I removed it and installed again but this time performing a custom installation selecting only the USB driver. So it appears that the 3rd Gen products support Thunderbolt in some way by providing a separate Thunderbolt driver; that is if I am understanding this correctly but it sure seems reasonable.

OK, I see. Maybe they are trying to future-proof it for when/if their units start shipping with TB3 ports. I see that UA is selling a TB3 upgrade kit for their Apollo rack mounts--so my guess is they know it coming and they're getting ready. Maybe?

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31 minutes ago, razor7music said:

OK, I see. Maybe they are trying to future-proof it for when/if their units start shipping with TB3 ports. I see that UA is selling a TB3 upgrade kit for their Apollo rack mounts--so my guess is they know it coming and they're getting ready. Maybe?

Well, I just found out that the Thunderbolt is for the Clarett series  :( 
but who knows what the future holds ????? ;) 

Edited by Simeon Amburgey
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Hi All,

I read that this topic is about the Focusrite 4i4, so I thought it would be the right place to ask the following question. I apologize if my post is off-topic.

I am a newbie of home recording, and I hope that someone can help me with my problem.

I have recently purchased the 4i4 (my first audio interface), and I think I installed all the drivers correctly. I am using it with Cakewalk by Bandlab, after following all the audio settings instructions (correctly, I hope), like selecting the ASIO driver mode, etc.

I have a laptop with Windows 10, 64bit.

The problem is the following: when I listen to a Cakewalk project with the headphones plugged in the 4i4 (I have no monitors yet) I continuously get an annoying crackling sound that I did not succeed to eliminate. Both main inputs are not used, and the related gains are set to zero. The only piece of equipment connected to the 4i4 is the headphones.

Before installing the 4i4, that is, when I was listening to the Cakewalk project through the laptop audio device, the sound was perfect: no crackling was audible.

I am aware that the information I am giving you is scarce, but does any of you have an idea as of the possible causes of the noise?

Before writing I tried to look for possible answers in the web but I did not find any useful information that truly matched my case. I would really appreciate any help or hint.

Thank you in advance.

 

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@Riccardo66 - This sounds like it could be your ASIO buffer size is set too low. Try it at 256 first, the try lowering it to 128 and maybe 64. 

If you're running the latest cakewalk, you can do this with the slider, otherwise click the ASIO panel button.

How high this buffer should be set is dependent on how much work your laptop is doing - if you've got plugins that require a lot of CPU, then a higher value will be required. The downside to higher values is a higher latency:  in other words a slight delay between pressing a key on your keyboard and the note sounding. 

The Focusrite's should go down as low as 16, but expect crackles at anything but the most basic project. I tend to stick to 64 for tracking, occasionally going to 128 or 256 during mixing.

image.png.a4425ea87fdb851350d0e0cb947e9c82.png

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You also might want to check out the latest Beta drivers for the Scarlett series. They seem to have improved my latency experience her tremendously. More info here:

 

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Thank you @msmcleod and @Simeon Amburgey for your replies.

Actually, I had already tried to move the Buffer Size slider to the full right, just to see if it helped. Apparently, the problem remained... 😞 

But I will do other tests, comparing my settings with those in the posted picture.

I will also try the Scarlett beta drivers.

For the time being, thank you so much for your help! If you don't mind, I will keep you updated in all cases.

 

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6 hours ago, Riccardo66 said:

Thank you @msmcleod and @Simeon Amburgey for your replies.

Actually, I had already tried to move the Buffer Size slider to the full right, just to see if it helped. Apparently, the problem remained... 😞 

But I will do other tests, comparing my settings with those in the posted picture.

I will also try the Scarlett beta drivers.

For the time being, thank you so much for your help! If you don't mind, I will keep you updated in all cases.

 

Please keep us posted.

Also another key thing to check is to make sure that your 4i4 interface is on its own dedicated USB bus and not shared with anything else. There is a nice utility called USB Tree that can show you specifically how your USB devices are connected. I have some external USB drives, webcam, etc. so it is vital the interface has an exclusive USB connection point. Here is the link for USB tree:

https://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbtreeview_e.html#download

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