Can You Plug XLR into Focusrite Scarlett 2i2?


Scarlett 2i2 is a popular audio interface that many musicians and content creators use to record high-quality audio. One common question that arises among users is whether they can plug XLR microphones directly into the Scarlett 2i2. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail and provide you with a clear understanding of the compatibility between XLR microphones and the Scarlett 2i2.

What is the Scarlett 2i2?

The Scarlett 2i2 is a compact audio interface manufactured by Focusrite. It is designed to connect professional microphones and instruments to your computer, allowing you to record and produce high-quality audio. The Scarlett 2i2 offers a range of features, including preamps, instrument inputs, and versatile connectivity options.

Understanding XLR Microphones

XLR microphones are widely used in professional audio applications due to their superior audio quality and robustness. They utilize a balanced connection that reduces noise and interference, ensuring clean audio signals. XLR microphones require a preamp or audio interface with an XLR input to be connected to a recording device.

Scarlett 2i2 Input Options

The Scarlett 2i2 provides two combination inputs, each capable of accepting both XLR and 1/4″ TRS connectors. This versatile design allows you to connect microphones, instruments, or line-level sources using either XLR or 1/4″ cables. The combination inputs are equipped with Scarlett preamps, which offer clean and transparent gain for recording.

Using XLR Microphones with Scarlett 2i2

Yes, you can plug XLR microphones directly into the Scarlett 2i2. The XLR connectors on the microphones can be connected to the XLR inputs on the Scarlett 2i2 using XLR cables. The Scarlett 2i2’s preamps will provide the necessary gain for recording your vocals or instruments.

Setting Up XLR Microphones with Scarlett 2i2

Setting up XLR microphones with the Scarlett 2i2 is a straightforward process. Follow these steps:

  1. Connect the XLR cable to the XLR output of your microphone.
  2. Connect the other end of the XLR cable to the XLR input of the Scarlett 2i2.
  3. Ensure that the Scarlett 2i2 is connected to your computer via USB.
  4. Open your preferred recording software and select the Scarlett 2i2 as the audio input device.
  5. Adjust the gain control on the Scarlett 2i2 to achieve the desired recording level.

Benefits of Using XLR Microphones with Scarlett 2i2

By using XLR microphones with the Scarlett 2i2, you can take advantage of several benefits:

  1. Enhanced audio quality: XLR microphones capture audio with exceptional clarity and detail, providing professional-grade recordings.
  2. Flexibility: XLR microphones offer a wide range of options to suit different recording scenarios, including dynamic and condenser microphones.
  3. Versatility: The Scarlett 2i2’s combination inputs allow you to connect XLR microphones, instruments, or other audio sources, offering flexibility in your recording setup.

Tips for Optimizing Audio Quality

To optimize audio quality when using XLR microphones with the Scarlett 2i2, consider the following tips:

  1. Use high-quality XLR cables: Invest in good XLR cables to ensure reliable and interference-free connections.
  2. Proper gain staging: Set the gain level on the Scarlett 2i2 to an appropriate level to avoid distortion or clipping.
  3. Room acoustics: Pay attention to the recording environment and consider using acoustic treatment to minimize unwanted reflections and background noise.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

While connecting XLR microphones to the Scarlett 2i2 is generally straightforward, you may encounter some common issues. Here are a few troubleshooting tips:

  1. No sound: Check the connections and ensure that the microphone is turned on and phantom power is enabled if required.
  2. Low recording level: Increase the gain control on the Scarlett 2i2 or adjust the microphone’s output level.
  3. Noise or interference: Make sure that the cables are properly shielded and away from sources of electromagnetic interference.

Comparing XLR and USB Microphones

XLR and USB microphones offer distinct advantages depending on your recording needs. XLR microphones are generally preferred for professional studio recordings due to their superior audio quality and flexibility. USB microphones, on the other hand, are more convenient for casual recordings or podcasting, as they directly connect to your computer without the need for additional equipment.


In conclusion, the Scarlett 2i2 is a versatile audio interface that fully supports XLR microphones, making it an excellent choice for recording professionals and enthusiasts. With its high-quality preamps and flexible input options, the Scarlett 2i2 provides a reliable platform for capturing pristine audio. Whether you’re a musician, podcaster, or content creator, pairing the Scarlett 2i2 with XLR microphones can elevate the quality of your recordings to the next level. For more options and in-depth information on audio interfaces, including those suitable for streaming, check out our comprehensive guide on the best audio interfaces for streaming.


Q1: Can I connect a condenser microphone to the Scarlett 2i2?

Yes, the Scarlett 2i2 can accommodate condenser microphones that require phantom power. Simply engage the +48V phantom power switch on the Scarlett 2i2 to supply power to the microphone.

Q2: Are there any latency issues when using XLR microphones with the Scarlett 2i2?

The Scarlett 2i2 has low-latency performance, ensuring minimal delay between your microphone input and the audio output. However, the overall latency can also depend on your computer’s processing capabilities and the recording software used.

Q3: Can I use the Scarlett 2i2 for live performances?

While the Scarlett 2i2 is primarily designed for studio recordings, it can be used for live performances. However, it’s important to consider other factors such as monitoring and the specific requirements of your performance setup.

Q4: Can I connect multiple XLR microphones to the Scarlett 2i2 simultaneously?

The Scarlett 2i2 has two combination inputs, allowing you to connect two XLR microphones or other audio sources simultaneously. If you need to connect more microphones, you may consider upgrading to an audio interface with more inputs.

Q5: Does the Scarlett 2i2 work with Mac and Windows computers?

Yes, the Scarlett 2i2 is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems. Ensure that you have the necessary drivers installed for seamless integration with your computer.