Verdict: Scarlet Solo is the clear winner in terms of features and build quality, but Komplete Audio 1 offers excellent preamps and a better-more powerful headphone amp, as well as a lower price point.
The Komplete Audio 1 and Scarlett Solo are two of the market’s most popular budget audio interfaces.
In this post, we’ll compare these two entry-level models’ key features and performance to help you decide which is the better option for your home recording needs.
|Feature||Komplete Audio 1||Scarlett Solo|
|Inputs||XLR mic + 1/4″ instrument||XLR mic + 1/4″ instrument/line|
|Outputs||RCA (unbalanced)||1/4″ TRS (balanced)|
|Max Sample Rate||192 kHz||192 kHz|
|Mic Preamps||1 x solid quality||1 x transparent quality|
|Sound Shaping||No||“Air” Mode|
|Level Meters||Basic LED meters||Gain halos|
|Software Bundle||NI: Monark, Maschine Essentials, Effects||Ableton Live Lite, Focusrite/Softube plugins|
|Portability||Highly portable||Reasonably compact|
Inputs and outputs
Both interfaces have two inputs (one XLR and one line/instrument input), allowing you to connect both a microphone and an instrument easily, and 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution, which is more than enough for most home recording needs.
When it comes to outputs, there is a noticeable difference between the two models.
The Komplete Audio 1 doesn’t have line-outs, so you can’t connect it to your studio monitors through an industry-standard connection. Instead, it uses an RCA connection, a very old-school way of connecting speakers.
Still, it gets the job done, but I find it a bit outdated.
On the other hand, the Scarlett Solo comes with two balanced line-outs, which are a more modern and reliable connection. This means that you can connect your studio monitors directly with a balanced cable, resulting in better sound quality.
Both models come with a built-in headphone output to get you up and running quickly.
One downside for Scarlet here is that the headphone output is relatively weak, while Komplete Audio 1 packs a more powerful amp.
So, if you have high-impedance (250+ ohms) studio headphones, the Scarlett Solo might not be able to drive them to the desired level, and you might need a dedicated headphone amp.
When it comes to connectivity, the Komplete Audio 1 uses an old USB 2.0 connection, while the Scarlett Solo (3 & 4th gen) uses a faster and more stable USB-C connection.
This means that the Scarlett Solo is compatible with newer computers, offering faster data transfer and lower latency, which can make a big difference when you’re recording and playing back audio.
Both interfaces come with a generous software bundle, including DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like Ableton Live 10 Lite and some additional plugins and effects to get you started.
However, the Scarlet Solo has the edge here, as it comes with a free 3-month subscription to Splice Sounds (a huge library of samples and presets), Pro Tools Artist (a three-month subscription), and Avid Complete Plugin Bundle.
The Komplete Audio 1 also comes with some additional software, like Machine Essential, Monark, Replica, Phasis, and Solid Bus Comp.
Machine Essentials is a great piece of music production software to get started quickly, while Monark and Replica are high-quality emulations of classic hardware synths.
When it comes to build quality, the Scarlett Solo (3 & 4th gen) has the edge again. It has a much more solid and durable construction than the Komplete Audio 1 and feels sturdy in your hands.
The controls are easy to access and intuitive, with one minor downside: the volume knob feels a bit flimsy.
The Komplete Audio 1 is also solidly built. However, the buttons feel a bit cheap and plastic-y. But considering its low super price, it’s not too much of a deal-breaker.
Preamps and sound quality
Here’s where things get interesting. While both audio interfaces sound great for the price, and the scarlet has the edge in almost every aspect, the preamp in the Komplete Audio 1 sounds better to my taste.
It has more headroom and sounds more open, whereas the preamp on the Scarlett Solo sounds a bit too compressed and dry.
But that’s just my opinion. Some people might prefer the sound of the Scarlett Solo.
The bottom line is that both interfaces sound good enough for most hobbyist musicians and home recordists, so if you’re not looking for a professional-grade sound, either one should be fine.
Komplete Audio 1 Pros and Cons
- Excellent low-noise preamps with high dynamic range (109dB)
- 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution
- Comes bundled with useful software like Machine Essentials and Monark synth
- The affordable price point is under $100
- Compact and portable design
- A more powerful headphone amplifier can drive higher-impedance headphones.
- The mix knob allows the blending of DAW and the direct signal.
- Plastic build quality feels a bit cheap.
- Only RCA outputs, no balanced outputs
- Maximum gain is a bit low at 44dB
- Older USB 2.0 connection
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Pros and Cons
- Sturdy metal construction
- Balanced TRS line outputs for studio monitors
- Latency-free direct monitoring
- Air mode for brighter, more open preamp sound
- Bundled with Pro Tools, Ableton Live Lite, Softube plugins
- Faster USB-C connectivity
- Weaker headphone amplifiers may distort with high-impedance headphones.
- The headphone and speaker volume are linked.
- Only one preamp, inputs share gain
- Some users report reliability issues.
The Scarlett Solo has the edge in build quality, bundled software, and connectivity. However, the Komplete Audio 1 offers excellent preamps and a more powerful headphone amp at a lower price point.
For those on a tight budget looking to record one or two sources, the Komplete Audio 1 is a great affordable option.
The Scarlett Solo may be worth the extra investment for a bit more flexibility and future-proofing.
Ultimately, consider your budget and specific needs. Both interfaces can produce professional recordings for solo artists and provide a solid foundation for a home studio.