Focusrite Scarlett Solo vs Komplete Audio 1: Which Is Best for Beginners?

Focusrite Scarlett interfaces have long been a gold standard for beginner-friendly audio interfaces. That said, Native Instruments’ Komplete Audio 1 is also a compelling choice for people who are new to music production.

Both are incredibly user-friendly and similarly priced. So the question really comes down to which one has the features and software you like.

Scarlett Solo vs Komplete Audio 1 header image

Quick Look: Focusrite Scarlett Solo vs Komplete Audio 1

Note: This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

More Features
Simple Design
$139.99
$109 $89
Input/Output:
  • 1 rear-facing XLR input
  • 1 front-facing line input
  • 2 line outputs
  • 1/4" headphone jack
  • Connects via USB-C
Input/Output:
  • 1 XLR input
  • 1 line input
  • 2 RCA outputs
  • 1/4" headphone jack
  • Connects via USB type B
Audio Quality:
  • Sample rate: up to 192 kHz
  • Bit rate: up to 24-bit
Audio Quality:
  • Sample rate: up to 192 kHz
  • Bit rate: up to 24-bit
Build Quality:
  • Recycled aluminum chassis
  • Matte black plastic panels
Build Quality:
  • All-plastic body
Additional Features:
  • +48V phantom power
  • Direct Monitor for latency-free monitoring
  • 2 Air Mode settings — hi-range boost and mid-range boost
  • Includes software bundle from various developers
Additional Features:
  • +48V phantom power
  • Direct Monitor for latency-free monitoring
  • Includes software bundle from Native Instruments
More Features
$139.99
Input/Output:
  • 1 rear-facing XLR input
  • 1 front-facing line input
  • 2 line outputs
  • 1/4" headphone jack
  • Connects via USB-C
Audio Quality:
  • Sample rate: up to 192 kHz
  • Bit rate: up to 24-bit
Build Quality:
  • Recycled aluminum chassis
  • Matte black plastic panels
Additional Features:
  • +48V phantom power
  • Direct Monitor for latency-free monitoring
  • 2 Air Mode settings — hi-range boost and mid-range boost
  • Includes software bundle from various developers
Simple Design
$109 $89
Input/Output:
  • 1 XLR input
  • 1 line input
  • 2 RCA outputs
  • 1/4" headphone jack
  • Connects via USB type B
Audio Quality:
  • Sample rate: up to 192 kHz
  • Bit rate: up to 24-bit
Build Quality:
  • All-plastic body
Additional Features:
  • +48V phantom power
  • Direct Monitor for latency-free monitoring
  • Includes software bundle from Native Instruments
02/18/2024 08:01 am GMT

Ease of Use

Both interfaces are essentially plug-and-play devices and require very little setup. That said, there is one design difference that may or may not affect usability.

The Komplete Audio 1 has both inputs on the front. 

But the Scarlett’s XLR input is on the back. Depending on your setup, this can mean one of two things:

  • It could be a godsend for cable management, especially if you run cables behind your desk. 
  • Or, it could be less accessible and a major inconvenience — particularly if you regularly swap cables.

Other than that, all the essential functions are easily accessible from the front or top of each device.

Rear view of the Scarlett Solo (4th Gen)
Rear view of the Scarlett Solo.

Inputs & Outputs

Both devices feature 1 XLR input and 1 line input, which you can record at the same time. Plus, they each have stereo output. But there are some differences:

Inputs

So for example, you could record yourself singing on an XLR mic while playing guitar into the direct input.

Front and back sides of the Komplete Audio 1
Front and rear views of the Komplete Audio 1

Outputs

Each device uses different output connectors.

  • Scarlett Solo: Uses two 1/4-inch stereo line outputs.
  • Komplete Audio 1: Uses two stereo RCA outputs.

Keep that in mind if you’re choosing speakers for these interfaces, or trying to match the interface to your existing setup.

Connectivity

The Focusrite connects to computers and mobile devices via USB-C. It’s fast, flexible, and works perfectly for modern studio setups.

The Komplete Audio still uses USB type B. By today’s standards, it’s really dated. It’ll be slower and more prone to input latency than the Scarlett.

Audio Quality

Both the Scarlett and the Komplete Audio can record at 24-bit and 192 kHz resolution. 

In other words, they’re both roughly similar quality.

When recording the Scarlett with neutral settings, it tends to have a slightly crisper high end compared to the Komplete Audio interface. At least from my observation.

That said, both are really good. And the subtle differences between them won’t matter as much once you place your recordings in a mix.

Build Quality

Scarlett interfaces have an all-metal outer chassis with an attractive red finish. It feels premium, and will definitely protect everything inside if it ever gets knocked around.

The front panel uses a matte black plastic that won’t smudge. The buttons and dials are all rock-solid and don’t wobble at all.

And if it matters to you, Focusrite sources their materials from recycled products.

The Komplete Audio interface uses an all-plastic body. It doesn’t feel that cheap compared to other low-priced interfaces. But it’s not something I’d feel comfortable dropping either.

A good portion of the Komplete interface’s finish is also pretty glossy. So its more prone to fingerprints and smudging.

Closeup of the Focusrite Scarlett Solo's front panel

Additional Features

In terms of additional features, the Scarlett Solo has a competitive edge over the Komplete Audio 1.

The current 4th Gen Scarlett interfaces offer two Air Modes. These are EQ settings that boost certain frequencies:

  • Presence — Boosts the high-range of a signal to help it cut through a mix.
  • Harmonic Drive — Boosts a signal’s mid-range for more punch and body. It’s especially useful for instrumentals, but vocalists can put it to good use too.

Essentially, the Scarlett offers more versatility and control over your recordings going in. 

Bundled Software

I normally don’t recommend getting an audio interface for the software alone. However, it’s worth noting that both of these interfaces come with pretty hefty software packages.

If you’re completely new to music production, both bundles will give you a good amount of software to get your home studio off the ground.

Here’s what you get with each one:

More Comprehensive
Better FX Plugins
DAWs:
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Pro Tools Artist (3-month subscription)
DAWs:
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Maschine Essentials
Mixing, Mastering, and Effects Plugins:
  • Antares Auto-Tune Access
  • Brainworx Bx_console Focusrite SC
  • FAST Balancer
  • Red 2 & 3 Plug-in Suite
  • Relab LX480
  • Softube Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555
  • Sonnox Vox Doubler
Mixing, Mastering, and Effects Plugins:
  • iZotope Nectar Elements
  • iZotope Neutron Elements
  • iZotope Ozone Elements
  • iZotope RX Elements
  • Guitar Rig 7 LE
  • Phasis
  • Replika
  • Solid Bus Comp
Virtual Instruments:
  • Native Instruments Massive
  • XLN Audio Addictive Keys
  • XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
Virtual Instruments:
  • Monark
Subscriptions & Vouchers:
  • Landr 2-month subscription, plus 5 free masters
  • Splice 3-month subscription
  • 30% discount on FAST bundle
Subscriptions & Vouchers:
  • E-Voucher for Native Instruments store
  • Komplete Start
More Comprehensive
DAWs:
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Pro Tools Artist (3-month subscription)
Mixing, Mastering, and Effects Plugins:
  • Antares Auto-Tune Access
  • Brainworx Bx_console Focusrite SC
  • FAST Balancer
  • Red 2 & 3 Plug-in Suite
  • Relab LX480
  • Softube Marshall Silver Jubilee 2555
  • Sonnox Vox Doubler
Virtual Instruments:
  • Native Instruments Massive
  • XLN Audio Addictive Keys
  • XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
Subscriptions & Vouchers:
  • Landr 2-month subscription, plus 5 free masters
  • Splice 3-month subscription
  • 30% discount on FAST bundle
Better FX Plugins
DAWs:
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Maschine Essentials
Mixing, Mastering, and Effects Plugins:
  • iZotope Nectar Elements
  • iZotope Neutron Elements
  • iZotope Ozone Elements
  • iZotope RX Elements
  • Guitar Rig 7 LE
  • Phasis
  • Replika
  • Solid Bus Comp
Virtual Instruments:
  • Monark
Subscriptions & Vouchers:
  • E-Voucher for Native Instruments store
  • Komplete Start

I wouldn’t say either bundle is particularly better than the other. Just different.

Both interfaces come with Ableton Live 11 Lite, which is a fantastic entry-level DAW for producing electronic music and beats.

The Focusrite bundle feels a bit more comprehensive thanks to the instruments and subscriptions. But in terms of effects, I might give a slight edge to the Komplete Audio thanks to all the iZotope plugins.

Native Instruments also advertises Komplete Start as part of the Komplete Audio package. But in reality, it’s free for everybody. So you can download it with or without buying an interface.

Which Device Is the Best Overall Value?

That really depends on what you value. But here are some guiding thoughts:

  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo — Get this if you want the Air Mode options for more flexibility while recording. It’s also good if you’re worried about durability.
  • Komplete Audio 1 — Get this if you want to save a little bit of money without sacrificing quality, or if you want the additional plugins from Native Instruments and iZotope.

Of the two interfaces, I think the Scarlett Solo is the overall better value. The audio quality is more or less equivalent than the Komplete Audio. And with the Air Modes, you’ll have more options for how your recordings sound going into the interface.

The software package is just icing on the cake.

Best Overall Value
Focusrite Scarlett Solo 4th Gen USB Audio Interface
$139.99

An incredibly robust and versatile audio interface for solo musicians and creators. The Scarlett Solo comes with 1 XLR input and 1 line/instrument input. It's small, has a rugged build, and can record audio with pristine quality.

Pros:
  • Rugged build quality
  • Improved RedNet circuitry for hi-fidelity audio
  • 2 Air Mode settings — hi-range boost and mid-range boost
  • Includes software bundle
Cons:
  • Preamp gain could be higher
  • Lacks features from other 4th gen Scarlett devices
Check Amazon Check Sweetwater
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/18/2024 08:01 am GMT
Black Friday Savings
Native Instruments Komplete Audio 1 USB Audio Interface
$109 $89

A simple, great-sounding audio interface with everything you need to put ideas into action. Record songs or podcasts with the individual XLR and line inputs. Then put all the finishing touches on your project with the included software bundle from Native Instruments.

Check Sweetwater Check Native Instruments
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Compare the Scarlett Solo to Other Audio Interfaces

Still researching interfaces? Check out some of these head-to-head comparisons between the Scarlett Solo and other popular interfaces:


Research for this article came from personal experience, and from the following sources: