The scarlett 2i2 and the scarlett series in general is one of the most popular audio interfaces on the market. I think it’s probably even the most popular one available right now. focusrite has also managed to improve on its original design over the years. though, my main complaint is that they got rid of the midi outputs for some reason.
regardless, it’s still a great audio interface for the money and I use mine all the time. however, if you’re new to the world of recording equipment, it might be a bit intimidating because there are so many acronyms, recording equipment, and other options, along with unnecessary sophistication online. however, setting one up with garageband is easy. here’s how to do it.
to use scarlett 2i2 with garageband 1) connect usb-c cable between scarlett and your pc2) open garageband > select garage band > preferences > audio/midi3) select “scarlett 2i2” as “input device” (for ios devices before 2018, you need a usb-c camera adapter to connect a power supply)
this is the summary of connecting a scarlett 2i2 to garageband. If you want to connect Garageband iOS, the main difference is that you need a USB-C multiport adapter, also known as a USB camera adapter, to connect your iOS device to a brick charger or power bank. This is because older iPads and iPhones don’t have enough power to drive the audio interface on their own, although newer models seem to work just fine without them. let’s get into details now.
By the way, I’m always looking for deals in the music industry (there’s usually something if you know where to look). at this moment, there are 3 offers that catch my attention
how to use scarlett audio interface with garageband macos
Hooking up a scarlett 2i2 to the garage band really isn’t hard at all, however there are a couple of ways to do it. for the most part there is only one way when it comes to the actual hardware, but you can set things up differently on the software side.
for example, you can change things in the garageband smart controls or in the track header, depending on your needs and details.
Another thing that is possible is to adjust settings and parameters directly in your macbook settings, instead of garageband, but that is usually not necessary. With all that said, let’s first talk about some of the cables and accessories you need.
what equipment do you need to use scarlett with garageband macos
1) usb type c cable
I recommend getting this one from amazon, although the color doesn’t matter, that way you have enough length. it is always better to be too long than too short.
I bought this a long time ago and it made my life so much easier. As I showed in my studio setup guide, I use a standing desk and a lot of adapters, so I need a long enough cable.
2) lightning 3 to usb adapter
I chose this particular adapter because it works and it’s the least expensive way to do it when you’re just starting out. however, I personally wouldn’t recommend one of these because your needs will expand beyond your capabilities.
You can only connect one device to it. these days, I’m using not one but two multiport adapters because I have a lot of gear right now.
I have to give the macbook pro credit for being able to power as much gear as possible. i have two samsung monitors working, iloud micromonitors, an external ssd, midi keyboards and a yubikey, all connected.
As you can see, an adapter is not enough for me, and it won’t be for you either, as your needs are slowly expanding. I would recommend this thomann instead. maybe you do a little better than me in terms of organization.
3) scarlett device and macos
you probably have both, so it’s not worth digging into the specs and all. let’s get into the actual steps of how to connect everything. It’s not complicated at all, so don’t worry.
1) connect the usb-c cable between the scarlett and your computer
once you have connected your scarlett to the macos computer, it will turn on and start blinking. plug in your guitar or microphone (my guide on this) and then get ready to open garageband.
2) open garage raid > choose empty project
3) select “scarlett 2i2 usb” as input device and “integrated output” as output device
a) choose “scarlett 2i2 usb” as your output if you have connected speakers/headphones to scarlett
4) select “choose”
This part is self explanatory. just press the “choose” button to go to the next step.
5) select your track type: software instrument, audio or drummer
since you’re connecting an audio interface to garageband, it would be logical to choose either the mic or guitar from the audio track section. by the way, it doesn’t have to be just a guitar too you can connect a violin or any other instrument that uses a 1/4″ instrument jack.
6) choose “input 1” or “input 2” for a mono track or “input 1 + 2” for a stereo track
As I said in this article, choosing “input 1”, “input 2”, or “input 1 + 2” determines whether you choose a mono or stereo track. the first two are mono tracks and the last one is a stereo track. input 1 is the input on the far left of the scarlett 2i2 audio interface, and input 2 is the one next to it.
if you plan to record a guitar, direct input, with a guitar amp simulator or similar device, you should choose a mono track. but if you want to record two devices together at the same time within one track, you should choose the stereo track instead.
tip: in most cases, it’s easiest to record with a mono track. so choose “input 1” or “input 2” if you want to make it easy for yourself.
7) select create then hit the monitoring button
In simple terms, the monitoring button allows you to listen to yourself while you’re recording (more on this in my guide). this is crucial if you’re a singer or guitarist who wants to set your parts together with other instruments and sounds.
Another tip is to have the automatic level control turned off. I usually choose to have comment protection turned on, as you can see in the image above. I often also turn on the noise gate and swing it between 35db and -50db (my noise gate tutorial). these functions are helpers but worth mentioning.
8) make sure the input is set to “scarlett 2i2 usb” in the smart controls
In most cases, you won’t need to adjust the input device in the smart controls because you already made this setting when you first opened your garage strip project. however, sometimes things change, and in these cases, you can quickly make the necessary adjustments on the smart controls.
9) plug in your instrument or microphone then press record to start
Once you’ve connected your equipment, you can press “record” in garageband and then you can start recording. and that’s it. Now that you have an idea of how to use your Scarlett Audio Interface with GarageBand MacOS, I’m going to show you how to do it with the IOS version of GarageBand.
how to use scarlett audio interface with garageband ios
While there are some differences between GarageBand MacOS and iOS, many of which I have discussed in this guide, they are fundamentally the same.
what impressed me is that apple has made garageband ios recording even easier, however in some cases you will need additional equipment if you are trying to power an audio interface.
for example, my iphone x has enough power to drive the scarlett 2i2 without any problem. but the same cannot be said for my iphone 7+ or my iphone 6s. If you are using an older iOS device, i.e. before 2018, you will probably need a power bank or block charger to run Scarlett 2i2 and GarageBand.
Assuming you’re using a newer device (2018 and newer), you probably don’t need to use a brick charger or power bank. Simply connect your iPhone or iPad to the Scarlett, the same way you would a computer, with the appropriate USB adapter and USB-C cable.
Instead of the thunderbolt 3 to usb adapter, which is what the macbook pro would use, you’ll need to use a standard usb to usb-c adapter.
what equipment do you need to use scarlett with garageband ios
1) usb-c multiport adapter (also called camera adapter)
if you are one of the people using an older ios device (pre 2018 I think) you will need a usb camera adapter like the one shown and linked in the image above.
2) usb-c cable (x2)
you need two of these because one has to connect to the power bank or charger block, while the other connects from the scarlett 2i2 to the iphone/ipad.
the reason you need headphones has to do with the use of the audio interface. Scarlett takes over the input and output of the iOS device, so unfortunately she can’t use the iPhone speaker. I’m not sure why apple designed their system to be this way, but that’s how it works, for now.
4) 1/4″ to headphone adapter
if you plan to use headphones with your scarlett 2i2, you will most likely need this adapter. however, if you want to connect speakers, you can use the l and r outputs on the back of the scarlett. these are 1/4″ jacks.
5) powerbank or block charger
The power bank or charger block is absolutely essential because as I said before, pre-2018 iphones/ipads don’t have the juice to drive the scarlett 2i2. As you may know, the Scarlett 2i2 is bus-powered, which means it relies on power from the connected device to function. Without further ado, let’s dive into how to set everything up.
1) connect the usb-c multiport adapter to your ios device
2) connect the power bank or brick charger to the camera adapter
3) connect scarlett with usb-c cable
4) open garageband ios and choose audio recorder (voice or instrument)
if you’ve connected a guitar or bass, you can also use the amp designer for both instruments. this will give you a virtual guitar amp simulator, rather than a direct input guitar recording.
5) click input device and turn on monitoring
6) press record when you are ready to start recording
and that’s it. now you know how to use scarlett with macos and ios from garageband. however, you might run into some issues, even when it comes to monitoring. I’ve added a short section to guide you through some of the more common problems.
why cant i hear when i record with garageband and my scarlett?
1) you have not activated the follow button
the main reason you can’t hear yourself while recording or monitoring in garageband with your scarlett 2i2 connected is that you haven’t activated the monitor button.
See also: Rocker Switch Wiring
To do this, press ‘b’ on your keyboard to bring up the smart controls, and then click the symbol that looks like an upside-down Wi-Fi icon (I’ve got a full list of keyboard shortcuts here, by the way).
Although this solution seems rudimentary, it is important and many people forget about it. in fact, I have a whole separate article dealing with this very thing.
2) you forgot to unplug your bluetooth speaker
this usually refers mainly to garageband ios, and is that you forgot to disconnect your ipad or iphone from your bluetooth device, whatever it is. In some cases, it’s because you forgot to unplug your AirPods, or because you forgot that you’re connected to your Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
the fact is that you cannot use these devices to monitor in garageband ios while you have an audio interface connected. as i said before, the ios operating system has it configured so that when you plug in an audio interface, the in and out audio is now routed to and from the audio interface.
3) you need to restart settings configuration
Occasionally, garageband macos won’t configure settings correctly, even though you’ve made the change in preferences and maybe even smart controls. to fix this, just change the preferences to something else briefly, and then change it back to scarlett 2i2, or whatever device you’re using.
The same goes for smart controls. Also, it’s worth noting that sometimes you have to make the change in the smart controls because the settings in the preferences don’t always set things up correctly. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it’s easily fixed.
also, for reasons unknown to me, there are cases where garageband will continually switch to a different input/output device.
for example, if you try to switch to a different device, it may work for a few minutes, but then reverts to the previous input/output device. like I said a moment ago, I’m not sure why this happens, but again, it’s easy to fix.
4) you have not connected headphones/speakers to scarlett (garageband ios)
this is another big reason why you can’t hear yourself while using garageband ios and an audio interface. You probably didn’t know that you have to connect headphones or speakers to your device. this is a simple solution.
however, you will likely need a 1/4″ headphone adapter which is easily found on amazon for a cheap price. If I were you, I’d even buy a bunch of these, especially if you work with a lot of people. they always disappear, and I imagine it’s because people keep them and forget about them, or just steal them.
important points to note about scarlett & garage gang
1) a scarlett 4i4, 8i6, 18i8 and 18i20 require setup with focusrite control
As I said in my other article on how to connect the scarlett 2i2 to an iphone or ipad, if you are using a scarlett series audio interface that is above the 2i2 and an ipad/iphone then you will need to configure your settings with the focusrite controller.
this means you will need a desktop to change things because focusrite control is not available on ios. however, this is not the case if you are using one of these devices with a computer running macOS.
1) scarlett 2i2 (on amazon)
2) usb-c cable (at amazon)
3) usb-c adapter (on amazon)
4) macbook pro 2021 with m1 chip and 1 tb (at amazon)
5) kramer multiport adapter (at thomann)
6) camera adapter (on amazon)
7) 1/4″ to headphone adapter (on amazon)
8) beyerdynamic dt 990 pros – 80 ohms (at amazon)