In this article, we’ll share 4 different ways to connect the focusrite scarlett 2i2 audio interface to studio monitors or powered speakers. read on to find out which methods we recommend and why.
quick answer: we recommend using balanced 1/4″ trs cables to connect the focusrite 2i2 audio interface to studio monitors or powered speakers. a balanced trs to xlr cable will work just as well. unbalanced cables will work but are more prone to interference and noise.
studio monitors & self-powered speakers
It’s fairly common to find 1/4″ or xlr inputs on the back of most modern studio monitors and powered speakers, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find them on every speaker.
we used our yamaha hs5 studio monitors for most of the demo in the attached video, but we also featured a couple of m-audio av40’s to show you how we would handle the rca inputs.
balanced and unbalanced cables
To help you understand some of the recommendations we’re about to make, you need to know the differences between balanced and unbalanced connections.
If you look closely at the connector on a 1/4″ audio cable, you will notice that it has one or two rings. these rings will help you identify balanced and unbalanced audio cables.
- ts (sleeve/single ring) connector
- sends a version of the audio signal
- susceptible to audio noise, magnetic and electrical interference
- trs connector (sleeve ring tip/two rings)
- sends two versions of the audio signal (1 x normal and 1 x phase inverted)
- compares the signals at the receiving end to avoid noise.
We always recommend using a balanced cable whenever possible. the methods below are listed from best to least optimal.
method 1 – 1/4″ balanced trs cable
scarlett 2i2 1/4″ outputs > 1/4″ balanced trs cables > 1/4″ speaker inputs
Balanced 1/4″ TRS cables are the simplest and most effective way to connect your Scarlett 2i2 audio interface to studio monitors. the balanced connection offers the best sound quality and allows for longer cable runs if needed.
connection couldn’t be easier and balanced 1/4″ cables are readily available. the only thing you need to consider, which is true for all of these methods, is to connect the left and right outputs to the corresponding speaker.
method 2: balanced 1/4″ trs to xlr cable
scarlett 2i2 1/4″ outputs > xlr cables > xlr speaker inputs
if your studio monitor only has xlr inputs, this balanced solution offers the same quality, efficiency, and other benefits as balanced trs cables.
If anything, xlr connectors can be a bit more convenient to work with, and if you need a longer cable, xlr extension cables will work just fine with this setup.
method 3 – unbalanced 1/4″ ts cable
scarlett 2i2 1/4″ outputs > unbalanced 1/4″ ts cables > 1/4″ speaker inputs
this is identical in execution to the balanced trs cable solution in method 1 minus the benefits of a balanced connection. It will work for most people who connect the scarlett 2i2 to studio monitors, but if you notice any buzzing or buzzing, you’ll need to upgrade to balanced cables.
method 4 – unbalanced 1/4″ rca cable
scarlett 2i2 1/4″ outputs > unbalanced 1/4″ ts to rca cable > rca speaker inputs
we would only use rca inputs if there were no alternatives. That said, if your speakers only have RCA inputs, an unbalanced connection is your only option. It’s still very simple to set up, but you’ll need a cable with 2 TS connectors on one end and 2 RCA connectors on the other.
some studio monitors have 2 rca inputs on one speaker, with one cable passing a signal to the second speaker. others have a single input on each speaker, requiring you to split the rca end of the cable. rca works, but now we see it outdated.
scarlett 2i2 & price of studio monitors & specifications
- focusrite scarlett 2i2: https://currentprice.io/scarlett_2i2
- yamaha hs5 studio monitors: https://currentprice.io/hs5_monitor
- xlr cable : https://currentprice.io/xlr_cable
- trs cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_cable
- trs to xlr cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_xlr
- ts cable: https://currentprice.io/ts_cable
- ts to rca cable: https://currentprice.io/ts_rca
- mic stand : https ://currentprice.io/desk_stand
- mounted boom arm psa1: https://currentprice.io/boom_arm
connect scarlett 2i2 to studio monitor themes
- 0:00 – introduction
- 0:30 – prices & specs
- 0:55 – studio monitors/speakers
- 1:36 – balanced cables vs. unbalanced
- 3:50 – method 1 – balanced 1/4″ trs cable
- 6:03 – method 2 – balanced 1/4″ trs to xlr cable
- 8:09 – method 3 – 1/4″ ts unbalanced cable
- 10:14 – method 4 – unbalanced 1/4″ rca cable
- 11:40 – summary
- 12:20 – final thoughts