MOTU M2 vs Scarlett 2i2

If you are a producer, an aspiring audio engineer, or a musician recording your songs, a 2-channel USB interface is an ideal buy. But since there are so many reasonably priced options, it can be challenging to determine the best.

Currently, two major options in the market are the MOTU M2 and Scarlett 2i2. Indeed, they are both excellent options. Nevertheless, a few distinctions between them may sway your decision.

Let’s put these two options head to head to see how they compare and which should be your pick.

MOTU M2 vs Scarlett 2i2 – Overview

We will compare the two audio interfaces by evaluating their performance on seven distinct criteria, assigning each a score out of ten, and finally determining which one is superior.

These are the seven factors we will base our comparison:

  • Inputs/Outputs
  • Sound/Recording Quality
  • Latency
  • Build Quality
  • Software Bundle
  • Preamps
  • Warranty

Inputs/Outputs

MOTU M2

  • two-in, two-out audio interface
  • has an optimum sampling frequency of 192 kHz
  • has a 24-bit intensity

In addition to displays, the front panel includes a quarter-inch headphone jack with volume control and a monitor knob. The displays are full-color LEDs, allowing for relatively precise level readings.

Scarlett 2i2

  • two-in, two-out interface
  • has a maximum sampling frequency of 192 kHz
  • has 24-bit intensity

The unit’s front panel includes two XLR/TRS combo inputs and a 1/4″ headphone jack. Each input features a line switch, Air mode, and 48 V phantom power.

The back panel consists solely of TRS outputs and a USB-C port, with no additional features.

How They Compare

These devices have the same knobs, headphone jack, and input sections on their front panels. 

However, the M2 features a midi in/out and two RCA TS Unbalanced Line Outputs.

When comparing the backs of the units, the distinction is apparent.

Sound/Recording Quality

MOTU M2

The Motu M2 provides one of the highest recording quality performances at this price level. The DAC is high quality, and the device handles latency exceptionally well.

The converter technology is identical to Motu’s high-end interfaces, which is astounding given the low price.

Scarlett 2i2

The audio quality is satisfactory. Its DAC and ADC deliver high-quality performances with no discernible weaknesses.

Perhaps if the unit were inferior, there would be more interesting things to say.

Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Review and Test

How They Compare

Both of these interfaces offer excellent sound quality. Clear and distinct It’s a major factor in the popularity of these two units.

However, if we had to choose, we would give the advantage to the Scarlett 2i2 due to its “Air” mode.

This mode gives your recorded audio a touch of airiness or high-end. This mode may or may not be utilized, but it’s nice and sounds wonderful.

Latency

MOTU M2

In an audio interface, latency must be one of the most essential characteristics. If the audio takes longer than a second to reach your DAW and return, you will experience extreme frustration.

The MOTU M2 has an extremely low Round Trip Latency of 2.5ms. This is extremely quick for an audio interface in this category.

Scarlett 2i2

Scarlett 2i2 also provides a low enough latency. Scarlett’s round-trip latency is as low as 2.74ms thanks to its advanced driver and design.

How They Compare

Fortunately, both of these interfaces have extremely low latency. Overall, we must award the advantage to the Motu M2.

The MOTU has marginally reduced round-trip latency.

The Scarlett 2i2 should be sufficiently quick to avoid latency issues, but we give this category to Motu.

Build Quality

MOTU M2

As far as we can tell, the Motu can withstand a certain amount of negligence. It is encased in metal and feels rather heavy.

The front panel layout is also quite attractive, and the graphics are the best we’ve seen on any entry-level interface.

MOTU M2 Audio Interface Review / Test / Explained

Scarlett 2i2

The Scarlett 2i2 is a compact and well-constructed device. It does feel somewhat flimsy, but its layout is more than acceptable for an entry-level interface.

It can withstand falls, scratches, etc.

How They Compare

These units appear and feel sturdy. Built with a metal exterior, these devices have a pleasing heft. Both of these interfaces can withstand normal use and the occasional drop.

However, MOTU M2 takes a slight lead.

Software Bundle

MOTU M2

While other interfaces may include a more robust software package, the M2 does not need to compensate for its subpar performance.

You will gain access to Motu Performer Lite, Ableton Live 10 Lite, and up to 6 GB of loops and sounds upon purchase.

This is more than sufficient to enable you to begin recording immediately.

Scarlett 2i2

You will receive access to Ableton Live Lite, Plug-in Collective, the Hitmaker Expansion Bundle, and a 3-month Avid Pro Tools Subscription when you purchase the Scarlett 2i2.

This package is extremely accommodating and will allow you to begin making high-quality recordings immediately.

How They Compare

Overall, the software bundle that Scarlett 2i2 offers take a slight lead over the MOTU M2 bundles.

MOTU M2 vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Preamps

MOTU M2

The preamps are of excellent quality and produce minimal noise. In addition, they have a gain range of 60 dB, which exceeds the norm for devices in this price range.

Scarlett 2i2

There is little to critique about the preamps. Even the 2nd gen Scarlett 2i2 had satisfactory preamps.

You had to be cautious of louder drums and purchase a Cloudlifter or FetHead for fairly quiet sources, but that was the extent of its deficiencies.

How They Compare

While the Scarlett 2i2 is also satisfactory, MOTU M2 performs better than the Scarlett 2i2.

Warranty

MOTU M2

Currently, MOTU M2 provides a 2-year warranty to its users.

Scarlett 2i2

The Scarlett 2i2, on the other hand, provides a 3-year warranty after its purchase.

How They Compare

Both of these products are reasonably durable, and I find it unlikely you will need to utilize your warranty. However, Scarlett 2i2 provides a longer run to use the warranty.

The Breakdown

If that seemed like excessive detail and the result is unclear to you, let’s take a moment to reflect on the scores in the following table below.

MOTU M2Scarlett 2i2
Inputs/Outputs9/108/10
Sound/Recording Quality7/108/10
Latency9/107/10
Build Quality8/107/10
Software Bundle7/109/10
Preamps9/107/10
Warranty7/108/10
Total5654

The Winner – MOTU M2

While the M2 and 2i2 are excellent budget interfaces, the MOTU M2 is marginally superior. The interface’s exceptionally low latency makes it a superior sound recording device, which is an essential consideration when selecting one.

The M2 sounds excellent, particularly for the price, and the quality headset amp, superior preamps and DAC, and large meters seal the deal for many.

However, for a beginner, the differences will be extremely subtle and of little consequence, especially given that the output quality is comparable.

Choose the interface that best meets your requirements.

David Woutersen

Article by

David Woutersen

David is the founder of Outofthe925.com and has been in the social media industry since 2017. Since then, his mission has been to help others take control of their online presence. For some, this has been earning an income online, while for others, it's teaching how to use social networks more effectively. And each year, he continues to help millions with strategy, troubleshooting, and inspiration.