Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2 are great options for an entry-level audio interface that is portable, affordable, and also reliable. The question is, which model should you choose? There are several things that you need to consider, such as whether you need phantom power or not. Read the comparison below to determine the best audio interface for your purpose!
What we are going to discuss below includes:
- The size and weight of each audio interface here
- The build quality and durability of each model
- What inputs and outputs that are available on each model
- The performance of Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2
- Which audio interface that’s generally more recommended for you
Lexicon Alpha: Design
We will start with Lexicon Alpha. At a glance, this audio interface is quite a wonderful compact unit that seems to make a perfect solution for travelling music producers and musicians. Besides offering a robust build in a small form factor, Lexicon Alpha also comes with a decent range of inputs and outputs. See also: Komplete Audio 6 Vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
The unit measures 6.75 inches x 1.6 inches x 6.5 inches. It is among the smallest audio interfaces currently available in the market, hence making it a very viable choice for portable recording. It doesn’t need a power supply whatsoever, as it is bus-powered via the USB computer connection. The USB cable is included in the box.
With a weight of barely 1.1 pounds, you won’t find any trouble in putting it in your bag and carrying it around all day long. The rear and the underside are reinforced with rigid metal plates, whereas the remainder of the chassis is made of hard plastic that is colored in silver and indigo. Lexicon Alpha actually looks quite sleek, even though not necessarily premium-looking.
Rest assured, the build is solid and sturdy enough to withstand normal use. Minor bumps that the unit may face during travel won’t pose a problem. This audio interface will last for a while, unless you are really determined to break it.
Lexicon Alpha: Features
If we compare the features and connectivity of Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2, there are a few notable differences. First, Lexicon Alpha offers more line-level inputs, but it only has one mic preamp. Second, Lexicon Alpha doesn’t have phantom power. Depending on your needs, these limitations may or may not be a problem.
On the front panel, you can find a 1/4-inch Hi-Z instrument input that will allow you to connect a guitar or bass. There is also a 1/8-inch headphone output for monitoring on the other end of the front panel. There are gain level controls for Channel 1 (instrument) and Channel 2 (mic), along with peak meter lights, a mono/stereo switch for monitoring, a monitor mix control, and an output level control.
The rear panel features the USB port for computer connection and bus power, two 1/4-inch TRS line-level inputs, and a balanced XLR mic input that is equipped with a decent quality preamp. There are also a pair of 1/4-inch TRS outputs and a pair of RCA outputs.
The available inputs are great, especially if you often need to record multiple musical instruments. However, the mic section is really limited. The preamp’s gain is rather low, and there is no phantom power. Without phantom power, you won’t be able to work with condenser mics. You probably can still work just fine if you don’t need to record more than one mic and you are not using a condenser mic.
Nevertheless, the included software that comes with Lexicon Alpha is good. The bundle includes the Cubase LE music production app and the Lexicon Pantheon VST reverb plug-in.
The Lexicon Pantheon VST reverb plug-in is worth a further discussion. It has 35 factory presets and 6 reverb types. You can edit the 16 parameters of every reverb type in order to customize your sounds. Furthermore, the reverbs are all very high-quality. They sound rich and lush. Then again, this is not entirely surprising because the company has been known for their world-class reverbs.
Lexicon Alpha: Performance
How is the performance of Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2? Well, they generally perform really well and satisfyingly. But there are some differences in their specs. Lexicon Alpha allows you to set the resolution to be 16-bit or 24-bit, but it only supports 44.1kHz and 48kHz sample rates. Of course, these sample rates are already good enough for CDs as well as streaming. But, if you really want to record in higher sample rates, you need to find another model.
Lexicon Alpha has virtually zero latency when it comes to direct monitoring. Although USB audio interfaces often have latency issues due to their relatively slow transfer rates compared to the Thunderbolt and PCI-E models, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Lexicon Alpha. You can even record multiple instruments without having to worry about lag.
Latency only becomes an issue if your computer doesn’t have enough RAM. This is pretty much the case with any audio interface, though. If you don’t work with too many samples and high bit-rate audio tracks, you can run with 4GB although most people usually recommend 8GB.
The sound that comes out from Lexicon Alpha is clear, crisp, and accurate. There is very minimal noise. You won’t encounter annoying issues like clicks, dropouts, or undesirable grain. Well, as mentioned above, the mic preamp doesn’t have much power, so you will need to turn up the gain knob. But the sound from the mic preamp is still good.
Focusrite 2i2: Design
Now, we will take a look at Focusrite 2i2. In terms of design, it is very difficult to deny that Focusrite 2i2 looks more attractive than Lexicon Alpha. It comes in a beautiful red aluminum chassis. The front and rear panels are black, decorated with a number of connection ports, knobs and switches, and light indicators.
Needless to say, Focusrite 2i2 is also an audio interface that will make a great solution for mobile users. It is even more compact than Lexicon Alpha, as it measures 6.8 inches x 1.8 inches x 4.5 inches. But, since the construction has more metal, this audio interface is a little bit heavier at 1.38 pounds. Still, it won’t be a problem to carry around while on the go.
The hard-anodized aluminum chassis is very robust and durable. It will certainly protect the unit from travel abuse. However, keep in mind that most of the knobs and switches are still plastic. While the knobs and switches are perfectly functional, they don’t feel as solid as the metallic chassis.
Focusrite 2i2 is bus-powered via the USB computer connection. It won’t require a dedicated power outlet. On the front panel, you can find halo-shaped light indicators around the gain knobs, which look really nice. The indicators will light up green if the signal is good, or red if clipping occurs. They make the monitoring and control very intutive.
Focusrite 2i2: Features
As previously mentioned, Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2 come with different inputs and outputs. Focusrite 2i2 is at a disadvantage when it comes to the total number of inputs available, but it has some important features that some people don’t want to miss.
The front panel proudly shows two combo inputs that can accept XLR as well as 1/4-inch TRS jacks. Each has its own preamp. They are also equipped with switches for selecting between mic and instrument levels. In addition, there is a button for activating 48V phantom power globally, which is very useful is you often work with condenser microphones.
Unfortunately, there is no other input. So, Focusrite 2i2 is good if you usually only need two inputs at a time, perhaps for two mics, or two instruments, or one mic and one instrument.
On the right side of the front panel, there is the headphone output with a gray button for activating direct monitoring, a mix control, and a volume control. On the rear, you can find the USB port and a pair of stereo line outs.
The software bundle is quite rich. You get the Ableton Live Lite DAW along with some extras, which include the Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, and three-month Splice subscription. In addition, you may choose one XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument for free.
Focusrite 2i2: Performance
Performance-wise, Focusrite 2i2 is satisfying and highly reliable. The latency when monitoring through your computer is amazingly low, with an average of about 6ms. There is virtually no delay between the recording and the monitoring. However, if you really can’t stand some latency, you can just switch on the direct monitoring, which will route the audio signal directly to the speaker outputs and headphone – it is the true zero-latency monitoring.
The preamps are great. They capture and reproduce sounds with very good clarity, detail, and accuracy. They also have decent gain levels.
Focusrite 2i2 is able to record and mix at 24-bit/192kHz. So, this is your go-to choice if you really want to use high sample rates. The overall performance is smooth; Focusrite 2i2 still runs smoothly even when operated with a relatively low buffer capacity.
Lexicon Alpha vs Focusrite 2i2
In general, Focusrite 2i2 is more recommended. It has two preamps instead of one, and it also has phantom power for working with condenser mics. The overall performance is great. This audio interface supports the 24-bit resolution with a maximum sample rate of 192kHz. The build quality is also very good with a robust hard-anodized aluminum chassis.