Have you tried recording an instrument with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface and it didn’t sound how you expected? Did it sound chunky, blocky, digital, or otherwise unnatural? The most likely problem is that the INST mode on the Scarlett 2i2 is set incorrectly.

What is the INST button for? When should you use the INST button on the Scarlett 2i2?

Quick Answer: The INST button on the Scarlett 2i2 will set the input gain and impedance so it is optimized for a high impedance input from magnetic pickups that are common on electric guitars, acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and other high impedance pickups.

Before we get into the INST button, let’s talk about the three different types of inputs on the Scarlett 2i2.

  • XLR Mic Level
  • 1/4″ Instrument Level
  • 14″ Line level

Each input type has its own gain/level and impedance. You can see them compared in the chart below:

XLR Mic Level
+9 dBu (Min Gain) 
3 Kilohms
1/4″ Instrument Level / Hi-Z
+12.5 dBu (Min Gain)
1.5 Megohms
1/4″ Line Level
+22 dBu (Min Gain)
60 Kilohms

You can see in the chart above that each type of input has very different specs. Since the 1/4″ Instrument Level and 1/4″ Line Level input share an input jack on the Scarlett 2i2, it makes sense that they have a button on the device to toggle between these two modes.

If you’re looking for an XLR cable, be sure to check out our article on the best XLR cables.

Scarlett 2i2 INST Mode

If the INST button is turned on, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Audio Interface will optimize the input for any high impedance magnetic pickup that is common on the following instruments:

  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Electric Guitar
  • Electric Bass Guitar
  • Other magnetic pickups

If the INST button is turned off, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 will be expecting a line-level input which is common in the following input sources:

  • Electric Piano
  • Electric Drums
  • Computer Playback Devices

Scarlett 2i2 Pricing & Specs

Scarlett 2i2 INST Button Topics

  • 0:00​ – Introduction
  • 0:20​ – Pricing & Specs
  • 0:41​ – 3 Input Types
  • 1:06​ – Input Gain
  • 1:34​ – Input Impedance
  • 1:53​ – Line Level Input
  • 2:16​ – Instrument Level Input
  • 3:31​ – Final Thoughts