This article demonstrates three different ways to connect your Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface to your DSLR style video camera. The methods laid out in this guide are suitable for any camera with an 1/8″ microphone input on it.
Now, for the purposes of this article we’re using the Electro-Voice RE20 with a Cloudlifter to get a little bit more boost, which goes into the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
Quick Answer: Connect your camera to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 using either a 1/4″ TRS to 1/8″ TRS cable or Dual 1/4″ TS to 1/8″ TRS Cable depending on whether you want to connect via headphone or monitor outputs. Alternatively, convert to XLR by connecting the camera to a video interface using a TSR to XLR adapter cable, and then from there to the Scarlett 2i2 with an XLR cable to create a balanced solution.
Before we start, it’s worth discussing three points, starting with the microphone pre-amps on DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras.
These pre-amps tend to be very low quality. Turning the level up will introduce a lot of hiss and static. We recommend keeping this on the lowest setting possible while still being on.
Line Level vs Mic Level
The next thing that’s important to bear in mind is the difference between a line level output and a mic level input.
For example, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 outputs are line-level. This is quite a bit more volume and more intensity than the mic level input that the camera is built to accept.
Balanced vs Unbalanced Audio
An unbalanced audio cable or audio signal should not be run more than 15 feet. In some environments, even six feet will result in static and hiss, and degrade the quality of your audio. Balanced signals can be run for greater distances while suffering less degradation.
The first two options in this guide are unbalanced. They both use TRS cables, which can be balanced or unbalanced. When carrying a stereo signal, they’re unbalanced, sending the left, right, and ground. But with a mono signal, it carries the mono signal, a phase inverted copy of that signal, and a ground.
The third option is a balanced solution.
Option 1: Connect Headphone Output To Camera (unbalanced)
Camera > 1/4″ TRS to 1/8″ TRS Cable > Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
This first option will show you how to connect the headphone output on your Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to the microphone input on your video camera. To do that, we use a special cable that goes from a 1/4″ TRS audio jack to a 1/8″ TRS audio jack.
This will be an unbalanced solution because you’ll be running a stereo signal over this cable. You have the left and the right that typically go to your headphones, and you’ll be sending that to the left and right input on the video camera.
Connect the 1/4″ jack now to the headphone output of your Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Then connect the 1/8″ jack into the microphone input on your video camera.
Set the audio somewhere between minus six and minus ten, ideally. This gives you room to avoid peaking, which can cause distortion issues. We recommend you keep this setting low, somewhere around minus six. This will give you a better quality recording.
Option 2: Connect Monitor Output To Camera (unbalanced)
Camera > Dual 1/4″ TS to 1/8″ TRS Cable > Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Now for option number two, take the monitor outputs of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, and connect those to the microphone input on your video camera.You can use an adapter cable that takes the mono signal from the left and right monitor outputs of the Focusrite Scarlett, and converts that to a stereo input for the video camera. Also when connecting, remember that red is always right. The black one goes in the left monitor output.
Then connect the other end of this cable, which is the 1/8″ stereo TRS jack, to the microphone input on your video camera.
Next, go into your audio settings, and turn up the monitor output on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. Similar to the last solution, you should aim for the minus six mark.
Option 3: Connect Monitor Output To Camera (balanced)
Camera > TRS to XLR cable > Video Interface > XLR Cable > Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
For this solution, you’re going to need an audio interface for your video camera. For clarity’s sake, we’ll refer to this as the video interface just so it doesn’t get confused with the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, which is also an audio interface.
The job of the video interface is to give your camera operator a whole swath of different tools on board. In some instances it can screw into the bottom of the video camera, resting between the camera and the tripod.
This video interface has balanced XLR inputs, which is a huge benefit over the first two options. This will give you a balanced audio signal and longer cable runs, just in case your camera is further than 10 feet away from your audio interface.
On the other side of the camera interface here, you get volume knobs to individually control the left and right. So if your camera operator needs to adjust the volume on the camera, they don’t need to communicate with whoever’s close to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
The most important thing to consider when buying a device like this, is whether or not you can switch between mic and line level. If your audio signal is coming in too hot from your audio interface, you can dumb it down, and avoid pushing the monitor output of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 as hard. This provides a little bit more control and a cleaner audio into the video camera. You may need to experiment with this on your own.
Connect this device to your audio interface by taking the 1/8″ jack from the back of this and plugging it into the microphone input on your video camera. You’ll then need a special kind of cable to connect to your video interface, which takes a balanced 1/4″ cable and converts it to XLR. We recommend using short versions of these cables, then using XLR cables for the bulk of the connection.
Connect the left and right monitor outputs on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 to the corresponding inputs on the video interface. Now you’re ready to configure the settings.
We recommend increasing the monitor outputs on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 up to about 30 or 40%, then gently increasing the inputs on the camera interface to about eight or minus six. This creates a situation where the camera operator can fine tune the audio, or whoever’s close to the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 can adjust the monitor output as well.
Ultimately, you end up with far more control, and a balanced solution which allows you to run greater distances if you need to.
The two first solutions we went over are fairly inexpensive. They’re not professional grade solutions, but they work well if you’re trying to run 10 feet and you just need something that works.
In deciding between options one and two, it basically comes down to whether you want to use the headphone output or the monitor outputs on the back of the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. If you’re planning on using headphones, you’d want to use the monitor outputs for the camera and vice versa.
The third solution, which uses a camera audio interface, is far more robust and offers a wider range of tools. But it’s really up to you and your budget, as to whether or not you need all that additional functionality.
Best Camera Audio Interfaces:
- Kopul CMX2: http://currentprice.io/kopul_cmx2
- Tascam DR60D MKII: http://currentprice.io/dr60d
- Sound Devices MixPre-3: http://currentprice.io/mixpre3
Scarlett 2i2 to Video Camera Pricing:
- Sony A7iii Camera : https://currentprice.io/sony_a7iii
- SSL2+ Audio Interface: https://currentprice.io/ssl2_plus
- Audio Interface For Camera: http://currentprice.io/kopul_cmx2
- 1/4″ TRS to 1/8″ TRS Cable: https://currentprice.io/14trs_18trs
- Dual 1/4″ TS to 1/8″ TRS Cable: http://currentprice.io/14_to_dual_18
- RCA to 1/8″ TRS Cable: https://currentprice.io/18_rca
- TRS To XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/trs_xlr
- Camera Interface: http://currentprice.io/kopul_cmx2
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Headphones: https://currentprice.io/beyer_dt_990
- XLR Cable: https://currentprice.io/xlr_cable
- Mic Stand: https://currentprice.io/desk_stand
- Rode PSA1 Boom Arm: https://currentprice.io/boom_arm
Scarlett 2i2 to Video Camera Topics
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 0:22 – Pricing & Specs
- 0:35 – Equipment In Video
- 1:33 – Camera Preamps
- 2:36 – Line Level vs Mic Level
- 3:24 – Balanced vs Unbalanced Audio
- 5:07 – Connect Headphone Output To Camera (unbalanced)
- 7:21 – Connect Monitor Output To Camera (unbalanced)
- 8:54 – Connect Monitor Output To Camera (balanced)
- 13:42 – Summary
- 14:30 – Final Thoughts