A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Focusrite Scarlett 6i6

focusrite-scarlett-6i6

I got a Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 audio interface from a seller on Craigslist yesterday. Its the 2nd gen model, which is the new one that has ironed out some issues from the older model. The seller listed the device as being in Stratford, CT, which is about an hour away, without traffic. After emailing, I learned that its actually at his mother’s house in Mt. Vernon, NY, behind Cross County Shopping Center – about 5 mins from my house.

So, wifey and I left Bopps with her grandparents and went to see the device. We met the seller in Mt. Vernon. He was a little older than me – maybe in his late 40s or early 50s. His name is Mike and he’s originally from Queens – he had the accent too.

His mother’s place is falling apart. Its an old Victorian house, and in the snowy dark had looked intimidating from outside. Once the door opened, I could hear my wife’s mental cringe in my head. We had to go up 3 flights to a room to see the 6i6. There were boxes and junk everywhere, the handrail finish on the staircase was partially stripped, like if paint thinner had been run in odd rivulets along it, the floors were in terrible condition, and a young, blonde woman in a bathrobe with her hair wrapped in a towel walked out of a room on the 3rd floor, ran into us going upstairs and exclaimed, “What, there are more people?!”

Later, wifey would go all HGTV on me and got to talking about the foyer, sitting room, floor-to-ceiling height stained glass picture window on one of the floors, various molding details, large room sizes, octagonal rooms and impressive ceiling height (10 or 12 feet). It has good bones, but was really hurting. She’s always looking at places and thinking about renovations (and yes, our own house really needs some). She also noticed that despite the worn condition of the entire house, all of the rooms had large-screen HDTV’s.

focusrite-house

The house, on a bright, bright sun-shiny day…

I’m not quite sure what was going on inside of the home, but we made our way upstairs to one of the smaller rooms, which was actually still about as big as my home office. Mike pulled the boxed 6i6 from a shelf and opened it on a table for us to see. We talked about the device and he went over some of its basic features, showing where to plug in a guitar cable or XLR cable, where the power cable and USB went, what the knobs did, and so on. The device looked brand new and I asked him why he’s selling it. He said that he needed the money and was selling some other things, like six guitars.

Apparently, he had a motorcycle accident and was selling things to pay off his bills. I sympathized with his story, because I know people who have had similar accidents and know others who have had to sell prized possessions to stay afloat. I pray that I’m never in that situation. I did note that he didn’t seem to have any injuries though. I checked the serial number on the bottom of the 6i6. Earlier in the day, Google had given me the following info, so that I’d know if I was dealing with an actual 2nd gen or a 1st gen:

Is my Focusrite Scarlett 6i6 1st gen or 2nd gen? 

Applies to: Scarlett 1st Gen & 2nd Gen 

If you have purchased a Scarlett interface after 1st June 2016, then you may be confused as to whether it is a 1st Gen or 2nd Gen Scarlett. 

If you turn over your Scarlett unit, you should see a sticker containing a barcode on the base of the unit, below this will be a serial number, the prefix of your serial number will denote which generation Scarlett you own: 

Sxxxxxxxxxxx or Txxxxxxxxxxx = 1st Gen
Vxxxxxxxxxxxx or Wxxxxxxxxxxxx = 2nd Gen 

Which generation you have will determine what software and drivers appear in your user account, as well as which Downloads page you select on the Focusrite website

The one in front of me had a serial number starting with “V”, so I knew I was in the clear as far as the family tree goes. Environment aside, everything looked good. The 6i6 was in mint condition. All of the wires were intact, as were adapters for plugging it in overseas. Mike explained that we could grab all of the software online, from Focusrite’s website. I knew some of this already, from YouTube and from Shel Z’s post about her Focusrite Solo. So, I paid the man.

Once he was paid, we got to talking. He went into a 30-minute chat about growing up in Flushing and how the neighborhood had changed from Italians to Chinese and Korean, and how all of the places he knew were gone – and about how Flushing was a bigger Chinatown than the one in Manhattan (something which my Chinese coworkers have also commented on). Then he got into a bunch of other things – children growing up today who are online and away from people physically growing up with no sense of resilience and being unable to defend themselves physically and socially, pornography on the internet, an assertion that crystal meth was used historically by pregnant women and was prescribed by doctors, recording woodwind instruments and the higher price of purchasing them vs. other types of instruments, renting vs. buying instruments for children and buying woodwinds for older teens who were upgrading equipment, finding information on YouTube – I mentioned how I’d used it to fix stuff in my house and the car, he agreed about home repair stuff and then ranted a bit about using it for auto repair because apparently, he’s some kind of specialized mechanic professionally… there were other things as well, but I can’t remember it all. I was primarily concerned with stuff about the Focusrite. He did say that I should look into getting a good pair of studio monitors, and I did start researching that last night to see if its necessary.

So, we finally left, and wifey complained that she wanted to gag because the house smelled like paint thinner and Raid. It got me wondering if they’re trying to get rid of termites using the old bug spray and gasoline/kerosene method. I paid $150 for the 6i6, which is $100 less than I’ve seen anywhere online. Its actually the price I’ve seen for the 2i2, which is the model I’ve had on my Wish List at Amazon for a while, so I made out well.

rocksmith-cable

I’ve been using the Rocksmith cable and Audacity for recording up until now

Early this AM, I set up the 6i6 and configured it to work in Audacity and in Reaper. I did some test recordings in WAV and MP3. I’ll do some more testing with the Rocksmith cable for comparison and share the results later. This entire home recording process is really intriguing to me. I watched some videos and read some articles about studio monitors vs. home speaker systems, and I can see this being a whole new rabbit hole for people building home recording studios. I’m not quite at that point yet. My recording needs are very basic, and the main reason I went after an interface is so that I can record with someone else, since I’m moving in that direction for my own learning purposes.

Mike did give me his email address and phone number, so if I have questions about setting up the 6i6 and want to run anything by him, I can. He also showed me the receipt for the 6i6. It had come from Sweetwater. I mentioned that I’d only recently begun looking at them and Musician’s Friend. He had a higher opinion of Sweetwater, for their customer service and also because they were more inclined to price drops if a customer mentioned seeing something for the same price elsewhere. He’s a contact I’m not quite sure about keeping just yet. I am curious if he has a good set of studio monitors now, though…

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11 responses

  1. Lol. The way you describe it makes it sound like some kind of crack house, but awesome that it ended up being so close to home for you.

    I’ve seen recs for studio monitors, too, and while there are advantages, at our level in the process, I stand by my earlier assertion that decent headphones are enough. Studio monitors are kind of a ‘later’ thing, especially since you tend to practice in the wee hours when people are trying to sleep. The difference in sound quality does make a difference, but probably not at this stage/for what you want to do. Once you start playing with others you’ll likely want them, but you won’t likely need them before then, given your current priorities, IMHO. Since I’m on laptop speakers, I may eventually need to go that route, too, but for the moment no one needs to hear what I’m up to but me.

    January 11, 2017 at 11:15 am

    • vishalicious

      I did think that it might be something like a crack house, or that they were filming porn. His “mother” was nowhere to be seen, the woman was surprised to see us and had been readying for something, he was inserting drug and porn talk casually, like he was feeling out our reaction – and only after I’d paid him. The place was pretty dark too. Joan was talking about how its like that inside Victorians a lot – her family has some as well. This one wasn’t kept up at all. The walls, the floors… usually people at least open with a “sorry about the mess,” or something, but there was none of that, and we went up 3 flights – the one time I had people come to our house to buy something from CL (I always go outside to a neutral place, but we were donating 2 couches that we no longer used and were replacing) I met them outside and didn’t let them into the back, where I’d placed things, until after speaking with them and getting a feel for if it was safe to have them inside.

      I am glad that it was right there in Mt. Vernon though. I used to drive by there every day, for years, when I had to go to the office in Syosset. We still go by there all the time when we go to Target or meet with friends on that end of the Bronx.

      Yeah, I think you’re right about headphones instead of monitors for now. I do find the whole thing interesting – flat sound for engineering vs. shaped sound for home use and all of that stuff. Hopefully, I get to the stage where I have to actually cross that bridge and record stuff.

      I’m waiting anxiously for the GHS Pressurewound strings to arrive. I’m actually more excited about them than anything else I’ve gone after recently.

      January 11, 2017 at 11:29 am

      • Yeah, that was my other thought, but I decided not to say it. Lol.

        I’m the same. I even carried the TV stand outside. The only thing I’ve had people come in for was the dresser, and only because I physically couldn’t move it by myself, being mostly solid wood with two huge, heavy mirrors.

        I got my CAD phones on MF for about $25 on sale, so they’re constantly doing bargains like that.

        Also, as far as Musician’s Friend versus Sweetwater, I shop MF more. Yes, Sweetwater has good customer service (oppressively so. They call you after you buy things to check up. GO AWAY.) But base prices tend to be lower, on average, at MF, so there’s no need to price match. I find it less fuss, but take that for what it is: the opinion of someone who hates talking to salesmen and wants to just click a button and be done.

        January 11, 2017 at 11:40 am

      • vishalicious

        I made my first MF purchase this weekend – its those Gorilla Tips finger protectors. I also bought my first online strings from bassstrings.com. Unless I buy decent headphones, I think my splurge is over for now though.

        Based on what Mike said, its possible that if you call Sweetwater, they’d do better than matching MF’s price. He said that they consistently beat prices when he brought them up. I understand not wanting to haggle though. 😉

        I do think that they were filming porn, on hindsight. The woman who walked into us in the hall might have thought we were a 2nd couple. I’m sure once I tell Joan that, she’s going to be revolted. Maybe I’ll message her right before lunch… 😉

        Speaking of which, Sam Ash called. The bass only needed a cleaning, so its just the $30 charge and I can pick it up at any time. I’m going to try this evening and also bring the acoustic. Yay!

        January 11, 2017 at 11:49 am

      • Awesome news on the bass!

        And yeah, it’s well established haggling isn’t my thing. When it comes to price, I’m in the ‘that’s fair’ camp. If your online price is lower than the average price, I’m satisfied. And with the exception of the honeytone miniamp, everything I’ve bought on MF has been solid. Their house brand accessories have been good to me, too. I get spammed with emails, true, but that’s how I find my good deals.

        And yep. Porn upstairs, Meth lab in the basement. Selling shit for drug money. Lol.

        January 11, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      • vishalicious

        I messaged Joan about how we almost got recruited to make a movie and her response was “Diversity and inclusivity.” I must be getting to her… or maybe I’m just too far to hit. 😉

        You know… ever since I got the drum kit from eBay and browsed their lefty basses, they keep emailing me to see if I’m still interested in stuff I looked at, and I want a 5-string, because it’ll be thinner than the 6’ers and still have that B-string. I’m also curious about getting a cheap 4-string just to experiment with. I’ve never looked at pickups or any of the other stuff people mod or upgrade. I wish there was a program that let us do that stuff virtually. It would clear up a lot of questions in my head. Amplitube does it for amps and all of that stuff, but not for actual bass modifications.

        January 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      • Lol. Joan is hilarious.

        Yeah, they all do that. I delete like 20 emails a day, but to me it’s worth it because when something I’ve been hunting for pops up at a steal, I know about it. There’s always something. My latest internet obsession is bodhran sticks, so now I get drum ads all the time.

        I think, being more the hands on type, I wouldn’t benefit much from digital MOD simulations, but I can see it being useful for you.

        January 11, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      • vishalicious

        For me its because it could save money and space. Also, I’m intrigued by the idea that we can play our instruments through our PCs and programs instead of having to buy various pedals and the like. It helps that some of my favorite bands have been doing this forever – acts like Godflesh and Mono (the one from Japan) and even newer, local acts like Pharmakon (we saw her live and she just completely blew my mind). After I learn how to play my bass, one thing I really want to explore is the digital side of making music, and fusing that with real instruments. I also really want to blend certain sounds and styles I have in my head. I was just talking to Joan a few nights ago about a jazz/goth idea that I have that I think she’d like… but I need to learn my instrument.

        January 11, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      • Oh, sure, I get the logic of it. For me it’s more the tactile learning thing of mine. It’s just infinitely easier for me to process information when I’m physically engaged with it, so stuff like modding instruments, I’m sort of better of just disassembling things and hoping for the best, even if it costs more money and space. I just understand things better that way.

        Sort of like how I utterly fail to absorb music information from physical books, in spite of my many, many efforts to maintain focus, and you’re really good at that.

        In the end, I just like poking at instruments more than buttons, I guess.

        January 11, 2017 at 1:20 pm

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