Testing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 external sound device, with my Samsung S6 Smart-Phone

I have tested, whether this external USB recording tool, works with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Smart-Phone, using an ‘StarTech.com’ OTG adapter. The results were mixed. In An Earlier Posting, I had tested whether this external USB Sound Card, works under Linux. And the answer to that question was a resounding Yes.

Scarlett 2i2 _1

When we plug an OTG adapter into a smart-phone or tablet, this puts the mobile device into Master / Host Mode, that would otherwise normally work in Slave Mode. Thus, we can then plug in a USB storage device, and hopefully have that recognized, while by default, we can only plug our mobile device into a computer, and have the computer recognize this mobile device, as the storage device.

But it is also plausible to connect other external devices to our mobile device, when using an OTG adapter. All this happens because the OTG adapter itself contains an additional chip, that gives it the ability to act as a USB Host. Whether such external devices will work or not, generally depends on two factors:

  1. Whether the micro-USB port on the mobile device can output enough current, to supply the external / Slave device, and
  2. Whether the mobile device possesses the drivers needed, for the USB device in question. Under Linux, this last question is more likely to be answered in the affirmative.

The OTG adapter I was using, uses its micro-USB side as the only power-supply. This means that if the connected device draws a full 500mA of supply current, we are pushing the limit, that is generally set for USB 2.0  PC ports.

Also, my Samsung S6 is running Android Lollipop, 5.0.2 .

When I plugged the OTG adapter into its micro-USB port, with nothing connected to the far end of the adapter, the expected message was displayed on the phone, acknowledging that a USB connector was connected. Really, this proves that the OTG adapter contains a working chip, because if it was just a cable, then there would be no way for the phone to detect that anything had been inserted.

Next, I plugged the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Sound Card into the far, larger end of the OTG adapter. I was greeted on the phone, with the question, of whether having connected the external sound device, should launch an app I have installed, named “USB Audio Player Pro”. Because this was not the app I wanted to test my sound device with, I tapped to dismiss this possible, automatic action.

Instead, I launched the app named “Audio Evolution Mobile”, which is a DAW, and which also supports USB sound input, especially since the other possible mikes are so inferior. Would the reader think, that because we have a DAW app installed, we would use an in-line, phone-mike to record serious music? Of course not!

This app next asked me, whether I would want to use the Android-supplied driver, or the USB driver belonging to the actual app, which is called their “eXtream” driver.

What I found was that if I select the standard, Android driver, audio capture will not work, while if I select the driver supplied by this app, audio capture does work.

By that time, the Scarlett 2i2 had its green Power / USB LED lit, suggesting it was ready for action.

I next turned on the phantom-power button on the Scarlett 2i2, just to be sure that the phone would support the combined power drain. And I recorded a short track, using Audio Evolution.

Audio Evolution offered me 24-bit sample-format, and sampling rates ranging from 44.1kHz through to 96kHz. I did not wish to push the envelope, and so recorded at 24-bit, 44.1kHz successfully.

So why do I call this a mixed result? Because The native Android driver did not work. The native Android driver did not recognize or display the Scarlett 2i2 as an available sound device. Only the eXtream driver did. This means, that many audio apps written for Android will not work with this sound device. Presumably, the “USB Audio Player Pro” app would have worked just as easily, because it, too, has been authored by the software developer named – “eXtream”. So presumably, all the apps from that dev, will offer to support the USB device with their in-house drivers. But that would also be required.


 

I also tried the same routine, with my Samsung Tab S tablet, running Android KitKat, 4.4.2 . Here, I had no luck. When I plugged the OTG adapter into the tablet, the notification bar of the latter also confirmed that a USB connector had been connected. But when I then connected the Scarlett 2i2 into the same OTG adapter, a behavior took place, in which the LEDs on the external sound device flashed briefly, and then went dark again, roughly twice per second. The green Power / USB LED on the sound device never lit up fully. And this tablet displayed the message repeatedly, that in response to the external sound device being connected, it could offer to launch “USB Audio Player Pro”. Hence, the tablet was recognizing the same device, plugged in once, as if multiple connection attempts had been made. I tried disconnecting my setup and reconnecting it, but got the same results.

This result with the tablet is most likely to mean, that the Scarlett 2i2, drawing as much current as before, is actually overloading the current supply of the micro-USB port of the tablet.

Alternatively, this could mean that there is some deeper conflict.

But this result seems to be the reverse of what would be convenient, since the tablet has a much larger battery capacity, than the phone does. If the Scarlett 2i2 is in fact drawing 500mA, which I think it is, the reader can do the math, of how quickly having it connected will run down a battery – faster.

Now, there is some possibility that if I obtain a better OTG adapter, which would also have a separate supply-jack, and which would therefore not draw 100% of its supply current from the micro-USB, then the Scarlett 2i2 might also work with this tablet. I really do not see why it should not, as it did display the message correctly, that a sound device was detected, and that a specific app could be launched as a new default behavior. I also have the same eXtream apps installed on my tablet, that I have on my phone.

But with an OTG adapter that draws 100% of its supply from the micro-USB port, this is simply not possible, given the Samsung Tab S tablet. In fact after my efforts, the tablet was too confused, to display that an external USB connector had been connected again, until I rebooted the tablet. This was probably due, to having 2 connection attempts take place per second, over an extended testing period from me.

When and if I do obtain an OTG adapter with a split power connector, I should write another blog posting, telling any interested reader whether this improved the results with the Tab S tablet.

Dirk

 

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27 thoughts on “Testing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 external sound device, with my Samsung S6 Smart-Phone”

  1. Great post, thank you!

    I’m having trouble connecting my Scarlett 6i6 to my Galaxy Tab A (model SM-T510, android 9 Pie, usb type-C). Same problem: if I choose android driver, no recording, but plays back audio and midi tracks fine. If I choose eXtream driver, I can record audio and midi, but there’s no play back at all.

    I tried different cables, both type-C and micro USB (using a micro USB to type-C adapter, which might be the problem?), with no results. Could you tell exactly what StarTech.com OTG adapter you use? What I tried looks like a rather simple cable. For instance: https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B07J5CDJ9Z

    Thank you in advance and best regards,
    José

    1. The reality is, that I no longer use my Samsung S6 phone, because by now I use a Samsung S9 phone. When I made the upgrade, I also swapped out the old OTG adapter, for the one that comes with the S9.

      The old StarTech.com OTG Adapter was a “5-inch, Micro USB Male to USB A Female”. Because the newer phone itself has a USB-C port, their new adapter ‘makes sense’, but I never tried it out.

      What I would guess is, that a different one will not solve your problem. The 2i2 is no longer being manufactured, and I never experimented with the 6i6.

      One important note: Whatever OTG adapter is used, with an Android tablet or phone, there must be a chip. There must not be, just a cable. But if the OTG adapter works with other USB devices, such as, memory sticks, keyboard and mouse, there is already no reason to suspect that component.

      This poses a question which I do not know the answer to:

      When Samsung offered their ‘Tab A’, did they follow a change in design philosophy, to put the USB Host Adapter Chip inside the tablet, while the earlier devices – such as my ‘Tab S1′ – did not have it? The reason OTG adapters had chips, was the fact that many Android devices lacked chips. If the Android device already has a Host Chip inside, then the reverse will follow: It would be wrong to supply an OTG adapter with a chip.

      Is it possible that the 6i6 is a 6-channel audio device, as the 2i2 was a 2-channel device? With that kind of hardware, you might just be asking the Android app to be doing a bit too much…

      Dirk

    2. Let me expound on what I just wrote. Apparently, you have tried a classical, old-fashioned OTG adapter made for classical Android tablets, but in your case a newer ‘Samsung Tab A’, with a USB-C Port. Since that did not work for you, just by trial and error, what I’d do next, is to try a straight adapter cable, USB-C to USB-A Female, that you know does not have a chip. This would be a kind of cable used with PCs, not historically with tablets.

      It’s probable that the experiment won’t work, but it’s worth a shot. At worst, you’ll have to reboot the tablet, after it didn’t work.

      Dirk

      1. Thanks for your fast response, Dirk!

        Regarding your thoughts about Tab A’s newer features, I agree. I tried the app “OTG checker” on it and it states that it’s “OGT compatible” and that can work as “USB host”. So there should be no reason for it not to work with the 6i6.

        I don’t think using a 6 inputs/6 outputs audio device (the 6i6) is too much work for the tablet, since DAWs usually only listen to/talk to the inputs/outputs defined in your music projects. And I’m talking about recording a simple midi or audio track. In fact, using Audio Evolution Mobile’s eXtream driver I can record both audio and midi tracks with imperceptible latency. Tab A runs fast and smooth while recording.

        Do you think it’s a good idea trying one of those USB hubs (for instance, this one: https://www.amazon.es/neefeaer-Adaptador-Convertidor-Compatible-MacBook/dp/B07PLPRDJT) which do not say anything about “OTG”? I understand I wouldn’t need a powered hub, since the 6i6 has its own power supply. But there should be no problem if I use a powered one, am I right?

        Thanks again for your help. I’ll post any successful results.

        Best regards,
        José

        1. I have on one occasion used a powered USB Hub with a tablet, successfully. The OTG Adapter needs to go between the tablet and the hub. When you try a hub, you may or may not experience some issues with the device finding the other devices plugged into the hub.

          I’d say that the process is one of trial and error, but your chances with that are better than 50%.

          Dirk

          1. But I really don’t need an OTG adapter, since my Tab A is already OTG compatible. Is that right?

            Thanks again for your support!
            José

          2. No, that’s not right. Because you just wrote that your ‘Tab A’ has a feature in its settings, to Test the OTG Adapter for compatibility, what that means is, that your Tab A was still designed to be used with an OTG Adapter, that has its own chip. Why else would your Settings have that entry?

            The way it seems to work is, that PCs and Laptops already contain an added chip, that allows them to act as USB Hosts (for other devices). Without this chip, you can only connect the tablet or phone to a PC, that can act as a Host, and view the files and folders on that tablet, from your PC or Laptop. You wouldn’t be able to do the reverse.

            In the case of Android or iOS tablets and phones, this chip has not been included inside the device, because it would take up additional space on the motherboard. So, you still need to supply this extra chip, inside your OTG adapter, if you want an external storage volume, or, a keyboard, to become accessible from your Android tablet…

            The OTG Adapter that you linked to, and that you are using, has such a chip. And has been indicated as compatible.

            But, with a Chromebook for example, you would not need an OTG Adapter. The chip is inside. Yet, a Chromebook would pose special challenges, because its implementation of Android is heavily sandboxed. You might not get full access to the USB port anyway, or Audio Evolution Pro might fail to work, for reasons I don’t know.

            On my own, new Chromebook, I do not intend to set up Audio Evolution Pro, because I tend to like its Linux subsystem more, than I like its Android subsystem.

            Dirk

          3. I have a follow-up question, for you to pursue. Your OTG adapter is fine. But you wrote that if you tell Audio Evolution Pro to use its eXtream drivers, you get sound input but no sound output.

            Is it possible, that when Audio Evolution Pro recognizes your 6i6 in this way, that your sound output is just not coming from your Tab A’s internal speakers anymore, that the app is also trying to reroute the sound output to this external device?

            Because, that’s what I would expect it to do.

            Dirk

          4. Hi Dirk,

            I’ve been in contact with the support people of Audio Evolution Mobile trying to work this out. We did all kinds of tests, I activated the logging system of the app and sent it to them, etc. They really worked hard on this!

            According to support, there is a problem (maybe a bug?) with android’s audio driver that prevents the app from bypassing android driver for output and using eXtream driver instead, which is supposed to be “low latency”. They are pretty sure that it’s not a cable or adapter problem, since my tablet is OTG compatible and supports USB host mode.

            But we found out that I can use eXtream driver for input and android’s driver for output, via in-app configurarion, which works, but with pretty much latency. If I only record a single midi track, the latency is ok (bearable). But if I have a couple of audio tracks involved in the project, the latency is terrible.

            They say that maybe with a more powerful tablet the latency would decrease noticeably. Also, that maybe android will some day improve its driver to reduce latency, but that’s not very likely to happen.

            I’ve been testing how it is to work with the android’s driver for output and my conclusion is that I can manage, more or less. If I need to listen to previously recorded tracks, I can listen to them using another audio player while I record a piano midi track with the app. And after recording, match it with the other tracks. Oh, well, I guess that’s as far as I can get, but it’s ok.

            Thank you very much for your diligent suggestions trying to help me with this.

            Greetings and Merry Xmas!!
            José

          5. I’m glad to hear that you were able to find an in-app setting that resolves the problem – more or less. But I do not share your optimism, about future tablets, and how those might not give you the same problem.

            The reason for my own pessimism lies in the observation, that the recent trend in the evolution of Electronics, doesn’t favour performance in the old-fashioned sense, nor, versatility in the hands of the user. What modern Electronics are designed to do, is to provide features which the manufacturer was able to foresee.

            And so, any newer tablets may simply give customers ‘more of the same thing’. The devices that I tried this with, were pre- Android 8, and the later Android versions may simply give the customer a larger set of features, restricted to features which the manufacturer predicted.

            Dirk

  2. Thank you so much for this article. I used a powered USB port and now can record with mics a stereo track on the go. What a nice find!

  3. I sings a song on star maker using my Android phone. How i use scarlett 2i2 and connect with my phone to sing on star maker. Plz suggest me.

    1. Myself, I was able to get the Scarlett 2i2 to work with “Audio Evolution Pro”, partially because that app has its own special USB drivers. If you wanted this to work with your phone:

      1: You might find that the battery on the phone won’t power the 2i2 long enough, and
      2: You’ll need an OTG adapter, and
      3: I still can’t guarantee, that it will work with the Star Maker app.

      Don’t explicitly buy a Scarlett 2i2 to do this.

      Also, I explicitly bought a powered USB adapter, so that my 2i2 would draw its power, not from the Android device’s battery.

      Dirk

  4. hello Dirk , have you tried to get it working using line output from scarlett into 4 pole splitter , and then onto phone

    1. Dear Abs,

      The first thing you need to understand, is that the Scarelett Focusrite is an external sound-card. That means, it has no line-output. It has a USB-port, which is a port for high-speed digital communication, where it connects to the phone, the tablet, or the computer. And one doesn’t split that.

      Analog connections can be made to the Focusrite – which has always worked – and then, If the computer recognizes the device, those analog connections become ‘visible’ to the software of the computer.

      The Focusrite itself acts as an Analog-to-Digital converter, an A/D .

      Also, you’ve commented on my first test, of the Focusrite with my Android devices, according to which it did work with my phone, but not with that tablet. During a later test, I got the Focusrite to work with the tablet, by using a USB-Y-cable, which sends the digital stream to the OTG adapter, but which branches off the power-supply pins of the USB-cable, to a separate jack, which I could plug in to a robust USB-power-soruce. That test was a full success.

      Dirk

  5. I too have had some good results with the 2i2 going into a Nexus 7 tablet running Lollipop.
    However, upon upgrading to a custom Nougat rom, I get the same flickering of green light from the unit. Wondering if there’s some setting in the rom , since it was able to power 2i2 under Lollipop. Thanks!

  6. A very informative article,Dirk.I have been trying to get to use the same setup to record to Smule Sing, and its been failing miserably.Your article has given me some insight.

    1. I would try to guess, that just as it sometimes happened to me, your external sound device might be over-drawing the current-delivering capacity of your Micro-USB port, USB-C port, etc. Otherwise, you may be finding yourself in the unfortunate situation, that the Kernel on your mobile device may not recognize the external sound-device. Remember, on some of my own devices, I needed to select the Extreme Drivers, that come with Audio Evolution Pro, or with USB Audio Recorder, that are all apps from the same dev. So insight or no, your best bet might actually be, (1) to use a self-powered OTG adapter, and (2) to switch to these DAW-apps.

    1. No, Mine is powered through its USB port. And, I was impressed at how so much of a device could be powered just by USB, which works fine from a laptop.

      Dirk

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