I love my audio setup. It compliments my multi-pc setup very well. Below is a list of items I use.
|Microphone Shure SM7B||$400|
|Pre dbx 286s||$219|
|Microphone Gain Cloudlifter CL1||$149|
|Interface Scarlett 2i2||$169|
|Interface Scarlett 18i20||$550|
|Amplifier YAMAHA A-S501||$550|
|Headphones Drop x HIFIMAN EDITION XX||$630|
|Headphone Amp Drop x THX AAA 789||$350|
|Speakers Martin Logan LX16||$560 ($280/Speaker)|
|Subwoofer Polk Audio PSW10||$100|
In total, I spent $3,677 to have superb audio quality in and out. Worth every last cent.
I route the audio from both my Mac Mini and my Windows PC into the interface and use the Focusrite Control software to monitor both channels into one stream. I send that stream to my speakers + sub and also use the direct headphone line on the interface (although plugging them into my amp would be better since my headphones are very power-hungry, it's just the wire is kinda long and troublesome)
I also route the audio from my TV into the optical port on the back. I've never used that connection before, but knowing the sound is traveling using light is pretty neat. This is great for concentrating audio from three systems (Windows PC (Discord), Mac Mini (Music / DJ), TV (Switch)) into any output, even at the same time.
The routing software is hard to grasp at first, and I still don't think I truly understand it, but it gets the job done, so that's a plus. (Maybe a more physical wire-plugging interface like Reason would be more straightforward?)
I have the microphone plugged into the Cloudlifter, then into the Mic Pre for all the clean gain I can possibly get. I want to sound as crisp as possible, but that requires a lot of power AND for me to be close to the mic, but It's not terrible if I'm a couple inches away. The Mic Pre difference is honestly night and day, and if you do a lot of speaking online, I'd highly recommend one. I don't really feel like fiddling around for software solution replacements for my de-esser, and noise gate as the output signal is done using hardware and agnostic of whatever accepts it.
Small note about the mic setup: I originally had the microphone just as an input to my 18i20, but looping the mic input back through an output and into my windows PC produced a weird ground hum issue. I tried everything I could to debug the problem, including isolating the power lines and testing the audio in different environments. I was able to get a clean output signal (so the interface isn't at fault here), but the line in input on my motherboard's sound card produces a dirty signal, so I've opted to bring out my old 2i2 and use the USB connection as a clean line. This means that I had to use a stereo (even though mono is better) Y splitter (why is it called y splitter? we aren't splitting a stereo signal, we're duplicating it) to have inputs on both interfaces. Costly and arduous, but it works.
I have a tiny (and non-audio-proofed) room, and unfortunately, not enough desk space with two video monitors for two studio audio-monitors. I've moved them to my window sill, which sits behind me and to the left, but they're honestly loud enough that I don't mind the ear bias when blasting music. It's also good for controlling my music remotely and getting good bass & sound when in another area of my apartment or at my bed.
The headphones I have require so much power it's hard to even get them loud, but I guess that's good in the sense that they are protecting my ears from damage. They get loud enough without distortion, and the stage is impressive. I don't think I'll ever reach for another pair of headphones as these are as high quality as I believe I can get without spending an obscene amount of money for an almost unnoticeable difference. They are open back which makes it easy for me to hear when others call me (as I often have my headphones on all the time) or to get my apartment door for packages and etc. Things sound much more natural this way because the sound isn't just stuck in your ear cup, but rather in the air around your ears too. Subpar explanation, but it's subjective on whether or not that's good.