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So the short answers are YES, you you can add digital noise to an analog OR digital signal chain. A poorly shielded CPU clock frequency circuit for example will inject spurious noise into anything not optically isolated. So there’s that.
You HAVE to use some sort of preamp if you intend to use an analog input on the H9000 with instrument level signal. The H9000 only accepts balanced preamp level analog inputs.
According to Focusrite, the 2i2 DOES NOT WORK IN STANDALONE MODE. I just thought at after paying 7k for an effects processor, that there shouldn’t be a noisy ANYTHING on it, INCLUDING the USB Ports! I’ve tried a powered USB hub, but this does not “wake up” the 2i2 because again, it doesn’t even see any signal until it is connected to either a computer, or another host device such as an iPad, computer, or the H9000 itself.
The whole rig is church mouse quiet when the 2i2 is plugged into an outboard laptop. If you’ve ever seen the 2i2 3rd Gen Focusrite, it doesn’t even have a DC power jack on it, so it is designed to run on the 500ma MAX current of the USB Bus. Focusrite preamps and USB bridge devices don’t start running standalone mode until the 6i6 and up models.
Thanks for the suggestions, but I think I’m seeing the forest through the trees here…