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Old 09-14-2008, 09:52 PM
studiostrat studiostrat is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 96
Default Has anyone bought/tried/used a Focusrite ISA1?

How do they sound?The price looks pretty much right if the sound is there,though I am wishing companies would stop making only half rack versions of their cheaper but still good stuff 'cause one could perpetually fill one's studio with half rack,floating objects mounted at wierd angles:)In particular,I'm interested in what someone thinks this thing sounds like on vocals,guitars,and bass.
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Old 09-14-2008, 10:18 PM
guitar131 guitar131 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Annapolis MD
Posts: 157
Default Re: Has anyone bought/tried/used a Focusrite ISA1?

I just bought the ISA828 and I really like it. I have an STT-1 and a Midas XL-42 and it is a different thing than those. I would say it's pretty neutral...extremely clean, all the way to the edge of it's gain. Built like a tank....get's hot! I got the A/D option, and that is REALLY nice. Definitely a noticeable difference in that regard. I wouldn't buy just the 1 channel though...doesn't seem worth the money when you can get 4 channels for less than double the price, or in my case, 8 channels with killer A/D conversion for around $2800. YMMV...
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:44 AM
MrJoshua MrJoshua is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 267
Default Re: Has anyone bought/tried/used a Focusrite ISA1?

I haven't used the ISA-One, but the ISA-428 is a great unit and I think the preamp is the same, isn't it? I have the A/D option card, and I gree with guitar131 that it's a good value. The preamps are really solid - clean, with just enough iron in the signal path to add a little presence without heavily coloring the sound. They're not dirty enough to be called "color" preamps, but they're not clean enough to be "pristine" or anything like that. Solid all-around preamps that work with pretty much any source, and I really like them a lot with drums in particular. Lately I've shifted to API for more of my drum sounds, but I still use the ISA-428 preamps for toms about half of the time, and the preamps get used for SOMETHING on every session, along with the converters. I'd say it's been one of my better studio purchases in terms of value.

Now, for the particulars you ask about:

On vocals, it's a solid choice but not my favorite for my particular voice. But without knowing what kind of a voice you have and what your other options are, it's hard to say whether or not it would be my first choice for a preamp. I have a baritone voice and have used the ISA-428 with various mics and been pleased with the results, but lately I've been leaning more toward the Great River MP-500NV as my go-to vocal preamp in general. That said, the Focusrite is a good and usable vocal preamp and I wouldn't be afraid to try it on anyone's voice where I wanted a neutral sound with just a touch of color added. The impedance selector switch also can bring out different sounds from different mics, which makes it a more versatile preamp than it might seem at first, so it's a good choice for vocals. It may or may not be a "great" choice, though, depending on the voice, mic selection, etc.

For bass, I've often used the DI inputs on the 428 to track bass. These days it's usually a tossup as to whether the 428 is used, an API, or a Great River, just depending on the bass used, the style of music, etc. But it's very possible to get a great bass sound with the 428 DI input, or with a good mic on a nice bass cab into a 428 preamp.

For guitar, it's not my favorite. I prefer a more colored preamp for guitar, so I tend to go for a Groove Tubes "The Brick," a Great River, or whatever else is available with a similar sound for guitar amps. But that's assuming you're talking about distorted guitar. For clean sounds or acoustic, the 428 works very well. And it's quite possible to get a good distorted electric sound from the 428; it just isn't my favorite preamp for my guitar tones when recording my music in my home studio.

So, that's my opinion on the ISA-428. :) I use mine a lot. Of course, that's just what I think about it - your opinion may vary. Good luck!
Joshua L.
Decatur, AL
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:12 AM
Carl Fuehrer's Avatar
Carl Fuehrer Carl Fuehrer is offline
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,345
Default Re: Has anyone bought/tried/used a Focusrite ISA1?

Here's a forum that you can find all the info you need for outboard gear and mics.


Carl Fuehrer

Pulsar Audio Lab
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