This weekend we'll be taking a closer look at Focusrite, who makes some of the best studio gear available today. Firstly, we'll focus (no pun intended...) on Focusrite's ISA range, which includes mic preamps, channel strip and A/D converters. Standing for 'Input Signal Amplifier', the ISA range was born out of the original Focusrite Forte console of the late 80's, and brings the legendary sound to your recording studio setup!
The original Focusrite Forte console was, and still is, considered by many as sonically the finest console ever built. It was designed by the genius Rupert Neve (who we wrote about on this previous blog) and only a handful were ever made, of which only two are still in use. It was developed in 1988 as a result of interest in the original ISA modules. The concept was simply to produce the highest-quality recording console available at the time, regardless of cost, based around the signal path of the existing modular units.
Respected producer Dave Clark said:
"The Forte console was a thing of myth, a desk that was mentioned about in hushed tones, it needed a very well thought out air conditioning plan as it would heat up to Sahara midday levels but it was designed with only audio quality in mind and, alas, I believe this pursuit of excellence to make an utterly outstanding console almost broke the company, which I actually just love in itself, a pure engineering ethos untampered by commercial realities. Not sensible but certainly dedicated, extremely romantic and single-minded which used to be a very British attitude."
There is something special about the old school Focusrite sound, the design of the desk layout is also easy on the eye, the blue chassis and yellow knobs are easy to read in low level lighting, and to get one of these legendary units is a dream come true to many producers.
Watch this video explaining more about the history of the Focusrite Studio Console:
The core modules from this legendary console now live on with Focusrite's current range of ISA products, which have in themselves also become recording classics, and the choice of the world's finest producers and engineers. This introduction video shows you a bit more about this fantastic brand, which remains an essential part in the sound of recording studios worldwide - and will remain so for many more years to come!
Here's a look at what you can find on our website:
The ISA One microphone preamplifier (also available with ADC card) delivers Focusrite's prestigious ISA transformer-based preamp in a rugged and portable chassis, at a groundbreaking price. ISA One features the classic vintage microphone preamplifier topology from the original ISA110 module, which formed the cornerstone of each channel of Focusrite's legendary Forté console. Ideal both for engineers wishing to blend a D.I.’d guitar signal with a mic’d guitar cabinet, and for demanding performers who require a single classic solution for both guitar and vocals. More info
The Focusrite ISA TWO, as the name suggests, is a larger 2-channel version of the ISA ONE. It has four choices of input impendance which can be selected from the front panel, and even better, the ISA 2 remembers the choice when it's switched off and on. More info
The Focusrite ISA 428 MKII is a 4-channel preamp that provides four of Focusrite’s prestigious transformer-based microphone preamps. It features the same classic circuitry and renowned audio quality found in the original at a new level of affordability. With selectable input impedance, direct instrument inputs and an optional eight channels of high-quality analogue to digital conversion, the ISA428 MkII creates the perfect front end for the discerning recording professional. More info
Focusrite’s new ISA828 eight channel microphone pre-amplifier, providing eight original ISA transformer-based pre amps in a single robust 2U chassis, offering the Focusrite signature sound at its lowest cost per channel to date.
The eight ISA-series transformer-based microphone pre amps, with switchable impedance and direct instrument inputs, are complemented by eight line inputs, eight line outputs and an optional eight channel 192kHz ADC. Thanks to its convenient 25 pin D-Type connectors, the ISA828 integrates quickly and seamlessly with ProTools HD, as well as other popular hard disc recorders and mixing desks. More info
The ISA 430 MkII features Focusrite’s ultimate heritage sonic signature including transformer-based mic pre, versatile EQ with two dual-range parametrics, compressor with both transparent VCA and vintage optical circuitry, expander/gate, phase-cancellation de-esser and optional 192kHz/24-bit 2-channel A-D conversion.
The mic pre suits almost all mics including vintage and ‘difficult’ models such as ribbons. Variable impedance can be set for transparency or to highlight special features of the mic, such as presence bumps and rolloffs. Switchable additional inductance adds “air” without EQ. More info
Analogue to Digital converter card for the ISA One 430 MKII channel strip, limited stock whilst it lasts! More info
Focusrite ISA828 AD Card
The ISA eight channel 192kHz A-D converter outperforms every other converter yet devised, and was the first audio A-D converter to utilise Burr-Brown Pro Audio Amplifiers and flagship PCM4220 A-D converter chips. With cutting-edge conversion technology seated within Focusrite custom analogue circuitry, the card delivers unparalleled performance; specifications include a dynamic range of 122dB and jitter less than 250 picoseconds. More info
By Ivan Silva