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Review: Focusrite’s Mic Preamp

You’ve got your mic. You’ve got a good recording space. Is this your mic preamp? – asks Chris Kennedy

Type: Mic Preamp

Item: The Focusrite ISA One

Price: US $499, UK £399

Mic Scale:

At a Glance: If you have a great vocal mic and a good recording space, then a quality preamp is an essential piece of equipment to get the best from of your recordings. The Focusrite ISA One is a single channel microphone preamp that comes in a rugged and portable chassis. The preamp design is taken from one used in some of Focusrite’s high-end (and very expensive) professional mixing consoles and as such boasts extremely good sound quality at a price that should appeal to both professional and semi-professional musicians.

High Notes: Excellent sound quality and plenty of headroom, ensuring you get optimum recording quality out of your microphone and letting your vocals shine though in the mix. It features extremely low distortion figures and a wide frequency response, making it suitable for high quality recordings at sample rates up to 192KHz. Also included is separate DI channel for connecting a guitar directly in, an on-board level meter and balanced outputs for connecting to a recording interface.

Off Pitch: If you want to record into your computer and do not already have an interface, you will need to buy the extra D-A card for the unit which costs around $400. As this is a relatively “clean” sounding preamp; if you are looking for something to add some more apparent character to your recordings then you will need to look elsewhere.

A VoiceCouncil Reviewer Says: This type of quality does not come cheap; however, by creating a single version of their high-end preamp usually only found on consoles in professional studios, the ISA One represents great value for money. Most users report how well it makes their vocal recordings sound, bringing out subtle nuances that inferior preamps would not reveal and having a general quality to the sound that is more akin to what you would expect from a professional studio. You would need to spend a great deal more to get any discernable quality improvement over the ISA One.

Focusrite Website

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  • Leftypete

    From the various combinations of mic and Pre that I’ve tried, I would actually go as far ( odd as this might seem ) as to say that the ISA One made modest mics sound like they were in a different class. It youre thinking of buying new gear, I would probably suggest getting this first – and then consider a new mic once youve tried your exsting mics through it.

  • Adam Thomas001