Focusrite ISA One Mic Preamp???????

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by MusicManDude, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. MusicManDude


    Apr 25, 2011
    Well, I have a focusrite saffire pro 40 that just last week I recorded my bands ever evolving catalog of EP songs on and I feel that the pre's on the unit are fine but the vocals need a little something extra for our next set of recording and rerecording. I pretty much only have a $500 budget for a single channel good sounding preamp and from what I've read everyone says the ISA One is great. So my question is... does anyone have any experience with it and can tell me if its worth the upgrade please. Also, hows the D.I. channel on it? Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!:bassist:
  2. I don't have experience with the preamp you listed, but before you go spending money ona pre let me ask you something. What mic are you using? More often than not, that little something extra comes from choosing a better mic for the task.
  3. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I have an ISA One and I use it every day. It's excellent as a clean reference channel, and the DI is really nice sounding. However it's one of those tools that's so good because it doesn't get in the way, it doesn't harm your signal, it doesn't impart any characteristic color. So while it might be a step up from the Saffire in some sense, I wouldn't suggest it as a "magic box" for recorded tone.

    I agree that mics can make more of a difference in this context, rather than one clean preamp versus another.
  4. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    Don't underestimate the power of a good mic pre!

    One of the features of the ISA One is the variable impedance, which can give your mic a whole new dimension. You haven't heard a Shure SM57 until you've heard it through a mic pre at 150-200 ohms. THEN you'll understand what that mic is all about.

    Most modern pres are 1500-2000 ohms (I think - over 1000 for sure). Vintage mics that were designed for 150-200 ohms don't sound as good with the modern pre-amps - IMO.

    The ISA range mic pre-amp inputs and outputs are also "transformer coupled." That's about as technical as I can get about transformers, except they usually improve the sound.

    I have the ISA428 and really like it (good digital converters too)! The Saffire Pro is decent. But stepping up to the ISA One will make you want more Neve designed channels (i.e., ISA428 or ISA828)!
  5. MusicManDude


    Apr 25, 2011
    Thanks for the reply guys, and I just bought a stereo set of AKG c214's a few months ago, use them for overheads, and vocals. I A/B'ed the mics with a friends c 414 and it sounds almost completely identical. (very small nuance differences). So I don't think I need to upgrade mics, maybe just a better preamp. (though it would be nice to have a Neumann)

    But tell me what you guys think?
  6. Phatbottom


    Jan 22, 2010
    The ISA One is a great clean preamp. I don't prefer it for bass related applications IMO but it will handle the job well for sure. It excels on overheads and it is extremely versatile for such a cheap pre. You can record two channels at once even (DI and mic).
  7. kaputsport


    Nov 14, 2007
    Carlisle, PA
    Atypical, not a typical...
    We have one, and use it all the time. Below is the link to a song recorded with it. NOTHING was really mixed/mastered. It is basic level setting and a few plug ins. It is a wonderful piece of gear, and I recommend it to everyone. Please note, we have a Neumann TLM 102 as a mic, so results may vary...

    Friction Broadcast In The Studio: Breathe - YouTube
  8. Very clean, not my choice on most things but I have an amek purepath that does the same job to an astronomical level. I'd rather quite a few other things but in the price range its a real PROPER preamp that draws no real critiscism, other than 'it doesn't sound like X or Y costing 4x more'. I'd say go for it!
  9. mactac

    mactac Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    I love that preamp. The one I'm using now is the universal audio 6176. The pre is growly, and the 1176 makes the tone super creamy.
  10. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    The ISA One is not a "clean" preamp. It sounds clean, but it is rather coloured especially in the high end. Just because something sounds better doesn't mean it's more accurate. A bell sounds better than a sine wave generator for the same reasons an ISA One sounds better than a Mackie 1604.

    Sure, the ISA One is a very handy preamp for making things sound "clean", but it's hype, not accuracy. Just sayin.
  11. bluestarbass


    Jul 31, 2007
    I haven't heard it, but I've used the original isa's out of a forte console and they are the bees knees. The original was a very colored pre, as with most of Rupert's pres.