You are here

I hate my Focusrite ISA One

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Fri Dec 09, 2011 4:09 am

OK, the subject line is trolling. Sorry.

Here's what I hate about it:

1/ it's only got 1 channel
2/ it's not rackmount

I love it to death otherwise, so I've been thinking of getting rid of it and getting an ISA 428 instead.

I've noted with a bit of sadness the ISA 428 MKII. The only difference I can see is the loss of the VU meters. Focusrite's site assures us that sonically it's the same as the original, but thought I'd check here. Shame to lose those VU meters though.

Anyways, anyone have any experience of both? Am I getting 4 channels of ISA One regardless of which I buy?

thanks
ryan
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby SecretSam » Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:09 am

Can't contribute to the thread other than to say that trolling is part of what keeps the internet interesting. Don't apologise: keep up the good work !
SecretSam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 814
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Officially, I do not exist.

Instant gratification is actually pretty good. It's fast as well.


Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby The_BPP » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:25 am

Ryan's not trolling, just a bit of fun, I guess.

Personally, I couldn't live with my Audient Mico, it's got TWO channels - yay!
User avatar
The_BPP
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1413
Joined: Wed May 12, 2004 11:00 pm
Location: Lincolnshire

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Bob Bickerton » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:53 am

Happy 428 (mk1) user here and yes I would be frustrated if I only had one channel and it was not rack mountable.

Can't comment on the mk2 but factor in the cost of the digital card, it's really very good and provides an excellent clock for my system.

The mk2 doesn't look really as nice but then it's not looks that really matter.

Good luck.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2896
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Dec 09, 2011 10:17 am

ryan mead wrote:Here's what I hate about it:

1/ it's only got 1 channel
2/ it's not rackmount

Utter muppetry on your part then! It is what it is: a single channel desktop preamp!

I've noted with a bit of sadness the ISA 428 MKII. The only difference I can see is the loss of the VU meters.

There's a little more to it than that. Ditching the meters saved a surprising chunk of money, and they also replaced the linear PSU with a switched mode one. Overall that saved about 25% of the cost, but it also improved the noise floor in a worthwhile way. So in performance terms the MKii model is slightly better than the original. Other than that the circuitry is the same: same Lundahl transformers, same preamp circuitry, same converters, same interfacing arrangements. It runs a lot cooler than the original too... and that has to be a good thing if you're rackmounting it!

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16929
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby jaminem » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:29 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:

Utter muppetry on your part then!

Funniest thing I've heard all day


LOL
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 792
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 12:00 am

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ronmac » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:39 am

The ISA One fits a purpose, built as it is. I like the fact that I can take it out of the studio without having to "un-rack" it.

It's also worth noting that the ISA One is actually a dual channel unit, considering you can use the excellent instrument DI simultaneously.

A 428 would be nice to have in the rack.
ronmac
Regular
Posts: 139
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Turn the knobs 'til the music moves ya.


Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:59 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:they also replaced the linear PSU with a switched mode one. Overall that saved about 25% of the cost, but it also improved the noise floor in a worthwhile way. So in performance terms the MKii model is slightly better than the original.
When I plug a ribbon into my ISA One and crank up both the impedance and the gain, there's rather a lot of hiss (to the extent that it steers me away from the highest impedance setting). Would the improvement in the noise floor be noticeable in this scenario?
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:59 am

jaminem wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:

Utter muppetry on your part then!

Funniest thing I've heard all day


LOL

Try being the muppet and see how it feels.
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:11 am

ronmac wrote:The ISA One fits a purpose, built as it is. I like the fact that I can take it out of the studio without having to "un-rack" it.

It's also worth noting that the ISA One is actually a dual channel unit, considering you can use the excellent instrument DI simultaneously.

A 428 would be nice to have in the rack.

Thought of both of those things. I almost never record anywhere other than my little room, and when I do I'm usually looking for two channels anyways, so it's not a big consideration. If I were really interested in a pre I could take around with me, I'd look for something with two (microphone) channels that was smaller than the ISA One.

And yes I have used the DI and mic pre at the same time, but what I'm really looking for is two identical mic pres. If I understand the 428 correctly, it's got 4 DIs on it, so I can use any combination of DIs and mic inputs up to a maximum of 4 channels. That's enough for me. More than enough really: I only really NEED two channels.

The thing I should really be considering is whether I should just hang on to the ISA One and get two channels of another flavor. The DAV BG1u beckons...
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Sat Dec 10, 2011 2:17 am

Bob Bickerton wrote:Can't comment on the mk2 but factor in the cost of the digital card, it's really very good and provides an excellent clock for my system.
Debating that too. The clocking system in my little room is really simple: switch off the groovebox when working at 48kHz!! As we know from that excellent article on clocking a few months back, the fireface running on its own clock is going to be more stable than the fireface slaved to anything, no matter how good.

So the question(s) would seem to be:
1/ are the converters in the digital card (noticeably) better than the converters in my fireface?
2/ if the answer to #1 is "yes", is the difference worth the tradeoff (i.e. worth the decreased clocking stability)?
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Bob Bickerton » Sat Dec 10, 2011 6:09 am

Not familiar with the Fireface converters and not sure which model you have, but if you're happy using the Fireface, why not go down the DAV route and hold onto the Focusrite? Nice combination! I have the 428 and the DAV BG2.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2896
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:45 am

ryan mead wrote:When I plug a ribbon into my ISA One and crank up both the impedance and the gain, there's rather a lot of hiss (to the extent that it steers me away from the highest impedance setting). Would the improvement in the noise floor be noticeable in this scenario?


Unlikely. I think the improvement comes mostly from a reduction of hum components thanks to the absence of magnetic coupling. Higher input impedance will always mean more noise, as well high gains, of course.

And I'd second the 'keep the ISA and buy a BG' route too. Provides more tonal variation and character, without sacrificing any flexibility.

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16929
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Guest » Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:52 pm

jaminem wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:

Utter muppetry on your part then!

Funniest thing I've heard all day


LOL

+1 real studio language.
Guest

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby IvanSC » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:47 pm

I thought only thuggish doormen from Billericay used the term "muppet"
User avatar
IvanSC
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2913
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 12:00 am

Me? But I`m such a loveable old bugger!


Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 11, 2011 4:55 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
It runs a lot cooler than the original too... and that has to be a good thing if you're rackmounting it!

Yeah, a word of warning in regard to 428 mk1's...They can get really hot. You can't rack them without spaces or the insides will melt. Actually.

The ISA's have a slightly soft, beautiful sort of sound. I'd get something a little bit more 'direct' to compliment it. DAV BG. Perfect.
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3477
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby RegressiveRock » Sun Dec 11, 2011 7:59 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:
Hugh Robjohns wrote:
It runs a lot cooler than the original too... and that has to be a good thing if you're rackmounting it!


Yeah, a word of warning in regard to 428 mk1's...They can get really hot. You can't rack them without spaces or the insides will melt. Actually.

The ISA's have a slightly soft, beautiful sort of sound. I'd get something a little bit more 'direct' to compliment it. DAV BG. Perfect.


Interesting, I has an ISA 428 MkI for years and it ran pretty warm but it was in a (well ventilated) rack with units above and below and was fine. However, I rarely used all four channels at once. The extra four channels of conversion are an excellent bonus. Again the four channel Broadhurst Gardens unit is, as Jack says, an excellent compliment. If you do location work a couple of boxes you can chuck on the floor around the band such as the BG1 and the Apogee Mini MP are also a handy combo for those extra channels. The conversion is perfectly adequate to justify one of the old 4-slot lunch boxes with some nice press, if your budget and liking for different flavours are relatively unrestricted.

Back to the 428 Mk I, the sound is lovely, particularly if you sweep the high pass filter to the sweet spot for the particular voice or instrument. (I'm always commenting about this and no-one else seems to hear this but me).

Reg
RegressiveRock
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1506
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:00 pm
Location: Buntingford, Herts

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:18 pm

There were a bunch of them racked up against each other at a studio that I use. The front panels were too hot to touch. I noticed some weird behaviour and when they went for service they were all melted inside. I guess it would be better if the units either side don't also get hot.

J
Jack Ruston
Frequent Poster
Posts: 3477
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 12:00 am

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby RegressiveRock » Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:44 pm

Jack Ruston wrote:There were a bunch of them racked up against each other at a studio that I use. The front panels were too hot to touch. I noticed some weird behaviour and when they went for service they were all melted inside. I guess it would be better if the units either side don't also get hot.

J

Jack you get a lot more time with kit than me, matey. I bow to your cautionary words. I used to keep a pair of Raindirks on top which run cold, cannot remember what I kept on the bottom. I do remember them being rugged enough to rack up in a flight case and use on stage! Worked really well with SM57s!!! They also make a nice pre for DIing bass with a good quality transformer-based DI. Lovely, smooth, penetrating sound!

Reg
RegressiveRock
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1506
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 11:00 pm
Location: Buntingford, Herts

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby ryan mead » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:43 pm

The thing is, I'd really like to be rid of it to recover the desktop space in my tiny rockwool-filled closet...
User avatar
ryan mead
Frequent Poster
Posts: 708
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 11:00 pm

Re: I hate my Focusrite ISA One

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:12 am

No problem. Just send it over here to the Robjohns Repository for Unloved Recording Equipment...

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16929
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests