Focusrite ISA One

Thinking of getting the ISA one preamp. Supposed to be great value for money and works especially well with its in built digital card. Designed by Neve for George Martin so it bodes well. ANy experience and do you think pre amps are worth it.

Just trying to get a decent vocal out of my condenser mics with my profire soundcard and its just crap, an SM57 sounds way better. Hoping the ISA might improve and hoping its the last thing I need to have a near pro recording set up.I was in Westland studios in Dublin recently, proper old school studio with amazing desk, pre amps, mics etc and you could record all day, everything was just so responsive and smooth and then I go home and its shit! I want that respnsiveness in my room!

if you have the ability to rent a decent mic pre I would say try that first.

A good pre/channel strip can make all the difference, but the Achilles heel will be your interfaces converters.

So you could have the best mic pre in the world, but if the A/D conversion is compromised, then your not getting more quality, your just bogging the great preamp signal down with weak converters = weak audio.

I recently had the chance to use a UA LA610 channel strip and it made a HUGE difference in quality to my recordings so to sum up my point:

Yes mic pres make a difference, but not without a good A/D conversion (high quality interface).

Also, the room you record in with a condenser mic plays about 85% on the tone, as the mic is simply sampling the air pressure changes and sending the electric impulses to your interface. Whatever reflections are bouncing around the room/mic can cause phasing/shitty sound output. Sound dampening/proper room treatment does wonders for a good condenser mic recording.

Yeah the Isa has an A/D converter of its own and I would want to buy one pre-installed, that way I can go direct into my Mac pro via optical cable.

I have’nt treated my room yet, but it has carpet, rug, soft furnishings and the room is very unusual shape so it sounds pretty good as is, but I hope to treat it soon. Don’t want to put bass traps in as I heard that kills it as a recording space.
I think the ISA could do a good job leveling out my condensors, both SE, one is a tube mic, their pretty decent but my profire interface is just a bit digital and harsh. Also DIing my bass sounds very weedy, so hoping the ISA will fix that too.
What’s your opinion on outboard compressors? Two people have told me they are unnecessary in this day and age and that a good pre will do the job.

After using the LA610s compressor I’m tempted to pick up a form of outboard analog compressor. Personally I only use compression as a utility more than an effect, so I was dialing it in very subtley, but it really helped with keeping some acoustic guitar dynamics in check. Might grab a JDK unit…

If your looking at the ISA One Digital than yeah it has the upgraded A/D card installed. I personally use pres to add a specific colour myself and I’ve heard the ISA pres are super clean. So not my deal but might be what your looking for.

I did think room or mic maybe the problem.I’m no expert but saying your results are better with an SM57 could suggest your mics aren’t suiting your vocal or they are picking up extra detail on the room.Mick Jagger use to use a SM58 ,so I heard in legend-point being different mics for diff tones.
Auditioning gear in your room seemed a good suggestion.

Remember the surface behind your head and behind the mic play a big part in sound.Try a duvet over your head to see if that effects your results.Different spacing between you and mic.Maybe an open window/door behind or infront.Connect two XLRs and try you bathroom/hall.If your really adventurous do a test in your garden.

Oh-you need a headphone extension cable for the latter suggestions.

Definitely need a headphone extension with my HD25 headphones and their measly 2 feet of cable!. Yeah you could be right, the 58 seems to suit my vocal so maybe just be glad of that. I have the SE reflection filter but I didn’t even use it on the 58 recording. Maybe condensors just don’t suit my vocal. Cheers for the input

I’m pretty sure those SE mics are supposed to be pretty nice, so I’m not sure what’s up…

SM7B’s are a terrific mic with a huge range (radio broadcast mic). I recorded with one for some really aggressive vocals and I think they sounded great. I’ve also heard real singers use them and get great results. They are pretty inexpensive when it comes to high quality mics as well. Also dynamic, so that might help with whatever issues your experiencing with utilizing condensers.

Personally I hadn’t had a good experience with condensers until I used an AKG C414 that my brother owns for some acoustic guitar. Sounds amazing. All my other cheap condensers (AT2020, AT2021) sound like total crap in the same application. Different types of mics obviously but all condensers that can do that job.

Quality equipment really goes a long way it appears… BUT being able to utilize that equipment when you have it is just as important. @Spheric_El had some great points about room/spacial dynamics. That can be one of the tougher things to master when recording with mics (which is why I try not to as much as possible!)