Focusrite ISA One Reviews4.4/5.0 based on 28 customer reviews
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from United States
March 12, 2013Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Pro Musician
Focus is Right...This is the difference in a project sound and a pro sound... seriously. Mics I have used for 20 years have totally new life. Not because they sound totally different, but because they sound perfectly right, sitting snugly in the mix like my cat on a pile of clean laundry. There is a reason the circuitry here changed the recording field forever. If you're not quite ready to buy this, it should only be because you're saving up for two of them!
from Baltimore, MD
March 2, 2013Music Background:
Great Pre!I love this guy. It has to be the most versatile pre out there. It sounds good on everything. When I track, this is the last thing before my 192s.
December 5, 2012Music Background:
Great with a mic on Vox or Guitar, as a Guitar preamp or pre amp simThis is an excellent clean mic pre. If your looking for tons of color, this pre isn't for you but if you want to record what you hear, the ISA one, is the one.
I use the ISA one to record acoustic guitar and it gives a great sense of "air" to the recording. As a Bass DI or a Guitar pre the ISA one shines. I never used to use amp sims as I wasn't happy with the sound. It turned out my problem was the preamp. My amp simulators never sounded so good. Remember, its much harder to clean up the "dirt" from a recording than to add it in later if needed.
If you want a "no color", "record what you hear" preamp,at a very resonable price the ISA One is it!
October 20, 2012Music Background:
Great workhorseI've owned this preamp for about 2 years now. Its 1/3rd of what I call the "Preamp Holy Trinity", the three types of pre's any engineer should own. Transformer based, transformer-less, and tube. This is the transformer based pre. You can think of this as a relative to a Neve preamp. This preamp can be a little harsh on sibilance, which is pretty common for transformer based preamps. Having said that, this preamp excels on anything you need to capture with an airy open sound to it. It makes acoustic instruments shimmer with a ton of presence, which helps things stay up front in the mix (something that's difficult for tube pre's to do). It stacks really well, you can run all your tracks through this and they still won't muddy up too much. In fact there seems to be a nice cumulative effect with this preamp, the more you run through it, the more character your recording has. And the real shocker about this pre IMO is how amazing the DI sounds for bass. I have Radial's with custom transformers, and a few other great preamps to run through and yet the DI on this one does it right. It keeps the high end content of the bass right where you need it, making it a lot easier to mix in a dense mix and still be able to tell what the bass is doing. I was very shocked when I found out how good the DI sounds. I'm so impressed with how well this pre has performed that I'm going to sell it to upgrade to the whole channel strip ISA430.
July 14, 2012Music Background:
Isa one with akg 414 voxI thought I'd share my experience with my isa one and maybe it will help someone else.
I have a projectmix io as my interface which annoyingly doesn't have a pad on the inputs. Mix that with the fact that the isa one doesn't have an outPut volume control it means the Main out of the isa one is too hot for the ins. It is impossible to not clip. Even pushing main out to balanced line in (without the gain boost on the mic input).
To correct this, I go from the headphone out on the Isa one to a line input. This allows you to control output volume. However, doing this without also plugging in the output on the isa one into a mic input created an unusable amount of noise. I'm sure this is simply my inexperience, however with this all hooked up it sounds clean and amazingly quiet.
I should mention that I have a DBX compresser / de-Esser / gate -expander plugged into the insert of the isa one. The DBX 286s specifically.
This combo is fantastic for me and my ear.
For the price, the Isa one is just awesome!
Hope this helps someone else :)
June 4, 2012Music Background:
Pro musician, Hobbyist home studio
One of my favorite pieces of gearSounds great and is extremely flexible. The flexibility has come in handy many times. I mainly use it to play trombone with FX, and I can use the dual meters to balance FX and dry volume easily. Being able to leave the left meter as the pre-insert level even with the insert engaged makes it possible to use the insert button to route the sound through FX and still monitor the mic gain, plus you can duplicate the output from FX to the external input on the back and monitor the return from FX on the right side. It's easy to set the levels of new FX sounds with the side by side meters. The headphone amp sounds good. I haven't used the DI much, but I thought it sounded fine. The build quality is fantastic and I love the portability.
from United States
January 6, 2012Music Background:
Creative Worship Musician
PheeenominalI looked at preamps for a long time. I always read people saying things like "It helps my tracks sit in the mix better." and that they could "hear a difference". Now I see what they mean. I couldn't tell you that this sounds different or more clear than my MOTU ultralite's preamps... But when I listen to my finished mix, it definitely does sound clearer and just right. It's an obvious difference but I can't tell what is different. It just sounds better.
July 17, 2011Music Background:
a little bit of everything music
bouth it....love iti read the first 2 reviews and i was quite scared about buying one of this. since i own a focusrite voicemaster pro i thought i would be better not to get one. but i got around a used isa one the price was good so i went for it. i love it very clean and my mic sounds waaaayyyy better than it did with the VMP. what i'm doing now is using the VMP for compression expansion and eq
from Bloomington, Illinois
April 1, 2011Music Background:
Musician/Composer/Recordist, Former Orchestral and Union Hall Trombonist and infamous Home Studio Guy
A great (first) pre for anyone!After some extensive research, I recently purchased the Focusrite ISA One and the UA Solo 610 from my good friend, Mark Bruhn, at Sweetwater. What this did was give me a very nice and well respected Solid State Transformer based preamp and a very nice and well respected Tube preamp for not a whole heck of a lot of money (per se ;-).
I'd recommend the ISA One to be anybody's first preamp as it is so versatile, it sounds really great and the price is outstanding. The mic preamp itself has 4 impedance settings with the 110 being my favorite. Adding the DI and other goodies is just icing on the cake, especially at this price point. If they'd only make it (and the UA Solo 610) as a rackmount unit ;-)
from SD, USA
February 20, 2011Music Background:
Amazing!!!I LOVE my Focusrite ISA One! This unit has made a huge impact on my recordings. The sound is clean, clear, and detailed. It was exactly what I needed to take my recordings to the next level. A big thanks to Nick Schenkel my Sweetwater Sales Engineer for helping me to find this amazing pre-amp!
from Houston, Tx
December 16, 2010Music Background:
20 yr Song writer, performer, home studio hobbyist
This is a great unitI learned a lot after buying this unit. One thing is that besides monitors, a preamp is the most important buy one can make for a home studio. This amp is not one to color your sound with any character. What I found is that it is crystal clear. I was able to change the sounds of my recording by changing mics, adjusting mic positions, etc, to get the sound I wanted. It picks up the full spectrum of sound that is fed into it and leaves you with plenty of room to eq what you don't want. . My recordings were immediatley improved and I can now hear the individual tracks more clearly and more pronounced.. The impedance matching feature is an amazing feature that will get the best sound out of your mic. Spend your money where it counts. This is an amazing preamp and you won't regret buying it.
March 12, 2010Music Background:
Dont think about it, just get it!The pre is well worth the price. If you are looking for big phat mojo vocals, look elsewhere, but if you want clean, smooth transparent vocals you cant go wrong. It adds this "sheen" to the top end that makes the vocals sound "glossy" (if that makes any sense lol) but really nice i love it, and by the way, im using it with a blue blueberry mic. great combo!
June 19, 2012Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Session Musician, Producer
So NiceI got this to use as another color and higher quality pre than my original Firepod. It's just sounds right, not too clean, not too colored and is pretty flexible with the different impedance settings. It is more on the clean side, and doesn't have an input and output for driving but just works so well I wouldn't even want to overdrive it. I use this for everything, especially vocals. Everything I've made with it has been more fun to work on and listen to.
from Arcade, NY, USA
July 17, 2011Music Background:
happy with purchaseI used to record with a Mackie VLZ mixer, and I always felt good about the XDR pres. I did several projects with them with good results but was looking to upgrade. My main hope for the ISA one was that it would stack better in my mixes. With the Mackie, the more tracks I built up, the harder it was to mix, I had to do lots of EQing and compressing to keep the detail of all the tracks, and even then, it didn't always work.
Out of the box I AB'd the ISA one with the Mackie and the ISA sounded like I took a sock off the mic. I just finished a project using the ISA one exclusively, and am happy to report that it was so easy to mix. Every track stayed "hard" and kept its detail, nothing went mushy. I did almost no EQing and compressing, it just sounded good the way it was. What a difference.
Several other things I like so far about the unit: It is solidly built. The DI is nice for recording bass, miking the cabinet with the other input.
And if I ever need to upgrade, I can get the digital output.
My only wish is that it was stereo.
I was a little bummed that it didn't come with the flight case, but I found that it fit really nicely in an old Pearl kick pedal case I had lying around.
from Los Angeles
July 13, 2011Music Background:
Arranger, composer, giutarist, pianist
Fantastic PreThis is a great Pre. Period. the best way I can describe what it does to the voice is to paraphrase what I read a while ago. The sound going through the pre is akin to looking through a glass of water. You can see through it, but there is definitely something going on. My guess is the Lundhal transformer with the circuit topology gives whatever passes through it a 'glossy sheen'.
This is not just an entry level pre into the 'Big Boy' camp, but I would say is absolutely professional in ins own rite. This pre has GOBS of gain..approx. 80db.
Just 4.5, not 5 because the DI input does not sound great to my ears. But that's really nit-picking. If you can't get a good sound out of this pre, then change your profession.
from Cape Town
June 18, 2011Music Background:
Just get itcan`t go wrong with unit. Beside the pre, which is very clean, quiet with a focused low-end, all the extra features like cue monitoring ,impedance setting,trim feature and separate DI make it a pleasure to use. Recordings stack well and sound detailed .
March 12, 2011
Very goodMe and my friends do hip/hop pop and downsouth music and this pre is a killer we all have the same setup.... i run a neumann tlm 49 thru the focusrite and it makes the vocals sound crystal clear.... i have confiedence and can say that my recordings have close to a multi million dollar sound.... your mic is important.. and ur preamp is VERY important to boost ur signal up to that line level...if u want a top of the line sound u need good wires.... a decent computer (MAC) good plugins (WAVES MERCURY BUNDLE) a good sounding room you dont want any reverb.... a decent interface with good converters... good monitors... and the reflexionfilter that i have mad my vocals sound better.... its a way to acheive a very very good sound without paying a arm and a leg for studio sessions become ur own engineer and do your homework on different equipment.. mics etc etc.... email@example.com
March 17, 2010
Great PreampThis is my first review here on Sweetwater, usually I'm too busy to leave reviews when I buy gear, but this preamp is great! I have had/still have a a avalon 737/ M5 Presonus ADL, Grace, UA 110 and 610, Great River ME1nv, a prism orpheus and mytek converters, and some other stuff I cant remember. But this is my favorite preamp of them all. I actually pick this over the others on my voice as it usually sounds just as good or better as the others (microphones make more difference) and the 0 latency monitoring is great-though only mono if you want to listen to what your recording. The DI is ok, but I still use my U5, but i figure the DI on this is pretty thrown in for free, so for what it is its great. The box is wide enough just to fit beside my U5 in my rack but takes up about 2.5 rack spaces and cant be mounted so that's a pain. Overall if your looking for a preamp to record pretty much anything this is a great choice
from El Paso, Texas
September 8, 2008Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Pro Musician
You will be happy if you buy one!I have heard allot of mixed reviews on this pre amp... Honestly those who gave it a bad or poor review are most likely amateur engineers who dont have a clue what they are doing... This pre amp is amazing!! It has tons of options for a generally low cost and sounds just like the old isa 110 in allot of ways... The VU meter is handy as well as the AD Card outs.. The pre has tons of gain and the switchable transformer options can change the tone greatly... Hands down its a bad *** little pre amp... it even has headphone outs on it!! It can also record a mic and a direct instrument signal at the same time... kind of a 2 in one box! But the DI I am not a big fan of... it sounds stale and I think that focusrite could have done better with the DI. I wish the pre amp had dual gain staging so you could control the output as well. That way you could overdrive the pre amp and see what cool tones you might get... and still control the output gain... this device you cant control the output gain like a UA Solo 610 or 110 can. But its amazing on vocals and super intimate... and for guitars it just brings them to life... Its a definite "go to" pre amp for guitars... Sounds decent on kick drums and snares as well... Go Buy One... you will be pleased... I have used this on a major cd and the result was fantastic!!
from Pacific NW
August 20, 2008Music Background:
Even better than I expectedThe ISA One sounds close-in and intimate, especially on vocals. It is incredibly quiet (on par with pres costing twice as much) with gain galore. The bottom line here is simply that the ISA One has "that sound" - period. People ask me all the time - how come their final mixes end up sounding flat and lifeless. Some of it is technique but the other part of the equation is the equipment. The fact that another reviewer was able to get any improvement at all through his Roland VS all-in-one-box-studio (which in my NSHO never sounded all that great to begin with) is a testament to the excellent design of the ISA One.
Clients expect to see Avalon and UA (which I also have) in the studio - but when it comes down to the sound on vocals, almost every time singers will choose the ISA - even over tube gear.
Tracking through this pre will dispel the myth that you gotta have tubes to sound "phat" - you don't. All said and done, this is one of the best mic pres available under $1500. For the $799 street price, it delivers more than I expected. Thanks Focusrite!
August 7, 2008Music Background:
song writer,singer/guitarist,and have worked in professional studio for a few years now.
great legandary preampwriting this review to give it some justice. I always loved focusrite products,they are the only company fighting really hard to be in the top of the leadge, and there marketing team definately done a good job all the time. I personally own a highend 2 channel DAW home studio for easy access to work on my recording. i use 2 avalon 737sp,apogee rosetta 200,running through digi 003 and yamaha ns monitor.The isa one sounded just the same as an isa preamp, i have bought it to the studio to compare with a isa428, and is the same.Beatiful, clean,analodge warm sounding pres,and is definately one i will use alot to add more colour to my recording. I owned a universal solo610 in the past but sold it, nothing wrong, just that its not versatile enough for my situation. they are coloured pres using tube, and i never liked it on acoustic guitar, no way, but on voice is ok, and is only a one channel preamp whereas the isa one is one preamp plus a di.smile here, thats the feature most recording musician need for, say bass gtr, eletric gtr,etc. If anyone have done any research, UA solo610,or 110 aint the same pres as the ua610 pre.Anyway,for the previous person who gave it a 2 or 3 rating, i notice he /she uses a roland vs....which may be where the problem is, i use a high end AD, and the difference btw any pre is very clear, not subtle thing. overall, isa one is a winner,and beat all the competition for one channel pres!hat off for the focusrite team.
from South Carolina, USA
June 11, 2008Music Background:
Songwriter, Independent Producer/Engineer
Just What I ExpectedI own a Focusrite Green Voxbox, as well as an Octopre, and the ISA One is in a different league. In fact, I'd have to say it's closer to our API's in terms of frequency detail and gain.
There are so many features packed into this single unit, that you don't realize the value until you start using it. Independent DI, variable impedance (four stages for pre, two for DI), insert bypass switch, amp output (so the unit can also be used as a reamp box), etc. Add the optional a/d converter and you have an even greater weapon.
Anyhow, I was going to wait to write this review after I had some more time invested in it. After reading the prior review, I felt a comparison to the UA Solo unit wasn't on par. The ISA One has many more usable features AND sounds great (loads of detail and transparent in a non-sterile sense). With the variable impedance and gain structure, you can really shape the sound. I certainly recommend one for mobile and home setups. Oh, also works fantastic with ribbon mics!
November 19, 2012Music Background:
Practical and FlexibleI use it in my Home Studio and it brings out the voice of my artists. One very useful feature is that you are able to insert a compressor or gate when recording out of the studio, most especially in non-ideal rooms.
from San Francisco, Ca, USA
October 16, 2012Music Background:
FocusriteIt is good for a very clean crispy sound from vocal or instruments. If you are looking for a warmer sound, not this one.
from Philadelphia, PA USA
April 6, 2012Music Background:
Focusrite ISA One mic preI picked up the ISA One to upgrade the front end of my home studio - I'm a guitarist by trade so both a clean micpre for acoustic and DI for electric are crucial for me. The ISA is a fully professional product and is a definite step up from 'prosumer' gear that populates some many bedroom studios these days. I've always believed that a good sounding room and a good set of ears are way more important than the equipment but the gear does make a difference. The ISA mic pre is very quiet and has very nice detail and depth. It's not a pre I would describe as having a lot of character but I think that's a strength here - clear and quiet with a minimal sonic footprint. It has an adjustable impedance selector which yields great results with a variety of mics. The DI sounds excellent, punchy and clear. It makes all my guitar processing plug ins (Guitar Rig, Waves GTR, Digi Eleven) sound much better because I'm feeding them a better source signal. My electric bass tracks also really shine through the DI and seem to sit in the mix much better. Overall the ISA is a welcome addition to my setup. I bought the Bluebird mic bundle (an extra $100) and I think I'll be picking up a 2nd channel soon. The ISA, IMHO, is far superior to a full featured channel strip at the same price point. Tracking through this unit gives me pro quality parts that I can deliver to clients with confidence.
from Boston, MA
November 15, 2010Music Background:
Good for vocals. DI is not usable...It's really clear for vocals. There are better bangs for the buck. When I plugged in bass to the DI it was surprisingly harsh and unusable...
soul fuel music
June 3, 2008Music Background:
professional singer, foh technician and recording engineer
Not quite what you'd expectI'll start by saying I love focusrite pre's..Reds, Greens, Octopre's, and Saffire Pro26! However....this does not live up to he expectation of single channel perfection. We heard very little difference from this to the Roland VS2400 pre's using a Rode NT2000 and a Mojave MA200. Maybe a bit of clarity on the upper end but not much. We compared it to a Universal Audio Solo 610 and ahhhhh thats was what we were looking for. Not this time focusrite..sorry. Nice case though!
from Winnipeg MB
February 4, 2011Music Background:
AwfulNo headroom, and dull sound. For the price of this you can purchase a UA 610 or even Focusrites Octopre (which sounded at least usable in comparison). Don't let the Neve association lure you.