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Microphone Month 3

Hands On Review: Focusrite Forte and iTrack Solo

If you’re looking to get great-sounding audio in and out of your computer or iOS device, then you must take a look at two new offerings from Focusrite: Forte and iTrack Solo.

iTrack Solo is one of the first audio interfaces that can connect directly to an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch with a 30-pin connector. It can also connect to your computer via USB, making it a double value. On the front, you have two inputs — one for mic (with phantom power) and one for instruments — along with a monitor level control, a headphone output, and a switch for latency-free monitoring. Around back, you have a USB connection, a Device Link port for the 30-pin iOS cable, and monitor outputs.

I used iTrack Solo with my iPad 3, and it worked flawlessly with my apps, from Garageband to Auria, and with a variety of soft synths and instruments. The sound quality is great, and the direct monitoring does its job perfectly. If you’re looking for a simple interface, but still want great quality, the iTrack Solo should be high on your list.

Moving on to the desktop-format Forte, we’ve got a 2-in/4-out interface that connects to your computer via USB 2.0. The unit itself has stereo TRS outputs and a headphone output, along with connectors for the power supply, USB, and the supplied input “loom.” Connecting the loom cable to the Forte adds two 1/4″ line/instrument and two XLR mic inputs. The advantage is that, if you’re using the Forte only for monitoring, there’s no need to connect the inputs and have the extra cables on your desk. But when it’s time to track, it’s a simple matter of hooking up the inputs.

iTrackSoloForte has a single large knob, four switches, and an OLED display. The switches control what the knob is controlling: input gain, monitor level, headphone level, or DAW control — with compatible DAWs, pushing the control knob starts/stops playback, and turning the knob changes the DAW output level.

Other functions are handled by the included Forte Control software, such as input controls; two stereo returns for monitoring your DAW; monitor dim, mute, and mono; a separate headphone mix; and metering. You can save presets for easy recall when tracking and mixing.
The compact, streamlined Forte desktop interface delivers high-end performance in every regard. I can’t emphasize enough how easy it is to use — a real benefit when you are inspired to record or compose. It definitely gets out of the way of the muse. Very nice!

Mitch Gallagher

About Mitch Gallagher

Sweetwater Editorial Director, Mitch Gallagher, is one of the leading music/pro audio/audio recording authorities in the world. The former senior technical editor of Keyboard magazine and former editor-in-chief of EQ magazine, Gallagher has published thousands of articles, is the author of seven books and one instructional DVD, and appears in well over 500 videos on YouTube. He teaches audio recording and music business at Purdue University/Indiana University, and has appeared at festivals, conventions, and conferences around the world.
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