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Focusrite Forte Reviews

4.0 stars based on 21 customer reviews

Sweetwater Advice

  • Jared Kalish

    I've been quite impressed with the sound and build quality of the Focusrite Forte interface. All the controls are silky smooth and provide a ton of funtionality during a session. The AD/DA is impeccable and having great pre amps up front really makes all the difference for me when recording acoustic guitar and vocals. Truly an amazing interface for any application!

  • Rob
    from April 10, 2015

    Forte

    This interface can definitely get you that pro sound. It does have limitations but for the price I don't see how you can beat it.

  • Customer
    from March 23, 2015Music Background:
    EDM Producer

    Good interface for the price

    The Forte is a good interface for how much I paid (got it new, on sale). Sound quality is very good for a unit in the price range. Features are good and it's a small, attractive unit. The LED display is nice, but not something magical as some have seemed to make it out to be.

    I had the opportunity to compare the Forte to the Apogee Duet for iOS / Mac directly for a week. I can say definitively the Duet had slightly better sounding A/D converters than the Forte does. D/A converters on both sounded approximately as good, with the Duet having a slight high-end boost. The overall sound on the Forte seems relatively even between all the devices I compared it to and what I would expect. Overall, very comparable in terms of quality to the Duet albeit, again, slightly less pristine sounding A/D converters.

    The drivers on both Mac and Windows have given me some issues. The unit periodically freezes and must be unplugged from all power to reset. It isn't too frequent and seems it may be related to sleep mode. Nonetheless, is somewhat frustrating to come home from work most days and have to unplug it. Focusrite support has been quick to respond but has yet to resolve the issue.

    The build quality is fairly good, but the knob has a slight wobble to it. Nothing major, but not a trait you'd like to see when you first unbox something.

    Also, I can't comment on the plugins as I have no interest in them, so I have not downloaded or installed them.

    Overall this is a good interface. If you're not going to be primarily listening, it's handy to be able to control the volume directly and the sound quality is good.

  • Larry Adkins
    from Adrian, MI March 12, 2015

    Beauty is sometimes skin deep!

    I bought this unit because of all the hype on it's sound. When I tested it against my UR28m, I was surprised to hear there was no discernible difference in sound quality. Add on the fact that it offers no dsp effects chip, and it's already more than a bit overpriced at $499.
    I still may have held on to it because of the allure of it's beautiful design, but the drivers did not play well with my Lenovo T430. There was audible static when I navigated the screen, and the buffer could not be set as low as the UR28m. Someone told me (not from Focusrite) that there was a known incompatibility with i5 machines (which is what I have). I cannot confirm this, but my T430 has an i5.
    I do not recommend the Forte.

  • Mike Lopez
    from West Los Angeles March 11, 2015Music Background:
    Artist

    Interface

    Great stuff and really good people. Always very happy

  • Adamus Turner
    from Lemoyne, PA January 17, 2015Music Background:
    Singer/Songwriter/Producer

    Windows8 Nightmare

    This is a cool toy but not for Windows8. Contacted support and they suggested using a beta driver that didn't help. I ended up using ASIO4ALL which I shouldn't have to do. It has a cool GUI but the driver for this is painfully inconsistent. Some days it works without issue. Other days I want to throw it out the window and use my $100 Yahama. I'd recommend something other than this for Windows8.

  • Harold Bones
    from December 27, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Music Producer, Singer, Song writer, Rapper

    A little box with pro performance

    I have been making music since 2003 and I'm all about quality. I am a singer,songwriter, music producer, recording engineer and rapper. When it comes to my personal studio gear I'm always looking for the best sound out of the box and performance. A couple of months ago I decided to get a new audio interface for my home studio and I was leaning towards the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 but I took my time and did some research online and came across the forte. I was convinced since day one to get this unit but then I saw a lot of bad reviews and videos of the forte and I became less interested and started looking for other options. At the end I decided to give the forte a try and let me tell you...............................

    WOW just WOW!!! I'm Blown Away with the quality of this interface. I really don't get how people say bad things about this unit, because since day one I just got great results with the forte. No issues whatsoever. Runs great on my pc with win7 ultimate 64bits, 8gb of ram and the i5 intel processor. The only thing that i record on my home studio are vocals and they come out Awesome my clients are very happy about the way their vocals and tracks sounds. Great performance, stability, great preamp s and converters. I saw like two videos of people having trouble with the display and other saying that the latency and drivers were weak, but I can honestly say that as for me there's nothing wrong with my forte in fact this is the best audio interface I have used in years.

    If you want great recordings, quality, mobility, awesome results and a very well made interface look no further. The forte it's your best choice.

  • Maurice Ragland
    from Hyattsville, MD August 22, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Producer, Dj

    One of the best for portability

    I was torn between this and the apogee duet in terms of portability and Mac connectivity. I liked all the specs and months that I read reviews were simply that it had out beat the Apogee Duet. I am also a diehard Focusrite user with a Saffire 24,18i20 plus a VRM and they have all been stellar!. Right out of box this thing was ready work and I was up and running in a breeze!. First I want to say that I started with a project with a hardware synth and a few instances of Massive on a 2011 MB Pro running at 64-128 samples in Studio One Pro V2! Almost zero latency and the sound is clean and in your face! The Mic Pre's are the best that I have heard with incredible range, transparency and detail. The display and the magical big knob keeps me in tune and my workflow going and the software could be worked by a 7 year old..it is just that intuitive. The device is built like a tank! My Nord Lead 4 sounds like a boss to be reckoned with! Overall I am happy with it and will remain a Focusrite fan. So what if it doesn't have a built in condenser mic!! The name of it speaks louder than Apogee and is forever echoed in production history! Hear the Thriller album and go buy yourself a Focusrite Forte Audio Interface, plug it in, work, listen and smile, then never look back!

  • Drewfisch
    from West palm beach, Florida June 23, 2014Music Background:
    Songwriter, guitar operator.

    Real pro sound

    After going through a couple interfaces of the $200-300 range and never really being satisfied with the sound quality, I finally found a digital interface that is a breeze to use, takes up little space on the desktop, and best of all SOUNDS AMAZING!!!
    Brought my recordings to a whole new level. So much so, I've been re-recording some of my old songs.
    And as usual, the service at Sweetwater was second to none.

  • Jerome Harris
    from Orlando, FL April 1, 2014Music Background:
    Recording Engineer

    Great Concept ; Poor Quality!

    I had bought it because I am a die hard focusrite user. And I thought it would be an upgrade in my studio. I was expecting Focusrite Awesomeness and what I got was sub par from useable. My purpose was to do some recording and some playback but while recording there seemed to be this hum when I turned up the headphone knob. The issues that I thought it might have been were faulty usb hub, so I plugged it in directly and still the problem. Now, I didn't spend the most time trying to figure it out so I will never know what the problem was but that was my major disappointment with this product. I also think that focusrite came out with newer drivers a few months after I sold it. I had found however the sound quality to be more than incredible! So if you ask me if I would recommend this product to others, I would say yes but do some more research before buying! Assuming that the drivers fixed alot of the major issues, it would be worth a shot!

  • Jason Ross
    from Sacramento, CA March 12, 2014Music Background:
    Musician, Producer, Film Editor and Designer, Hobbyist

    Focusrite Forte.....Driver Issues, Forget Low Latency!

    This interface is looks cool, the touch screen is neat, and seems to be built well. The i/o's seem to be good quality. The reason why I rated this product so low is because the devices drivers do not work good for Windows 8 or newer. It always has trouble operating at low latency. It crashes all of the time below 256 samples p/s. It is very frustrating as a guitar player because when I play up to speed, there is a significant delay that is enough to give anyone a headache on faster projects. Being that it is a new product that says it compatible with Windows 8, they should have this problem fixed. Focusrite has not offered anything significant for a driver update, so the problem continues. I am looking to sell it now after spending 3 months trying to figure out if it was my brand new computer with the problem. Turns out that there is a large group of people on forums and throughout the internet that are having the same problem. The drivers are faulty and unstable for Windows platforms. Here is an example and how I know it has nothing to do with Pro Tools or anything else other than faulty drivers or the Focusrite is bad hardware: when you turn the buffer size lower (below 4 ms and it will go down to 1 ms) through the devices mix controller software, the device will crash and the sound will stop even if you are using it as an audio device (without the DAW even running!) If you are on a Windows setup, I would consider other options so you are not as frustrated as I am. Apparently I am not the only person waiting for an update for the drivers. Spend a little extra and get something better that works. It will be worth it in the long run, especially if you are a PC user.

  • Joe Wright
    from November 10, 2013Music Background:
    Hobbyist

    Focusrite Forte

    The Focusrite forte is a decent interface. I wouldn't use it above 88.2khz though because on 96khz and up, the audio sounds unnatural. I've noticed the interface rings around 4khz and is brighter on 48khz and 96khz. On 88.2khz it sounds a little boxy but more natural. I've also noticed that adjusting the latency changes the way the interface sounds, which is odd. I've found it to sound best set to 2ms. The link mode, whether or not you have the external power plugged in, or having the other channel set to a different input type changes the input response slightly as well.

    I've tried the interface with a Michael Joly Mk47 modded mic and a Belden 9182 microphone cable, with a keyboard, and electric guitar. I think with some eq on either 48khz or 88khz, depending on the style of music, this interface can do a pretty good job.

  • Recording Nerd
    from San Diego, CA September 20, 2013Music Background:
    Engineer, Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter

    Unbeatable Value

    Sometimes I donít feel itís necessary to write a review when a product already has a bunch of helpful reviews written on it. But every time I use this thing the sound impresses me so much that I feel like Iíve got to add my voice to the chorus.

    I have a pretty beefy home studio, and Iím spoiled by the quality of audio I hear in there. So I would always be disappointed when I got to work and tried to listen to music on the standard laptop audio card. So I started looking into laptop DA converters, but then I thought if Iím going to spend the money I might as well see if I can get something with mobile recording functionality. I needed something that would work on PC or Mac and I wanted decent preamps and good conversion. Iíd never been a Focusrite user before and had always been a little skeptical of their products. Not sure why Ė I think itís because Iíd read things about how they used to make great gear and that had changed in recent times. Anyway, after quite a bit of research I decided on the Forte.

    For my first test I recorded acoustic guitar and vocals with a Miktek CV4. The preamps were really impressive on acoustic guitar. Clean, balanced, with an open, full sound. Vocals were also very good. I felt like I could live with these tracks as keepers on an album in a pinch, and it was clear that the Forteís preamps are no joke and the A/D conversion was very good.

    My primary application is listening to music at work, though, and thatís probably why I feel like the Forteís D/A conversion is one of its biggest strengths. I continue to hear new details in tunes Iíve listened to many times before, even when Iím listening to compressed streaming music. And when I listen to music through iTunes where the quality is higher, Iím often stunned by the quality of audio Iím hearing. Reverb tails, depth, space, airÖ Forte brings them all back. I really love it and Iím glad I bought it every day I use it. I would be even if it was just a converter and had no other functionality.

    I have Lynx converters in my studio and quality outboard preamps. Is the Forte going to compare to that? Though I havenít done a head-to-head shootout, I think the D/A conversion might be close. I donít think the A/D conversion could compete, and I know the preamps couldnít. BUT, I recently worked with an Apogee Duet and a UA Apollo, and I didnít think the preamps or conversion on either unit sounded as good as the Forte.

    I find the display easy enough to use. The control knob is very smooth, and the unit looks attractive. The software is pretty and works well. Itís been very reliable. I wish they offered a nice padded case. I had to put some foam in an old case I had in order to transport it.

    I donít think you can beat the quality of this product for the price. If something happened to it, I would buy a new one the same day.

  • Mario
    from August 20, 2013Music Background:
    Studio Engineer, Touring Musician

    Hats off to Focusrite!

    Have mine little over a week now & I'm in love. This gear should cost waaay more, was a bit skeptic at first watching youtube clips and reading up, I'm happy I got it...

  • Saquib Rashid
    from July 26, 2013Music Background:
    Producer

    Great Product, Shaky Drivers

    I have used the Forte for just over 2 weeks now and am overall pleased with its performance. It has great build quality and great looks but all that aside its sound is very detailed. A lot of people say there is not much difference between the sub $1000 dollar interfaces but the Forte seems to bring some definition out of my mixes (background vocals, imaging). However it seemingly has a more pronounced high end compared to the Mbox Mini I was upgrading from. This has caused me to feel vocals being recorded more sibilant than they were with the mbox (my chain is a blueberry>gap73>forte>pc for reference). That is the only complaint I have about the sound quality.

    My main issue has been with the drivers, on Windows 8 I have experience quite a bit of instability. I got the blue screen on one occasion and after that the forte control software crashed every time I plugged in the Forte. Only way to get it working was to install a new beta driver from their website as directed by their support team. This event repeated itself only a week later and I had to install an older beta to get it working again. This instability is the most worrisome part of the product and is making me have seconds thoughts. Also when plugged into certain usb ports is a power hog, you can't have anything else plugged in to that bus (external drive etc) or the interface will not work. These two issues could be very problematic for windows users and I hope focusrite gets their driver support together soon because it reliability is king in this community.

  • Ben Lebron
    from April 24, 2013Music Background:
    Music Producer

    Focusrite Forte

    Exceptional sound. Very very clean sounding.
    Great mic pre's and very user friendly all-round.
    The only thing isn't great is the latency option, it only goes up to 20 ms. So its good for low latency work but if you have a very heavy project you might feel a bit limited.
    Other than that a seriously great buy. 5 out of 5!

  • escapist
    from Minneapolis, MN April 8, 2013Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Perfect for my needs

    I currently use an RME UFX as my primary interface for Sonar. I wanted something portable, so I could track in various locations without lugging alot of gear around. The forte exceeded my expectations. Not only is the preamp usable, it worked great on vocals. This weekend I recorded vocals using only an SM7b and the forte. I was very surprised at how good they turned out. I opted to track the rest of the vocals using only this combo (I own both API and Great River Preamps). Well done, focusrite. I am very pleased.

  • Lasonia Rideout
    from Sherrill, AR USA April 2, 2013Music Background:
    Gospel composer, singer, and musician

    The Forte Rocks!!!

    I bought my forte about a week ago. I downloaded the software prior the receiving it by delivery. I must tell you I also own the Duet 2 as well. I bought the forte for the Rednet preamps and Daw control. I used my forte to record with Pro tools 10 and the device automatically detected my Daw. I mainly recorded instrument sounds from my Clavinova cvp-505 and the forte sound great. What I like most about the forte is its ease of use, sound quality, and daw control capabilities. I primarily use my forte with a MacBook Pro only, but it is great that it works on pc as well. I must say that the forte equally sound as great as my duet and I honestly think that a person would be happy with either when it come to sound quality. However, the forte has features that excel beyond the duet 2 such as the ability to connect four instruments at once without having to disconnect 2 input instruments each time you want to record 2 different instruments because it has four inputs, but only two can be used simultaneously. The duet uses combo input connections. So when I want to record my piano on two tracks and the I want to record two vocals tracks I must disconnect the piano from the input connectors of the duet 2. There is a duet 2 attachment that you can purchase separately that will give you the four inputs to the duet 2, but it cost $100 extra. And like the forte you can only record 2 channels that a time while connecting 4 instrument simultaneously. The forte Daw control is also great especially if you don't have a control surface, but the duet doesn't have this feature. Overall I think that feature wise the forte goes beyond the capabilities of the duet 2. But, this is my personal opinion. So you be the judge.

  • Customer
    from MS USA March 31, 2013Music Background:
    Record Producer

    Great Product!!

    I bought the Forte about 5 days ago, and i have fallen to love it more everyday. The look alone is enough for me lol. When i first plugged it in, it took me about 8 minutes to get the software downloaded. My first impression was WOW!! this thing sounds GREAT. It's Very clear & controlled. I thought i would be disappointed because i didn't go for the Duet, but i could care less now. This thing is just as good, if not better. I am VERY happy with my decision of choosing the Forte.

  • Ehrin
    from November 1, 2012Music Background:
    Recording/mix engineer

    Great sound

    I got this about a week ago and was really excited. I've used Focusrite products before with great results but the sound of this blew me away. I would put the converters in this unit up against my Aurora as far as quality is concerned. My only complaints are small and hopefully will be fixed with a firmware upgrade. First, as previously mentioned, the unit defaults to headphone output on startup. Not a big deal but an annoyance. Second, I wish it had the ability to use the know button for mute or dim. These functions are available but you have to hold the screen, select the function and then press the button. You should be able to assign one function by default. Neither of those problems take away from the clear sound and should be expected as this is a brand new product. I would definitely purchase this again.

  • Sam
    from Boston MA October 19, 2012Music Background:
    Composer

    Sounds great, but issues

    I wanted an Apogee Duet style interface I could use on both my PC and Mac, that offered stability and low latencies through USB. I've only used it on my PC so far (had it 2 weeks), and stability with Pro Tools is killing me. I can't open PT without holding down N and selecting the interface, otherwise it doesn't recognize the device and will quit. And when I do get it to recognize the interface, there is always a clock error and it must quit. On the second or third opening of PT however, it works!!! Really a pain. Works flawlessly in Live and Cubase however. Also note that I built this PC (Gigabyte z77m/Intel 3770k), perhaps my drivers aren't all up to date or something, although I doubt it's an ASIO driver issue over the Focusrite drivers.

    It's obvious that this device is meant for a laptop user. I wanted a simple great sounding device that would take care of my simple needs as a desktop composer. However, the latency is not quite as good as I'd like. I can get down to ~3ms in Ableton Live or Cubase with a full 10GB orchestral template going full blast, and I begin to hear pops and clicks. Raising the buffer size a bit fixes this. Also, in PT I can run a full mix with a heavy load of plugs at under 5ms but I get pops and clicks, whereas my Mbox Pro 3 could run at same low latency no problems.

    Other things to note: when it powers up, the headphone control is by default selected, so to adjust my monitor volume, I have to first select the speakers touchpad... a little thing that bugs you after a while. Also not adjustable. Clearly aimed at the laptop user. Sometimes, when powering desktop up, the unit goes into a weird zombie mode where all outputs are muted and turned down, and I have to restore to factory settings under Forte Control. Also annoying. Perhaps related, when desktop is off overnight but device is still plugged into USB, the device is still warm to the touch the next day. When USB is not plugged in, it is cool as expected the next morning. I suppose I should invest in a power conditioner or switch my PSU off at night rather than blame the Forte.

    On the positive side, this unit sounds great, both in and out. Very clean and low noise, just what I wanted. Also looks sleek and sexy on the desk, very simple with one big knob. But that's about all that's good about it. Is it worth it? I'm not quite sure yet. I may end up going back to the Mbox Pro 3.

  • David
    from San Diego October 8, 2012Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Student

    Focusrite Forte - Initial Thoughts...

    Focusrite Forte Review:
    ē Signal Chain: Source > Mic > Interface > Hard drive (Mixed down to a 24 Bit aiff file)
    ē Interfaces used in comparison; Focusrite Forte and MBox 2 Mini
    ē Microphone Used: Neumann TLM 102
    ē Microphone Cable Used: Monster Studiolink XLR
    Tuesday, October 02, 2012; 12:32 AM
    Setting up the Forte was relatively easy; I had already downloaded the drivers and software a few days ahead of time since I was aware that the forte does not come with an installation CD, the software has to be downloaded from the Focusrite website. However you feel about this process itís a non issue as it only took me 3 minutes to get the software installed after briefly pausing to admire the new shoe smell from the box the forte came in. Initially right now Iím just sitting around listening to random music through a pair of Audio Technica ATHM50sLE headphones and the play back sounds awesome, also controlling the functions of the device using its control knob and touch sensitive faceplate is intuitive and a breeze to work with.

    Aesthetically the forte will turn heads but also has a low profile; itís slim, sleek and sexy at the same time. Definitely a solid piece of hardware, I look forward to putting it through its paces tomorrow. Oh yeah, and just so you know, the Forte will operate in low power mode off usb 2.0 bus power which can be useful for on the road mixing and any DJís incorporating this into their setups. The Inputs and phantom power are disabled when in low power though, but consider the trade offÖ not being able to record while in low power vs. shorter battery life. Well for now, goodnight.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2012; 10:58:33 AM

    Initial impressionsÖ the forte integrates nicely into my Pro Tools 9 recording environment. I only have two issues that Iíve run into one of them which Iíve had with every recording device while working on a laptop is when the lap top is plugged into an AC outlet I get noise in my monitorsÖ likely solution in this scenario is usually your power conditioning (buy a better surge protector, one that conditions and cleans the power signal to rid yourself of any buzz or hum coming from this source). Second, which might be from me opening up the Forte Control suite before opening up pro tools is there was a conflict between the two software programs, in which pro tools did not want to operate because another program was using the hardware (Iíve only ran into this issue 1 time though).

    Itís also apparent that this is a zero latency monitoring device, and I find it useful to mute the channel that I am tracking into as so I donít receive two versions of whatís being recorded playing back in the headphones/speakers (Typical pro tools ****, lol)Ö The Focusrite Midnight plug-ins that come bundles with this software sound good tooÖ time to unlock the demo versionsÖ

Reviews

  • Mitch Gallagher
    12-07-2012

    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.

    Forte 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!

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