Focusrite ISA430 MKII Producer Pack

Producer Pack Single-Channel Microphone Preamplifier / Channel Strip
Focusrite ISA430 MKII Producer Pack image 1

Shown with optional A/D card, not included.

Focusrite ISA430 MKII Producer Pack image 1
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Focusrite ISA430 MKII Producer Pack
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Focusrite's Producer Pack Turns Two

The ISA430 MKII represents the pinnacle of Focusrite's analog channel strip technology, bringing together all the classic designs in one comprehensive production tool. Augmented with additional features and flavors, alngside unmatched internal routing and connectivity, the ISA430 MKII enables today's recording professional to enjoy the unique sonic contribution of these heritage designs within one extremely versatile processor.

Focusrite ISA430 MKII at a Glance:
  • Easy visual monitoring with VU and LED meters
  • Variable impedance mic preamps for fine-tuning mic input levels
  • Flexible signal path provides up to four discrete inputs at once
  • Compressor features vintage opto plus Class A design.
  • Impeccable EQ drawn from the ISA 110

The ISA430 MKII Input Section
The input section on the ISA430 MKII features a large, professional-grade VU Meter with adjustable calibration, which can be selected to display any one of a number of multiple points in the signal chain. Additional visual monitoring is available through the inclusion of two LED bar graph meters, allowing the signals being fed to the input and output of the unit, or the ADC input levels to be viewed.

Tailored Impedance
As with the ISA428, the ISA430 MKII has a variable impedance option on its classic transformer-based mic pre, ranging from 600 to 6800 ohms (at 1kHz). This provides you with increased control over the interaction between microphone and preamp, tailoring the response to suit your needs. Pressing the 'Air' switch further extends this principle, introducing an inductor circuit into the secondary of the transformer, which adds clarity and 'spaciousness' to the signal without the need for EQ.

Flexible Signal Path
The split configurable Inserts and changeable signal path order combine to produce an unrivalled flexibility; herein lies the real benefit of the ISA430 MKII as a 'do-all' processor for the most demanding of engineers. Both inserts can be used to separate the individual sections of the channel strip. This means that if the post-mic output and ADC inputs are in use, the ISA430 MKII can function as four discrete processors simultaneously! Insert 2 can also be located post-dynamics should this be required, and for further adaptability, the dynamics can be shifted to a pre-EQ or post-sum position.

Compressor Section
A significant development from the original ISA430 can be found in the Compressor section, which now boasts a vintage opto circuit in addition to the original discrete Class A VCA design. Selecting the optical Compressor or Limiter results in a more colored sound, as opposed to the extremely transparent VCA circuit. The ISA430 MKII caters for the most varied of signals, containing an 'Auto Release' function (switch activated) that changes the release time with each transient to suit the nature of the waveform. If the signal sounds excessively processed, a remedy lies in the Compressor 'Blend' feature, allowing the pre- and post-dynamics signals to be mixed. This can help restore a track's natural dynamism without losing the desired effect of compression.

EQ Section
The ISA430 MKII features the same classic Focusrite EQ as the original ISA 110, but with two extra frequency values for both the high and low shelving, and with the added benefit of being able to insert the EQ into the sidechain of the Compressor and Gate sections. This allows for fully frequency-conscious compression, gating and expansion, making the ISA430 MKII the most powerful dynamics processor yet developed.

Gate Section
The Gate section uses the Focusrite Class A VCA as the control element to remove the effect of unwanted interference and high levels of wide-band system noise build-up. Switching this section to expand mode
causes the Gate to function as an Expander. Instead of cutting off any signal below the threshold, an expander proportionately decreases it. This provides a more natural sound when reducing noise from non-percussive sources (especially vocals).

'Hysteresis' increases the level-difference between the gate switching on and switching off, and prevents the gate oscillating ('chattering') with particular combinations of input signal and threshold settings. This function is particularly useful when gating a signal with a very long decay time and large amounts of level modulation (for example a Grand Piano).

De-Esser Section
The ISA430 MKII's De-esser is based on a low-distortion optical technology design, allowing transparent removal of excessive sibilance from a vocal performance. The circuit uses phase cancellation to create a smoother and less intrusive de-esser than traditional compression-based designs.

'Listen' to the Difference!
All four dynamic processors; the compressor, gate, expander and de-esser, feature Focusrite's unique 'Listen' feature. Selecting 'Listen', inverts the operation of the processor, so only the chosen frequencies that are being affected can be heard, rather than straining to hear the overall effect in a complex signal.

Soft Limiter
The sensitively designed soft Limiter, also present in the ISA 428, can be made to act on both the analogue output and the inputs to the optional ADC. The gradual changes in ratio leading up to 0dBFS produce a gentler limiting effect whilst still preventing a level overload.

Optional A/D Card
The optional stereo A/D card provides the ISA430 MKII with 24-bit 192kHz capabilities and employs the same converters as those featured in the TEC award nominated ISA428.

Focusrite ISA430 MK II Producer Pack Features:
  • Classic Focusrite transformer-based Mic-pre with variable impedance and 'Air' feature
  • Multi format Compressor; switch between Focusrite's transparent VCA circuit and a vintage optical circuit
  • Unmatched flexibility with an incredible variety of insert points and variable signal path arrangements
  • Ability to function as 4 separate modular processors: mic pre, EQ, Dynamics and stereo ADC
  • Precision VU metering of input level, Insert 1 or 2 Return level,
  • Compressor gain reduction or Sidechain listen level (switched)
  • Classic Focusrite EQ design; an expanded version of the original ISA 110
  • Post mic pre output for the shortest possible signal path
  • Proprietary Focusrite discrete Class A VCA Gate and Expander designs
  • 'Listen' feature for precise control over compression, gating,
  • expansion and de-essing
  • De-esser design based on optical technology for lower distortion
  • and transparency
  • Soft Limiter to avoid critical digital overload
  • Optional Stereo A/D - 24-bit 192 kHz Delta Sigma converter
The Focusrite ISA430 MK II: Serious input channel for uncompromised quality!

Additional Media

FocusFocusrite ISA 430 MKII User Guide
Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Solid State
Number of Channels 1
Frequency Response 20Hz-22kHz
Phantom Power Yes
EQ Yes
Compressor Yes
Other Processing Gate/Expander, De-Esser, Limiter
Analog Inputs 1 x XLR (Mic), 1 x XLR (Line), 2 x 1/4" (Hi-Z)
Analog Outputs 1 x XLR
Other I/O 2 x XLR (Ext. Sum In), 1 x XLR (Post Mic Out), 4 x XLR (Send/Returns Dyn, EQ), 2 x 1/4" (Ext In Dyn, EQ), 1 x 1/4" Dyn Link
Rack Spaces 2U
Height 3.5"
Depth 9.8"
Width 19"
Weight 16.7 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number ISA430-MKII

Customer Reviews

Based on 5 reviews
Write your review

A Musical Sherman Tank!

OK... there are a lot of positive words about the ISA430 in the other reviews, and I doubt I could say more than has already been said about it. I've been using it about 2 weeks on vocals mainly, and on nylon string guitar on several projects I have going. Simply put, it sounds great and I love the compressor. The "Air" feature works exactly as claimed. I have not tried my ribbon mic through it yet, but it looks like there will be sufficient gain to do so. The build quality is excellent, even though made in Asia. I have used a Lauten LA-320 tube condenser mic and an AKG C-414 through it and both sound spectacular. Great service from Sweetwater in making this purchase!!
Music background: Guitarist, Project Studio Engineer, Songwriter

Top Quality Channel Strip

Ive been using this channel on a daily basis for the last year. I also use a few isa110 preamps regularly. Focusrite gets 5stars for the sound and build quality of these units. Great on vocals, great on bass and guitars.
Music background: 30 years pro musician

I love this thing more and more every day

Okay first off, if you’re looking for the ultimate bass channel, this is it. I have NEVER gotten as good of a bass direct sound from anything else I’ve used (Avalon, UA and yes, even API). This should almost be sold as a bass channel strip because it performs so well with it. The compressor is very nice, its actually a lot more subtle sounding than I thought it’d be, which is great for tracking purposes cause you can dial it in without going overboard easily. I will say setting up GR on the VU’s is tricky, personally I’d rather see some LEDs for that but just a slight inconvenience. The eq section is surprisingly useful, and it doesn’t have any level indicators on it so you don’t know by how much you’re boosting or cutting something. It forces you to use your ears… weird huh? haha. Its very musical, I have no clue what curves they’re using but I really like them. The only thing I really really wish they had on it would be an instrument pass thru. I like recording a clean DI for re-amping and a “dirty” DI for the tone. This thing is really advanced, I’ve never seen a channel strip with this much functionality. Its like a hardware version of a plugin. Instead of a plugin version of hardware haha. I don’t like the ISA pre sound on vocals too much, just a bit bright. But to be fair I don’t usually like any transformer based pre for vocals. But I love it on anything with a string. It really helps the snap come through. Also amazing on percussion for obvious reasons. One of the well thought out benefits of this unit is you can basically use it part-and-parcel with other gear you already own. So if you’ve got a great pre but need a good eq and compressor, you can create a separate path in your patch bay just for that. You can reroute where the modules sit, so eq-comp-filter or filter-comp-eq, or whatever! This is going to be my only choice for bass for the rest of my career. Honestly, I don’t need to try anything else.
Music background: Engineer, Producer, Performer

Simply one of the best channel strips available.

OK, I have been in the music biz as an audio engineer full time for about 25 years (has it been that long already?) and I have owned a commercial recording studio for about 13 of those years. I currently own SSL Superanalogue channels strips ($3,300 US), LA-610, and a bunch of others as well as the Focusrite ISA430 MKii. This unit easily has the most versatile mic pre of all of my preamps and with all of the impedance options, as well as the different gain options I can tell you that you will get every tone you are looking for out of the pre. The compressor has a few different modes and I found that the Vintage mode is just fantastic! Almost a LA2 style compressor. The metering is also some of the best I have seen on any channel strip in this price range and higher. You have full time dedicated input and output meters as well as the standard options for the VU meter. Avalons have a great sound, but the Focusrite is much more versatile especially when compared to pres like the Avalon and even my SSL. Not matter what you do to the SSL it sound like an SSL (which is killer!) but that Focusrite can just get a crazy variety sounds. The EQ on this thing is one of the most surgical and musical I have ever used. There is a reason that this box is known for the EQ! WOW! Any source we have put through it from bass guitar, accoustic guitar, or vocal mics may take a couple of minutes of tweaking but when you find that majic spot for your source it will reach out and grab you instantly. Just awesome. If you are considering an Avalon, Neve, UA Audio, Daking, or any other mid level to high end channel strip, check this Focusrite out. It is simply the best overall value (bang for the buck) in our inventory.
Music background: 25 year audio pro, national touring engineer, commercial studio owner, sound company owner

Best Channel Strip I've ever owned!!

This channel strip blows every other I've ever owned out of the water. Combine the ISA430 with a great mic, and you've got a killer combo for vocals and instruments. It simply warms up anything you put through it. I have an Avalon vt737 sp, and I thought I'd never own another piece of gear that would make vocals shine in a mix without extra processing. Sounds amazing on electric bass guitar, too!!
Music background: Recording/Mixing Engineer, Songwriter
See also: Focusrite, Focusrite Channel Strips, Focusrite Preamps