Focusrite ISA Two

2-channel Mic/Instrument Preamp with 80dB of Gain, Switchable Phantom Power, Variable Hi-pass Filters, and Variable Input Impedance
Focusrite ISA Two image 1
Focusrite ISA Two image 1
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Focusrite ISA Two
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Transparency + Warmth = ISA Two

The Focusrite ISA Two mic preamp gives you the sonic essence of the legendary Forte and Studio consoles in a single rack unit chassis. You get two channels, with inputs for microphone, line-level, and direct instrument-level sources. A variable impedance selector also lets you dial in the warmth you want without sacrificing clarity. The ISA Two's DI and microphone inputs run in parallel, so you can blend the direct signal of the instrument with the sound of the miked up amplifier - a killer trick for getting bass sounds that are both fat and punchy. If warmth, transparency, and useful features are on your preamp wishlist, check out the Focusrite ISA Two.

Focusrite ISA Two Dual-mono Mic Preamp at a Glance:
  • The Focusrite magic: warmth plus transparency
  • Engineering it right
  • The Neve connection
The Focusrite magic: warmth plus transparency

Focusrite's ISA Two mic preamp has a distinguished heritage. Since its 1985 introduction, the transformer-based Focusrite pre amp has become something of a legend - and a benchmark for transparency. But there's something else going on. That something is a subtle warmth, courtesy of transformer core saturation. It's this apparent contradiction of warmth plus transparently open and unrestricted high frequencies, that identifies the Focusrite "sound" that continues to be in demand in top studios worldwide.

Engineering it right

The Focusrite ISA Two has some innovative thinking under its bonnet. Just what engineering innovations contribute to a superior-sounding mic preamp? For one thing, to eliminate the audible rolloff exhibited by preamps limited to the audible bandwidth, Focusrite ISA pres operate over a much greater range (10Hz-135kHz, in the case of the ISA Two). There's also the ISA topology that gives you up to 80dB of undistorted gain. How about variable input impedance, which lets you fine-tune the amount of "character" in your signal - from pristine transparency, to vintage warmth.

The Neve connection

Rupert Neve selected the Lundahl LL1538 as the input transformer for the legendary Focusrite ISA 110, and it's still the best microphone input transformer available - Focusrite specifies it in every one of their ISA Series mic pres. Mr. Neve also perfected the Zobel network (found in Focusrite's ISA circuit), which is responsible for the broad-bandwidth, ruler-flat frequency response exhibited by ISA preamps.

Focusrite ISA Two Dual-mono Mic Preamp Features:
  • Two channels of Focusrite goodness in a rackspace!
  • Lundahl LL1538 mic input transformer
  • Up to 80dB of gain
  • Variable input impedance
  • User-calibrated metering
  • Front-panel instrument and rear panel line inputs
  • Variable cut-off highpass filter
  • Rear panel balanced inserts
Your studio needs a pair of superb preamps - get 'em in the Focusrite ISA Two!

Additional Media

ISA Two User Manual
Studio Preamp Buying Guide

Tech Specs

Preamp Type Solid State
Number of Channels 2
Frequency Response 10Hz-135kHz
Phantom Power Yes
Analog Inputs 2 x XLR, 2 x TS (inst), 2 x TRS (line), 2 x TRS (Return)
Analog Outputs 2 x XLR, 2 x TRS (Send)
Rack Spaces 1U
Height 1.75"
Depth 11"
Width 19"
Weight 8.16 lbs.
Manufacturer Part Number ISA Two

Customer Reviews

4.5/5
Based on 19 reviews
Write your review
5/5

Constantly usable, nice to set up.

I was using a multiple-unit interface and wanted to go to next level in sound quality. I met Sweetwater for first time and Tyler Berggren was the sales engineer. He took my experience and needs and made this suggestion. What a good choice! There is a lot of subtlety in sound work, and this unit has helped me understand and train and hear what everybody talks about. I can trust that any of my mics will sound their best, with some experimentation of course. There is a place for all kinds different equipment, but there is a lot to be said for solid units at each level and then concentrate on performance and technique and room sound! This unit is solid.
Music background: Percussion, voice, bass, field recording, lot of years.
5/5

A Very Wise Decision

People will argue about how critical a mic pre "really" is…well let me say this: the Focusrite ISA Two MADE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE FOR ME. I record acoustic music and already had great mics (pair of Neumann KM 184's , AKG 451's and AKG 214's) and was running them thru 2 Presonus Tube Pres. The moment I recorded my first tracks of fingerstyle acoustic guitar and then vocals using the ISA Two..it was like heaven. The Focusrite took those Neumann's and AKG's to a new level. I thought my tracks sounded great before after having purchased the quality mics, However, I had no idea what I was missing till I heard the results of the Focusrite. The ISA Two just delivered a much stronger, full bodied, crystal clear signal. So even if you don't yet have killer mic's, I strongly believe the ISA Two will drastically improve the mic's you have. Unless you want to drop thousands for your mic pre's, I think there is no better option under $1,000.
Music background: Project Studio / Pro Musician
5/5

ISA Two is the One!

I owned the ISA One first and was so impressed by the quality and value ratio of the product. (clean & quiet.), that I decided to add two more channels of quality preamps....hence, the ISA Two. Love these preamps. Great service, too. As always.
Music background: Musician
5/5

Amazing Unit, Awful Meters

I'm giving this unit 5 stars because of its sound, design, build quality, and looks. All of which are superb. A fantastic unit in general. Actually I have quite a few preamps in my studio and this is one of my favorite sounding. It's really "hi-fi" super ultra clean, bright, and it can change its impedance from smooth-vintagey vibe to more punchy-bright-modern tone. It sounds great on my Neumann M149, K2, NT1, SM57, and absolutely stunning on my SM7B. If you're looking for a preamp for your SM7(b), look no further. With 80db's of very clean and very quiet gain this is the best preamp (by far) that I've ever used with my SM7B. Those mics suffer a bit from high-end loss, and this preamp accounts for that, assuring every bit of sparkly high end is picked up and never lost in transit. All of that being said. Time for the bad news. The meters suck. In fact, they're worthless in the digital age. I own three of these units, one purchased from Sweetwater, and two elsewhere at a separate time, so I can assure this isn't just a manufacturing defect, it's a design decision made by the company, and a terrible one at that. "0db" on the meters is absolutely nowhere near 0db on the digital scale, the internal bias is so far off that the meters are unusable. Even accounting for the adjustment knob on the back turned all the way up, the meters internal bias is still set WAY too low. If you're near clipping on this unit's meters, everything else in your chain is being clipped to hell and back. 0db on this unit is like 15db in your DAW, straight distortion. I hit 0db in my daw (with everything in the connection at +4) when the meter is just barely lighting up and showing -18, nowhere near clipping. So yeah, absolutely worthless meters, all three of my units are this way, I've tried everything possible to fix that, even compensating from the converters end, and nothing quite makes up for it. Buy the unit because it sounds amazing, buy it because it's built really really well, and uses really high quality internal components. But buy it KNOWING that the meters are completely useless for any modern digital recording use... If that's not a deal breaker for you, you'll absolutely love the sound of this unit. It's really similar sounding to my Neve 1073dpa, just brighter, not as dark, and a bit cleaner, less of that rusty grit tone. 99% of listeners probably would never hear a difference. Many would probably prefer the Focusrite's clean hi-fi sound even if they could.
Music background: Engineer/Music Producer
5/5

MADE FOR DRUMS

my drums came alive , super sound warm, tone , all amazing
Music background: recording studio

Sweetwater Advice

Mickey Cushing

I used a lot of mic preamps during my decade-long career as a recording engineer in Chicago. Years ago, when I wanted to expand my sonic palette, ISA Two delivered everything I could ask for. The best part is the variable impedance selection. This section lets me completely reshape the sound of my dynamic mics. Buying an ISA Two felt like I'd doubled my mic locker! There's also plenty of clean gain onboard. Everything I run through this pre, from vocal mics to direct bass, sounds great.
See also: Focusrite, Focusrite Preamps