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.
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.
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.
I am so happy with the Focusrite ISA Two. I really did my home work before buying this preamp. It can really get frustrating trying to find the right preamp at a great price and the Focusrite exceeded my expectations. It doesn't leave anything behind and has a really natural sound with just a pinch of sweetness. I am looking at adding another to my rig. Sounds great on everything. After owning it I have to say it's a no brainer.
fucusrite isa two
I have been using this preamp for about a year it is by far one of the cleanest and also very studio friendly in terms of ease of use I've come across, it just sounds really good on everything. also the price point is not bad here you will get more for what you payed for. thanks carson m
Perfect For Every Thing
i was using presonus channel strip when i got isa two
from the first record i said oh my god why i was stupid to get isa one instead of presonus
but no i am very happy with this one Especially Isa110 impedance great great great
recommend this for any one
missing piece to my arsenal
Works really good with my vocal chain which includes jj audio akita mic- focusrite isa two mic pre- vintage audio m-76 compressor- universal audio apollo twin. Warmth+clarity is what da isa two provides. Thanks to chris lewis for helping me with this selection.
Great Clean Pre
One of the biggest things I was looking for in a preamp was a nice clean sound that didn't distort. All I wanted was warmth, not necessarily color. This preamp delivers. I primarily deal with classical instrumental and vocal cliental. This makes the recordings sound great. Paired with a stereo pair of Shure KSM 141's you cannot go wrong. Great sound overall. Plus, when we do want the color, you have the option to really pop the gain up on the preamp and get that nice 110 sound. Just an awesome piece of gear really.
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.
Running a Tech 21 Bass DI into the ISA TWO turned a cheap bass into a bass worth an Ampeg
RE-20 Analog Days
The ISA Two gave a depth to my EV RE-20 that I haven't heard since I worked with in a 24 track analog studio. Dial it in and don't ignore the Insert.
MADE FOR DRUMS
my drums came alive , super sound warm, tone , all amazing
Gets Out Of The Way
Does everything I need perfectly. Quiet until high gain settings.
Perfect for my needs
Bought this preamp for my project studio because it was the right price for me for 2 channels. Previously I was using a UA solo 610, other than just going straight into the interface, and while that is a marvelous unit I needed 2 inputs to try some mid side recording with a AKG c214 and c414. This thing is a huge bang for the buck. It sounds very very good and easy to use. I only gave it a 4 because I havent had it long enough to explore all the possibilities it looks like it may provide.
The ISA two is a great unit. I am producing a singer/songwriter and using it for acoustic guitar(the z options were great for a ribbon on 12th fret) bass (electric jazz bass sounds great thru instrument in), percussion and vocals. Recording vocals with this is very nice. You can work the amount of clean/dirty with all the options. Plus it plays nice with my dbx160x via the insert, (ps-i love having an insert on/off button- great for a/b.) good work focusrite!
ISA Two stands it,s ground!
I have mic preamps that cost well over twice of what this one cost, but they don,t sound right on my voice for vocals. They are too colored! And, I wanted a cleaner, but not sterile sounding dual mono mic preamp for acoustic guitar and keyboards, etc. So I read a ton of reviews online, and liked what I read and decided to try this. So I called my sales engineer Matt Adams, and he said that I couldn,t go wrong, and he was right! The ISA Two, is perfect for my voice and sounds outstanding on acoustic guitar, and will work on any instrument, but what I really like is the variable impedance, high pass filter, and 80db of clean gain for ribbon and dynamic mics. And, it holds it own ground with other highend mic pres as well! A great value for sure. Thanks, Matt!
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.
Great transparent sound with just enough character
I have a small home studio and this is the perfect piece to get a good line level of basically any instrument. Every home studio should have this versatile piece.
This thing's wonderful - it's one of thos epieces of gear you "forget about" in a good way - it does its job, sounds great, and suits a lot of applications. I've been using mine for vocals and stereo drum overheads more than anything - just excellent, especially considering the price point. Won't be going anywhere anytime soon!
This thin is great whether you use it for your kick, snare, vocal or guitar man this thing can deliver that warm sounding studio quality you are looking for and to get a little bit of that history with a neve design product!