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Focusrite ISA 828 or Focusrite Octpre Mk2/Universal Audio 2-610

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by kmetal, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I know this post will reflect personal preference (if anyone replies), and i will use mine when i go to the store and listen to my reference disc.

    My small, 2 room project studio/live recording rig is due for a mic pre upgrade. It consists of M-Audio 1814, ART Pro MPA 2, Tascam 424 mk2 (6 channels, 4 tracks), 414 XLS, Sm 57, Nady Drum mic set. Mackie Hr 828 Mk 2, and a couple other budget rack eq's, efx units. There are Rockwool panels/ Uhaul padded blankets (ceiling, backwall) in the 'RFZ' control room (12'x13'), and 64 s.q.f of Aurelex wedgies in live room (12'x26'). These pre-existsing rooms were built using no isolation/techniques.

    I need an 8 channel lightpipe pre to make use of my interfaces adat ports, and will love the color that a higher end tube pre will offer me. My budget for this upgrade is between $2-3K. I will be patient if i try something that blows these out of the water for around $1k more.

    In use: I intend to market my registered sound business to area bands of any style. I expect to record in my studio, at bar/club gigs, practice spaces (quick, 8-10 hr. demo style sessions).

    The Question: Is 8 channels of ISA giong to benefit my business more than 8 channels octo/ 2 channels 610?

    Concerns: Thin/cheap sound quality, Spending ALOT more for not much more benefit on a 8ch workhorse pre, being a paid "professional" and showing up w/ a 4 track/M-audio interface for sessions.

    I appreciate anyone who replies to this longwinded post any options suggestions will be thought about.
  2. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    That's a tough situation, IMO.
    I own the ISA 428, and truly enjoy it. With that thought, I'd recommend the 828.
    The problem w/ the Octo is that the pres don't stack up to some other Focusrite stuff.
    They're nice, but they don't wow.

    And you still have the issue of the M-Audio interface.
    My suggestion is to get an RME FF800 for your interface (~$1600-1700). I've got my finger on the trigger for one now.
    Search around here, and you'll see the praises this unit gets.
    Then get the 610. That raises your budget several hundred, but might be the best compromise.

    I think you're better off w/ something like the RME as your interface, and adding a couple of channels of "boutique" pres over time.
    Start w/ the 610, then add something like Great River and API. If you don't want the color, you've always got the very nice pres in the FF800.
    I can't say that I've had much experience w/ any of these high-level pres - but I'm looking at similar things myself and have done my homework to this point.
    This is the way I would go (am going), and it seems it may fit your needs as well.
    I'll defer to any w/ more expertise.

    Of course, all of this is dependent on what you intend to record?
  3. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your thoughts soap (can i call you that?)

    My ART is "nice, but doesn't wow", at this point i am looking to put more "pro" into my Pro-jects. The music scene around my town of New Bedford (40 min. South of Boston, MA) is mainly Rock (ala shinedown), Metal (ala Death, Metallica), Hip Hop (ala Eve, Jadakiss) or Jazz (ala John Schofield, "Big Band"). Most of my cleints won't come to me for jazz/classical projects, simply because i don't have the facility (room,mics,clean pre's) to suit them right now. I hope to serve 5-6 piece bands of any style, Singer/songwriters, Solo singers. Bear in mind that i am i musician of sorts (guitar 12yrs.) and have dabbled in keys, drums, ect. This is partly why my mic pre budget is low. Live recording is my potential niche. Hence the need for 8 channels adat.
    The RME stuff has what seems like a flawless reputation on RO and i have researched it. (lol) After i had my a** reamed by a moderator for not putting it as a consideration for an "around" $1000 interface. I would not purchase any other interface besides that, BUT... i like/am very comfortable w/ the Pro Tools (academic 7.3cs5) software, not the prices. I could always use RME/cubase, then edit/mix in PT, but i'd still be stuck w/ low end interface. Switching editing software is not a consideration right now, i spent the past two years and counting, getting decent w/ it. My next jump up will be a used 002r (if super cheap) or used HD 1 (if um, affordable). PT/No PT aside.

    Does ISA have that WOW factor to you Soapfloats, anyone else? Compared to what? The True Precision 8 was a STRONG contender, but lacked my requirement of adat outs.

    The 610 will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine (Waynes's World anyone?). I feel like i'm shortchanging my clients if i put them through an octo, but my own $ shortchange eliminates marketing more than 2-6 channels at a time (Patience?). As far as API, i have a unit i can rent time w/, as well as an Urei La2, and DBX 160 (Not 160a). My current recordists are a folk songwriter, and Soul/Gospel type singer.

    I started recording for a hobby in 1999 and it snowballed into my carrer pusuit in 2009. I have a weekend bartending gig at a nightclub, which i have not only rewired their system (longer story), but meet new potential clients weekly.
  4. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    The difference between ISA and Platinum series Focusrite is literally night and day.. The 828 gives you what you are looking for by simply screwing it down in the rack and pushing 'Go' when the recording starts.

    I think if you look at this as a business track, the upgrade of number of quality channels is your first priority live with the interface being next and then a boutique channel or two. Maybe room for a mic upgrade (the dynamics of the drum kit). You are on the right track and the 8 channels of front end brings your ability to do live up to a point of returns for the budget, for the rest of the plan.
  5. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Points well taken,

    It seems to be much more sensible to upgrade interface and drum mics before purchasing a boutique pre. Glad i checked w/ RO first. The purchase of Isa 828, better interface, mics, should be a better short and long-term investment, in my case. It allows me better quality faster, and the appropriate amount of time to try out $1k per channel pre's. Thanks.

    Here is a list of potential workhorse drum mics i was thinking of, as funding allows: D 112, Sm 57, (4) Md 421's, (pair of) 451's? Sm 81's? Km 184's?. New heads on drums! (priceless)

    From my research/experience (Howard Massey's "Behind The Glass" included), this seems to be a typical setup.
    For around $2k this seems like a ridiculously good step up from Nady kit. Opinions Welcome.
  6. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Thanks for mentioning the drum mics Dave.
    I left them out b/c the post was more about pres/interfaces.
    It was also the glaring defect to me (I've owned some of the current drum mics, leave it at that).

    To the OP -
    Sometimes I forget about the PT limitations on interfaces.
    And you can call me Soap. I've been called worse.
    Like Dave alluded to, no, the 428 doesn't "wow". But it gives me 4 channels of quality preamps above my stock interface ones.
    I especially like the gain setup and options for impedance, phase reversal, and low-cut filter. I prefer to take care of potential issues as early as possible.
    Plus, the impedance and gain setup lend well to ribbon mics.
    Again, much better than the interface I own.
    I also have a Sytek for a little more color.
    Like I said, things like the API 3124+ and other high-end pres are on the list.

    You can't go wrong with that mic list.
    I use a 52 on the kick and 414s as OHs, b/c they are what I have...
    and what you mentioned might be the only changes I would make to my typical drum setup.
    Can't get enough 57s and 421s.... they're great on so many sources!
  7. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    FWIW I'd like to add, the 828's ADC outperforms the 1814's by far. Clock the 1814 externally taking advantage of that and your sound will improve to even closer "pro" levels. I love the 1814 and know from personal experience that improving clocking (by internal mod or external device) makes a night and day difference. You'll experience enhanced performance in terms of clarity and dimension. The 828 is a nice choice. Look at all those beautiful Lundahl tranny's you get. :0)

    P.S. the next addition you might consider could be an external DAC box for heightened clarity in mixing. Just a thought.
  8. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    The OP might consider the option of recording with something like the FF800 and then importing those tracks into PT. For listening/monitoring purposes he can send the 2626 into the FF800 via ADAT to utilize the far superior converters and more importantly the superior analog circuitry.

    FWIW I love the True 8. A set of 8 preamps no one has mentioned yet but are very good quality for the price, is the Onyx 800R. It fulfills your requirements very ably other than a big wow name factor. Sonically they are very respectable and have ADAT and AES/EBU output.
  9. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    Seemed like the OP had narrowed it down to a personal choice otherwise I would have mentioned it too. I totally agree the True 8 is a real gem. Detail and dimension that's just hard to come by in that price range. Very very sweet. And made right here in beautiful Tucson, AZ. A friend of mine rocks these clocked by an Antelope OCX and his tracks are amazing. I can't believe the capture he gets on his Larrivee with this setup. Talk about "wow" factor.
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Yeah, they're great (True). The problem is with his M-Audio 2626 they would be wasted.
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies,
    I have strongly considered (but not mentiontioned) the True 8 with all the others. They don't have the adat out's i need to take advantage of my limited FW1814. Based on their rep around RO seems like a "can't go wrong choice". Given my varied clientel it would make sense to have such a nice "True" sounding pre.
    Interesting davedog, that you bring up DAC ( i honestly know little about them, beyond their function. will research.) because the salesperson i deal w/ constantly tries to sell me one. I'm aware it is an integral part of the chain, but i have bypassed it because i lack pre's. I like the fact that the 828 will offer some ADC. And i am drooling at a possible DIY upgrade to my 1814. I have a close friend who uses the digi 002 and i feel like our recordings are fairly competitive (he's got better rooms, i have more years "clocked in" hehe.) It seems the converters will be a weak point in either one.
    Attack, Onyx, considering i own Mackie HR's, recommend them as bang for the buck, and am ok w/ the quality of the 6 ch. Mackie submixer at the club (i work at), i feel like a snob not considering them. They might be my ticket, for a low price 8 channels, w/ money left over towards all the other quality gear i need. I don't want to outgrow my 8 channel pre anytime soon. i appreciate your workaround invlovling the FF880, but i feel like more investment in M-audio could be money spent/saved for higher end or more productive stuff. i guess i gotta try the RME line, cuz it's good reputation certianly prececedes it. if nothing else it will give me a great reference to go by.
    Soap i have never heard of "sytek" but i just googled it. i love my 414 and use it for most of my condenser needs. i purchased an AT 3035, NT-1a, as my first two condensers. About 6 months later i finally got the 414, and a use them sparsely. also used the 52 but found it boomy. as a fan of shure, i feel it merits more trial than a rushed demo session. (i.e slap it up, get level, record, to 4 trk cassete.)
    Well, so much food for thought i'm feeling stuffed, seems like i have alot of combinations to try before making my offer to the man. any more points in the right direction are welcomed. My main concerns now are 8 more channels, converters and/or interface, Kick/Overhead mics. I would like to see some of my current eqiupment get some more hours (help pay for them selves) while not skimping the people paying their hard earned money. I've still got a lot to learn in this musical life and don't want to cut corners/ or bite more than i can chew. But i've heard "magic". Music has certainly raised my hairs, and for me anyway, it doens't always come from the expected places. RO RULES!
  12. CoyoteTrax

    CoyoteTrax Well-Known Member

    kmetal, have you considered integrating the A&H ZED R16 as a solution?

    You get 16 pristine mic pre's (I have a ZED and am 100% in love with the pre's), extremely transparent EQ, ADAT ports and FW connections. Your interface issue would be resolved as well as your limitations with quality ADAC. The ZED converters are actually very nice and IME are comparable in quality to BLA's ADAC. You would be able to connect directly to your DAW while monitoring from the board, and in mix sessions monitor OTB. Just a thought, it's within your budget.
  13. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    any money spent on m-audio would be more productively spent on RME

    do it. RME and fewer,better pres.

    if you turn up with RME, few will realize how good it is. if you turn up with m-audio, most will feel they coulda done it themselves.

    just my $0.02 but i don't think recording via a non-PT interface and then dumping into PT is as much of a hassle, as to ignore the core of your system which will be D/A converters. once you have the RME you can chuck quite a lot of your gear for $. and it will do you for years and years and years. money on more m-audio is diminishing returns for you here.

    not getting you here, what would be the low end interface? the D/A back out?

    and do take a look at seventh circle audio. bit more time-intensive, but time is money, and i'm amazed more people don't evangelise them here on RO
  14. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    kmetal -

    Didn't mean to disparage the 414s. I also love mine. #1 condenser in my closet at a good 3:1 ratio.
    Just saying that if I were to make another choice for OHs, the mics you mentioned would be leading candidates.

    And while I don't (yet) own the RME, it is first on my list.
    Let me briefly explain:
    I own a LOT of Presonus stuff. For the buck, it's pretty nice gear. I promote the FS 26/26 as it has served me well (mostly) and I love the I/O options.
    However, every so often I have to purge my machine of anything Presonus and reload it.
    Usually when a client is in house.
    I've only managed to get my 2 Digimax's to sync to the FS for one day.
    Clocking issues, stuff going out. Problems.
    Mostly, great stuff - but not pro quality.

    I think I am in a similar situation to you.
    While my primary concern is my project studio, some of the other engineers I work with and I are also seriously considering doing 16ch live audio / video.
    Either way, my weakest link is the interface.
    Yeah, my control room sucks. Yes, my monitors are bleh. But I learn quickly, b/c I have to do everything myself.
    And the one thing I've learned is this:
    If I'm going to be a professional, I have to have gear I can count on.
  15. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    LMAO....we can't even get people to see the benefit of buying quality once rather than some cheap POS and wasting their money many times over! 7th Circle does get mentioned as well as general lunchbox solutions but you're right, probably not as often as they could be.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    A&H considered as great live board for under $4k. Clean,workable, if i have to pack up a board each weekend, it directly competes w/ Mackie in my opinion. Clean, 32 channels, Direct outs, 6 aux sends. Mics, pre's,cables to connect a couple sends, working (potentiall rig). I don't want to confuse "live reinforcement" rig w/ "live recording"

    I'm tired this time, i have a lot to think about and well, I don't want to put something stupid.
    I will try to give a quick one...

    RME converters must make a huge diff

    I never saw discouragement to 414, nobody has said it's useless.

    i'm on an restoration job, as well as build job. (i consider myself grateful, but i'm tired now)

    Will Most def. pick up convetrsations where you (thankfully) left them.
    Just need time to take Care. Quality over quanity. (done)

    Will observe posts in detail, just done for now.

    Thanks ALL.

    Hopefully i have more tooffer . just beat friday march 5th 6:53 am
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Quick post. True 8 was strongly considered. No adat outs. Sound quality of True 8 has great acclaim around RO. Will use as a "True" reference verses all others i try, before i buy. Will spend more time on further replies, just tired. (need to continue studio build @ 11 AM Today)
    I've got a lot tof posts respond to. Just gimmie a Day/or 2. I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Just would rather reply intelligently, than quickly. Happy Recording!
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    As i continue to reply to myself... "toofer" is that some sort of a lapdance?...

    In the interest of buying once i have completeley outruled m-audio. I will not buy a boutique pre right away either. I love the idea of all those transformers in the 828, and wonder if i could swap some out. (will research).
    RME is strongly considered, but after an 8ch Adat pre. Return on investment. Even with the purchase of the FF800, i'd still need the pre. This prohibits new mics, outboard converters. i understand outboard converters may not be impreritive w/ FF800.
    After all replies my purchase list goes: 8 ch. pre, Drum Mics, Interface/Converters. This seems a practical buy-in to live recording setup. Not an "end-all" but functional. If i strike a "good deal", or hear a "great piece" of equipment, i could sway. The preceeding will be my current guideline along w/ research. Rock On!
  19. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    RME Octamic II would give you 8 mic/line preamps with either ADAT out or AES/EBU or SPDif out. You can upgrade your interface later when you have more cash. I'd have other pre suggestions except for the whole ADAT requirement and the spending plan/budget limitation. The Onyx 800R isn't made anymore so that's out.
  20. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'm with John on this one. Lack of digital outs puts several rather good devices on a back burner. True is inclusive....A sleeper , no longer made, but decent quality without digital outputs was the Presonus M80. Decent out of the box and the chips are socketted in these. Put your own choice in and enjoy the benefits of being able to upgrade a factoey installation....kinda says something about the philosophy of the company at the time.....Dont know if its carried on to now....Onyx....also in this catagory.

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