Focusrite ISA428, American Muscial Supply, ect.

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by MigrantRecords, Jul 1, 2005.

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  1. First, I want to reiterate what many have said about this does indeed kick much ass. I've read so much about so many of you, I feel as if I know some of you quite well just from checking out your comments, suggestions and (minor) arguments...!!

    Actually, I've been printing out several topics just so I can read them and highlight info I need. Don't worry, I recycle. And while I'm thinking about it, is there a printer-friendly function for the forum topics? If so, where is it? If not, I think it would be a good idea.

    Now, the actual topic: I'm starting a project studio to record myself and my friends, and maybe eventually even strangers. Who knows? I've heard a lot of good things about the Focusrite ISA 428 and I'm interested.

    I'm also interested in the Seb, (and the API, and the UA 4110, etc, but that's not feasable...yet)but the Focusrite has the HUGE advantage of being offered bu American Musical, which lets you split your payments into five equal ones. This feature is free, and is very helpful to poor schmucks like me.

    The question is: For the money, is getting the Focusrite wise? I want to use it primarily for that a good idea is well? I know I can search for "Focusrite" topics, and I have, but I'd feel better knowing what many of you think about this. I want to get equipment that I'll always keep and use...that is, once I upgrade to bigger better preamps, I'll still want to use the Focusrite. Is this relatively true?

    Thanks for the info, the opinions, and the constructive suggestions.

    ---Fred auf der Rockwells
    Migrant Records
  2. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Personally, I think the ISA 428 is a fine device. The sound is good and tight, the features are plentiful. I don't think it's up there with the likes of Hardy's stuff, etc. but for the dough, it's not a bad box.

    I'll go as far as to say that I think it's a rather good box. There are some questionable things re: construction, but not so much as you would find in their Platinum line or other "budget gear." (I wouldn't rank this in the budget gear header - perhaps mid-range gear - not cheap, not boutique.)

    My thoughts on this unit are - you can get some great sounds with it, the price is right for the quantity of pres and quality of pres and the A/D is one hell of a bonus!

    Sure, Sebatron's stuff is cool and for that matter, it's competitively priced with the ISA 428, but if you need to split the payments - you have two options -
    1. Buy the ISA and be happy in the knowledge that you got a good pre.
    2. Save for 5 months and get the Sebatron and be happy in the knowledge that you got a good pre.

    Ultimately, if you like it, don't worry about what people around here think about. Chances are, they're dreaming about the same gear you are.

  3. Thank you for your insight! I'm genuinely grateful.

    Any details on the constuctions issues...??

    I know this is not boutique-quality...but I like to think that maybe once I GET boutique-quality stuff, MAYBE it could be good enough for it all to work side by it good enough for that?

    Ehh. If it isn't, I can always sell it when the time comes... :)

    Thanks again!
  4. geckormf

    geckormf Guest

    I use it with the AD card and run more hi-end pres' (Manley and Langevin) into Channel 5-8. The conversion might not be as great as using some other name converters but till I can afford a Lavry or Crane Song, it'll have to do. The onboard pres are more than workable.
  5. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i find the best way to print anything on the web is if you use IE (which i do not recomend) just selectic press print and select the "print selected" option. if you dont use IE then just copy it in to a text editer.
  6. Thanks, Frob. I'll try that. :)
  7. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002

    Not to start any kind of argument, but how can you call the pres in the 482 "prosumer", or "budget" or "workable"?

    I got mine last month, and I've tracked several gigs with it. I'm impressed, because it really sounds like a box that costs twice its price. I have used several pres so far, high quality ones, and IMHO the 428 can be placed head and shoulders in pro level class, not prosumer or budget, I'd rather call it a bargain, albeit I acknowledge the fact that it's no boutique pre.
    I get the impression that those people that don't think it's a quality piece of gear maybe expected it to sound like a more colored API or Neve type preamp; well, that's not the case, it's a rather clean and natural preamp, but it's got lots of body and definition, it's not a plain vanilla or boring pre. I mostly track acoustic music, and I used it for my main stereo pair, piano, flute, drums OHs, toms...I had stellar results, particulary with the variable impedance feature that allows to match mics and preamp and have a more linear response from your mics (if you want it). Also, I think it depends on the kind of source music that it's used on: maybe not colored enough for metal or heavy rock, but for my jazz and acoustic or classical gigs it's perfectly fine.
    In the end I'm totally satisfied with mine, and I have no problems in recommending it for a first purchase for a project studio; the fact that it can be upgraded with a digital option and expanded with other 4 channels (of different flavors) thru the same converter is a real plus. Build quality is robust enough to put it in my rack and kick it around for remote the gigs I do.

    If needed I can post samples of some tracks recorded with it.

    Hope this helps

  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I don't think in the slightest that it's "Prosumer."

    I think it is a serious piece of pro gear. The quality of componentry (Caps, tranny's, power supply) are slightly better in the Hardy stuff and the "boutique" stuff, but the FR does a lot of things right for a great price. I'm considering adding one to my arsenal soon too.

  9. idiophone

    idiophone Guest

    I've used mine every day for over a year, and I really like it, save for one thing. Sometimes, the phantom power acts up. You'll put the +48v on a channel, and it won't register. It takes two minutes or so for the unit to realize that phantom's on, and then it "wakes up" with a loud pop. This is frustrating, especially in a fast-moving session (which is most sessions around my place).

    Other than that, I've had great sounds come out of it on vocals, and acoustic guitars. Do know, though that it doesn't sound good at all when pushed hard. The distortion is not pleasant at all.

    So I really like the box, all in all. I have the A/D converter, and it's good too.

  10. lorenzo gerace

    lorenzo gerace Active Member

    Jan 27, 2002
    That's good to know, but I suspect you may have a defective one: mine is OK with the 48V, never had any issues of solw ramp up or down, or sudden turn on.

    How do you like the AD option? I'm about to get one as well.

  11. LittleDogAudio

    LittleDogAudio Active Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    The 428 is a great sounding mic pre, period.

    That being said, you asked about it being a good choice on drums.

    "warning: subjective stuff ahead"

    I'm not a huge fan of the 428 on shells (kick/snare/toms) but on overheads and hat, it excels.

    I also love it on many acoustic sources (ac gtr/mando/upright bass/ect...)

    I feel for kick/snare/toms, there are better choise out there. I prefer API above all. Although I just got done tracking a great blues band and used a Vintech x73i on kick and snare and we where all very happy with the outcome.

    The 428 is a very useful pre to have and will excel on a ton of sources, but may fall short of your expectations as an "all-around" drum preamp.

    (end of subjective behaviour...)

  12. bslotte

    bslotte Guest

    I have had a couple of problems with my ISA 428's.

    The sound is good (and frankly, I think very many of these sonic differences between preamps are just a product of the mind - knowing how few people actually eliminate all the other unknowns when evaluating preamp sound!).

    But the problem is in the reliability. The unit consists of many circuit boards and connectors, which may fail. This happened to me once, I got unstable gain on one channel. It could change by about 3 dB on its own once in a while.

    I got it replaced, but I still seem to have the problem that I get strange short bursts of sounds a bit like when you say "toot!" with your lips almost totally closed. I don't know if these are due to the preamp or the converter card. It could be a heat problem too.
  13. itchy

    itchy Guest

    agreed. and i'm glad to hear someone else say this too, because I was close to thinking my unit wasn't calibrated properly. a compressor is necessary when tracking a dynamic vocalist.

    my isa 428 is my best piece of gear, hands down. It sounds great on just about anything to me, but maybe i'm just not spoiled by the boutiques yet :wink:

    however, i did get to compare it to BA-312 and thought it performed almost as well on vocals (BA's have a smoother sound up in the 3kHz-8kHz range), but that the 428's were much, much tighter on drums.

    as mentioned before though, this is a subjective argument!

    good luck,
  14. dudge

    dudge Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    I have the 428 with the ADC card. I also have four channels of Sebatron going into the ADC card. The 428's ADC card is running into the ADAT port on my MOTU 828Mkll (a great interface for Mac, with four zero latency monitor mixes) .

    I like the ISA 428 on vox, acoustic, etc.
    On drums I prefer the Seb on overheads and the ISA on snare.
    Kick and toms could be ISA or Seb.
    Guitar amps and vox could be either also.

    The Seb softens harsh transients and has a nice fat sound.
    The 428 doesn't compress transients like the Seb and is cleaner, but still a little colored.

    The ISA 428 and the Sebatron vmp4000e are two of the great bargains in the world of better preamps. They are not rack crap.

    Shure I would love to have some API and Neve, or Great River, but the eight channels that I have do the job well, compliment each other well, and are all I really need.

    So, yeah I agree that the ISA 428 is a good deal and a good preamp.
  15. So...still more opinions. All of ya'll have very thoughtful responses. I really appreciate it. Hopefully it'll help others in my position to make decisions best for them. I'm gettin' the 428. When the time comes, I'll get the API. For now, I'll be happy with my FR, thanks to ya'll.

    Thanks again! Any additional opinions are welcome! Take care.
  16. Aziel

    Aziel Guest

    i think u have a little problem with your unit...thats not normal...i never had that weird behavior from the the way, its a great unit... :wink:

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