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ISA 215 - to buy or not to buy?
Old 19th June 2009
  #1
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ISA 215 - to buy or not to buy?

I found an ISA 215 in decent condition for $2500 (Canadian)... any information bout this units characteristics, reliability, repair costs, serviceability, would be greatly appreciated... Also is the price right?

I currently have API 3124, and Avalon 2022, is the ISA215 in a different direction? I'd like some different flavors (before I saw this piece I was thinking Aurora, Vintech, or maybe Chandler)

Regards, Soundawg.
Old 19th June 2009
  #2
Yes It's different direction, darker than the API and much darker than the 2022.
The eq is VERY NICE
Old 19th June 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
I found an ISA 215 in decent condition for $2500 (Canadian)... any information bout this units characteristics, reliability, repair costs, serviceability, would be greatly appreciated... Also is the price right?

I currently have API 3124, and Avalon 2022, is the ISA215 in a different direction? I'd like some different flavors (before I saw this piece I was thinking Aurora, Vintech, or maybe Chandler)

Regards, Soundawg.
From my experience, anything Focusrite ISA that is not made anymore is da bomb...obviously a real ISA110 is sorta like the golden boy. However for $2500 you can pack about 6 preamps of a variety of different flavors to your liking, probably more, of Seventh Circle Audio pres that you can build into one 2u rack.
Old 19th June 2009
  #4
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Thanks Musiclab, any comments on the price /reliability etc?

Slikjmuzik I'm really looking for nice stereo pre/eq solution... (different than the Avalon and API I have already)
Old 19th June 2009
  #5
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The EQ alone is worth the price of admission. Buy it.
Old 19th June 2009
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
Thanks Musiclab, any comments on the price /reliability etc?

Slikjmuzik I'm really looking for nice stereo pre/eq solution... (different than the Avalon and API I have already)
Oh ok, gotcha. What are your plans with then, tracking certain instruments or are you trying to run tracks or mixes through it?
Old 19th June 2009
  #7
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Right Syra, I have read the EQ is great on this piece and seen a few owners post they will not part with theirs... reliability though? 2500 for a 15-20 year old unit has me a little nervous.

Slikjmuzik I'll do whatever with it if it works well.
Old 19th June 2009
  #8
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Well, I own a 110 and I work out of a studio that has 4 of them and they all work great still.
Old 19th June 2009
  #9
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I know of a few people with a 215 that never had any issues whatsoever. I use the EQ more than the pre but that doesn't mean the pre is no good. It has the midrange of the API but its not as punchy. It has more low mids making it sound warmer and chunkier. The 2022 is pretty good but kinda boring IMO. I sold mine after 5-6 years of owning it. I don't see myself getting rid of the 215 anytime soon...
Old 19th June 2009
  #10
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I'll echo Syra's comments. About 10 years of use here with no repairs needed and no plans of selling it. Besides the eq I've made several very nice acoustic guitar albums with the pres and they are very solid. I do think the price is about $500 too high.
Old 19th June 2009
  #11
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I've had my ISA 115 for 20 years plus. Its been on every tracking date I've done in that time....usually on kick and snare.

Its just a great piece that works well on so many different things. when I first got it I felt that the pre was a bit bland, but as the years went by I realized that the pre is a perfect compliment to the EQ.

I paid 5K in 1988 to pry it from someone's hands. Some might say too much...but thats what they cost at the time. In retrospect I think I have gotten as much value out of this piece as I would have out of a 1073.
Old 19th June 2009
  #12
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MORE MORE
Old 19th June 2009
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
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OK!
On the negative side......are you aware that the 215 has no markings on the faceplate for the amount of cut/boost on the amplitude pots? Are you aware that the momentary switches for mic/line do not remember where they were last set after turning off?
There you go!

I still love it.
Old 19th June 2009
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
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Pray that the switches or knobs are not broken. Not only are they expensive, but they are made by one company in Switzerland and cannot be ordered direct. It has to be done through a sub company and pray that they have a larger order to do.

I just spent 3-4 months waiting on 9 broken switches.

They can easily break if the unit is dropped in shipping.

I must have been really lucky though...only spent $1300 on my 215 bought a couple of years ago from a pawn shop on Ebay. Its not a totally neutral or a colored mic pre, but more like clean with a slight hint of color. Works great on piano, vocals and acoustic guitars. The EQ's claim to fame are the shelves. One of the best on any EQ out there. Have never been a big fan though of the sweepable mid section though. The HP and LP filters can seem a little steep as well. A good unit.
Old 19th June 2009
  #15
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mmmmmmmmmmmm yes yes.... momentary switches for mic/line do not remember where they were last set..... hmmmm yes - but STILL love it - noted yes,,, thank you sir... still not fully sold on the 215... someone is going to have to convince me, or slap me and send me running.
Old 19th June 2009
  #16
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I bought mine for more than $2500 canadian... still worth every penny IMO.
Old 19th June 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Pray that the switches or knobs are not broken. Not only are they expensive, but they are made by one company in Switzerland and cannot be ordered direct...

...Have never been a big fan though of the sweepable mid section though. The HP and LP filters can seem a little steep as well. A good unit.
Yeeeesh is there a better recommended unit for a comparable price for me? 20 years is getting a little old maybe?

I really wanted to find a good strong (2ch) parametric eq I could really bend things with and a pre that has some new flavor I don't already have (maybe a little nevesque perhaps... I don't know - just different) but then I just saw this and wondered?
Old 19th June 2009
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
Yeeeesh is there a better recommended unit for a comparable price for me? 20 years is getting a little old maybe?
20 years?

Nah. Maybe in need of a recapping. The caps will go as well on these. Ask the person if all the switches are working and if there is any noises/scratchy pots.



Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
I really wanted to find a good strong (2ch) parametric eq I could really bend things with and a pre that has some new flavor I don't already have (maybe a little nevesque perhaps... I don't know - just different) but then I just saw this and wondered?
For the mic pres you got i would think something totally on the colored side would be a better compliment. Something with a ballsier EQ. If you need more precision in the mids you are in for a tough haul though.
Old 19th June 2009
  #19
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thanx thrill
Old 20th June 2009
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by soundawg View Post
Right Syra, I have read the EQ is great on this piece and seen a few owners post they will not part with theirs... reliability though? 2500 for a 15-20 year old unit has me a little nervous.
Plenty others of Rupert's designs are older than that and cost a lot more for only a single channel. Honestly that's a fair price and worth every penny. It's the kind of box that's made to last. Be gentle on the buttons however. If they break they'll be near-impossible to source. Sweeeet EQ on the 215.
Old 20th June 2009
  #21
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hi,

if you don't want it, where is it, please?



right.
Old 21st June 2009
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor View Post
Maybe in need of a recapping. The caps will go as well on these. Ask the person if all the switches are working and if there is any noises/scratchy pots.
Ding.

Those switches are a pain in the ass... The pots they used are cheap, and the PSU's can be problematic. I've seen some of these really beat to ****. I don't know why it is, but some of these were just totally abused.

Just be sure to check out the condition of the unit before buying it. $2500 is an average price for those. They shouldn't cost any more than that.
Old 21st June 2009
  #23
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If you are concerned about reliability maybe you could convince the seller to split the cost of sending it to Thermal Relief for a check up? If it hasn't been recapped it should be.

http://www.thermalrelief.com/

The older Focusrite stuff was built to last unlike their newer products. I don't think you would regret this purchase.

Take care,
Jared
Old 21st June 2009
  #24
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Thanx for all the advice on this guys, audioboy - I too was thinking about having it go in for a checkup and bartering for a better price depending on its status. Still I might just play it safe and buy new, last time I tried to save a few pennies on a deal it ended up costing me, and folks here are indicating this deal doesn't look like a huge savings.

I might be headed right back to the Aurora or Vintech.


...any opinions (looking for 2ch solid pres with nice workhorse eqs and trying to keep price reasonable ($3000ish)) if I should go for the GTQ2, or 2x X73i, or does the "i" not keep up and I need to get the 73 or 81?
Old 21st June 2009
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
Ding.

Those switches are a pain in the ass... The pots they used are cheap, and the PSU's can be problematic. I've seen some of these really beat to ****. I don't know why it is, but some of these were just totally abused.

Just be sure to check out the condition of the unit before buying it. $2500 is an average price for those. They shouldn't cost any more than that.
hi,

thank tony!

i mean, ahem, yes, i agree that sounds way overpriced, and it will fall apart immediately, and he should not buy it, but instead post its location.


right.
Old 21st June 2009
  #26
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LOL - I'm gonna still check it out oky**** - butif I decide against - you'll be the first to know.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyBelmont View Post
Ding.

... The pots they used are cheap, ...

Last time I looked, those same "cheap" Vishay plastic conduductive pots were used in SSL and Neve consoles. Oh but what do those companies know about good parts...

-Tony
Old 23rd June 2009
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmarra View Post
Last time I looked, those same "cheap" Vishay plastic conduductive pots were used in SSL and Neve consoles. Oh but what do those companies know about good parts...

-Tony


... and all the push buttons were made in Switzerland. Still doesn't mean they can't be a pain in the ass to replace, or aren't susceptible to wear.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #29
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I like 'em too. Very nice eq.
Don't like the pre on everything though. Not kick and snare. I use it a lot on rooms, guitars,..
Then again, someone else really liked it on kick and snare...
I really think it's not a lot money for two good pre's with eq!
Cheers,

F.
Old 23rd June 2009
  #30
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Alllllrighty guys, I picked it up and took it into a tech, we went through it fairly extensively and 'spec-wise' it appears to be in great condition.

Tech said the caps usually start to "hump up" or "get rounded" on top if they need replacing - but these look fine, still he said it would not be a terrible idea to replace them because of their age... and this preventative maintenance is relatively cheap.

Also good news is he does Focusright warranty work and thought he would have no problems getting in the new parts required.

A couple of the buttons and 2 pots will be replaced, and the seller agrees to pay the repair, so I have brought it home to see if I like the sound, thanx for all the help and recommendations, I will get back and let you know if I kept it.

Regards, Soundawg.
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