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Focusrite ISA428 thoughts? Dual-Channel Preamps
Old 19th September 2005
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Focusrite ISA428 thoughts?

Has anybody had much experience with the Focusrite ISA 428? Specifically with the A/D card?
I'm a keyboard player who has been doing more and more sessions at home, so it would mainly be for recording B3, Wurlitzer, analog synths, etc. and as a generic front end to a DAW. I don't really have any dillusions of getting the perfect vocal sound from it, but it is more attractive than some of the 2 channel competitors for multi-miking a Leslie cabinet. Any thoughts are welcome, and TIA.
Old 19th September 2005
  #2
Gear Head
 

Don't have the A/D card, but I love the 428. It actually works surprisingly well on some vocals.

I've tried using it as a DI for keyboards, but I wasn't really impressed. However using it on acoustic instuments is where it really shines.
Old 19th September 2005
  #3
Lives for gear
 
True North's Avatar
 

I have 2 x 428's but I don't use the D/A. A lot of people on this and other forums seem to hate the newer , chinese made, Focusrite products but I really like my ISA 428's. They are great sounding mic pres with excellent sonic and functional flexibility. If I had to get extremely picky they are a tad thin in the lower end but they are still great sounding pre's.
Old 19th September 2005
  #4
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5down1up's Avatar
 

had it here a few times and compared it with some others ,
very nice preamp
the ad cards i dont know !
Old 19th September 2005
  #5
Gear Addict
 
Reggie Love's Avatar
 

I use an ISA 428 with the AD card mainly with Geffell or Neumann mikes.

The Pres are very nice. When I did my listening before buying I listened to:-

DAV Electronics BG2 - This was better in my opionion in terms of the way pres handled things but I had a budget and couldn't really run to the separate AD.

Neve 1073 DPD - This was really at the top of my range amd I really liked it but I was really looking for a four way unit to give me a few more miking options. Interestingly enough I slightly preferred the BG2 in terms of the kind of pre sound I like.

Plus, of course, the Focusrite. Nice pres with the line in and Instrument DI. Nice options in terms of the highpass filter and impedence matching / (mismatching)... I run the Card into the back of my soundcard via optical ADAT with a wordclock connection for stability. Using ASIO drivers I am getting good results with no audible jitter problems, although in truth my work doesn't involve me having to use particulalry high sample rates where jitter could be more of an issue.

I guess the plus with the AD card if you find it works for you is you get four extra channels to plug other pres and strips into... which is nice...
Old 19th September 2005
  #6
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Jamz's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggie Love
I use an ISA 428 with the AD card mainly with Geffell or Neumann mikes.

The Pres are very nice. When I did my listening before buying I listened to:-

DAV Electronics BG2 - This was better in my opionion in terms of the way pres handled things but I had a budget and couldn't really run to the separate AD.
Who handles the DAV Electronics stuff?
Old 19th September 2005
  #7
Gear Addict
 
Reggie Love's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamz
Who handles the DAV Electronics stuff?
If you email Mick at [email protected], he is the guy who designed them and builds them by hand... He has a stateside distributor but my contacts are with the UK distributor who I've dealt with direct in the past when I've wanted a listen... heh
Old 19th September 2005
  #8
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Jamz's Avatar
Reggie.
In the States would be easiest for me.
I'll use the link you posted.

Cheers
Jim
Old 19th September 2005
  #9
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Reggie Love's Avatar
 

Jim

That would almost certainly be easiest and I believe Mick offers a better deal on price in the US... Lemme know what you think of the pre is you get a mo...
Old 19th September 2005
  #10
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Jamz's Avatar
Thanks Reggie
Will do.

I just shot Dave an email.

Jim
Old 19th September 2005
  #11
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Doublehelix's Avatar
 

I have had an ISA428 unit for about 1 - 1.5 years or so, and I'd have to say that it fits in the "good for money" category

A nice pre, but doesn't compare with some of the real high-end stuff, nor should it considering its price.

I have not tried the A/D card, but the mic pres are fairly "serviceable", and will work in a variety of places. There is lots of gain, plus the variable impedence, which makes them nice for ribbons.

Personally, I think they sound a bit "thin" compared to some of my other pres (API, Great River, Telefunken...).
Old 19th September 2005
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Reggie Love's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doublehelix
I have had an ISA428 unit for about 1 - 1.5 years or so, and I'd have to say that it fits in the "good for money" category

A nice pre, but doesn't compare with some of the real high-end stuff, nor should it considering its price.

I have not tried the A/D card, but the mic pres are fairly "serviceable", and will work in a variety of places. There is lots of gain, plus the variable impedence, which makes them nice for ribbons.

Personally, I think they sound a bit "thin" compared to some of my other pres (API, Great River, Telefunken...).
Hey DH!

How are you?

Reg heh
Old 19th September 2005
  #13
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Doublehelix's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggie Love
Hey DH!

How are you?

Reg heh
Uh...great! Do I know you from another life? Hehe...
Old 19th September 2005
  #14
Gear Addict
 
Reggie Love's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doublehelix
Uh...great! Do I know you from another life? Hehe...
Well if that is a well thumbed British ProAudio magazine forum type thingy life, there is a strong possibility...
Old 19th September 2005
  #15
Gear Nut
 
ekimeno's Avatar
 

Doublehelix - I think you've found a groupie.
Old 19th September 2005
  #16
Gear Addict
 
Reggie Love's Avatar
 

Just a country boy on tour
Old 19th September 2005
  #17
Lives for gear
I have owned the 428 for about a year or so (probably up for sale soon :-). I wanted to see how my preamps stood up to many that get praise here and have been doing some comparisons between it and the other pres I own, PV VMP-2, Avalon 737, two Joemeek VC1's , an original Joemeek"brick" (the joemeeks (in my opinion :-) are really in a lower league than the rest and will not be mentioned again here :-) WITH two new candidates MP2NV and Portico 5012. In my listening tests so far using Ac Guitar (kind of James taylor/whindam hill style) and male Vocals (in the vein of James Tayolor/John Mayer ) the 428 has come up last each time. For me the words are, cloudiest, muddiest, least amount of depth and detail (not by huge amounts but certainly apparent). Now, the 428 doesn't sound bad by any means (far better than the meeks) but IMHO (in these tests) it is just not as pleasing as the others. FWIW, the 737 came in 2nd to last where as the other three I find more comparable to each other yet totally different. I never used the digital part so I can't speak to this.

YM(will)V
Best of luck,
-Lee
Old 20th September 2005
  #18
Lives for gear
 

I bought an ISA 428 when they first came out and owned it a few years. I liked it on many sources. I did not use the ADC, sorry.

No, it is not an in-your-face dominant preamp sound, it is sort of refined and almost classy sounding. Worked well with acoustic guitar in my experience, can give a light "chorus" sound with stereo mics. Good for airy female vocals too. The variable impedance plays a big part in its tone with many mics.

I would have liked to have kept the 428 just for occasional use of its fairly unique sound, but needed the $ to fund other more exotic preamps. I think it's a good cost-effective choice for a basic preamp, especially if you just want an overall generic, musical sound.

Steve
Old 20th September 2005
  #19
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the1Hub's Avatar
 

i have a couple isa428's. and i have the ADC option. ive had them for 2+ years
the word i would use to describe the pre is smooth. it really just keeps its cool under alot of diffrent sources. it dose not over react to any source that you give it. i like it best on toms, kick and snare, most guitars and bass. its sounds ok for some vox. the pre is loaded with features that are very usefull like the balenced insert points, varible impedence, hi pass filter and front panel instrument ins. the VU's are fast and easy to see from a distance.

the adc card is great if you need a good sounding converter without spending an arm and a leg. its very clean and has tons of head room. its also use full that it can accomidate 4 additional inputs beyond the 4 chs of the pre itself. but one of the coolist features of the card is the soft limiter circut. these things sound great. you can push them really hard and they just get warm sounding.

one thing to be aware of is that the adc card can over heat. ive only had it happen one time ever, but it makes the card unseable. it cause the clock to jitter. (pll problem?) the pres are not effected by the heat. it takes about ten minutes for the card to cool down with the power off. it dosnt happen vary much (1 time in 2 years of almost daily use) but its kind of anoying. just keep good air flow and things are fine.

for refrence i also use the follwing pres regulary as well. (in no particular order)
langevin dual vocal
bae 312
avalon 737
audio upgrades high speed pre
millenina media hv3
dbx 386
apex 207

the isa ranks in the top third of the list as far as overall usefullness and quality for the stuff ive been recording lately
Old 20th September 2005
  #20
Gear Maniac
I also considered an ISA 428 but the Portico was a greater investment, since I didn't need 4 preamps. Also the Portico is a different class and offers more options with the broad low pass filter and the silk function to create a different, more vintage sound
Old 20th September 2005
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Doublehelix's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reggie Love
Well if that is a well thumbed British ProAudio magazine forum type thingy life, there is a strong possibility...
REG!!! What's up bro??? Hehe...good to see you around these here parts! I didn't recognize the "Reggie Love" moniker at first, but I gotcha now!
Old 21st September 2005
  #22
Lives for gear
 
kudzu's Avatar
 

ISA 428 + AD card clocked to a Big Ben (Api 3124 into xtra 4 ADs) for nearly 2 years here....done loadsa recordings...itsa great 8 pre, 8 AD set up for under £5,000 (UK)....served me very well..... thumbsup
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