August 11, 2007

Focusrite ISA 828... Mmmmmm...

by Chris Randall

I first saw murmurings about this almost a year ago, and it was vaporish until about 3 months ago, but lo and behold, here it comes. This is an 8-channel mic pre is the current object of my desiring. There are some things about it that are really cool, and some that are annoying. For instance, the A/D section is really cool. But WTF with using a DSUB output for the digital? I'm not sure if they got the memo at Focusrite, but a DSUB digital connection is 2-way. As a result, if I wanted to connect this directly to my Lynx card, I'd need the following contraption: DSUB to XLR AES snake, and AES to Lynx header, and I'd have four AES connections just hanging out there. This is, IMO, kind of dumb, as those snakes aren't cheap.

But that said, I can live with that, I think, you sexy little blue thing, you. No price yet, and if it's not cheaper than an ISA 428, it's sunk before it even left the starting gate. Product page is here.



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Aug.11.2007 @ 2:49 PM
No way it will be cheaper,
the 424 was'nt much of a hit,
Is the pre design inspireed/based on or an exact copy of their original neve designed consoles?
Their big old consoles were considered to be top notch back then competing with API and SSL.

Aug.11.2007 @ 3:23 PM
Chris Randall
I did a couple tracks in a room that had a Focusrite desk back in the day. The main memory I have is of getting bruises on the front of my thighs from leaning over to get to the pres. Those consoles were _BIG_.

That said, I think you mean "428." There is, to the best of my knowledge, no such thing as a 424. But that quibble aside, and whether they're popular or not, they're quite good mic pres. Speaking strictly to the 428, I'm not aware of a four-pre package that is better quality for the price ($1700 or thereabouts.) Now, the 828 obviously has four more pres in it; one would assume they're effectively the same thing. But it doesn't have those honking big meters, which _had_ to be a big portion of the cost of the 428. Same A/D, I assume. But then again, there are four more input trannies and four more output trannies, which may negate the savings from the meters. _IF_ the price of the 828 is in the same ballpark as the 428, they have a winner.

Their material says it is the cheapest cost-per-channel Focusrite pre. Obviously, the cost-per-channel of the 428 is $425. Let's assume for a second that the cost-per-channel of the 828 will be $350. That'd make it $2800. With Focusrite diluting their name with low-end bullshit, I don't think it'd fly at that price. It's gotta be lower than that. I'm gonna guess $2500 street.



Aug.11.2007 @ 6:40 PM
i worked in a studio that had a couple racked IAS 110's from a focusrite console. the pre's were nice the eq's were nice. they were expensive then. so, if these sound as good as those and are built well then it should be a nice package and lot's of people are looking for things like this as front ends to DAW's so who knows.. if sounds good it could be a hit. the hi res pics on the product page look good.

these will probably be made in china right? isn't that where all the focusrite stuff is made these days? but i guess everything we buy is made there anyways..


Aug.12.2007 @ 12:38 AM
D-Sub is way cheaper to implement than 8 XLR jacks. Also smaller. I'll bet they're going for a lower price than that.


Aug.12.2007 @ 1:00 AM
Chris Randall
It has 8 XLR for direct out. The DSUB is for the digital out. (Actually, there's a DSUB for analog out, as well.) That's why it doesn't make any sense. As I say, a DSUB digital connection is two-way, but this has only A/D, no D/A. So you're gonna have to waste half a snake.



Aug.12.2007 @ 1:50 AM
Actually, the 8 XLRs are mic inputs. The "eight line outputs" are also DSUB. Regardless, it still blows that you waste half an AES snake.

Aug.12.2007 @ 10:51 AM
to me Focusrite is sort of like lexicon - formerly revered, slipping into mediocrity.

for $1700 you can also get the SSL 4 pack..and for a couple hundred more the API (3124?)

I haven't used the 428 but when I was eyeing one for $1400 used, I couldn't get any of my engineer friends who'd used it to say something nice about it. This is presumably an even cheaper implementation.


Aug.12.2007 @ 11:18 AM
Make your own snake. CAT5 cable is 110 ohm and cheap. The American Idol remote truck uses it for AES.

Personally, I'd rather start an 500-series Lunchbox.


Aug.12.2007 @ 11:58 AM
I have a pair of ISA 110 modules that were pulled from the original consoles. I think they sound great. A good bit different than the the other stuff in my rack. (Daking, API, Quad Eight, etc) I think a straight pre without the high and low pass filters wouldn't be as useful to me. I'm also not sure anyone needs 8 channels of Focusrite sound. I find two channels enough for me, although I could see four channels coming in handy if you are recording a bunch of acoustic stuff.

Aug.12.2007 @ 1:23 PM
Aenemone Carbuncler
yeah, I was looking at/about to order the ISA428, I think I had a deal new for $1560... It's a great design functionally, but then started looking at all the comments about heat issues, and saw several with dead VUs, and they're Made in China... not as great of sound as the 110. My conclusion was that it's still nice for the price, but it my case I would probably be better off with two better channels. And then after finding out the Focusrite is made in china anyway I looked at the Chameleon Labs 7602, and got one on loan-- in a very strange great g-ctr experience. And love the EQ as well, so a pair of those. Not so relevent if you're looing for 4 or 8 channels in one box.. but I'm loving the C-Labs, it sucks that they're made in china, but about any other 1073 clone is 2-3+ times the price so that wasn't an option.

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