Focusrite Mic Pre Masters ISA

Recording Ajimal with the ISA

To celebrate our 25th Anniversary in 2014, we ran a ‘dream recording’ competition offering an artist the opportunity to record a track with Grammy award-winning producer Guy Massey (The Beatles, Manic Street Preachers, Ed Sheeran) at the world-famous Air Studios. Guy chose Ajimal, the musical guise of Newcastle-born artist Fran O’Hanlon, as the winner (the recording session can be seen here). Since then, Fran and Guy have continued to work together, and they recently recorded Fran’s stunning piano-accompanied track It’s Real at Snap Studios in London.

Guy recorded Fran’s vocals with the ISA 430 MkII – a complete channel strip with EQ and compression as well as the classic heritage ISA mic pre. The dynamics and sophistication of the human voice are notoriously difficult to record, with its extensive dynamic range, attack and decay. It’s thus an ideal way to show off the sound of this landmark mic pre. Here’s Guy to tell us more about the recording process.

ISA – Focusrite’s Heritage Sound

The ISA range is an enduring feature of Focusrite’s product line, with an input-transformer-based design that goes back to the foundation of the company and the original Input Signal Amplifiers (aka mic preamps) created by Rupert Neve for Sir George Martin 30 years ago. This design formed the basis of the acclaimed Focusrite Red series that was the foundation of today’s ISA range. The interaction between a microphone and the transformer input stage is the key to the ISA’s sound, and the inclusion of a variable input impedance allows the ISA to capture the character of a vintage mic or the accuracy of a modern one.

With ISA, it’s real

In our on-screen mixer below is an excerpt of Ajimal’s It’s Real, for which the vocals were recorded with the ISA 430 Mk II.

We’ve broken the song down into three “stems” or submixes, which you can hear individually by soloing them with the (S) button, or drop them out with the mute (M) button. To play the complete excerpt again, just stop and hit play. And create your own mix using the faders on the left.

Listen in particular to the warmth and dynamics and the air around the vocal during this deeply evocative song. The ISA is able to bring out all the character of a vintage microphone while at the same time delivering the clarity and accuracy of which a modern mic is capable.

Please allow time for the tracks to load before you listen to them. The lossless, CD quality versions are larger in size and therefore take longer to load than the compressed .mp3 versions below. To listen to the lossless files, click on the button at the top of the player.