Preamps: Focusrite ISA


Rupert Neve is probably the most well-known designer of pro audio hardware of all time, with more than half a century’s legacy of the most sought-after hardware to his name. In the mid-1980s, he had sold the original Neve company and founded Focusrite, designing the ISA 110 Preamp/EQ module for Sir George Martin’s Air Montserrat studio. This design would then be used as the backbone of the Forte recording console, of which there were only two produced: one of them would go to Electric Lady in New York City. After financial troubles and a company purchase by the former founder of Soundcraft, Focusrite took the ISA 110 in the early 1990s and built the Studio Console, which is still considered one of the best-sounding recording consoles ever made. With 6 out of the original 10 surviving, it’s certainly one of the most exclusive.

The ISA 110 Pre/EQ and 130 Compressor/Gate modules have been repackaged and cloned many times, but the preamp design has remained popular for its fantastic sound quality. ISA430 Mk.II is a 2RU package combining the functions of the 110 and 130 into a channel strip, with EQ and compressor/gate/DeEsser sections that can be separated from the internal circuit flow to be used as hardware inserts. ISA Two is a pair of ISA preamps with HPF and Inserts.