I love the Focusrite ISA One mic preamp. I’ll explain why. Yes, it’s derived from a classic Rupert Neve design. Yes, it’s engineered in the UK. But moreover, in the 6 years I’ve owned mine, it’s proved itself to be a very, very good mic preamp for the voiceover studio. It’s always sounded great paired with my Neumann TLM 102 and Aston Spirit mics, but it was with my recent acquisition of the mighty Neumann U87ai mic that the ISA really showed its metal. The U87 is a well-balanced, full-bodied sounding mic, but it doesn’t massively enjoy being shouted at in high-energy reads. It can get peaky. However plugging it in to the ISA resulted in a lovely smoothing effect, thanks to that creamy Lundahl input transformer. Through the ISA, my U87 has a full, smooth, airy tone – yet remains clean, natural and transparent. The switchable impedance settings on the ISA also allow you to dial in some subtle changes in tone.
It sounds excellent, looks like a piece of quirky retro laboratory equipment, and with it’s punchy headphone amp, high pass filter and switchable impedance settings, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the ISA One for the voiceover studio.