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  1. #11
    CoolCat's Avatar
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    Neve, Focusrite Ltd and Focusrite Audio Engineering ltd.

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    Here's some blast from the past....
    Focusrite Ltd.

    Far Right: Focusrite Ltd ISA 110 Series
    Right: Focusrite Master Rock Studio Console

    In 1985 Rupert and Evelyn Neve incorporated a new company called Focusrite Ltd. A new modern range of outboard equipment was launched to meet the demands of the studios such as rack mounted Equalizers and Dynamics processors, microphone and line driving amplifiers.

    Under enormous pressure to go into mixing consoles again and with many promises of support and investment from friends in the industry, Focusrite Ltd. accepted orders for eight monster sound control consoles. Though the audio part of the design was complete and proven, the digital control side of the design (outside Rupertís field of expertise) ran into delays. The company ran out of time and money that resulted in liquidation in January 1989.

    Mr. Phil Dudderidge, who incorporated a new company Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd, bought the assets of Focusrite Ltd. He inherited the Focusrite Range designed prior to 1989 and continued to manufacture and market it. He has since added other units to the range. Rupert has never designed products for Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd.

    ***some random comments I foudn interesting*************

    >FORUM POSTer unknown > ALSO IT WAS AROUND THE SAME TIME THE FOCUSRITE STUFF WAS FIRST COMMING OUT THAT PEOPLE WERE THROWING OUT THEIR NEVES API consoles etc... I remember my buddy picked up a blackface 1176 for $200 bucks from a well name studio. At that time the same studio had a awesome API console and a sweet Ampex 2" machine and they couldn't get rid of it. Everyone belived that Focusrite and SSL made their old gear worthless, that sure didn't last long. Not only is that funny, but it also prooves my point that a lot of times people's hearing is affected by the latest trend even professional engineers.

    Also I'm not sure but I believe if you bought 2 channels of the Focusrite pre it only came with the pres. I don't think the red face had any output transformer, and 2 channels in a rack was 2k something. So you got 2 $50.oo input transformers and a few 50 cent opamps. I think the whole thing is poe
    *****************
    >Forum Tech poster>
    Lundahl transformer, NE5534, lastly (and very importantly) "pumpkin" toroidal tranny output stage, which is driven by a strongly biased 5534 with a high current class AB follower stage.

    Contrast the Focusrite BLue Lundahl tranny/5534 with the V-series OEP type tranny/5534. One rocks, one doesn't.

    It's not Rocket science, it's Rock it science!!!
    ******************
    >ANOTHER COMMENT>
    Platinum = cynical attempt to sell using the Focusrite name.

    You have to understand the history of the company.

    The original ISA Blue series were designed by Rupert, who listens to what stuff sounds like. 5534s are excellent op amps. I know you'll read otherwise, but consider the source: many of these people saying so are sheep rather than engineers.

    Focusrite went broke after Rupert was beseiged and plagued by people begging him to make consoles. Despite £1,500,000 (about $3,000,000 at the time) in orders, the company cash flow was so inadequately set up for large-frame manufature that it crashed. Phil Dudderidge (of Soundcraft) saw an opportunity and bought in, keeping the name alive. Rupert was gone, but the existing designs were now Focusrite's property (and therefore Phil could use them)

    The Red series was an attempt to make basically the same stuff, but with some cost savings. Many boards inside red equipment that I've worked on have had alternative parts placings for blue and red, so the same motehr board can be used, but perhaps with some transformers skipped here and there, or some cheaper pots or something.

    The Green series was the cynical attempt to sell based on the good name of Focusrite, founded by Rupert's early work. It's totally transformerless from everything I've ever seen, the cases are cheap castings, the knobs are cheap mouldings. The gear sounds like utter crap and doesn't deserve to bear the same name.

    The Platinum is actually branded as the "entry-level" Focusrite gear. I saw one once. It made me shiver just to be in the same room as it. I never looked inside it, but I felt utter certainty that if it really was a step down from the greens, I wanted no part of it.

    My platinum experience is therefore insufficient to give an opinion, but the Focusrite history lesson should put the product lines into better perspective.

    Rich, I get the distinct impression from your postings that you're influenced more by what you think something should sound like rather than actually listening to it... I don't mean this as a criticism, but it sounds like your friend summed the original design up nicely: a transformer, a 5534 and a high gain stage (the transformer was omitted from his summary)

    If it's simple, it might just sould like gold. That's how it frequently was for tubes, after all!

    ****
    As I get the Neve connection, to Focusrite Ltd....1985 and gone by 1989.
    Then the new owner had the designs, owned property to Focusrite Audio Engineering-> where as the Blue 110 etc...were the Neve.

    Red and Green and Patinum not so Neve-ish (Transformers and Op Amp designs).

    ISA series built with transformers and op amps, "Neve 1985-ish designs".

    clear as mud! interesting story....

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2infamouz View Post
    That's a nice find. Things are clearly made with cheaper components these days. It's pretty sad that this 13ish yr old recording channel could quite possibly outlive a new one purchased today.
    The Platinum are built like tanks..
    Here's a large power supply coil, made by Torriod, etc..etc.. very nice.
    One comment, years past, mentioned they spent more on the case than the "tone".

    After reading, it all makes more sense... that those who compare from top-down, this was far below the Neve/Air Studio stuff, others found it worked just fine as a tool in the studio, and some found the tones pleasing.

    I think it sounds fine, but then I'm not comparing it to a ISA110.

    But as I get it.. the "tone" for the Focusrite is in the transformer designs, and this Platinum is a non-transformer unit , yet with discreet preamp which works alright. imo.

    For $80 its a HR great deal. right? $80 bucks..for a pre and eq, comp, and interface ..I might say at $80 awesome deal. A person couldnt begin to build this complex unit for $80....for $600 in its day, the ISA One would probably have the "tone vybe".
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    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  3. #13
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    a channel strip

    DESSER-
    Finding this unit is workable, and really noticing smaller details that are positive. The De-Esser is very good, and doesnt easily mush-up the vocals like some do turning it into a Lisp Creating device. Software can do it as well...but still this ones better than some Ive used.

    FleaBay shows it selling around $175-$200 13YRS LATER..

    a good article with retail at $675!
    Prosound Network: Focusrite Platinum VoiceMaster Mic Preamp/Vocal Processor

    PREAMP wise, its got more going on than the DMP3 alone. DMP3+RNC might be a different thought, imo.

    NOISE GATE/EXPANDER works well too once its figured out. Very subtle adjustments needed.

    This unit is more in line with Joe Meek VC1Q, totally different tool, but works. Its a bit up from the VC3 as far as bells and whistles.
    The De-esser maybe better, the Joe Meek I like the compressor better.

    Makes me compare to the studio the other day the SM58 into one SSL4000 channel / strip straight to ProTools (Apogee units)...nothing else, none of the rack was used, none of the distressors, or dbx,LA2A, etc..etc.. or even the focusrite red, nothing...and it sounded really good.
    SSL4000 Channel strip - good drawing
    http://www.recordinginstitute.com/da.../sslstrip.html


    Hopefully by Sunday I'll have some vocal tracking to the ISA One and Platinum/Voicemaster. .. curious why one (no pun intended) maintained its value and the price of platinum dropped over 60%?
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    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  4. #14
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    I owned Voicemaster PRO few years ago, bought it used form other studio. It had crackly pots and switches, often the VU meter just stopped working. Maybe I had just bad unit, but I really didn't think the compressor, vintage harmonics and tube sound were usable. Eq - well okay, not too bad. De-esser was probably the best feature of the unit.

    I'm using the Focusrite ISA 430 now for a half year. I like the eq, but I really don't like gate and de-esser - it just needs TOO much work to get it right. Knobs/pots feel a lot better that on Voicemaster.

  5. #15
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    I would guess it's possibly the usage rate & environment, because from the pictures I've seen the internals are very similar to all the Focusrite's as far as boards and plugs and resistors and led's. Reminds me of working at INTEL and the Celeron cpus were made in the same line, side by side with Pentiums...same tools, same people, same everything....different design and less stringent qc, obviously. Some with much higher end designs.

    Its probable my unit was low usage and therefore, looks great and works great which might be abnormal too.

    ISA 430....cool... I've never had the pleasure to hear that eq, my ISA One would be welcome to that eq and comp in the insert.
    So you can put the EQ in front or after, the ISA EQ...I wish they made a mini versio to slap in the ISA One, and a Mini comp but then I guess price wise would be towards the 430...

    KNOBS! I suppose the vast quantity of knobs is more similar to the SSL board I had the pleasure to see in action. The tones set once for the session.
    SOS 430 review- "I counted 80 separate knobs and buttons" ó


    I admit being a bit lazy... the ISA One was a completely different tool versus the Voicemaster....really only a volume knob, and a button that slightly adjusts tones. Listening playback the Voicemaster did alright with painful tweaking where-as the ISA One a person cant really make it sound bad.

    ISA430, is in the SSL league of channel strips, and I would imagine sounds sweeeet most the time... probably not too difficult to get a good tone, right?
    My first real studio visit was amazing to watch the working environment is so much different than a hobbyist HR lackadaisical method, and the emphasis to get a great tone to prevent later work was noticed, they fiddled with the numerous knobs on each channel but then it was done and not touched again.

    Voicemaster is probably a different unit at $600 versus todays $199 used market, I'm looking at it from a $80 perspective.
    The ability to make it sound bad is high, where as the ISA One has really no control for the user to screw it up...which is better imo.
    Thats probably what Im seeing in the Voicemaster, there is a small window of good sounding tones from it and a lot of room for crap sounds.
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    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  6. #16
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    looking at the 110 inside , the little yellow pots and ribbon cables and jacks etc..all appear the same.
    the design and transformers are obviously not on the Voicemaster.
    like songs, different designs can just be kind of missing something.

    seems like a brilliant DIYer could really make something of this unit, add tranny or beef up something in the chain...
    the casing and jacks are all there....really strange the tone is so difficult to get out of it.
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    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  7. #17
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    ISA One and the Voicemaster

    for what its worth...

    Spent some time with the ISA One compared to the Voicemaster. ISAONE got to the nice tone easier, faster, as many already know that have used the one or two knob device. It has its sound and you cant really screw it up.

    But the Voicemaster could get really close to matching it with some knob turning and side by side work. Copy-cat mode it got close.

    Listening to playbacks in the mix, the Voicemaster worked fine. imo.

    Then getting anal and off topic, the UX2 software gear was tweaked and with enough eq and volume settings, it could get a simulated copy-cat sound of both the Focusrites...leaving me confused and reading UAD articles and posts.

    I sold the Voicemaster on CL for $150, really quickly, a few buyers too (meaning I probably could have gotten more).
    bing bang boom...

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  8. #18
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    So, you bought it, disected it, ran it through its paces, mapped out its signature and sold it for a $70 profit.

    I have one word for that:
    Hmmmm...


  9. #19
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    lol Chili

    you know this little journey, has the path for a hobbyHR is pretty clear for the VST stuff, imo.
    that Apollo you mentioned and stuff like that is probably above and beyond my capabilitiys, but would be hard to justify anything but microphones for me. the UX2 is dirt cheap used, but the more I compare it to preamps etc.. the software world really is amazing in copy-cating gear.

    I was wondering what you think of that Apollo...did you review it out or anything of comaprisons to before your setup?
    What got you to buy that specific unit?

    if it's not happening in the room, it ain't gonna happen on tape.-HG

  10. #20
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    I was already sold on UAD because I had a couple of UAD-1 cards with a few plugs (they'll be for sale soon!!). I bought the first one without really knowing how much it would help and I was pleasantly surprised. It was an order of magnitude of difference in my mixes just using UAD stuff.

    So, when they put together a product that has a UAD-2 card built in along with their mic pres, I was sold before it went on the market. The separate DSP card is a great idea to run plugs, but UAD also does a great job with simulating hardware units.

    What got me to originally buy UAD dsp cards to begin with?? I guess it was just reading other people's opinions here and maybe GearSlutz. A bit of a gamble, but buying used and then getting a few plugs for free from UAD made the prospect affordable.

    For the Apollo, I sold my Lavry units to get the cash.

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