Focusrite reports that Grammy Award–winning Los Angeles-based engineer/producer Rafa Sardina (pictured) relies on the company's ISA Range of modules for production work in his studio, After Hours. His collection includes a rack of eight classic ISA110 modules from a Focusrite Studio console, and he recently acquired an ISA828 8-channel microphone preamp.
Grammy Award–winning producer/engineer Rafa Sardina with his recently acquired Focusrite ISA8028 mic preamp
"My first encounters with Focusrite were with the Studio console at Ocean Way,” Sardina says. “I had quite a lot of experience in working on that board, and I was very fortunate to work in other studios that had them."
Sardina's client list includes Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Luis Miguel, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Paco de Lucía, and Alejandro Sanz. His diverse work covers everything from pop to R&B, to classical recordings and movie soundtracks.
Sardina says that after he left Ocean Way, "I started acquiring quite a few Focusrite pieces like the ISA110s and ISA215s. The ISA preamp sounds great on anything that has high transients, and I love the Focusrite EQ; it is so efficient. It's the kind of EQ that you can actually hear what it's doing well.
"More recently, I got the ISA828 and it has become one of my main pieces of gear, not only in the studio but when I travel. One of the most amazing things about the ISA828 is that you can have up to 20 things connected simultaneously. For a session, it's like a chameleon: You can switch depending on what you're overdubbing. If you're doing some keyboards, or recording a bass track, or just recording some microphones, you can switch between different settings and mark your mic levels so you can easily recall them, all with a single [two-rackspace] box.
"Another amazing feature of the box is the impedance selection, which gives you a broad style of sounds, depending on how it matches to specific microphones. When you change the impedance, you can hear how the preamp is matching to the microphone. It can really open the sound up, or it can even make a microphone sound duller than it really is. And maybe that's what you're looking for."
Sardina adds, "The integrity of sound is the most important element in the studio, no matter what you are doing. You want things to be top-notch quality, you want them to stay the way you envisaged them sounding when you were tracking them.
"I have compared the old and the new ISA gear," Sardina concludes, "and it really retains that warmth, grittiness…I don't know, the sound that really appealed to me from the very beginning. And that was the main reason why I got the ISA828. The sound comes first; the convenience is very important too, and it is a plus in this box, but the sound comes first and that's the main reason I got it."