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Nick Mac in his personal studio space with his Focusrite ISA One desktop mic preamp.

Recording Engineer Nick Mac Goes Portable With Focusrite ISA One

Chief engineer at Electric Fell Entertainment in LA adds an ISA One mic preamp to his mobile recording rig for his work as the personal engineer for rapper/singer 24kGoldn.

Nick Mac, chief engineer of the production studios of Electric Feel Entertainment in Los Angeles, home to a roster of A-list artists, producers, songwriters, brands and partners, recently added a Focusrite ISA One desktop microphone preamp to his mobile recording rig for his work as the personal engineer for rapper/singer 24kGoldn.

Mac, whose engineering credits also include Post Malone, YG, Macklemore, Ariel Pink, Machine Gun Kelly, Tyla Yaweh, Travis Barker, Yungblud and others, has long made use of the Focusrite ISA 428 multichannel mic preamplifier and ISA 430 channel strip. The California native has been working with 24kGoldn for the last couple of years, both traveling and in the studio, and decided couple of months ago to slim down his mobile rig to a Pelican case containing a recording interface and his latest Focusrite preamp, which also includes an independent DI channel and selectable transformer impedance settings.

“It’s one of the most feature-packed devices I’ve ever seen, with a quality that I really like,” Mac says. “The tactile control that I have on that front panel for the mic pre and the headphones is just unbelievable. I’m in love with the thing.”

Not every preamp pairs well with the Sony C-800G vocal microphone favored by many of today’s artists, he notes, “But I like the ISA; it’s a little bit weighty but it’s clean, and I think it rounds off the edges of the 800. It’s nice and warm and a little bit muscular, but it’s clear and clean. It’s just a nice color that I like. I think it sounds great.

“One of the key features that gets me really excited is being able to switch between monitoring the mic input by itself and the cue mix. So, if we get a dirty signal or something in a studio, I can isolate the microphone and listen to that before any processing. It’s really, really helpful.”

Mac, who has been working with 24kGoldn on an upcoming record, likes to ride the mic pre level while tracking vocals. “I ride the fader on the way in with that trim knob. I’m a big meters person, so I’m watching a Durrough meter plug-in inside of Pro Tools, watching my crest factor, watching how it hits the converters and drives into the compressor. 24k’s a loud singer, but there’s enough gain on the ISA One to where, when he does go quiet, I can jump it up with the step gain and use the trim. Conversely, when he does get loud, I can knock it back, and use the trim to bring him up. It’s all right there within reach.”

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