By Barry Rudolph
Focusrite Forte USB Audio Interface
Focusrite’s Forte is a portable, desktop USB 2.0 audio interface for Macs and PCs with two analog inputs and four analog outputs. Its sleek modern industrial design starts off with a beautiful backlit OLED status display, four touch-sensitive icon buttons and a single, large aluminum controller knob.
Forte uses two of Focusrite’s high-end remote controlled RedNet pre-amplifiers with 24-bit A-D and D-A converters operating at sample rates up to 192kHz. The included Forte Control software driver configures and stores the unit’s settings of any combination of input source selection between
two 1/4 inch-TRS and/or two XLR microphone inputs. Also stored is the configuration of the two, six-channel stereo mixers—including the level of the incoming source audio for near zero latency monitoring.
Forte’s four touch buttons determine the function of the controller knob for: record level, monitor volume, headphone loudness and basic remote control of any popular DAW system. The default DAW control function is stop/start by tapping the knob and horizontal zoom in/out when turning the knob.
All four source inputs are clearly marked on their female connectors on Forte’s included loom (fan out) cable and I like that I can keep all four analog sources connected at all times.
I went to work recording guitar and vocals. I set my buffer size to 32 samples in Pro Tools 10.2 and put up a 44.1kHz session with 16 tracks already recorded and setup for recording a few overdubs. This system sounds smooth as silk. On Forte itself, changing monitoring and record levels using the knob “on the fly” is just like using analog. I recorded vocals and direct electric guitar and there is abundant gain available for old, low output ribbon mics as well.
I like the way the GUI software is written too—any input source change is accompanied by an automatic input gain reset to minimum to avoid “accidents.” Whenever phantom power is required, a warning comes up to see if the power supply is connected, plus there is a phantom powering lockout—you cannot inadvertently apply phantom to line inputs.
Focusrite’s Forte desktop 2 x 4 USB 2.0 interface sells for $749.99 MSRP. Visit http://us.focusrite.com/usb- audio-interfaces/forte.
miniBIO: Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer with over 30 gold and platinum RIAA awards to his credit. He has recorded and/or mixed: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and Robbie Nevil. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and also teaches recording engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. http://www.barryrudolph.com