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PROS: Wonderful preamps, plenty of features, easy to use.
Focusrite was founded in 1985 by Rupert Neve, and although he’s no longer associated with the company, the level of audio excellence is still present even in their smaller items such as the Forte.
This tiny unit packs a lot of features, with just one large knob acting as the main control, and an OLED (organic LED) touchscreen display. It can be run by just USB alone, but a power supply is included that increases the output volumes, and provides phantom power for microphones that require it (such as condensers). Inputs are via a dongle that contains (2)1/4” inputs and (2) XLR inputs. There are outputs for speakers built within the aluminum housing of the unit itself, as well as convenient headphone outputs. With 24bit DA converters and two of Focusrite’s legendary preamps, it’s quite a powerful I/O box. Even better, it works on Mac and PC platforms, and includes software that mimics the controls on the unit, which are super simple to use on either platform. ISA 110 EQ and 130 compressor plug-ins are also in the package.▼ Article continues below ▼
The Forte really shines without any fuss. Yes, there are other USB interfaces out there, but none sound as good as this. The preamps and AD converters are quite musical and natural sounding. Yes, you can only record two channels at a time, but for tracking individual vocals, guitars, basses, even a stereo room sound, it’s beyond great. The fact that it’s portable gives it plenty of flexibility as well.
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s a small audio interface, loaded with great preamps, that’s super simple to use, and well worth the price tag. This will put a home studio into the pro level, and pro engineers can offer a great mobile sound without lugging a lot of extra gear.