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Focusrite Forte Review

No one would argue that over the last few years, that when it comes to bang for your buck, Focusrite audio interfaces have been a real bargain, offering both quality and value. This has led users to grow accustomed to Focusrite audio interfaces having more holes than a Swiss cheese whilst being a great price. So when the Forte was announced, offering just 2 in and 4 out at a much higher price, some users were confused - even more with unit having the name ‘Forte’ which was last used for the legendary mixing desk built some decades ago.

In our recent interview with Phil Dudderidge we raised the question of the name of this new baby and his response was that both had been best-in-class at their time. In an industry where everyone seems to be heading to the bottom of the pond with ‘more for less’ offerings, the idea of ‘less for more’ is intriguing and led us to want to give this baby a real run for its money.

If you hear our recent live podcast from the MPS, then you will have heard the debate over quality. Some suggested that pro quality was only available for the few, I responded that interfaces like the Focusrite Forte offered high quality recording for the many - so was I right or is it time to eat my words?

Unboxing And Getting Started

You can watch my unboxing video from a couple of weeks ago here.

Setting up was a doddle, most of all because the cute full colour screen on the Forte tells you to go to the Focusrite website and download the driver. I did as I was told (I’m married and well trained) and downloaded the driver and rebooted my Mac Pro. I then plugged in the USB cable, stereo jacks and the supplied PSU and audio break out which consists of 2 x XLR inputs and 2 x Jack inputs. Then I plugged in my headphones to the front socket.

As you can see above, there is a beautifully designed audio control interface which allows the user to control the unit from their desktop - even better many of the features are also available from the Forte unit wich allows one to set most things without having to be anywhere near the computer you are recording on - even better you can also do some basic control of your DAW, such as play and zoom.

Recording

Bearing in mind that this is aimed at those looking for a high-quality professional interface it made sense to record at 96Khz and 24 bit for the session.

The material recorded was me noodling on my Taylor acoustic with a couple of hand clap percussion passes for good measure, there’s also a stereo piano from Ivory. The mic used was an M-Audio Pulsar II mic for both guitars and claps, connected directly with the Forte. Setting it up via the GUI was easy and the large full colour read-out on the on-screen display was accurate and helpful - allowing me to adjust gain and headphones easily.

The final results were bounced out of the master buss which had a UAD ATR102 to warm the bottom end and some gentle dynamics using iZotope Ozone 2, the 96Khz wav file can be downloaded here for your listening pleasure.

Conclusion

I’m very impressed with the Focusrite Forte, it works on a number of levels. It’s built like a tank, is easy to set-up and use and most importantly it sounds good. It’s not going to be for everyone, certainly not those who want as many features for their money (most of which they may never use) instead of quality. It is perfect for song writers, foley, radio and TV work - offering a high build and sound quality.

Obvious comparisons have been made with the Apogee Duet, however one vital thing missing from the Apogee is Windows support, which this offers.

If you are looking for quality over quantity then this interface may well be a winner, it is certainly able to deliver the quality that pro producers are looking for. It would be wise to check it out, it gets my thumbs up! More here

Specifications
2 in / 4 out USB audio interface
192KHz, 24-bit conversion
2 Focusrite microphone preamplifiers
Silver aluminium chassis
 
Top panel:
Large multi-function push encoder
4 touch sensitive mode buttons
Headphone socket (front panel)
 
Rear panel:
2 balanced monitor outputs – ¼” TRS Jack
Input Loom socket
Power socket
USB 2.0 Port
Kensington Lock slot (rear side)
 
Included software:
Focusrite Midnight plug-in suite
Forte Control software application
Unit
Net Weight 476g
Dims 170 x 116 x 36mm
 
Single unit in gift box with contents
Dims 238 x 178 x 102mm
Gross Weight 1295g
  
Single Brown Boxed Unit
Dims 197 x 127 x 270mm
Gross Weight 1380g

Hardware Specifications

Weights and dimensions

 

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