Nick Blundell relies on Focusrite channel strips for ProTools Studio

As one of the UK's most respected sound engineers, Nick Blundell has worked on many critically-acclaimed albums and, in post production, on some of the biggest films of the last 20 years. But when it came to setting up his own facility, out was the idea of a big desk and in came Focusrite.

Blundell’s goal was to set up a freelance ProTools facility, but rather than invest in a full console, his design features two Focusrite ISA 430 MKII channel strips and one Focusrite Compounder, all supplied by Digital Village. Noting that it's not always possible to own and run a large traditional console alongside today's DAW recording setups, Blundell realized that having full-featured channel strips with comprehensive functions and VU meter switching would provide the sound and functionality of a traditional console front end in a much smaller space.

The Focusrite ISA 430 MKII was chosen for its versatility as well as its sound quality, with Blundell noting that the unit’s load switching capability helps get the best out of a wide variety of microphones, from vintage tubes units to modern dynamics and condensers, while still being perfectly appropriate for handling inputs from synthesizers and samplers. Other features on the Focusrite ISA 430 include its microphone “Air” function, vintage style compressor/limiters, and de-esser, as well as its EQ section.

Efficiency was another factor in Blundell’s decision to eschew a traditional mixing console. For instance, patching time is saved by using the two inserts to check out different compressors and outboard gear, while the large VU meters on the Focusrite channel strips make it easy to monitor input, gain reduction and insert return levels, especially relative to the metering found on many digital DAWs. Overall, the ISA 430 MKII channel strips offer all the features Blundell expects of a console in a compact package that’s perfect for his needs in ProTools recording.

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