Dave Clarke's Most Wanted: Focusrite Forte Console
In these contemporary and technologically advanced times, as the world of digital musical equipment and software has developed, we've seen a democratisation of the production process occur. Younger talents may have only experienced making tracks within the confines of their bedroom whereas before Fruity Loops, Logic, Ableton and Cubase made themselves all powerful and able to run on your mum and dad’s unloved PC, people actually needed access to a bonafide recording studio to make music. Dave Clarke is definitely a man of that era, a guy who had to sweat over and channel the power of his analogue machines through a mixing desk as opposed to his CPU bolstered soundcard to harness his first ideas and create his now seminal early tracks. So it’s interesting then that it is this former centre of a producer's world that Clarke still looks to for the inspiration for his Most Wanted equipment with him picking out a rare and out of production mixing console as his object of desire. Read on to engage in his dream of ownership of this iconic item as we also look forward to his return to Room Two next Saturday. Like many nerdy producers I have, if left unchecked, an unhealthy gear lust for studio equipment, things that are not necessary like tape machines or easy things with a hint of skeuomorphism such as old school looking plug in's or skins resembling old Pultec's for Logic Pro X. However one thing I have always loved to have had is a Focusrite Forte Console, I have loved Focusrite for many years (and let's be clear my Red Series was not named after the Focusrite Red Series...just a happy coincidence, just like me and the MD of Focusrite loving The Damned) When I was starting to earn money I dreamed of all their wonderful Rupert Neve designed outboard based on the old ISA, but the Forte console was a thing of myth, a desk that was mentioned about in hushed tones, it needed a very well thought out air conditioning plan as it would heat up to Sahara midday levels but it was designed with only audio quality in mind and, alas, I believe this pursuit of excellence to make an utterly outstanding console almost broke the company, which I actually just love in itself, a pure engineering ethos untampered by commercial realities. Not sensible but certainly dedicated, extremely romantic and singleminded which used to be a very British attitude. I believe only four or five were made but only two are in existence today, one made it to the Electric Ladyland but now it supposed to be in a museum. Subsequently after being financially disadvantaged by the Forte the Studio Console was born (and yes I would be equally happy with one of those) and there is a working example of that in BOP in Zuid Afrika. There is something special about the old school Focusrite sound, the design of the desk layout is also easy on the eye, the blue chassis and yellow knobs are easy to read in low level lighting, so to get one of these legendary units would be a dream come true. I was lucky to become "a friend of Focusrite" in the late 90's and I still have a good relationship with the guys today, they are actually "gentlemen" with a great attitude, the only rare bit of kit that I managed to get from them is the Red Zero rack enhancer (a tongue in cheek name that I will let you figure out) which has been signed by various Focusrite big wigs. Back in the day, and before a rather expensive divorce, I used to have almost the whole Focusrite Blue series, but that sadly went, however I continue to be a fan of Focusrite old products from the 80's and 90's as nothing touches them, they might not have the cleanliness that modern audio architecture has but the sound oozes character, so imagine what a desk would sound like. I often do. Photo of the Focusrite console appear courtesy of Dave Clarke. Dave Clarke press shot by Michel Mees.
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