Monday, September 13, 2010

Presonus StudioLive Review - Part 1: Overview

I've been using my Presonus StudioLive 16:4:2 for about a year now, so I decided it's time for a thorough review. I did an early "first impressions" review when I first bought it, which I will publicly say was not worth publishing. It was by no means a real-world audio situation. At any rate, I will now attempt to post a fair review of the product.

I bought the StudioLive because I was in need of a professional quality portable sound rig with some recording capabilities. The StudioLive seemed to be a sweet spot for my needs on the price/features/quality curve and I have not been disappointed with it in that regard. I also considered analog options like the Allen & Heath MixWizard coupled with outboard gear and higher end digital options like the Yamaha LS9. At the end of the day the LS9 was out of my reach and the StudioLive provided the features I needed in one unit for less than the price of an analog board with all the outboard gear required. 

The console has been used for both live sound and recording purposes on several occasions and my overall experience with it has been very good. It was not designed to compete with more expensive digital consoles and users should not expect it to be one of those consoles. But I think it has its place in a professional rig as it provides good quality sound, good analog I/O, and excellent noise rejection. Its best features are the channel processing capabilities (i.e. dynamics, EQ, etc.) and its recording interface. Its biggest limitation, in my opinion, is the sometimes clunky navigation and the lack of some professional features like external/redundant power supplies and limited digital connectivity. For now, I will not give a detailed review of the recording software as I have not explored it very much. I use Logic Audio for my recording purposes and I've not had any issues with it.

There is one question mark I have about the StudioLive as compared to other quality consoles I've used and that relates to input headroom. It seems to me that there is either not a great deal of headroom or the input meters seem to be overly aggressive at indicating clipping. To be sure, I have never heard audible artifacts when the input meters indicated clipping, but the meters just seem to get to clipping a lot easier than others I'm used to. My friends on the SynAudCon listserv are helping me to understand this better. One of the suggestions I've received is to use the target gain method. I will try that at my next show and see how it goes. I will also continue my research into this topic and try to report back on it later. 

With that, let's dive into the review:

3 comments:

  1. keep in mind that its a digital mixer, there is no headroom above 0db like in analog gear where u have about +21dbu headroom, also i believe that the meters are peak meters which are faster than VU meters (they more resemble human hearing)
    thanks for the post, i am thinking of getting this mixer even though they really marked up the price here in israel...

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  2. Yes, but there's an analog preamp stage in front of that AD converter and I'm hoping the input meters are metering that and not the digital input. I'll have to look at the schematic Presonus sent me to see if it indicates.

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  3. be careful with your gain structure in this console. Any amount of digital clipping is very audible, and is not something you can get away with in small amounts like on analog boards.

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