Pros: This is one of the best recording interfaces on the market.
PreSonus FireStudio Firewire Recording Interface
As I sit here holding the owner's manual that came with my PreSonus FireStudio, I am very excited to own this wonderful piece of recording gear. My mind is boggled, not by how hard it is to understand, because the FireStudio is very simple to operate, and the manual is written in very clear and simple to understand language. My mind is boggled as to how to write a review that will do justice to, and come close to covering all of the things that the PreSonus FireStudio Firewire Recording Interface is capable of doing. Read on and see if the PreSonus FireStudio is something that you would consider adding to your own studio when it comes time to upgrade.
A short time ago, I decided that it was time to upgrade my recording equipment, and modernize my home studio. If you are like me, you will understand that the task of trying to figure out just what is the best piece of equipment to add or upgrade to is not easy. There are just so many choices and factors to consider when making a decision. I looked at many different recording interfaces for my DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and after much obsessing over what piece of equipment would give me the most bang for my buck, and would be capable of handling all of the things that I wanted to do, I decided on the PreSonus FireStudio. The PreSonus FireStudio has a list price of $869.00, but it can be had in the neighborhood of about $650.00 if you do some shopping, which I obviously did.
Now the price of $650.00 may seem high to some readers, but when you find out what the FireStudio is capable of, as well as seeing all of the free software that comes with it, I think you will agree that this is a great deal. Before I get into a discussion of what the PreSonus FireStudio can do, I would like to take a moment to tell you a bit about some of the free extras that came with it. When I purchased my FireStudio it came with a ProPak Complete Software Suite which included a load of useful plug-ins, such as BFD Lite (a drum plug-in), Amplitube LE (amp simulation), Drumagog LE, Cubase LE, and several others. It also came with a CAD GXL2200 Condenser Microphone. There was literally everything a person setting up a home studio could use, except for the Computer. As it was, I already had Cubase 4, plenty of great microphones, and a load of plug-ins, so I decided to give these extras to some of my younger relatives who were just starting out with their own home studios, and they were naturally very appreciative.
By the way, the PreSonus FireStudio is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. It is important to remember that the overall power of your DAW or computer will greatly effect the ability of the PreSonus FireStudio to operate at its best. The barest minimum RAM you will need is 512 MB, but that in my opinion is way to low. The barest CPU must be at least a Pentium 1GHz., and in my opinion that is also too low. Remember the more RAM you have and the faster the speed of your processor, the more efficiently your overall recording system will operate. Computers with slow processors, slow hard drives, and low levels of RAM, will not work as quickly, and efficiently as faster ones do, and you may run into latency problems. That is a nightmare when recording as well as during mix down time. If your DAW or computer meets the bear minimums required to operate the FireStudio, I can almost guarantee that you will run into some problems with latency and related problems. Thankfully, I was able to purchase a DAW that works seamlessly with my PreSonus FireStudio. If you would like to read my review of this computer, please click on the link below.
RAIN RECORDING ELEMENT COMPUTER
I also use Cubase with my DAW and with my PreSonus FireStudio, and it is amazing. If you would like read my review on Cubase, please click on the link below.
Now let me get back to discussing the PreSonus FireStudio and I will review some of its wonderful features. The FireStudio has eight Class A PreSonus microphone preamplifiers. These are excellent preamps, and of course these are capable of providing 48 Volt Phantom Power to condenser microphones, and they can of course also be used with dynamic microphones as well. It is important to remember that Phantom Power is only provided when microphones are plugged into the XLR connectors on the FireStudio. Do not be concerned about plugging dynamic microphones into the XLR connections, as phantom power does not typically cause any problems with regard to a dynamic microphones sensitivity or response. In most cases you will need to raise the gain setting when using a dynamic microphone.
A word of caution, if you have a ribbon microphone, remember do not allow it to be hooked up to receive phantom power. Phantom power can in many cases harm a delicate ribbon microphone, and in some cases it can ruin it beyond repair. I would only recommend that professionals who have experience with using ribbon microphones even consider using them. With so many good condenser microphones and dynamic microphones to choose from, I would personally not recommend using a ribbon microphone for use in a home studio. They are just too fragile. Using a USB microphone can also be a problem with the FireStudio, as they have their own preamps and drivers, and these can conflict with the drivers from the FireStudio. Besides, if you have a device like a FireStudio, there is no need for a USB microphone in the first place.
Each channel of the FireStudio has a Neutrik Combo Connector, which permits you to use either an XLR connector or a quarter inch phone jack. If you decide to use the phone jack inputs of channels 3 through 8, these act as line level inputs, and the microphone preamps are not engaged. This is very important to keep in mind if you are using a condenser microphone that requires Phantom Power to operate correctly. Channels 1 and 2 are automatically transformed into instrument inputs and the microphone preamps are bypassed and active instrument preamps are engaged. If you have an instrument that has active electronics, you should use channels 3 through 8, as these will typically have an internal preamp or a line level output. Do not plug an instrument that has active electronics into Cannels 1 or 2, as this will result in a very loud and distorted sound, and this could even possibly damage the FireStudio.
There is also a headphone jack and volume control for recording and playback. There are two FireWire ports on the back of the FireStudio which can be used to connect the FireStudio to the FireWire port on your computer or DAW. There is also a MIDI In and MIDI Out on the back of the FireStudio, and these can be used to control a VST plug-in or synthesizer. There are also 8 Line Outputs on the FireStudio. It is also possible to hook up other external devices such as a DigiMax FS to add more options for live recording applications, but I have not experimented with this, as I have not had occasion to need to do so.
In conclusion I must say that I am completely satisfied with my purchase of the PreSonus FireStudio, and I can recommend it without hesitation. It would be very difficult to find a Firewire recording interface that is anywhere near as this good in this price range.
Well, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will please excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.