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Anyone use a PreSonus StudioLive as their interface?

G'day, new here.

I'm at an intermediate level of home recording. Have produced/engineered a couple of records, one of which was played on radio so at a certain level of skill but still consider myself a novice with much to learn really.

Been running an Maudio profire 2626 with a Mac, using Studio One as my DAW.

Tracking live drums i'm at a point where I'm feeling the need to expand my mic preamp's...

First I thought I'd just get a Mic preamp rack and expand my setup via ADAT which is still an option. And relatively cheap.. 8 more pre's for less than $400 and I continue using my current setup.

Came across the PreSonus Studio live AR16 which is advertised as a multi track interface (as well as a live analog mixer) and has 12 mic preamp's and many extra benefits that come with a mixing desk all in one..

It appears to be pretty great.

The thing is pretty cheap and unlike anything I've come across before. Does anyone know if theres any real downside to using this as a dedicated interface for multi-channel recording in a home studio?

Or is it a gimmick and am I missing something?

Thanks in advance.

Comments

pcrecord Tue, 05/23/2017 - 03:00

The AR16 is their entry level analog mixer. I can't quite say if the preamps will be better than the m-audio.
If you want to go the mixer route, I'd consider going for at least the http://www.presonus.com/products/StudioLive-16.0.2 which has their better sounding XMAS preamp. But the Ai series are also a better choice.

The catch with most mixers is that it's hard to expend your studio with them.
Many studios goes with highend preamps and to capture the best quality signal, it's better to have a clean path to the converters. (which many mixers don't have)

It depends on your needs and expectations.

Boswell Tue, 05/23/2017 - 03:11

As a live mixer, the SL AR16 is versatile in its capability. As a preamp/interface, you get get 12 reasonable mic channels They are not top-end quality, as you would expect for the money, but the big problem for a small studio is that they are all the same. You don't need a dozen identical channels, you need a mixture, with maybe 4 channels in each of 3 different-sounding units.

Being able to choose things like transparent, transformer-coupled, high gain and the like gives you so much more flexibility when you don't know, for example, what quality of voice the singer has who you are due to record today. A selection of microphones and a selection of pre-amp flavours gets you a long way in getting a good sound to lay down.

danWaggin Tue, 05/23/2017 - 03:18

Thanks for your reply.

I'm happy with the sound i get from my old Maudio.. I understand and know how to use it.
Like i say Really i just want to add mic pre's to my setup but came across this unit and like the idea of possibly recording live shows maybe..

Also with the eq's and control faders +4 extra ins i'm interested in it..

Being usb, and my Maudio being firewire I assume I could use both or either for variation..?

Theres not a lot of actual home recording reviews out there though with the unit still being quite new. Most info Ive found has related to podcasters or live venue recordings..They advertise it with full multitrack capabilities but at the price i think theres gotta be a catch..

pcrecord Tue, 05/23/2017 - 03:45

danWaggin, post: 450471, member: 50596 wrote: Being usb, and my Maudio being firewire I assume I could use both or either for variation..?

Not both at the same time because none of them have wordclock to synch them.

danWaggin, post: 450471, member: 50596 wrote: Most info Ive found has related to podcasters or live venue recordings..

That might be because their are the main buyers of this unit...

Unless you intent to do live work, why don't you buy an octopre or similar ADAT 8 channels unit ?

danWaggin Tue, 05/23/2017 - 03:57

Thats what I intended to do from the start. What I'm asking is will the presonus unit sound as good as what i'm using? Have they sacrificed their sound quality to fit an interface into this mixing desk?

Having the control sliders in stead of clicking the screen with a mouse is appealing. The possibility of live multi tracking is also appealing though it would only be a secondary objective..

At the price it seems worthwhile but only if the sound is decent in a studio.

DonnyThompson Tue, 05/23/2017 - 04:21

As with any of the tools in our craft, you can spend a little amount, a fair amount, or what equates to a second mortgage... LOL.
Your budget will dictate which is the best route for you to go.
Having different pre amps can certainly be a good thing - as Bos mentioned, because it gears you up for different scenarios, and gives you textural options depending on what (and who) you are recording.
But ...I would add that you could also obtain different textures by having a nice choice of mics, too. Having a few different good dynamics, a couple different LD and SD condensers (FET, Tube) with multiple patterns, and a Ribbon mic or two, would give you different sonic texture choices as well.
If your budget is around $1500 (or less) and you are considering a Presonus, look to the models that have the XMax preamps.
These are Class A, discreet pres, with good gain levels, that can give you nice results - again, depending on the mics you use with them.
And, if it's just multiple mic channels you are looking for, you might want to consider something like the 1818VSL, which will give you 8 XMax mic pres, 6 Line inputs, 6 Line Outs (TRS 1/4" on the rear), and two Instrument DI's. It also has SPDIF in and out,(RCA), word clock sync, midi I-O, and of coutse, 48v phantom power for condenser mics, switchable on/off in two groups of 4.

The VSL is also expandable, via ADAT Optical I-O, so you can add another unit if you wanted more mic, Line or DI inputs.
As opposed to the SL desk, The 1818 is controlled via a software mixer, where you can adjust levels, add processing (pre and post) and do things like route signals to aux's for HP mixes, as well as to any of the Line Out jacks on the back, which can be useful for re-amping; or you can set up different send options, like different monitor pairs.
Presonus converters are pretty good. Perhaps not as good as Antelope or Apogee, but still very good all the same.
I wouldn't consider it to be a true "pro" caliber device; not in the grand scheme of things, when you compare it with other pres that can cost upwards of $2000 per channel - but it's still a great mid-level USB I-O.
The other thing that is attractive about the VSL rack mount pres and the SL desks is that they will integrate seamlessly with the S1 DAW you are currently using.
That's not to say that they don't work well with other DAWs too, I have an 1818 VSL that works fine with my DAW, (which is Samplitude).
Sound wise, both are solid, good sounding mid-level devices.
For the price range(s) that they are in, you'd be hard pressed to do any better.
I used the 1818 on the last album I produced, (although I was also using different external tube and transformer mic preamps, with some very nice mics (Neumann, Sennheiser, AKG, EV, Royer, etc) and I was very happy with the results.

The only other desk I would seriously consider in that similar price range would be an A&H.
@Boswell would be the go-to guy here on RO to tell you more about A&H, as he uses one himself (at least I'm pretty sure he still does).
You could also talk to long-standing RO member Dave Hawk (@dvdhawk), Dave is a Presonus dealer, and is very knowledgeable about their line of products.

FWIW
-d.

Boswell Tue, 05/23/2017 - 04:47

DonnyThompson, post: 450474, member: 46114 wrote: The only other desk I would seriously consider in that similar price range would be an A&H.
@Boswell would be the go-to guy here on RO to tell you more about A&H, as he uses one himself (at least I'm pretty sure he still does).
You could also talk to long-standing RO member Dave Hawk (@dvdhawk), Dave is a Presonus dealer, and is very knowledgeable about their line of products.

Yes, the A+H Zed-R16 is excellent, but being a much higher-quality device than the entry-level Presonus SL desks, it carries a considerably higher price tag, especially in the US.

Still, with many people shedding their outboard gear as they move into streaming, web-based recording and other canned technologies, R16s can be picked up at a fraction of their new cost. I would have no qualms about having 16 channels of the Zed-R16 pre-amps on hand, as I've done several serious recordings when they were the only ones available, with great results.

DonnyThompson Tue, 05/23/2017 - 06:46

@Boswell
The only thing - and I mean the only thing - about the A&H Z -R16 desks that I wish they would implement, is that it could also function as a DAW control surface.
Other than that, nothing else would make me hesitant at all about buying one, if I was looking for a console.
Although, I suppose the argument could be made for using the A&H and adding a dedicated controller to the rig as well. ;)

-d

Boswell Tue, 05/23/2017 - 08:29

DonnyThompson, post: 450476, member: 46114 wrote: @Boswell
The only thing - and I mean the only thing - about the A&H Z -R16 desks that I wish they would implement, is that it could also function as a DAW control surface.
Other than that, nothing else would make me hesitant at all about buying one, if I was looking for a console.
Although, I suppose the argument could be made for using the A&H and adding a dedicated controller to the rig as well. ;)
-d

...but it does! It has a separate MIDI section for DAW control, and, in addition, any number of the 16 channel faders can be switched to act as parameter input to your DAW functions.

Here are a couple of links to articles decribing how to set it up.
One (Cakewalk, but general)
Two (Mac, but relevant to PCs)

pcrecord Tue, 05/23/2017 - 13:57

danWaggin, post: 450473, member: 50596 wrote: Have they sacrificed their sound quality to fit an interface into this mixing desk?

Compared to any boutique preamps, YES
Compared to presonus Ai series ; YES
Compared to many other reknowned mixer (SSL, Neve etc) : YES

I can't compare the AR mixer and your Profire. But I'm kinda guessing they won't be much different.
Since you seem to want to do live recordings, I'd go for the Zed or an Ai series which have better preamps...
The AR is very limited even as a standalone mixer anyway...

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