Presonus Firestudio vs Audiobox 22VSL - recording quality?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Steambot9000, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. Steambot9000

    Steambot9000 Active Member

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    Hi

    I own an old Firestudio 26x26 (not project) and a newer USB Audiobox 22VSL, both from Presonus. I wonder which has better recording quality for mics. The Firestudio has 8 inputs but it's big and heavy and requires an additional power supply. The Audiobox was much cheaper but then again it's much newer. Does anyone have experience with those two and can say if one produces superior audio quality when recording? If they are similar, I would probably just use the Audiobox because it's more convenient to use.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Donny is probably your man for commenting on these two Presonus products, but in the meantime, can you tell us what type and model of microphones you are expecting to use with these interfaces? Are your recording sessions always using no more than two microphones at a time?
     
  3. Steambot9000

    Steambot9000 Active Member

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  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

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    It depends upon what you want to do, as far as the mics you want to use. While you may be using condensers now - and the Presonus line is fine for that use - it might not give you optimum results if you were planning on using low output dynamics ( such as a Shure SM7) or Ribbon mics, which actually require more gain than either of these units can give in the "optimum" sense.

    Although, if you were planning on using mics like these, you could always add an inline boost likle the Cloudlifter or The Cathedral Pipes Durham; both tap into the phantom power available on both these preamps, and convert the voltage to +20-25db of additional input gain.

    Neither one will be obviously "superior" to the other. To hear an obvious, audible difference, you'd have to step up to a different price class.

    The Firestudio is going to give you more gain than the vsl will, at 55db (about 5db more than the 22vsl).
    The FS also has a wider frequency range ( 20hz -50khz), where the VSL is 20Hz - 20Khz.

    As far as I know, the pre amps in both units are exactly the same, ( the XMax pre's,) which are class A; and solid, decent pre's for the money. They are not what would be considered to be "boutique" or preamps known for their 'character"; they are much more on the transparent side. Neither one will give you those "pleasing harmonics" when driven harder that you would get by doing the same thing with a Neve or SSL pre.

    They're not the same quality you'd get with Dangerous, Grace, or Millennia, but then again, they're also not $800 per channel, either.
    Presonus has always been good with conversion, better than most within the price class that they occupy.

    I've recorded full albums with the Presonus 1818vsl, ( vocals, guitars, bass, keys, horns) and was plenty satisfied with the results.

    Someone else would have to chime in ( @Boswell ) and talk to you about the difference(s) between FW400 and USB regarding connectivity/speed/latency.

    In the end, your best bet is to kinda forget the specs, A/B them, one against the other, with the same mic and performance take ( like a lead vocal) and listen for which you may like better; or, if you even can hear a difference between the two.
    I don't believe that you will, but it's difficult for one person to pick a "sound" for another. There may be things about one that you like, and that's not for me to say. ;)

    -d.
     
  5. Steambot9000

    Steambot9000 Active Member

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    Hey thanks for the great and exhaustive answer! I really appreciate it. Concerning latency, both have almost exactly the same latency: input 8 ms and output 7 ms (+/- 0.3 ms) on my macbook. I tested a bit in the meantime with a piano but so far I can't hear a difference...
     
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    The FireWire connection is going to have less uncertainty than USB in its latency, but for two channels, USB is fine. I would not contemplate monitoring via the computer for either of these boxes.

    I know you have a computer and both interfaces at the moment, but if you had to replace the computer in the near future, it's worth considering that FireWire is not being fitted as a native interface on most modern computers.

    Donny, I read the minimum full-scale input figures for these two boxes as 55dB below +17dBu for the FireStudio and 65dB below +14dBu for the 22VSL. I'm assuming a nominal level of +4dBu for the 22VSL, although who knows what Presonus means by "Input Max Headroom". This would indicate that the 22VSL can give full-scale input with lower signal levels than the FireStudio, but the noise levels may be higher. My memory of the last time I used one of those little boxes was that it felt as though all the useful gain was compressed into the last 10 degrees of rotation of the gain control, and that channel matching (needed for mics like the Rode NT4) was very difficult.
     

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