PreSonus FireStudio Mobile
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PreSonus FireStudio Mobile

FireStudio Mobile, FireWire audio interface from PreSonus in the Firestudio series.

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content in English
sireson 07/17/2014

PreSonus FireStudio Mobile : sireson のユーザーレビュー (content in English)

"Excellent on all counts!"
5

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I spent a number of years working away from computer-based recording, mostly utilising a Roland VS-2400CD, due to frustrations with latency on my, then Windows PC. After switching to a Mac I was lucky enough to spend some time with a FireStudio Mobile and liked it enough to purchase my own.

The interface itself pleases from the moment it is unpacked. The solid metal housing gives an immediate feeling of confidence which is then further boosted by the large selection of input sockets and the very positive response provided by the four, front gain and volume knobs. The entire unit is bus-powered over a Firewire 400 connection, which also provides phantom power for any connected condenser mics - providing the firewire connection is direct, not via a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter.

The large number of connections for a small interface is ideal for my setup. I have two outboard channel strips as well as an external mixer, along with at least one condenser mic (either a Rode NT1/A or an Audio Technica AT2020) most of the time. This unit caters for up to eight audio inputs through six 1/4” jacks on the rear of the unit and two combination mic/instrument sockets, with Class A XMAX preamplifiers, on the front. These front sockets have their own input gain controls as well as a button to provide the phantom power. There are also some basic LED metering above the gain controls. However, I tend to use these as the long-distance 'is there a signal' lights rather than for accurate metering.

MIDI and S/PDIF connection through the interface is provided via a serial breakout cable. This is not ideal as it extends out the back of the unit significantly further than any jack-plug connection. In addition, the MIDI cable connections themselves look quite feeble and, indeed, over the course of several months of use the MIDI input had a tendency to only work when placed in exactly the right position. However, this is a minor fault since I, like most users, now connect my MIDI instruments via a direct USB connection rather than through the interface.

I currently use the FireStudio Mobile with my 15" MacBook Pro Retina. This has 16Gb RAM and an i7 processor. After installing the Presonus Universal Control software the interface works seamlessly with OSX as soon as it is plugged in. It becomes the main audio device and all sound is routed to the two rear 1/4" output sockets. I previously used this interface with an original white MacBook running Snow Leopard and it worked just as perfectly.

UTILIZATION

I previously used Cubase for my recording but the FireStudio Mobile came with a copy of PreSonus Studio One Artist. This DAW has been a revelation to me and I have subsequently upgraded to the latest 'Pro' version. Once inside Studio One the interface performs exactly as a good interface should - silently. The latency of the unit is controlled by the buffer size within the DAW and performed without clicks or pops at a buffer size of 128 samples. This provided a round-trip latency of 10ms, more than acceptable for all uses.

The Class A XMAX mic preamplifiers on the front of the unit are noticeably noise-free at any level when recording. They are, perhaps, a little under-sensitive for some applications - when recording more delicate sounds through a condenser mic the gain control was often turned up nearly to full. Although, even with this setting there was no noise so this could hardly be a complaint. All eight sockets provide excellent sound at high bit-rate and sample size with no real strain on the system processor even when all are being recorded simultaneously.

When using the unit with the Studio One software it is possible to create a zero-latency headphone cue mix. By clicking a software button the incoming audio is routed directly to the headphones prior to being processed. Whilst it it is not possible to insert effects, such as reverb, into this cue mix but it does mean that those users running slower systems will be able to set their buffer size to a larger value when recording audio. The musician will still hear themselves in real time but the recording will ‘land’ after the latency. This is handled seamlessly by the DAW.

The slight downside to this cue mix support is the single headphone socket. Due to the number of inputs it is often the case that I have several musicians recording at the same time. It would be nice to be able to provide separate cue mixes for each but there is only headphone socket (which I have connected to a powered splitter) for all.

I have only updated the Universal Control software twice in the time I have had the unit. In both cases this was because I noticed an update was available, not because I felt I needed to.

GETTING STARTED

As the unit is a firewire device an extra accessory of a Thunderbolt to firewire adaptor is required to link the interface to my MacBook Pro, no firewire ports being provided by Apple. This leads to the issue that the phantom power no longer functions through this adaptor. The provided power supply resolves this problem but does mean that when recording a condenser mic the unit is not 'technically' bus-powere.

Prior to connection the PreSonus Universal Control software needed to be installed. Although provided on a CD, the latest version was easily available from the PreSonus website and was downloaded and installed in a matter of moments. After a restart and the interface was plugged in, OSX recognised it immediately and sound output was transferred to the unit automatically. In the OSX sound settings the output volume is greyed-out since PreSonus expects users to use the volume knob on the front of the unit, or open the Universal Control application for advanced mixing. This advanced control allows the interface to be used as a virtually latency-free mixer for any of the audio inputs.

The sockets are clear on their use and I have yet to need to read any manual for the interface itself.

OVERALL OPINION

Having tried out a few other interfaces, such as the Focusrite Saffire and PreSonus' own USB AudioBox I am definitely sticking to my FireStudio Mobile. The lack of any downside to cleanly recording 8 audio tracks at the same time really sold me the interface. I frequently have a selection of instruments to record simultaneously and I always have complete confidence that any problems will be the musicians not the interface.

Whilst there are other interfaces available for similar, or less, expense I would recommend this interface without hesitation.