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Hands-On Review: PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 Digital Mixer

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Live mixing, studio recording, and unprecedented control

By Steve Oppenheimer
PreSonus Marketing Communications Manager

PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 Digital Mixer

When PreSonus decided to develop a digital mixer, we knew it had to be extremely competitive with existing products. That meant it would have to offer exceptional quality, a full range of features, and an intuitive user interface—all for an attractive price. And, of course, we knew that accomplishing this would be easier said than done. But based on sales, reviews, and user feedback, it's clear that we hit the mark with our hot-selling, 16-channel PreSonus StudioLive 16.4.2 performance and recording digital mixer. The new 24-channel PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2 is the second mixer in this series, and although it shares most of its features and layout with the 16-channel version, it adds several important features and enhancements.

The PreSonus StudioLive is by no means "just another digital mixer." We designed it for both studio recording and live sound without compromising the requirements for either. It's a great choice for mixing a club band, a concert, or a church service, and it's perfect for installations. At the same time, it has the features and exceptional audio quality required for recording.

Live recording with studio quality

As the name implies, with StudioLive you can record and mix live sound at the same time: it comes bundled with our new Capture™ recording software, which lets you record your show on a Mac or Windows PC via the mixer's built-in 32x26 FireWire computer interface. Connect a FireWire cable, click twice, and you're recording all 24 tracks and the stereo bus! It couldn't be simpler.

The StudioLive software bundle also includes Studio One Artist, our amazing digital audio workstation (DAW). Studio One Artist is a creative environment built for intuitive use, speed, and efficiency–yet it's robust enough for the most complex productions.

To top it off, StudioLive includes our groundbreaking PreSonus Virtual StudioLive (VSL) software, which provides complete computer control of the StudioLive mixer. You can see and edit EQ and compression curves onscreen and load virtually limitless Scenes and individual processor settings, all via simple drag-and-drop from a list that's visible at all times. Control is bidirectional, so anything you change on the mixer will change in the software in real time, and vice versa. And using third-party VNC software, you can control the entire system remotely from a laptop or wirelessly from an iPad. You simply can't do that with competing mixers and interfaces.

Fast and easy

Ease of use was a major consideration with every aspect of the StudioLive and software bundle. Sure, we loaded the StudioLive with great features, but the real point is that you can use those features quickly and easily. The StudioLive's innovative QuickTouch design allows fast access to every parameter, mix, effect, and aux bus. No surfing through menus, no confusing routing. You can focus on the music and not worry about how to use the tools. With no previous experience on the StudioLive, you can set up a mix in a couple of minutes flat!

Once you have a setup you like, you can save scenes (all settings), Fat Channel settings (described further on), and individual digital effects—with the ability to recall them at the touch of a button. This means, for example, that you can record at home and easily re-create the mix live, or set up a mix in one venue and recall it for the next gig, and save your sound-check settings so you're ready to go when the show starts—quickly, easily, and reliably.

Amazing sound, plentiful processing

Of course, all the features and ease of use wouldn't be worth much without excellent audio quality, and the StudioLive 24.4.2 delivers the best. We've loaded the StudioLive with the same low-noise, high-headroom Class A XMAX mic preamplifiers found in our DigiMax FS and FireStudio line of studio-recording interfaces. All digital mixing is done with ultra-high-headroom, 32-bit floating-point processing. The digital converters are the highest quality available, delivering dynamic range of 118dB. This is one clean machine.

Another contributor to the StudioLive's outstanding sonic quality is our proprietary Fat Channel, which provides a four-band parametric EQ, compressor, limiter, and gate on every channel and on each of the four subgroups, 10 auxiliary sends, and main stereo outs. There's a high-pass filter on every channel. These channels are full-featured, studio-grade processors. For example, the gate includes Key Filter and Key Listen, and the limiter has an adjustable threshold. The Fat Channel algorithms deliver real-world control parameters and a highly musical, outstanding sound. And engaging the Fat Channel is as easy as pressing any Select button.

We gave the StudioLive two programmable, 32-bit, stereo effects processors that generate an assortment of reverbs and delay effects. A library of useful presets is included, and the parameters are very easy to use. We also included Tap Tempo.

Award-winning design, killer value

The word is out: Worship Leader magazine proclaimed the StudioLive 24.4.2 the 2010 Best of the Best digital mixer; Worship Facilities and Church Production magazines named it the 2010 Best Overall Product and Best Digital Mixing Console. And it has been nominated for a Mix Foundation TEC Award. It recently received a rave review in Recording magazine, and it's being used by a variety of major artists.

Outstanding ease of use, top-quality sound, tight integration with state-of-the-art software, award-winning design, and the features you want for both studio and live applications—the StudioLive 24.4.2 has it all. To top it off, with an MSRP of $3,299, the StudioLive is an incredible value, outperforming digital mixers that cost several times its price.

Tags: Recording Mixers

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