PreSonus are one of the most consistent companies in pro-audio. Since 1995, they’ve been bubbling away at producing products that meet the needs of engineers and musicians of all skill-levels: ranging from budding bedroom producers laying down demos for future hit songs, to professional engineers working in recording and rehearsal studios. In addition to phenomenal, practical audio interfaces in the updated Studio Series, PreSonus is known for it’s FaderPort products, digital mixers and ridiculously popular monitor controllers - the PreSonus Central Station PLUS is almost as synonymous with top-tier recording studios as Yamaha’s NS-10 monitors.
PreSonus’ digital mixers are in live venues of varying sizes all around the world, and their FaderPort products sit on desktops at the heart of countless studios. The new Studio Series of audio interfaces are revised for 2019 and are a great addition to this legacy, from the 2-in/2-out Studio 24c to the 18-in/20out Studio 1824c and everything in between. All units in the series feature combo-XLR and 1/4” jack inputs, and most of the series feature a few 1/4” outputs (not including the monitor outs). The series features PreSonus’ professional-grade XMAX mic preamps and clear, concise metering. Even the smaller 24c features MIDI in/out which makes it perfect for a traveling producer or a first interface for a beginner.
The PreSonus 24c is a bus-powered (very handy!) 2 input, 2 output USB audio interface with sturdy knobs and pots, clearly labeled buttons and a handy input/playback mix knob for direct monitoring while recording. The XMAX preamps offer a lot of gain that retains your headroom and doesn’t colour your sound too much, as well as a universal 48V switch. All interfaces in the range are rated up to 192kHz, which is important for modern and professional integration. The interface overall is fairly inconspicuous and is light, sleek and stylish. It features a Kaspersky lock slot for tying the interface down and the box includes adhesive rubber feet to stop the interfaces sliding around on a desktop or other surface. Because of the 24c’s small size, the knobs can be tricky to dial in as they’re so close to the ground or your desktop. Even with the included rubber feet they’re fiddly and may require the unit to be picked up. This is remedied in the 128c because of its size and width, which obviously pertains more room for routing. Headphone dials on the 24c and entire series go to 11, which is perfect for musicians asking for more, more, more from their cans.
At the top end of the range, the 128c retains a lot of these features and shows that there were no compromises made in the series. Besides an additional ADAT I/O for inputs and outputs 11-18 and a word clock out, the features are the same as the 24c but multiplied. The 128c is powered via an included adapter, but features a handle cable hook so the adapter won’t come unplugged when accidentally pulled. Oddly, the 128c also features a universal 48V phantom power switch for all eight combo XLR and 1/4” jack pre amps. Admittedly, for an interface of this caliber it’s not crazy to assume some external preamps might be used - but it still seems like an odd compromise. Because of this, condensers and ribbons mics can’t be used at the same time, and you can’t use dynamic mics with condensers without sending phantom power down the line to dynamic mics or to external synths or outboard effects being used simultaneously. To be fair, there’s an increasing number of active ribbon mics available on the market, but universal phantom power still seems like an odd choice for an 18-input interface. All interfaces in the series connect via USB-C to ensure super fast data transfer, and a clear red USB indicator that quickly switches to a calming blue when connected successfully. Interfaces connect automatically and showed up in my ProTools Playback Engine instantly, and the 128c includes a word clock out for connection and integration into a bigger recording rig, as well as a handy mono button to check mixes.
All in all, the PreSonus Studio Series of interfaces for 2019 are a revamped and reimagined series of interfaces for the modern home producer. They include practical features such as clear metering, plenty of gain on the PreSonus XMAX preamps, powerful and clean headphone outputs and plenty of I/O when you need it. The range starts at the 24c, perfect for a producer of any level, all the way up the mammoth 128c with up to 18 ins and outs for whatever you need to record, insert or send to. The XMAX preamps are clear and transparent, ready to be coloured by whatever source, preamp or microphone you put before them. Any interface in the series could be a great addition to an existing studio, with the 128c or the 1810c offering the potential to become the heart of your recordings, delivering clear audio up to 192kHz. PreSonus has always, and clearly continues to, produce trustworthy equipment that serves the user; but perhaps more importantly, the music.
Hits and Misses
No compromise on entry-level equipment. Interfaces have same features but more or less I/O