The PreSonus StudioLive: The Perfect Digital Mixer?

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presonus studiolive reviewVirtual sound check enabled; check.  Parametric EQ set for guitar; check.  Small frequency band notched to bring out clarity of singer; check.  Reverb added; check.  Saved as a preset for next Sunday; check.  Easy-as-pie to do all of this; CHECK!  Moving into the digital realm of mixing can be costly and carry a huge learning curve.  Not anymore.

StudioLive Review

The first time I heard about the Presonus StudioLive mixer, I was hopeful.  Then I saw a picture of the mixer and the very very small digital LCD screen and I though “less options and even harder to use.”  I was wrong.

PreSonus has created a digital mixer your church should consider if you are looking into moving into the digital arena.  It does lack a few features, as I’ll cover, but its existing features are outstanding.

Time to Drop Your Analog Mixers

Digital mixers provide a lot of benefits over their analog counterparts when the sound tech knows what they are doing.  It’s like giving a four-wheel drive truck to a driver on a snowy road.  Those who know how to drive in the snow will navigate successfully while those who don’t will likely end up in the ditch.  Just because the technology is there doesn’t guarantee it will benefit you.

This brings us to digital mixers.  Digital mixers give you the ability to interface with computers for digital audio workstations.  They give you the ability to save and recall settings.  They provide a lot of added functionality compared to analog mixer.  The problem is many times there is a high learning curve.  High learning curves and mixer complexity isn’t what is needed in the average church environment.

PreSonus has produced the StudioLive, a digital mixing board which provides all of the benefits of a digital mixing board while making it easy for the average church volunteer to use and abuse.  If ever there was a time for using modern-technology-for-advancement, this is the time.

The StudioLive gives you;

  • Easy-to-use mixing controls
  • Virtual sound checking (band not required!)
  • Event save/recall
  • Compression / gating
  • Wireless control
  • Easy multi-track recording
  • Computer-available control
  • and more” (I’ve always wanted to say that)

The Number One Reason StudioLive Rocks

The StudioLive uses what they call a “fat channel.”  Simply put, when you select a channel, all of the controls in the center of the mixer are specific for that channel.  You can see all your settings in one glance.

This means you get physical controls with LED displays for;

  • Panning
  • Stereo linking
  • Phase reverse
  • High-pass filter (sweepable)
  • 4-band parametric equalization (sweepable)
  • Noise Gate / Notch Filter (great for clearing up congested frequency ranges)
  • Gating
  • Compression (threshold, ratio, attack, release)
  • Limiter (threshold, ratio)
  • Output Assignments (subgroups, post-EQ/post-dynamics option)

The sections for each make it easy to know what you are controlling and how you are controlling it.  For example, here is the EQ section on the 16 channel version.  Note on the 24 channel version above, you get a separate LED for noise gate control.

  

AND (I love this part) you can save your settings.  Let’s say you set everything for the channel and want to save it for next Sunday’s service – no problem.  The settings are saved!  Let’s go one further…you can copy fat channel settings across channels.  Great for setting the foundation for vocalists.

[One setting not saved is the gain structure.  More on this in a later section.]

You’ll love the fat channel implementation with knobs and the LED readout for each.  The way you see this in other digital mixing boards is through a combination of knobs and settings displayed via an LCD screen.  Given my choice between a built-in computer screen and the fat channel design, I’ll take the later.

Ok, just one more things about the fat channel that’s uber-cool.  You can turn off the settings to hear “before and after.”  This is a great way to test what you have done versus where you started.  This is a great way to see if you need to start over because you’ve lost the soul of the sound.

The Learning Curve

Before jumping into all of the other features of this sound board, I absolutely have to talk about the learning curve.  The first time I played around with the mixer, I figured out how to do 85% of the work in fewer than five minutes.  That’s without having watched or read any tutorials about the board.  A few days ago, I watched a great free webinar and can honestly say that with about an hour of video under my belt, I’ve taken care of a good 10%.  I’ll be honest, there are some advanced areas I don’t have down pat but without the mixer in front of me, it’s hard.

Using the mixer for the first time, you’ll find the fat channel layout most intuitive.  Groups and Aux sends can also use the fat channel layout and are equally intuitive.  In fact, you won’t need to use the digital LCD display at all unless you add effects and the save/recall ability.

What about the most novice of sound tech’s?  Not a problem.  The PreSonus StudioLive comes with vocal and instrument preset’s.  For example, let’s say you set up the band on stage and you’ve got a drum kit.  You want to set the snare drum settings.  You can go through the fat channel settings and set it so you like it *OR* go to the digital screen and pick the snare drum preset.  Oh, you’ll want to tweak it a little for your needs but for the novice, it’s a dream.

Other Features (Still Rocking)

Multi-track recording

Multi-track recording with this mixer gives you the ability to;

  1. Record the sermon (something we always do anyway)
  2. Record the band.  Yes, you can modify the sound tracks independently!  Great for creating a worship CD.
  3. Virtual Sound Check!  Virtual sound check technology enables the sound tech to do what all sound tech’s should be able to do – mix without the band.  VSC records all the individual tracks and plays them back, from a computer, into the mixer and out through the house speakers.  You can then mix a song and tweak all the settings you want until you’ve got the sound you want.  Then, save the settings for each channel.  The next time the band plays, you’ve already got all their vocals and instruments dialed in.

Wireless control!

The wireless control option via an iPad is simple to use.  It’s set up much like the mixer itself except when you select a channel and turn the iPad 90-degrees, it shows you the fat channel options.  Not sure you would ever use it?  Set your mix with your existing board and then walk around the room.  Hear something you want to tweak?  Don’t you wish you were wireless?

When the mixer is hooked up to an external computer (mac or pc), you simply hop on your wireless network with your iPad to access the mixer.  The range is only limited by the range of your WiFi network.  BTW, you’ll want to lock down your wireless connection or you might become the target of a practice joke by another one of the sound guys.

Computer hookup

Hook up the mixer to a mac or a pc and using the suite of tools provided by PreSonus, you can have multi-track recordings, external processing, and that virtual sound check option I mentioned above.  You can even use drag&drop functionality on your channel presets.

The software provided with the mixer includes;

  1. Capture software – multi-track recorder within the mixer
  2. StudioOne Artist Software – multi-track editor
  3. Virtual StudioLive – control mixer via computer
  4. Virtual StudioRemote – iPad software

Easy recording

Multi-track recording is not complex.  It’s a two-step process.  Nothing else to do.  Watch as the tracks are streamed onto your computer via Firewire.

Effects

Two 32bit effects processors with a variety of included effects types.  Pick your effects and apply the degree of the effects the in the fat channel.

Save Scenes

Not only can you save individual channel settings, but you can save and recall the whole scene.  Imagine getting back all the settings for the band in mere seconds!

SubGroups and Aux Sends

The sky’s the limit.  Create submixes for your aux sends (submixes for Aviom/hearback users).  Use aux sends for monitor wedges.  Control the effects usage on the auxes.    Same fat channel control.

What I Don’t Like about StudioLive

Gain Structure Not Saved

This could be a deal-breaker for you depending on your usage.  All those fat channel configurations can be saved, even fader position.  However, the gain (trim) for the channel cannot be saved.  They do give you a printable template in the manual for taking note of the trim position but it’s definitely not ideal for quick scene changes.  There are a few ways you can look at this;

  1. You don’t have a need for scene changes dependent on differing gain structures so it’s no big deal.
  2. You don’t have a need for quick scene changes so spending the time setting gain structure is not a problem.
  3. You need quick scene changes and the fact that gain can’t be saved means this mixer is not for you.

In the case of needing quick scene changes, you could find “average” gain settings that could be used across different needs – not optimal but would work.

Limited Effects

The effects on this board are controlled by two effects processors.  This means that while the fat channel gives you all sorts of control, the effects used on each channel are limited to the two you have picked (Hall reverb & Delay for example).  You can give more or less of the effect but you can’t have Hall-reverb with Delay on one channel and Room-reverb and Delay on another channel.  Considering most analog mixers don’t even have built-in effects, I’ll take what I can get.  I also don’t know how many church sound tech’s would be comfortable with such a wide range of control if they did have it.

No 32 or 48-channel versions available.

They do allow you the ability of linking mixers of the same model (16.4.2 & a 16.4.2 for example).  However, you can lose the computer recording functionality.  Pair 2 16′s and everything is fine.  Pair 2 24′s and you lose the functionality.

No motorized faders for remote usage / recall.

I’ve debated about listing this but I decided to list it because given the number of motorized faders on digital mixers, it is an issue that needs discussed.  Motorized faders enable you to control the mixer remotely.

The StudioLive even has the remote control access.  But they don’t do it with motorized faders.  Instead the fat channel area becomes an area for “fader locators.”  They use the LED displays to indicate where the fader should be and it’s up to you to move the fader to that position. Based on Rick Naqvi, a PreSonus rep, it was a price-point consideration.  The motorized faders would have added $1500 to the price.

Having seen it used remotely, the fader locator option works quite well.  It’s not a deal-breaker by any means.  However, know that motorized faders aren’t available.

What you need to know before buying a StudioLive

Which StudioLive is right for you (24.4.2, 16.4.2, 16.0.2)?

 

The 24.4.2 and the 16.4.2 are the same, except for the added number of channels and an added LED control on your EQ for the noise gating with the 24.

The 16.4.2 and the 16.0.2 are noticeably different.  The 16.4.2 has more mic preamps, more FireWire streams, more graphic EQs, longer-throw faders, and more bands of parametric EQ than the 16.0.2. The 16.0.2 does not have digital outs and analog direct outs nor the ability to daisy-chain mixers.  The StudioLive 16.0.2 is smaller and lighter than the 16.4.2 and is the only mixer to offer MIDI control over main output level, effects levels, routing, and scene change.  Get the 16.4.2 or 24.4.2 if this is your first digital mixer.  The 16.0.2 has its place but being the primary mixer for a church is not it.

Are you working with a portable church, setting up in a school or other building every weekend?  If so, don’t buy the cheap canvas case for the mixer.  Instead, spend the money on a pro-quality hard case.  These are the cases with the reinforced metal corners and locking mechanisms.  Digital mixers are full of sensitive circuit boards and a canvas case doesn’t offer you any protection from bumps or drop.

Summary

The PreSonus StudioLive gives you so much control at such a great price, with such a low learning curve…however, it does have a few short-comings that you need to take into consideration.

Is it a perfect mixer?  I wanted so much to say yes; but it’s not.  At the price, you get a lot of great functionality.  But at the same time, at that price, you do see limitations.  There is a reason that mixers can run $10k and beyond.  However, for around $3k for the 24.4.2 you can do a whole lot and do it well.

This article not available for reprint without the express written consent from behindthemixer.com

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Interesting, if old, commentary going on here. I found this review during my online search for help with the EQ setting on my Presonus. I must say, while I agree with the few who suggest the EQ (or in this case GEQ) function of the Presonus is unnecessarily complex, that is the only negative observation I can make about the unit. It has everything else; portability, adaptability, affordability and more. In my case, it’s used strictly for church use and we will never see the full functionality of this piece of equipment. When our sound guy included this in his proposal, I was concerned due to lack of knowledge of the Presonus line. After a few months, I’m here to tell anyone who’s interested that you can’t go wrong with this product line, for the money. Dollar for dollar, it may be the best value on the market.

  2. says

    Arrrgggghhhhh Rick…..

    ….and I find this out literally the day after I receive 2 Allen & Heath GLD80 consoles, 2 AR2412, 1AR84 and two Dante cards (all of which I bought to replace my Presonus 24.4.2 (which I loved dearly – as you’ll see from earlier posts in this thread – and actually was in pain to sell).

    I would have kept it for sure, but I needed loads more assignable outs

    My needs changed significantly, but regrettably at the time I needed to move – the next option from Presonus was not yet available.

    The presonus community is amazing too – never before have I dealt with such an amazing support official and unofficial network of enthusiasts and professionals.

    Heck Behringer…… they don’t even have distributors or a proper support network…. their response is so poor. DV247 told me that they will keep only a very small amount of behringer anything… as it is so much hassle for them to mediate and takes months for anything ever to be done about anything.

    :-(

  3. Trevor N says

    I just have to say: The Behringer x32 blows the doors off the Presonus StudioLive (and I really like the StudioLive). But they’re not even in the same league: Digital snake, far more effects, crazy amount of routing options, wireless app that DOESN’T need an external computer, the Midas-designed pres on the x32 sound amazing, and on and on and on… AND IT COSTS LESS THAN THE 24.4.2. It’s apples and oranges. So if anyone wants to hold on to an anti-Behringer “they only make crap” mentality, that’s fine. And on a LOT of points, you’d be spot-on correct. But as someone who has mixed on numerous StudioLive boards and is now the proud owner of a Behringer x32 I will tell you: On this one, you are dead wrong. The x32 wins, hands-down.

    • says

      Trevor, thanks for the notes on the x32. I believe the X32 was created after they purchased Midas so I’m holding out hope. I’ve heard from quite a few tech’s who have tried/like the x32. This review was written a couple of years ago when the StudioLive was the first affordable digital mixer around. Now you have the x32, the m200i, and whatever else is around the corner. Anytime someone asks me for mixer recommendations, I always say the same thing…it depends on your requirements.

  4. says

    i own a tascam fw-1884 and as you all know it is discontinued, i had to keep one of my macs running snow leopard in 32 bit mode in order for it to work, and when you get in contact with tascam team they tell you that they are not willing to update their drivers to work with lion and mountain lion, and this is a very big disappointment to tascam and their services, well i am now looking at the presonus 16.4.2 and other then the lack of the motorized faders, i think it is pretty good and will do the work, but i want to know how this mixer works with mountain lion running logic pro 7 and main stage while doing a live show, can the mixer use main stage as the software for live mixing or i will have to stick to studio live while i am on live mixing, about the logic pro 7 i read articles that says that it works perfectly but i want to know the live session with main stage, does anyone tried it or knows if it works or not? i am intending of buying this mixer next week, in my country it costs 2,400$, but i am well know in my business in my country the dealer will give to me for 2,200$ which is a good price considering the shipping and tax, but i need help in my question so that i know if i buy it or try to look for another mixer.
    Regards
    Roland

    • says

      The StudioLive1642 works great on Mountain Lion and with Logic 7. You can definitely use Main Stage and return the outputs of your instruments directly to the StudioLive using the Firewire return buttons.

  5. says

    “Lastly, if we want to talk “Ease Of Use”, the Yamaha LS9 kills the Presonus boards hands down. And it has superior remote mixing facilities. On both Windows and IOS platforms! Yamaha Studio Manager is perhaps not as “pretty” as the Presonus apps (Yamaha tends to look more drab and utilitarian), but functionally, where it counts,), there’s just no comparison.”

    Dude…. no harm to you but that board that you are comparing your LS9 to simply cannot have been a presonus. Either that or you were asleep when housed it LOL.

    I use an LS9 nearly every Sunday, sometimes 3-4 services – and the work flow of having to trip over ur chin going through layers and having to use the wee cursor keys and a big dial… primitive at best.

    You can’t even save one setting for say a vocalist – you have to save one library setting for dynamics and another library setting for EQ. Presonus….. both saved under one setting.

    Save individual Aux settings for a users preference on the Yamaha?? Not likely – presonus – no worries!!

    Daft cold sounding dual stage headamps that are ridiculously noisy on the Yamaha – what about the presonus? Nope – just beautiful sounding preamps there.

    What about the famous Yamaha encoder skip…. goodness me the rotary encoders are terrible. I am replacing them all the time for other people’s Yamaha LS9 and 01v96i. Never had to replace one on a presonus.

    The overall speed of the workflow of the Presonus whoops the Yamaha, no doubt.

    I now also own an Allen & Heath GLD80, I am associated to them by my employment as a trainer for D&M audiovisual. I love my GLD80, but even it’s speed of use can’t compare to the presonus – which is why I have held on to the presonus. Lets bear in mind that the kit I have for my GLD (GLD80, AR2412, ar84, AR84, Dante card) cost nearly £8,000. The presonus costs around £2500.

    The LS9 is still based on the same architecture of the original 01V, slow, dated clunky and less than utilitarian. It’s had it’s day. Our church reckon the LS9 is the worst desk they’ve had yet.

    The Roland M480 costs less than the LS932 and its infinitely better as well.
    I am not biased – just a believer in “speed with quality is better”.

    If I was biased I would not have bought a GLD80.

  6. Mark says

    It would be nice to see unbiased reviews on this site, but apparently that’s not possible. The authors’ posted comments on Behringer make that painfully obvious. Public reviewers should formulate their opinions based solely on the equipment being reviewed, and it’s competition within the class. Not reviewing that competition at all due to personal bias makes you nothing more than a spokesperson for, in this case, Presonus. But then, this is only “behind the mixer”, so I guess in the big scope of things, it really doesn’t make any difference. This isn’t, after all, Mix Online. Oh! And Chris, just a thought here, but don’t you agree that Presonus probably shouldn’t have used a name that had already been used in the industry for their mixers. “StudioLive”? Years ago Carvin used that as the name for their flagship line of analog mixers. While those mixers were more “boat anchor” than “flagship”, still, the name was taken. Maybe they should have named it the “Presonus Onyx Series”. But then they’d have Greg Mackie filing law suits against them as well as against Uli Behringer, so you wouldn’t be able to review their equipment either. Guess you’d be stuck reviewing the Allen & Heath “T” and “iLive” boards and the SoundCraft Si Compacts. Lastly, if we want to talk “Ease Of Use”, the Yamaha LS9 kills the Presonus boards hands down. And it has superior remote mixing facilities. On both Windows and IOS platforms! Yamaha Studio Manager is perhaps not as “pretty” as the Presonus apps (Yamaha tends to look more drab and utilitarian), but functionally, where it counts,), there’s just no comparison.

    • says

      Mark, I have a problem with Behringer because of how they reverse-engineer most of their products. Why not call Behringer the “generic” brand and be done with it!?! I have a bias for any mixer but when it comes down to it, you have to look at a few things; price, quality, and functionality. You can compare the PreSonus to the LS9 if you want, but as soon as you compare them on price, then it’s no comparison.

      The StudioLive has been out for a while and I’ve see churches that love it. I’ve see pro-audio professionals that love it for what it can do. No, it’s not a mixer that’s likely going to be listed on a rider but people do love it. And yes, I’ve read stories from people who have had problems and never want to bother with it again. But those are few and far between.

      When I wrote this article, the StudioLive was the first low-price digital mixer on the scene. Behringer (a company that’s bought Midas) new has the new X32 series. Also, quite a few new mixers have come out on the market that provide a lot of functionality. The Line6 Stagescape is a fun little mixer that I’ve played with. There are more and more mixers giving remote functionality in a digital mixer. But can you compare a $3-grand mixer to a $12-grand mixer? No way.

      When I’m asked what mixer(s) I recommend, I ask the person what their needs are. There is no one mixer for everyone and every situation and every budget. I know a guy who didn’t like the LS9 because compared to the Venue system (if I recall correctly), it didn’t seem intuitive. To each their own.

      As for the Carvin Studio / Live and the name. yeah, I can see that. I’d never heard of it so naturally I didn’t mention it.

    • Brian says

      Mark,

      Do you really know what you’re talking about or are you just trolling? Trying to compare the PreSonus StudioLive which retails for around $2,500 vs the Yamaha LS9 or the rest of the boards you’ve mentioned which start at &8,000. So let’s stick to what’s in the same price class as the PreSonus and stop talking about boards that cost considerably more. And you know nothing about trademark law. Even though Carvin used the name StudioLive on some very forgettable equipment, unless they’ve continued to apply for renewal of the trademark name or unless they never trademarked the name, PreSonus is free to call their mixer whatever they’d like.

      You talk about bias but you are obviously biased against anything that doesn’t agree with your personal opinion. Behringer has a bad reputation in the real word of live sound and rightly so. Uli has always had a reputation for ripping off design and functionality for the other companies and doing it so cheaply that the majority of his equipment should be considered disposable. Among seasoned live sound professionals, the jury is still out on the Behringer X-32 (which at the time of the PreSonus review hadn’t been released to the general public, much less the trade magazines yet).

      Let’s talk functionality as far as iPad applications go, bucko. Yeah Studio Manager has more bells and whistles and it should since it’s designed for boards costing substantially more than the PreSonus. Yes it doesn’t need a computer to talk to the Yammy. However it also wasn’t designed for a price point of around $2,000 for the mixer either. Oh, does the Yamaha have functionality to allow each band member the ability to create their own mix? Don’t think so.

      You’ve obviously never used the PreSonus StudioLive boards. I’ve used them as well as Yamaha LS/M7CLs, Neve, Midas, A&H and more boards than I can remember in my 15 years of running live sound. To say the LS-9 is better in “Ease Of Use” isn’t correct. I suspect that’s the only board you’ve used and that’s the only board that you’re used to.

      So let’s talk personal bias here, “Mark”. Slamming Chris and behindthemixer.com for reviewing a small, affordable, quality mixer meant for small churches and making stupid remarks like “This isn’t, after all, Mix Online” is bush league. Mix Online is a large publication funded by advertisers and reaching 1,000′s and has been around for a lot of years. They get stuff in to review for free and vendors are always pushing their latest and greatest to get exposure. Chris has to review what he’s able to at venues that he is invited to mix at. The reviews that are on this site are about as unbiased as can be. Hey I have no problem if Chris is biased toward a product because he thinks it’s a good product. At least he doesn’t take advertising money to talk up a product.

  7. Mark says

    [MARKED AS SPAM BY ANTISPAM BEE | Server IP]
    And the absolute deal killer? The reason you DON’T want this mixer? NO MOTORIZED FADERS!!! Try loading that scene you “saved for next Sunday” in a hurry. Bet my X32 or LS9 load it faster and more accurately every time. CHECK!!!!!

  8. [removed] says

    Don’t buy it. [edited] Beware of the power supply.

    [Note from Chris (Admin): please be more respectful when posting comments.]

  9. RJ says

    We converted to using the presonus 16-4-2 and absolutly love it. It took 16 peices of rack gear and made them obsolete. What you gain in setup, break down, and functions is well worth the learning curve. It is a bit touchy of a board and proper storage of it is always a concern with us. Overall its a great investment and the virtual sound check is a super quick way to get your rough settings in place before the band even arives. Overall its well worth the cost which isnt too much off a high end analog board. I am seeing more and more proffessionals using the 24 channel in their set ups with high end amps for some super clear productions. I do know when we work with alot of country pro’s their tech crews give us alot of respect when they see a local band using a presonus.

  10. Jonny Weston says

    Hey guys,

    The next closest real alternative is likely to be the Allen and Heath GLD 80, with the AR2412, and AR48 mix racks. These come in at about £7300.

    Now to be fair I am a bit biased cause I love the sound of A&H and also work with them as part of D&M audiovisual but having now used one of these desks at Plasa – it’s phenomenal. I would consider it a worthy competitor to the Presonus, especially given that it is 48 channels of audio over a cat5 cable rather than analogue multicore.

    Now – here’s the biggest thing that the Presonus has that the A&H does not yet have – independent iPhone / aux control with the new Qmix app – this literally as Rodney Orpheus puts it – really is a game changed.

    I actually have bands coming to me now cause they know I have a desk where they can wirelessly set up their own monitor mixes for inears or wedges. Its just another feature of the desk that musicians love and appreciate. As of yet none of the presonus compettitors at even three times the price can offer this.

    Really…. The behringer x32 looks good – and does have Midas pre-amps but the sound is still not great.
    I’ve now used the demo model from the uk team and really did not like it at all. The interface is reasonable but the whole thing just feels horrible and cheaply made. Some great features yes…. but just dosen’t feel like it should if you know what i mean.

    Honestly – you need to get herself to a demo of a presonus. If your dealer can’t get a demo unit contact presonus and let them know. I have come to love and appreciate the presonus team of staff – they are the most supportive company in AV I have no doubt. Check their forums and you’ll find their staff in there like a rash all over. Presonus could probably arrange a demo for you – but you definitely need to see it and use it before y can fully understand it.

    There’s some great videos on YouTube too.

    Hope this helps.
    Jonny

    • says

      Jonny, thanks for the notes on the A&H. I’m surprised at how slow other companies have been to even take on the remote-mixing aspect. And Behringer….not gonna touch any of their stuff.

  11. Kat says

    @ Silentfool, you may need to invest in a power conditioner. We also have power fluctuations, due to our venue being an old building and work on the electricity grid. Your desk will not enjoy it! We run a power conditioner as standard with our StudioLive.

    I am also looking at buying one for my church, so thanks Chris for the review and others for your comments. I work in AV and have received mixed opinions from my colleagues. However, as mentioned multiple times, for the price of it, a StudioLive is pretty impressive!

    • says

      Kat, for the price, it’s great. Nothing else comes close to the price-range with that functionality. I do wish it had motorized faders but for the price…

    • says

      Probably not. Behringer, as a company, has a very bad reputation. Enough so that I wouldn’t recommend their products based on that alone. Search for “Behringer lawsuit” and you’ll see just some of the issues.

  12. Jonny Weston says

    I got my Presonus 24.4.2 a few weeks ago, and am yet to use it in church – we’re moving premises at the minute over the summer, and can’t actually have “Church Service” as such – so I have been sitting at home here waiting till 11th Sept when I can break this puppy out.

    So far, having previously used the Yamaha 01v (1st gen not the 01v 96), I have been using the desk with capture – the program that records and plays back pre-recorded tracks – using tracks I downloaded from http://www.mixoff.org runnig them back from my mac through to the desk using the firewire input button that sits at the top of each channel.

    I find the mixer to be intuitive, easy to use indeed!
    When we get in to our new hall that we can use in september I’ll let y’all know how I get on.

    Being honest I really have to get my EQ’ing skills perfected, so I really need to get more practice material – like multitracked acoustic worship sets – particularly acoustics guitar and vocals – I am pretty sure I can do better, but then thats the thing with this desk. Pre-record your sets from church, take them home – listen back to whet you have done at the previous service – and then tweak/learn all week before the next service. So good!

    Ideal desk for training.

    Jonny

  13. sanjay says

    What I find unnecessary complex is using the presonus to equalize a room – this is very easy to do in most
    mixes and unnecessarily complex in the presonus – perhaps the presonus is aimed digital recording.
    From what I can see it is 4 band equalizer..

    • Jonny Weston says

      its got at least 1 31 band eq to use.

      you can run it either from the desk console – using the encoder LED’s representing each band of the eq strip to measure your cut or boost. The rotary encoder allows cut or boost.

      I actually found it pretty easy to get straight away – and then I tried it on the iPad….. which was even easier again.

      Cheers,
      Jonny

      • says

        Jonny, thanks for your notes on this console. From using this one a couple times and comparing it to a similar (yet more expensive) soundcraft, I will say that I like the soundcraft’s screen interface a lot more than the Presonus…but then it didn’t have the DAW aspect that the presonus has going for it.

        • Jonny Weston says

          Honestly
          I do have to say that i also don’t have as much of a liking for the little screen on the presonus as much as my other desks. However having come from a Yamaha 01v back ground and used M-7CL’s regularly in church/college in Sydney…. everything is going to be a compromise at a cost.

          Did you try running the “Universal Control” Virtual Studiolive Application on your computer when connected via firewire and running a screen with the desk as well.
          it does add a reasonable enough GUI to the desk and makes management of the desks resources an absolute doddle. Open up the VSL channel Tab and you are flying!! Full representation of the FAT channel.

          The only thing that I don’t like about the VSL GUI is the two tone colour of the EQ graph, with it being a different colour on either side of the flat line (Dark colour cuts frequencies and light colour boosts frequencies) personally i find it quite “unnatural” and would have if I am completely honest much preferred just a plain black and EQ curve.

          My Opinion
          My opinion of the Presonus still remains the same though – I honestly think that at this price point this desk is unbeatable.
          With my band we now all have iPads and monitor mixing is simple for each individual, and even when I am out doing sound for other musicians I now have my own and another iPad that I bring for them to help setting up mixes.

          When doing gigs for other musos I also always record the sound check – and bring them back to front of house after sound check – and play it back to them….. and made an instant £100 by offering to supply the band with the straight preprocessed tracks burnt onto a little hard drive – they then just have to take the tracks to their guys for turning into a little EP of a live gig recording. Seriously… literally money for nothing as an engineer!

          My hopes for the future
          1) It is my hope that the Aux Mixes can be named in future updates for the iPad software – in the same way that the universal control application lets you name each track for your iPad. this way the musos aren’t running around on stage with one or two iPads between 6 of them messing up each other monitor mixes – they just look for their position name rather than Aux1-10

          2) What might be a nice add-on in the future is to have some sort of Presonus / Smaart collaboration for an RTA app to be built in to the StudioLive Universal Control software.

          This is a great desk and really needs to be experienced to be understood.

          plus on top of all that – i honestly cannot say that i have ever experienced a company ever in this industry who have been as hands on about the correct education on usage of a desk as these guys. They are seriously all over customer service like a bad baby bum rash!!

          Heck I don’t work for Presonus – in fact I pray my bosses never see this thread – I work (in an indirect way for D&M Audiovisual – we own Allen&Heath and Calrec)

          • says

            Jonny, great to hear from you now that you’ve got some expierence with the StudioLive. A locla church just upgrade and they are thrilled to have. Hopefully PreSonus will hear requests for the aux naming and follow through with that.

    • says

      You have eight 31 band EQ’s on the SL2442 that can be assigned to any of the Aux Outputs, Subgroups and Main. That’s in addition to having a four band fully parametric EQ on each output. So in other words, you don’t have to use the parametric if you prefer a 31 band graphic.

  14. says

    PreSonus is planning to do an update to the iPAD app that will give the user a permissions page. This will allow access to only certain pages for certain band members. So the bass player would only get to mess with Aux 3, etc… I personally play with a band that often uses multiple ipads. Basically, each person just stays on their respective aux page. It works well for the most part, but the permissions update will definitely address this.

  15. Anonymous says

    Great article!

    One question… What would you recommend as a policy for band members controlling their own ipad aux mixes. If they all had one to mix their ow ears, than could they potentially inadvertently screw up something in the man mix?

    Thanks!

  16. says

    Thanks for the review! I had been eyeing up one of these for primarily studio use, but also to use for mixing live shows while doing a live recording to tweak later. I have to say that only having two effects to across all of the channels is a real bummer, though, for live use.

    Our church is planning on a digital system in 2012/2013, but looking at the Roland route (the personal mixers for musicians are fantastic). This would be good for a small-to-medium sized setup, though. I’d love to get one for our Youth Room or Library.

  17. Josh says

    The Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 is an option that I seriously considered for our church. Given our [lack of] budget and space limitations, I really wanted it to work. Unfortunately, the limitations killed the deal for us. There are a few more that I’d like to bring up, just so others know what they’d be getting into.

    The high pass filters have a 6 dB/octave slope. The HPFs on our Mackie SR24-4′s seem a bit weak, and they’re 18 dB/octave. For various reasons, we can’t currently do aux fed subs (we don’t _have_ subs, per se), so this causes problems. Presonus could easily fix this with a firmware update. From what I’ve read on their forum, it doesn’t appear that they care about doing this.

    We’re maxing out a 24 channel (no, they lie, it’s 20 channels) Mackie right now, so we’d immediately have to think about two StudioLives at one time. It is my understanding that we’d lose virtual soundcheck and recording abilities – things that I’d kind of like to have in a digital console for training volunteers. It’s not a huge deal, but it’d hurt to lose these features.

    The most annoying thing is the fader locate process, which would make snapshots a real pain for me. Basically, when you leave fader locate mode, all of the levels jump to where the physical faders are. I’ve used something in the past where you could do a recall, and the levels would remain static on each channel until you brought that channel’s physical fader up or down to “catch up” with where the level was; after that the fader and level would track as usual. The problem is that if I’m using snapshots, I’m probably mixing something where I don’t have time to locate all of the faders. I can imagine switching to a snapshot and then needing to quickly change just one fader (because I’ve done it a lot on a DM2000, though it has moving faders). Having to locate all of the faders means that snapshots are practically useless unless you plan to stay on one snapshot for a long time, or the levels never change.

    Again, this would be fixable in a firmware update, and would require no new hardware. However, they probably deem it too complicated for their target market. I guess I’ll have to convince our trustee board to start saving up for an LS9, which seems to be the least expensive alternative. Assuming Presonus did market research (they clearly didn’t with the HPFs, but probably so for the other things), these complaints won’t affect most smaller churches. When I was at Sweetwater a couple of months ago, I touched a StudioLive 16.4.2 for a few minutes, and it did feel very sturdy and seemed intuitive enough.

  18. Chris says

    One note I'll add about the fader locate / motorized faders is that in a way, I don't see them as absolutely necessary – just very convenient.  For example, while I could recall a whole scene, I'm still going to tweak and the faders are just part of that process.  I mean I get the whole snapshot thing.   Yeah, I get your point.  I think it's a matter of taking in board usage into consideration.  If you are doing productions that require instant scene changes, then StudioLive isn't the best option.

    I checked on the VSC and the recording capability when piggybacking mixers.  32 channel limit on that so chaining 2 16's is ok but not 2 24's.

    Regarding the HPF, I found this…

    Q: I read that the high pass filter is only 6db per octave. Is that true or is it something that can be adjusted? It seems too gentle to be really useful.

    A: Unfortunately the slope is 6db, but you can use it in conjunction with the shelf in the four band, so it does work

  19. says

    Chris one thing you didn’t mention was the gain structure. When I checked out one of these boards last year while I was working at a conference I noticed that the head amp/gain/whatever-this-manufacturer-calls-it was also not recallable. (It was analog.) If this is no longer the case… stop reading and post a reply so I don’t lead anyone else astray.

    I think that the inability to store the gain structure when you save the rest of the channel settings or set up scenes/snapshots is a pretty big hurdle. I’ve worked on digital desks with and without recallable gains and I think it is a large lacking feature… but I’d probably pick motorized faders first.

  20. Chris says

    Travis, great call.  I checked a StudioLIve Q&A and found this…

    Q: When recalling a scene store does the recall include mic gain?
    A: Head amps are not recallable.

    Wow!  I'm going to revise this article and add that in!  I suppose they might say for the target market, it wasn't needed or it was a price point issue.  Still, you give the ability to swap scenes and then have that…

     

  21. Luke says

    I have a 16 channel studiolive, and no matter what cons you can think of… It’s an amazing console for it’s price.

    The recallable faders and fat channel is great, means that if you have multiple bands in your church, you can simply save a scene for each set. I wouldn’t worry about the recallable gain at all, in fact I don’t see why it’s such a big deal to you guys… Especially if you’re making the move from analog, which has recallable NOTHING? I just take a video with my phone, it does the job.

    When you’ve heard one of these in action, you’ll be sold. They instantly make an amazing sound, the pre-amps are a little plasticy (or digital I guess you could say) but not enough to make it a bad thing. They sound SWEET.

    2 fx channels… That’s MORE than what you’d get in almost ALL analog consoles. And even if the analog console DID have fx, in 9/10 cases, the fx is terrible so you end up using outboard anyway. Besides, the 24 comes with TEN aux channels, you could always use one of them as an fx line.

    You can link up to 4 of these babies at a time, and linking up a 24 and a 16 DOES work. In fact you can link up any of there products as far as I know. My friend has a 24 channel, I have a 16, we’ve done it.

    If you’re looking for a cheap digital console, I’d DEFINITELY be moving in this direction. In fact I’m about to buy 2 or 3 of these 24′s for our church. Could you give me a link to where it says you can’t record to 24′s? I heard you could. But even if you can’t… 32 is MORE than enough.

    The Presonus consoles are AMAZING, and all of the cons you have here are definitely not enough to turn you away. Especially considering one of the first things you’ve said in this article is “Time to Drop Your Analog Mixers”… All analog consoles have those problems.

    I LOVE THE PRESONUS CONSOLE RANGE! No hesitations. GO FOR IT!

  22. Chris says

    Luke, great to hear you love it.  I was pointing out the areas where I thought it could have been different or better.  For example, the FX – not bad, just surpised it was limited to the two, given it was a digital baord but the fact it has FX at all is great.

    Regarding the joining…from a Q&A:

    Q Can I use any of the computer tools if I have two of the 24.4.2 boards slaved together? I know I can't record because of the 32 channel limit

    A Once you chain a 24 you lose connection to a computer completely.

    Also, there are a couple of places where they say you can only daisy-chain like models.  But if you say you are able to do it, I guess the only question is "what features, if any, do you lose?"  I'm also wondering if one of the early firmware updates changed this.

  23. Craig C says

    Are you sure the 24.4.2 and 16.4.2 are nearly the same?

    The 24ch version has 4x dual-mono 31 band EQs (I guess that means 8 in total?) and fully parametric channel EQ (not semi), as well as 10 auxes instead of 6. It also seems to have a more powerful gate, and a variable threshold on the channel limiter.
    [See the page for the 24.4.2, under the "Which StudioLive is right for you" heading]

    One more point, I take it that the Aux controls at the top, are part of the fat channel and when you select a channel they apply to that channel? That implies there are no Aux master faders…

  24. Craig C says

    (OOPS) Followup post to above; I watched a video specifically about the 24.4.2 on Sweetwater, the aux sends use the fat channel’s encoders and meters. You select the aux, the meters show the level and you use the encoder to raise it up/down. This means you do have aux masters, that’s what the knob on the aux panel does.
    Each aux also has access to a fat channel of it’s own, with gating/comp/EQ.

    As to the graphic EQs – the 16.4.2 has a (stereo) 31-band across the mains. The 24.4.2 has 8, assignable to any bus.
    Also, one of the commenters on it noted that the graphic EQs are difficult to use without a computer (using the control software). But you’d likely have a computer connected anyway for recording the sermon, virtual soundcheck and remote control.

    The 24.4.2 video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCH-E24qzE4

  25. Chris says

    Thanks for the info.  I can't beleive I forgot to mention that aux/fat channel usage in the article! 

    I found the graphic EQ's easy to use without a computer because of how well they are labeled on the board and I'm used to going "old skool."  However, when you get to the computer/ipad usage, you DO get the eq control as a graph of frequencies.  For people used to the graphs, I can see why they'd prefer it. 

  26. Jonathan Mould says

    I was hoping that at the end of that review you would say “…and Behind The Mixer has one to give away”! lol
    oh well… ;)

  27. Eric says

    I recently bought this mixer for my church. Given the price-point, the features included are amazing.

    The lack of motorized faders is my biggest complaint, but we don’t use it to switch scenes during a service, only for recalls from week to week or band to band so it works just fine. Also the iPad remote functionality is great! With the 10 auxes available the flexibility we have is great we have separate auxes for recording, remote speakers, and several monitor sends. We now use iPads to remotely adjust monitors from on stage.

    Perfect mixer for a small church.

  28. says

    We purchased a StudioLive 24.4.2 back in January and I have loved just about everything about it. The multi-track recording, the fat channel, saving scenes/channels, copy/paste feature, and everything else you listed give it HUGE advantages over the old analog board we switched from. Probably the biggest plus, aside from the price is how easy it is to understand. It’s my first digital board and training the other 3-4 volunteers was a snap.

    It has froze on me once during a service, but I’m 99% sure it was due to some power issues we have in the building.

    Looking forward to getting an iPad in the next few days so I can run it remotely!

  29. Anonymous says

    I own a 16.4.2 I am having a great time using this Board for my Band in a Live application. I am finding out more and more about it every time I use it. As for the recording feature that is a big thing for me. The store and recall has been a big deal for me as well since we play many venues and it has cut down on sound check time. As for motorized Fader’s I don’t find this to be a big deal not having them, Besides it would add to the price a bunch. I also use Studio One Pro which importing my recordings from Studio Live Capture is Beautiful. The sound is clean easy to get around, The effects sound nice. Having 6 aux sends for me is perfect. When you consider the out board gear that the Studio Live has built in and what you would pay to purchase all your EQ’s, Compressors and such it would be a lot more than just going with a Studio Live. Linking 2 Studio 24.4.2 you do lose a lot that is why I went with the 16.4.2 in the event I wanted to expand I would move in to another studio live or with the fire wire I can also use my Fire Studio Projects for more inputs.

  30. says

    We have since added 31 band graphics to each of the SL1642′s Aux Sends via a free firmware update. So now you get a stereo graphic for the main and then 6 more for each of the Auxes.

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