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PreSonus proudly announced that after two years of intense R&D, it is shipping its new StudioLive™ 16.4.2 digital recording and performance mixer. The StudioLive is by no means "just another digital mixer." It's designed for both studio recording and live sound, without compromising the requirements for either—but that's just the beginning.

The StudioLive sports a wealth of inputs and outputs. In addition to 16 mic inputs with XLRs, each channel has 1/4-inch TRS balanced line inputs and insert points. The four Subgroup outputs and six Aux bus inputs and outputs are also on 1/4-inch balanced jacks, and the main outs are on both XLR and 1/4 inch TRS jacks, along with a 1/4-inch mono output. Stereo tape sends and returns are on RCA jacks. There's a mic input for the talkback channel, 1/4-inch control-room outputs, a 1/4-inch headphone jack, and coax S/PDIF digital outputs.

The mixer also serves as a dual-port FireWire audio interface that can route all channels and buses to and from a Mac or Windows PC. It works with any ASIO-compliant audio application, including Logic, Cubase, Live, Digital Performer, Sonar, and Audition. Latency is so low that you can use your host program and plug-ins with your StudioLive in real time for live performances.

Further emphasizing its dual nature, StudioLive comes bundled with PreSonus's new Capture™ recording software for Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista. Capture is preconfigured to record with the StudioLive, so all mixer channels are correctly routed to Capture tracks. Launch Capture, open a new session, click once to arm all tracks, click on Record, and you're capturing the audio from all 16 channels and the stereo bus! It could not be simpler. You can drop markers on the fly to separate songs, do basic edits, return the recorded tracks to the mixer via FireWire, process them further, and send a stereo mix back to Capture, where you can export WAV and Open TL files to other audio programs. Capture also can import WAV files so you can bring prerecorded loops and backing tracks to a live show. Although its most obvious application is live recording, Capture is so quick and simple that you may want to employ it in the studio for capturing basic song ideas when the inspiration strikes.

Ease of use was a major consideration with every aspect of the StudioLive. Its 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, not worry about how to use the tools.

Once you have a setup you like, you can save scenes (all settings), Fat Channel settings, and individual digital effects and recall them at the touch of a button. Record at home and easily re-create the mix live, 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.

As with all PreSonus gear, the StudioLive delivers excellent audio quality, with 16 of the company's award-winning, low-noise, high-headroom, Class A XMAX mic preamps. All mixing is done with ultra-high-headroom, 32-bit floating-point processing, eliminating digital clipping. The digital converters are also excellent, with 118 dB dynamic range. This is one clean machine!

A major contributor to the StudioLive's outstanding sonic quality is the proprietary PreSonus Fat Channel, which provides a 4-band semiparametric EQ, highpass filter, compressor, limiter, and gate on every channel and on each of the four subgroups, six auxiliary sends, and main stereo outs. The highpass filter and EQ are based on the custom-designed PreSonus EyeQ™, and the compressors, limiters, and gates are digitally modeled to sound just like PreSonus' warm-sounding, award-winning ACP88. The Fat Channel algorithms deliver real-world control parameters and highly musical sound. As with the other features, it's easy to use: engage the Fat Channel by pressing any Select button—done! You can even copy and paste Fat Channel settings between channels and buses.

Two dedicated stereo aux buses serve a pair of programmable, 32-bit, stereo effects processors that generate an assortment of reverbs and delay effects. The two effects buses can also be routed through the Fat Channel so you can apply EQ and dynamics processing and assign the outputs to subgroups and the main mix bus. The parameters are very easy to use, and you get Tap Tempo and effects store, recall, and scene selection.

PreSonus remembered the little things, too. When you press a button, it lights up brightly, but all buttons glow faintly when not selected, so you can find what you want in a dark venue, even if you don't attach a gooseneck lamp to the included jack.

Furthermore, the StudioLive is built to take the rigors of the road. PreSonus does not recommend testing this by intentionally dropping the mixer on the sidewalk, of course, but if you slip during load-in, your StudioLive has a good chance of surviving the shock and still handling the show.

But wait! That's not all! Soon after shipping the StudioLive, PreSonus will release a free firmware update that will enable you to use the two FireWire ports to daisy-chain up to four StudioLive mixers for 64 channels of recording or combine up to 12 StudioLive mixers for 192 channels in live performance, with sample-accurate synchronization between units. When you plug in a slave unit, your master StudioLive detects it, gives it an address, and merges the buses to the master unit. So with three mixers, all 48 channels are sent to the master unit's main bus, the six aux buses on the slave mixers are summed to the aux buses on the master unit, and the same is true of the subgroups. The mutes, solos, and PFL/cue also work together, like one large mixer. No other mixer anywhere near the price class can do this; in fact, it's possible that no other mixer at any price can do it.

Outstanding ease of use, top-quality sound, roadworthiness, cascading multiple units, recording software, and the features you want for both studio and live applications—the StudioLive has it all. To top it off, with an MSRP of $1,999, the StudioLive competes head-to-head with digital mixers that cost several times its price. Clearly, the PreSonus StudioLive is destined to be one of the hottest products on the market in 2009 and beyond.

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