PreSonus Studio One 2 review

20 Feb 2012

A terrifically usable audio workstation that makes everyday music production a pleasure

Price when reviewed 
324
5

PreSonus Studio One is a relative newcomer to the digital-audio workstation market, having only recently hit its second major release. But with no need to keep continuity with entrenched workflows, it can offer a fresh approach to digital composition and production, one tailored to modern methods and modern hardware.

This starts with a front-end that exploits today’s generous display sizes to allow you to record, edit, arrange and mix compositions all from the main window. Things can get a bit pane-heavy if you want to access all the program’s advanced controls, but it’s still a much smoother experience than fiddling around with subwindows and floating panels. If you’re on a smaller screen, or want to make the most of a multimonitor setup, you can choose to pop out the mixing console and the note editor into separate windows.

A single-window interface puts almost everything at your fingertips

This mixer itself is another up-to-date idea. In place of the old one-channel-per-track paradigm, you get a mixer channel for each virtual audio output in your project – a smart approach for an era in which virtual instruments are the norm. It becomes a breeze to EQ only the kicks from a multichannel drum machine, or to route a specific sound from a sampler through an effects bus. K-System metering support is built in too, to help studio professionals hit consistent levels.

This sense of simplicity permeates the interface. A huge range of everyday operations can be achieved via drag and drop, including assigning instruments to tracks, quantising MIDI and audio phrases, creating automation envelopes and comping together multiple audio takes. To assign a physical MIDI controller to a programmable parameter, simply wiggle the controller, select the desired parameter with the mouse and click the “link” icon in the Studio One toolbar. If you’re coming from Cubase, Logic or Pro Tools – or continuing to use one of those packages while you try out Studio One – you can switch to that program’s keyboard shortcuts, to ensure you hit the ground running.

The Studio One mixer presents a slider for each audio output in your project, rather than sticking to a strict one-channel-pe

These excellent first impressions are backed up by a solid feature set. More or less everything we wanted to do in Studio One, from time-stretching audio clips to drawing smooth controller curves, proved straightforward and fully achievable.

Details

Price ex VAT Artist, £67 (£80 inc VAT); Producer, £135 (£162 inc VAT); Professional, £270
Price inc VAT £324
Overall rating 5
Ease of Use rating 6
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5
Software subcategory Audio production software

Requirements

Processor requirement Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? yes
Other operating system support none