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PreSonus FireStudio™ Project

FireWire® recording interface

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Our take on the PreSonus FireStudio™ Project

by David Brown
PreSonus

A gateway to computer music production

Want to record music using your computer? You'll need a way to connect your instruments and microphones. That's the purpose of a computer audio interface. These devices route incoming signals to your PC or Mac®, and most even include recording software. Interfaces can feature mic, instrument, and line inputs, as well as connections for MIDI controllers and external signal processors.

Bring the whole band together in the studio

With the constantly improving processing power of consumer-grade computers, it's possible to track an entire band from a fairly basic home PC or Mac®. All you need is an audio interface with enough inputs and outputs as well as a means to offer near-zero-latency monitoring. The PreSonus FireStudio Project is such a device, with the high-bandwidth data transfer of a FireWire connection combined with powerful recording software. This rack-mountable interface has enough inputs to mic a drum kit as well as the remaining instruments and vocalists in a small band. You can even provide near-zero-latency monitoring for up to five performers, making the FireStudio Project a powerful recording tool for small to medium-sized studios.

Making sound the priority

Great sound should be the priority for any recording setup. PreSonus never loses sight of this mission when they design affordable interfaces like the FireStudio Project. It starts with the eight high-quality, low-noise XMAX™ mic preamps. Their Class A design offers impressive dynamic range with plenty of headroom and no crossover distortion, so you can accurately capture delicate vocal performances. The high-definition analog and digital converters ensure detailed sound, while the JetPLL™ digital synchronization minimizes timing jitter during digital conversion for improved clarity and accurate stereo imaging.

Lots of inputs and outputs

The FireStudio Project's front panel offers an impressive array of combination XLR/TRS inputs. Channels 1 and 2 offer can accommodate microphones or direct connection of an electric guitar or bass — no direct box or effects processor required. Channels 3 through 8 are mic/line inputs, perfect for keyboards, drum machines, and other instruments. There's also a MIDI/coaxial digital in/out for keyboard controllers. The rear panel sports a pair of 1/4" send/return inserts for connection to outboard signal processors. Stereo main outs can send your mix to powered studio monitors, or use the 1/4" front-panel jack with your headphones for easy performance monitoring. Use the additional rear-panel TRS outputs to connect a headphone distribution amp so the whole band can monitor their performance.

PreSonus FireStudio Project

With 8 combination XLR/TRS inputs and high-quality XMAX mic preamps, the FireStudio Project is an excellent interface for recording a full band.

Built-in mixing control app

Hardware is only half the story with this versatile interface. The FireStudio Project includes Universal Control digital routing software and virtual mixing board. It provides a mixer interface on your computer, so it's easy to configure signal routing for up to 18 inputs from this interface and your digital audio workstation. You can create five stereo cue mixes to send to the headphone, main, and S/PDIF outputs. Universal Control also allows you to monitor with virtually no latency while using dynamic and EQ effects — a valuable tool when working solo or with other musicians. Universal Control also works with as many as four daisy-chained FireStudio interfaces to provide up to 52 inputs.

Includes Studio One® Artist digital recording software

In addition to Universal Control, the FireStudio Project comes with PreSonus Studio One® Artist 2. This sophisticated recording software lets you create an unlimited number of tracks within a project and add effects with drag-and-drop simplicity. In addition to its native plug-ins, PreSonus includes 4GB of third-party plug-ins for more instruments, samples, and loops to experiment with. Once you've recorded your song in the Studio One digital audio workstation, the possibilities for editing and mixing are endless. Tweak your performance to make it just right before mixing down to a 24-bit/96kHz file for high-resolution sound quality or an MP3 for easy sharing with friends.

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Highlights:

  • 10-input/10-output computer audio interface with an internal 18-input DSP mixer
  • accepts mic, instrument, line-level, and MIDI signals
  • Universal Control digital mixing/routing interface lets you send up to five different cue mixes to any outputs for low-latency monitoring with effects (CD-ROM for Mac®/Windows®)
  • includes Studio One Artist 2 digital recording software along with 4GB of third-party instrument/sample plug-ins (DVD-ROM for Mac/Windows)
  • 8 Class A XMAX mic preamps with 48V phantom power for condenser microphones
  • rack-mountable steel chassis
Connections:
  • 2 XLR/TRS balanced mic/instrument inputs for use with microphones and electric guitars and basses
  • 6 XLR/TRS balanced mic/line inputs for use with microphones, keyboards, drum machines, and effects processors
  • MIDI input/output (5-pin DIN) for use with an external MIDI controller
  • two 1/4" balanced main outputs (left/right) for connection to powered monitors or a mixing board
  • two 1/4" balanced insert send/return loops for use with outboard signal processors (for use with channels 1 and 2)
  • eight 1/4" balanced general purpose outputs for connecting to a headphone distribution amp or other external devices
  • two FireWire 400 ports for connection to a computer, external hard drive or daisy-chaining with an additional PreSonus FireStudio devices for up to 52 inputs
  • digital coaxial (S/PDIF) input/output for connection to external digital devices
  • built-in headphone amplifier with 1/4" output
General Features:
  • 24-bit analog-to-digital conversion with sampling rate of 44.1/48/88.2/96kHz
  • JetPLL digital synchronization minimizes timing jitter during digital conversion for clear, accurate sound
  • LED level meters for all 8 front-panel inputs
  • 6' FireWire cable (6-pin) included for connection to a compatible computer
  • compatible with the following operating systems: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista (32-bit SP2, 64-bit SP2) Windows 7 (32-bit SP1, 64-bit SP1), Windows 8 (32-bit, 64-bit), Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later
  • minimum system requirements: FireWire (IEEE 1394) port; Intel® Core™ Duo or AMD Athlon™ X2 processor; 2GB RAM; 20GB hard disk space
  • 19"W x 1-3/4"H x 7"D (1U rack space)
  • weight: 7 lbs.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Portable FireWire recording system
  • 6' AC power cord
  • 6' FireWire
  • Software installation disc
  • Owner's Manual
  • Warranty Card

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At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: Using your Windows or Mac computer and the included software, the FireStudio Mobile Project interface acts a portable FireWire recording system. All you need is a computer with a FireWire connection, a few microphones and cables, monitor speakers or headphones, and your instrument; and you are ready to record in the studio.

24-Bit/96kHz DAC + JetPLL Jitter-Elimination: The FireStudio Mobile Project employs a high-definition 24-bit/96kHz analog-to-digital converter for exceptional sound quality and recording with up to 118 dB dynamic range. It also incorporates JetPLL jitter-elimination technology, for improved stereo imaging and clarity.

XMAX Preamps: The FireStudio Mobile Project is equipped with PreSonus XMAX microphone preamplifiers for use with all types of microphones. The net result of the XMAX preamp design is high headroom, low noise, wide dynamic range, extended frequency response, and most importantly, musicality and transparency, with smooth highs, solid deep lows, and everything in between. XMAX preamplifiers are built with three key elements.

  • High Voltage: The XMAX preamplifier runs on power rails of 30V. Most off-the-shelf, op-amp-based designs run on power rails of 10V to 18V. Higher-voltage power rails deliver more headroom, deeper lows, smoother highs, and a richer overall sound.
  • Discrete Components: XMAX preamplifiers only use genuine transistors, resistors, and capacitors. Other Op-amps add noise, coloration, and harshness to a signal. This discrete design delivers ultra-low noise and transparency.
  • Class A: Class A circuits have no crossover distortion and deliver purer, clearer, and more musical results than the Class AB designs that are found in many preamps.

8Ch Inputs: The Presonus FireStudio Mobile Project is fitted with 8 front-panelanalog input channels, including six mic/line-level inputs and two mic/instrument inputs. All inputs consist of a combo-jack which will accept either a XLR or 1/4" phone plug. The FireStudio Mobile Project microphone preamplifier has +14 dBu of headroom. This gives you wide dynamic range and excellent transient-response characteristics.

  • Mic/Instrument Inputs (1-2): Channels 1-2 can be used for connecting all types of mics and a variety of instruments. When an instrument is plugged into the 1/4" input, a high impedance input buffer is switched into the preamp circuit and the FireStudio Mobile Project becomes an active instrument preamplifier.
  • Mic/Line Inputs (3-8): Channels 3-8 can be used for connecting all types of mics and a variety of instruments. Channels 3 through 8 of the FireStudio Mobile can also act as line-level inputs. As line-level inputs, they are designed to accept up to a maximum input level of +10 dBu (0 dBFS). Use these inputs to connect your line-level devices such as synthesizers, ampmodeling hardware, and vocoders. In general, line-level devices have their own volume controls. As these inputs are for line-level signals only, there is no trim control for them on the FireStudio Mobile. If you need to raise or lower the volume, the adjustment should be made from your line-level device.

48V Phantom Power: The FireStudio Mobile Project provides 48V phantom power for the microphone input on each channel. Press the 48V button to enable phantom power for all microphone inputs.

FireWire Inputs: There are two standard 6-pin FireWire ports on the back of the FireStudio Mobile Project. Either (and only one) should be used to connect
your FireStudio Mobile Project to a FireWire port on your computer. If your computer has a 4-pin connector (commonly found on laptops), you will need a 4-to-6-pin adapter to connect your FireStudio Mobile Project to your computer. Four-pin connections do not provide power to FireWire devices, so you will need to power your FireStudio Mobile Project using the included power supply.

Note: You can use the "extra" FireWire port to connect additional FireWire devices to your computer (such as external hard drives) or to connect additional FireStudio-family interfaces. Keep in mind that if you daisy-chain multiple bus-powered devices, the FireWire bus might not provide enough power for your FireStudio Mobile Project and for other devices in the chain.

Main Outs & Headphone Out: The PreSonus FireStudio Mobile Project features two 1/4" main outputs. The output level of the Main Outs is controlled by the Main volume knob on the front of the unit. The FireStudio Mobile Project is also fitted with a 1/4" headphone jack for connecting a set of headphones for monitoring privately. The Phones knob controls the volume of the headphone output on the front of the unit.  

Line Outputs (1-8): These are general-purpose 1/4" line-level outputs. Line outputs 1 and 2 are typically your computer's audio playback. All eight Line outputs can be accessed by your computer and can be used for separate mixes, additional speakers, external effects processors, etc.

Return Inputs: These are the line-level inputs for channels 1 and 2. Their gain structure is identical to the 1/4" inputs for channels 3-8 and are typically used for signals not requiring pre-amplification (CD/MP3 players, effects processors, etc.). These inputs are normalled to the channel 1 and 2 preamp outputs, so they take precedence over the corresponding Mic/Instrument input on the front of the FireStudio Project. This means that if a cable is plugged into the channel 1 return input on the rear of the FireStudio Project, the channel 1 Mic/Instrument input will be inactive, and it will become active again when the cable is removed from return input 1.

Send Outputs: These ¼" jacks are balanced outputs of the preamps on channels 1 and 2. They are half-normalled to the preamp inputs 1 and 2, so plugging a cable into either of the preamp outputs does not interrupt the signal flow from the preamps to the AD converter. The Send outputs are typically used for patching in external signal processors (such as compressors, limiters, EQs, and de-essers) to process the audio signals on channels 1 or 2. These outputs are not connected to the digital-to-analog converters and so are only capable of routing the input signals from channels 1 and 2. If you need to route recorded audio or input from channels 3 through 8, you will need to use the FireStudio Project Device window to route the input to one or more of the General Purpose Outputs.

MIDI-S/PDIF: The FireStudio Mobile Project is fitted with MIDI and S/PDIF inputs/outputs.

  • MIDI: MIDI stands for "Musical Instrument Digital Interface". The MIDI inputs and outputs on the breakout cable allow connection to a variety of MIDI-equipped hardware, such as keyboard controllers, and can be used to send and receive MIDI Machine Control and MIDI Time Code.
  • S/PDIF: The S/PDIF inputs/outputs allow the FireStudio Project to receive and transmit audio from other digital audio devices. The S/PDIF standard allows two channels of audio to be transmitted at rates up to 24-bit/96 kHz.
Note: MIDI does not carry audio signals but is frequently used to trigger or control an audio source, such as a virtual instrument or hardware synthesizer. You should ensure that MIDI data is correctly sent and received by the appropriate hardware or software. You may also need to route hardware sound sources' audio to the FireStudio Mobile Project.

Rugged Chassis: The FireStudio Mobile Project is built like a tank; with a shockproof, reinforced metal chassis; sealed rotary controls; military-grade circuit board; chassis-mounted jacks; and full EMI shielding.

Included Software Bundle: Your PreSonus FireStudio Mobile Project comes with a powerful software bundle that provides everything you need to record, produce and mix an album. This software package includes Universal Control and Studio One Artist. Each tool is designed to help you get the most out of your personal studio.

  • Universal Control: Universal Control is a powerful, flexible, and easy to use Mac and Windows control-panel application for creating multiple mixes from your input and output signals for each of the FireStudio Mobile Project's output pairs (mains, headphone, and S/PDIF). This application also allows you to daisy-chain FireStudio-family interfaces.
    • Launch & Device Window: Universal Control consists of the Launch window and the Device window. In the Launch window, you can set basic parameters such as sample rate, clock source, and buffer size. The Device window of the FireStudio Mobile Project is the FireStudio Mobile Project Mixer.
    • Mixer Section: The Mixer section of the Universal Control Panel was designed to look and feel like a hardware mixer, so most of the features may already be familiar to you. From this mixer, you can create a zero-latency mix for each output and can route playback streams from your host application.
    • 3 Output Mixes: The FireStudio Mobile Project Mixer provides three independent, stereo output mixes; one each for the mains, headphones, and S/PDIF. A virtual output meter to the right of each channel fader displays the post-fader output level of each stereo pair.
  • Studio One Artist Software: The included PreSonus Studio One Artist recording software comes with over 4 GB of plug-ins, loops, and samples, giving
    you everything you need for music recording and production.
    • 20 High-Quality Native Plug-Ins: Amp modeling (Ampire), delay (Analog Delay, Beat Delay), distortion (Redlight Dist), dynamics processing (Channel Strip, Compressor, Gate, Expander, Limiter, Tricomp), equalizer (Channel Strip, Pro EQ), modulation (Autofilter, Chorus, Flange, Phaser, X-Trem), reverb (MixVerb, Room Reverb), and utility (Binaural Pan, Mixtool, Phase Meter, Spectrum Meter, Tuner).
    • Over 4 GB of Loops, Samples, and Instruments: Presence virtual sample player, Impact virtual drum machine, SampleOne virtual sampler, Mojito virtual analog-modeled subtractive synthesizer.
Note: You can use the FireStudio Mobile Project with any audio-recording application that supports Core Audio or ASIO.

Computer System Requirements: Below are the minimum computer-system requirements for the FireStudio Mobile Project.

  • Windows:
    • Windows XP SP3, Vista x64/x32 SP2, Windows 7 x64/x32 SP1, Windows 8 x64/x32
    • Intel Core Duo or AMD Athlon X2 processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X4 or better recommended)
    • 2 GB RAM (4 GB or more recommended)
  • Mac:
    • Mac® OS X 10.6.8 or later
    • Intel Core Duo processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or Intel Core i3 or better recommended)
    • 2 GB RAM (4 GB or more recommended)
Note: Your compatible Windows or Mac computer will also need a USB 2.0 port, Internet connection (for activation), DVD-ROM drive, Monitor (1024x768 or greater), 20GB hard-disk space, 7200 RPM internal/external storage drive.

AC or Bus Powered: Although the FireStudio Mobile Project comes with an external power supply, it operates perfectly on FireWire bus power. In fact, thanks to an amazing internal switching power supply, it's one of the few interfaces that delivers true 48V phantom power when bus-powered, and it also supplies a full 30V to the preamps, so your mics always sound their best.

 
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