PreSonus FireBox Issue 41
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PreSonus FireBox
Derek Johnson starts a fire with some new kindling from PreSonus.
I
t had to happen. First of all, PreSonus produces a
full-sized rack-mounting audio interface, the FirePod,
reviewed in Issue 37, which came with loads of audio
ins and outs, a basic Midi interface, and talked to your
computer via a fast and wide Firewire connection. It
didn’t even cost a lot of money. Now, they’ve chopped
a bit off and are selling it for even less!
And the rather compact, yet well-built, FireBox
doesn’t even scrimp that much, offering a truly
portable, bus-powerable (with a mains supply included
for notebook use) Firewire interface for anyone who
needs a little more grunt than USB can offer their
audio pipeline.
The variety of ins and outs is quite remarkable
for a product of this size. First of all, a pair of front
panel Neutrik Combo inputs offer two balanced XLR
mic input (complete with phantom power and a highquality, quiet preamp), line level jack inputs, or a highimpedance instrument connection. Add to that, round
the back, a pair of balanced line-level jack inputs, plus
three pairs of balanced jack outputs, and the Firebox
starts looking very handy. But it doesn’t end there: a
little breakout cable, attached to a retro-looking ninepin connector, adds S/PDIF digital I/O and Midi I/O.
Not only that, but all these ins and outs (six of one,
eight of the other) can be used simultaneously. There’s
even a headphone socket on the front panel. One
important point: the
FireBox
has two Firewire
sockets, so it can be placed
wherever is convenient in a chain of such devices;
some budget Firewire audio devices have just one,
which is a total false economy if you ask me.
The front panel also provides some good control
options: two knobs provide gain control for Neutrikequipped inputs, and two more control independent
main level and headphone level. The FireBox is
capable of other routing and level options, which are
accessed via the supplied FireBox Mixer application.
Once your audio passes the input hardware,
converters prepare it for your host audio software, at
rates of up to 96k at 24-bit resolution. Don’t have a
host? PreSonus is one step ahead of you and offers a
one-box solution: Steinberg’s Cubase LE comes as part
AT|102
of the package, just as it did with the FirePod. And for
basic tracking and mixing, it’s all there: 48 tracks of
audio, unlimited Midi tracks and hosting for any VST
format plug-in effects or virtual instruments you may
find lying around the internet.
Of course, FireBox will work with just about any
audio software you might have, under Mac OSX or
Windows XP – multitrack I/O on Cubase SX, Ableton
Live and Sonar, for example, and audio playback for
the likes of Reason and sample editors. The exceptions
will always be those packages, such as ProTools, which
rely on application-specific hardware.
And in practice, it works brilliantly. The FireBox
Mixer software widget provides you with excellent
control over which audio goes where. Not only are you
free to set up a couple of independent monitor streams,
it’s also possible to dial up zero-latency monitoring
while tracking and overdubbing. Adjust your host
software accordingly, and you won’t hear any delay
between your performance and your monitoring that’s
returning from the software.
Of course, all the zero-latency monitoring in the
world wouldn’t mean a whole lot if the FireBox’s audio
performance wasn’t up to scratch. But as you might
expect, if you’ve already read the FirePod review, this
new little device is a stormer. It’s mic and line inputs
are clean and noise-free, allowing a high quality signal
to get onto your hard drive, and the monitor and
headphone outputs are loud with a capital L. This
is a great boon for location recording, or for those
occasions when the interface might be used in a more
creative capacity, as part of a live rig or a DJ setup.
And the sound isn’t just loud: it has an impressive
depth and fidelity to boot – FireBox matches the earlier
interface’s bandwidth of 10Hz to 50kHz. If you think
software instruments lack the sonic kick of classic
hardware, the converters on your audio hardware may
be the problem.
This is a great little recording package – the
inclusion of Cubase LE makes it so – and can be
highly recommended for many home and mobile audio
situations. Give it a listen: your ears will thank you.
Distributed by
• Australian Audio Supplies
Phone: 1800 502 015
Email: sales@ausaudio.com.au
Web: www.ausaudio.com.au or www.presonus.com
Price
• $870
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