AudioboI USBInterface
REVIEWED:
presonus Audiobox USH
AudioboI USBInterface
Words: D.P.Wilson
~
Audiobox USB
~
£129.00
As the name suggests, the Audiobox
USB represents presonus' lirstlorav
into the world 01 USB interlaces.
All prices incl VAT
Presonus
CONTACT:
Source Distribution
T:
02089625080
W: sourcedistribution.co.uk
WHAT IS IT?
A USBpowered recording
interface. Comesbundled with
CubebaseLE4software.
WHY SHOUL
I WANT ONE?
ompared to some small
recording interfaces the Audiobox
hould give you a worthwhile
oost in quality. Those taking
heir first steps into computer
ecording setup should find
the PresonusAudiobox and
its bundled Cubasesoftware
represents an excellent all-in-one
introduction to home recording
at a very agreeable price.
58 • pickup
have been around
for some time now and are a very
established player in the audio
interface world. Their products are
generally considered to offer above
average sound quality with rock
solid drivers. The range has grown
to incorporate basic interfaces from
two inputs, right up to multi-input
interfaces with as many as 26 inputs,
many with built in mic preamps. Until
now the range has only included
devices that can be used with
Firewire equipped computers and it
seems that there is currently some
snobbery regarding using USBfor
audio interfaces. Yes, it's true that
USB in its original form struggles
to handle more than a couple of
channels at 24bit but hey, that's all
some of us need! Firewire on PC
can also be prone to conflicts and
incompatibility issuesregarding
Firewire chipsets, so in general, I find
that USBworks just fine, thanks very
much. To many of us, that is plenty
good enough to be going on with.
The Audiobox USB features a simple
two-in/ stereo-out format which is
probably the most popular setup
amongst home recordists. The unit
itself feels professional and solid; its
metal construction and tidy layout
inspire confidence whilst remaining
an all-important user-friendly feel.
A pair of XLR/ Jack combi sockets
helps to maintain a compact control
panel and a 48 volt phantom power
switch supplies power to both mic
sockets simultaneously whenever
you are recording with condenser
mics. However, one word of caution:
take care while using non-powered
mics when the phantom power is
on. Dynamics will be fine as long as
your leads are wired properly and the
microphone is wired to conventional
standards. However, do not use
Ribbon mics with phantom power,
they will be destroyed! You have
been warned!!! We are not trying to
scare you but we'd hate for you to
wreck a perfectly good microphone
and audio interface when a useful
bit of info might save you from some
unnecessary grief.
Next up are input gain controls,
which work over a 35db gain range
and have a very positive detent that
gives a nice tactile click as you turn
them, granting easy repeatability of
your favourite settings. However,
I did find that I had to remember
which knob affected which input as
channel one's level control sits further
to the right of its partner ... Well, it
confused me anyway!
Next is the mixer control and
I wish ALL interfaces utilised this
facility. It basically allows you to
adjust the monitor mix between
the outputs of your DAW and the
inputs of the Audiobox. This means
that regardless of your system
latency you can monitor your
vocals, guitar etc at source with
no delays and adjust the balance
over an infinite range. You can get ~
presonus Audiobox USB
without the dull flabby sound that
can affect lesser units.
Presonus make a lot of noise about
the fact that Audiobox features two
of their A XMAX preamplifiers. Most
of the cheaper interfaces have mic
preamps that are OK, not great, but
OK. Trying out the mic preamps
on the Audiobox with a variety of
sources reveals them to be a cut
above the norm especially at this
~ round this issuein most systems
without this control, but once used
to it anything else frankly feels a
bit rubbish. The last two knobs are
reservedfor the headphone output
level and the main output level,
both pretty self explanatory stuff.
Plug-in Baby
current weapon of choice. Sonar
recognised the Audiobox straight
away and opening up its control
panel shows it to be a very simple
affair. Just select the audio buffer
again and found that since using
Cubase everything was fine and
dandy. I have no explanation of
why it suddenly started working
but it did and has been stable ever
size and you're away. Loading up
a project and pressing play I was
shocked to find that everything
sounded like it was being sung
since. I would recommend that any
prospective buyer check a few forums
to see if anyone else has noticed any
problems with your particular brand
price. Firstly, compared to similar
units I have tried recently they are
very quiet and create a clean tone
with good dynamics. These are
uncoloured preamps that provide a
blank canvas on which to add your
personal signature at the mixing
stage. They also have plenty of
gain which leads to my only serious
complaint; basically the range of the
Round the back there are no
surprises.A pair of jack outputs for
connecting a pair of studio monitors,
a stereo headphone socket (it would
have been nice if the front panel
could have included a bit more room
for this), MIDI in and out sockets
and the necessaryUsB socket. You
will notice that I haven't mentioned
a power socket, that's becausethe
Audiobox is powered by UsB only.
As with all UsB interfaces I would
recommend that the Audiobox is
connected straight to the computer
and not via a hub. Audiobox is
compatible with PC's (XP/vista USB
1.1 or 2, 512Mb RAM minimum)
and Macs (OSX 10.3.7 or above
UsB 1.1 or 2, 512Mb RAM) and
operates at 24bit at sample rates
of both 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz. This
interface also comes bundled with a
copy of steinberg's Cubase LE4which
seemsto offer tons more than the
previous light versions of Cubase and
should certainly be considered good
enough to give your home recordings
a convincingly professional edge, at
least if your recording and mixing
skills are up to the job, which we
are sure they are. The software for
Audiobox installsvery simply from
the provided CD but I would always
recommend you have a quick peek at
the Presonuswebsite to see if there is
The presonus Audiobox is a great little
interface with the potential to help vou
create professional sounding recordings.
by chipmunks! After a bit of head
scratching I realised that the project
was set to a sample rate of 44.1
kHz and that the Audiobox must be
set to 48 kHz and therefore it was
playing about 10% too fast. Back
to the control panel to rectify and
to my horror I found there is no
way of changing the sample rate.
To check, even tried Windows
J
of software. To be honest the fault
could possibly lie with Sonar, which
can be a bit cantankerous at times.
Once I had everything working it
was clear from playing back a few
projects that the Audiobox' digital to
analogue convertors are superior to
my own two channel unit, everything
sounds noticeably cleaner and more
focused. It was like a veil had been
Media Player and still everything
played too fast. I then went back to
Sonar and tried recording at both
44.1 kHz and 48 kHz both of which
lifted off compared to what I was
listening to previously!
recorded and played perfectly. As a
last resort I loaded up the supplied
Cubase LE4and was relieved to
A real bugbear of mine is the quality
of the headphone outputs that
normally adorn UsB or Firewire
Rude Box
gain control doesn't quite go low
enough. One high output mic I tested
through the Audiobox required me to
reset the input gain to minimum just
to get a clean sound from a regular
vocalist. .. If it'd been a real screamer
J
think I may have been in trouble.
So apart from the aforementioned
glitch which seemed to rectify itself
I think the Presonus Audiobox
is a great little interface that has
the potential to help you create
professional sounding recordings.
There are many units cluttering up
this price point at the moment and
some have extra bells and whistles,
but for sheer audio quality (both
The Audiobox' mic preamps are a CUi
above Ihe norm, especial Iv allhis price.
a more up to date version available.
To test the Audiobox I first fired
find that everything worked fine,
recording and playback at all settings
worked flawlessly. Still keen to
up Cakewalk Sonar 7 which is my
get things rolling in Sonar I tried
powered units. The headphone
output on the Audiobox I'm pleased
to say is perfectly serviceable, still not
fantastic but definitely loud enough
Ell
Fe
the analogue and digital sections)
this Audiobox is the best I have
Th
heard from any unit anywhere near
tr,
this price. The included Cubase LE4
software is also excellent, I didn't use
it for long but I couldn't find anything
major missing! Should you buy one?
Well, if you already work with a small
UsB interface the Audiobox should
give you a noticeable boost in quality.
However, if you are just starting out
putting together a small computer
recording setup I'd have to say that
the PresonusAudiobox with Cubase
software represents the current best
buy for budget audio interfaces! PU
auc
60 ~ pickup
t:
+4
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