Presonus Studiolive 16.4.2ai Review

studiolive-anglePreSonus Studiolive 16.4.2ai Review

Church Use: Powerful and Affordable Live/Studio Mixing Console

Features:  It’s rare to see a quality digital mixer under $2000 and even rarer to find one as powerful and versatile as the Studiolive 16.4.2ai.  For use in both the studio and as a live mixer, the Studiolive AI features a combination of software and hardware to make it a perfect option any application.  16 ins, 6 aux sends, 4 FX sends, and stereo main outputs give plenty of I/O options and the ability to use digital gate, EQ, compression, and effects on each track makes the mixer extremely powerful in a live setting.   

 Application:  One of the best features of the Presonus Studiolive AI is the software/hardware integration.  FOH engineers can mix wirelessly on an iPad without using a computer at all, while musicians can mix their own monitors wirelessly from a user-friendly iPhone app.  Studiolive AI connects to a computer via firewire for use with almost any DAW for playback and recording, and allows access to included software StudioOne, Capture, and Smaart Measurement Technology.  Another feature we loved was the analog inputs.  Easy-to-use, musician-friendly, and controllable via wireless network, we loved the workflow and power of the Studiolive 16.4.2ai. 

 Workflow:  While the unique layout of the Studiolive took us a little time to get used to, once we figured it out, it was easy to see why it’s the one of easiest digital mixers on the market to use.  The “fat channel” strip for each channel shows all of the EQ and dynamic processing right above the faders without having to go into a menu or use any secondary functions on the board.  The Studiolive 16.4.2ai even allows the user to create two separate EQ and compression settings for each channel to A/B the two settings and switch back and forth seamlessly.  The iPad workflow is amazing, showing graphic EQ and compression on each channel and allowing the user to drag around frequencies and visualize each EQ curve and compressor threshold.  If 16 channels isn’t enough for your church, the Studiolive ai comes in 24 and 32 channel versions as well.

 Sound:  The sound quality of the 16.4.2ai blew us away.  The XMAX mic preamps are extremely transparent but make the each instrument fat and big.  The separation of instruments was extremely apparent when we started using the board to live mix an entire band, giving a clear, punchy and defined mix.  EQ and compression sounds natural and smooth and the built-in FX is phenomenal.  Our favorite feature was the ability to EQ the verb on the fly, going from dark and moody to bright and spacious depending on the song.

 Overall:  At this price point, the Studiolive 16.4.2ai is hands down the very best digital mixer you can get your hands on.  For right under 2k, you get a mixer with 16 channels, 6 aux sends, and 2 dedicated FX channels that all sound phenomenal and best of all, the store and recall work perfectly every time you turn it on.

More:  Incredible value for the money, wireless control

Less: 16 channels may not be quite enough for bigger stages

Price: $1999.95

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PreSonus Eris E8 Review

Function: Studio Monitors
Price: $249.95 (each)
What’s NewThe Eris E8s are brand new two-way speakers from PreSonus.  Joined by their little brother the E5s, the Eris line is PreSonus’ first foray into the world of studio monitors, with outstanding results. 
Features:  The E8s come in a sleek, all black enclosure with a little blue logo that lights up when they power on.  All inputs are in the rear, including XLR, balanced TRS, and unbalanced RCA line ins.  In addition to standard input gain, the E8s have an “Acoustic Tuning” section of low, midrange, and high frequency controls.  The E8s also feature an “Acoustic Space” control that cuts the low frequencies at 800 Hz by 2 or 4 dB, for control over bass buildup when monitors are placed close against a wall.  The frequency response is an incredible 35 Hz – 22kHz, quite impressive for 8-inch woofers and perfect for mixing without a sub.  At 130 watts, the E8s provide plenty of volume for any listening environment.
Sound:  The Eris E8s sounded great the minute I plugged them into my Apogee Quartet.  I work in a small, well-treated room and have my desk about two thirds of the way into the room, so I didn’t need to utilize the “Acoustic Space” feature on the E8s.  The switch works quite well though, and can be quite useful in small rooms where space is tight and monitors need to be placed near the wall.  I tend to be a “set flat and forget” type of engineer, so I set all the EQs flat and the gains to unity and fired them up.  Right away I was blown away by the depth and three-dimensional nature of the speakers.  They had great stereo imaging, deep bass, clear highs, and the midrange was not overemphasized at all.  After listening to some of my favorite records I decided to try some tracking.  I was particularly impressed with the high-mids and top end, the E8s offer a lot of detail but don’t hype the high mids at all, so listening and working for long periods don’t fatigue my ears (something that has plagued me for years using NS-10s).  The low end is quite nice on the E8s and provides detail and focus for making bass and kick tight and punchy.  I did a quick mix of a demo I was working on and it translated wonderfully in my car, iPhone, and laptop without any tweaks (to my relief).  Overall the Eris E8s are quite balanced and let me listen for hours without any ear fatigue. 
Bottom Line:  This is the best pair of monitors under $500 that we’ve heard.  The fact that my ears didn’t get tired after 8 hours of using the E8s is a huge deal. I engineered a session all day long and never felt uncomfortable in the least.  If you have enough space for 8” woofers, there’s nothing not to like about these monitors.  At just $499 for the pair, they easily outpace other contenders in their price range in sound quality and features, and the added EQs make them a great option in less than ideal listening conditions.
For more information about the Eris E8s and other products by PreSonus, visit