Upon opening the box, my first impression of the FireStudio Mobile was, “Wow, this thing is small.” I realize it is called mobile for a reason, but this thing is literally 30% – 40% smaller than the portable interface I have been using for the past few years. Fortunately, size is not related to quality when it comes from PreSonus.
For my tests/review, I used the FireStudio Mobile in my home studio for basic recording projects and voiceovers, but there is no doubt in my mind that this interface would be ideal for remote recording projects. I demoed the FireStudio with Studio One 2 Professional, which will be receiving its own review in the near future.
-How much I/O can you fit in one very small box? The answer is 10/6. Although the Mobile is on the smaller end of the FireStudio line, PreSonus didn’t skimp on the ins and outs.
On the front, the device boasts 2 IMAX mic preamps with phantom power, which also double as instrument inputs. The back features an additional 6 line ins, 2 line outs, stereo spdif in/out, MIDI in/out, and 2 FireWire ports.
Just to give you an idea how impressive the I/O capabilities are, most of the comparable devices on the market are either 2/2 or 4/2.
-Is this thing on? The pre’s are quiet, and when I say quiet, I mean they are really, really quiet. There is no buzzing or excess noise. I have used a variety of portable interfaces from other manufacturers, and many of them have had noise issues, particularly when the gain is cranked because of a low-level input. This isn’t the case the FireStudio Mobile. It is a very transparent device.
-Like a rock! This thing is solid. I was really surprised to see that the FireStudio Mobile is encased in a metal enclosure. This is something you generally don’t see in smaller, less-expensive devices. Every comparable device I have used is made of plastic. If you were to drop one of them, you’d be in the market for a new interface… If you dropped the FireStudio Mobile, you’d probably be in the market for a new floor. Okay: it’s not that heavy, but you get the point.
-Play’s well with others. There is nothing more annoying that being an input or two short, especially when you have a perfectly good interface available, but it isn’t compatible with your other devices.
This isn’t the case with the FireStudio Mobile. You can use the the FireWire port on the back to connect it to any other FireStudio interface or StudioLive mixer, making its ins and outs available in your studio.
In addition to that, I was able to use the FireStudio Mobile in conjunction with a legacy device from another manufacturer. Let’s just say that I own two devices from the other manufacturer, and haven’t ever been able to use them both simultaneously. This is a very impressive possibility in the PreSonus universe. (Please note, there is no guarantee this will work for you as well)
Not So Good
-Fire what? If you are a Mac user, you can skip this paragraph. If you use a PC, please keep reading. FireWire was all the rage in the computer world a few years ago, and it is still standard on every flavor of Mac. But in the wider computer world, it is being pretty rapidly replaced with USB-3.
The irony is that, when it comes to audio, USB is vastly inferior to FireWire for a slew of reasons we won’t get into here. But stay tuned for some in-depth content on Live2Play and our sister SPLNetwork.com site about interconnect and networking and how to make all this high-tech stuff talk to each other without making your self crazy.
If you’re using a desktop machine that doesn’t have FireWire, PCI-E FireWire cards are fairly inexpensive. I just added one to my desktop for maybe $15. If you’re using a laptop, a FireWire connection may be more difficult to come by.
This is by not necessarily a downside, but it is something to be aware of before making a purchase.
-There are a lot of outs, but… I really wish there was another set of line outs in addition to the mains. Although plugins are great, I have yet to find a compressor emulation that I like better than my analog compressor. I would have preferred an 8/8 configuration if it would have given me more analog outs.
Overall, the FireStudio Mobile is a great device. It is well built and contains high-quality components. When paired up with Studio One 2, it is capable of recording and mixing professional-grade recordings (some talent required). It is ideal for a home or project studio, and for smaller remote projects.
The FireStudio Mobile/Studio One 2 Artist bundle can be purchased for $249.95 from most music retailers.
Well, it’s time I get back to recording. Until next time, keep rocking!
-”Guitar Guy” Tim
Questions, Comments? Post below, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Tim on Twitter: @GuitarGuyTim
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