Since the late 1990s I have used an analogue-mixing console of some sort in conjunction with a computer-recording interface, and have never really been happy with how they all work together. It wasn’t until I invested in a large format console with direct outs on every channel and a comprehensive patch bay before I got close to the integration I was after. But, I still had to dance around feedback loops with the wrong press of a button. This is where the new PreSonus StudioLive AR8 USB mixer is going to change the way in which many home studio users consider working with an analogue mixer in front of their recording DAW.
FINALLY, A LOGICAL SOLUTION
I am going to come right out and announce it; this is the most exciting compact mixer I have come across in years! It does everything a quality compact mixer should, as well as doing the duties of a quality audio interface, but it doesn’t skimp on connectivity or ease of integration.
For those of you who have removed a mixer from in front of your USB interface because it just gets in the way and causes unnecessary connection issues, you might think again after seeing this. The AR8 USB takes the place of both the conventional analogue mixer and the USB interface, with everything cleverly routed to where it needs to go. But, this isn’t just a USB connection added to a mixer as an afterthought. The AR8 USB offers you direct outputs to your DAW from each input channel. It also allows for the USB to be returned through two separate channels depending on how you are operating the mixer. You can record each channel separately as well as the main mix to your computer all from the mixer itself.
GET READY TO BE IMPRESSED
Beyond being a logical integration of the mixer and the multi-channel interface, there are plenty of other goodies involved in the AR8 USB. To start with, the Capture Stereo Recorder allows you to record the main mix direct to an SD card without even having a computer connected. So, you can use this as a live mixer too and record all your performances at the press of a button. But, if USB and SD card are not enough for you, PreSonus have included a Bluetooth option as well, so you can pair up one of the input channels with a Bluetooth device for added options. Include some high quality effects, buttons and pots that feel solid to the touch – and an overall build that is pretty rugged – it is easy to see how PreSonus are on a winner with this one. You can play audio from USB, SD or Bluetooth, record to SD or your DAW and connect just about any device to this mixer for seamless integration. This is what I was searching for 20 years ago, and finally someone has brought it to life!
For more details on the range of PreSonus gear, head to linkaudio.com.au.
Hits and Misses
A very clever integration of mixer and interface
On the fly stereo recoding to SD card
Quality inbuilt effects
Bluetooth just in case you didn’t have enough options
Fader would have been nice, but size has restricted that