If you are a songwriter using a personal computer and DAW software to capture your work, you owe it to yourself to be sure you have the best audio interface that you can afford. PreSonus, a well-respected designer of studio equipment, has recently released their Studio 2|6 two-channel USB bus-powered interface. It’s the ideal interface for songwriters, small or home studios, and mobile-recording scenarios. While the Studio 26 interface is affordable and simple to use, it’s a well-built piece of gear that can deliver professional results.
The unit is physically just slightly larger than my older PreSonus AudioBox interface that I’ve been using for years and acts similarly as a USB 2.0 audio and MIDI interface for recording software. The big difference is that the new Studio 26 interface give you higher sample rates and cleaner, more realistic preamps. That translates into a marked improvement in quality. The Audiobox is still a good interface, but the Studio 26 is going to impress a lot of people.
For the technically oriented, the unit supports capturing sound with 24-bit resolution at 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz sampling rates. Two inputs with the company’s high-quality XMAX-L mic preamps are conveniently located at the front panel and can service XLR mics (with +48V phantom power for condenser mics), ¼” instrument and line inputs. The back panel has two balanced ¼” TRS main outputs, two balanced ¼” TRS line outputs for monitor mixing, and a stereo headphone output, along with MIDI in and out. Four ladder-style LED level meters allow you to easily monitor inputs and main out levels. There’s also a Cue Mix A/B function that toggles the headphone output between mixes.
What songwriters should not overlook is the software that PreSonus bundles with the Studio 2|6. As a free download, you get the Studio One Artist, a full-features professional recording system that ships free with most of the company’s hardware. With Studio One you have unlimited MIDI and audio tracks, a good selection of effects and instruments plus many included samples and loops. It was easy to install and set up Studio One with the Studio 2|6 interface by selecting it as the main in and out from a drop-down menu of available interfaces. PreSonus thoughtfully included a sample project preconfigured for the Studio 26 interface to minimize configuration with your DAW help you to get you started recording. Both the PreSonus website and the online forums provide lots of information and training for beginners or pros.
To go along with the free DAW software, PreSonus has thought ahead to provide songwriters with a suite useful of plug-ins, Studio Magic. The tools included in this package is impressive. Check PreSonus website for the most recent list.
The Studio 2|6 is a powerful, solidly built and easy to use audio interface that comes with professional software at no charge, but its most important feature is that it sounds great. Guitars I recorded were captured cleanly with the full nuance of the instrument and brilliant highs. With a professional microphone and a good set of headphones, the quality of the Studio 2|6 is immediately obvious. Even minute changes in mic placement can be noticed. For vocal recording, my Electro Voice RE-20 microphone sounded crystal clean and broadcast quality. It’s hard to believe that this quality is available at this price point.
For applications where more simultaneous channels are required consider that PreSonus also offers a larger 6|8 version with added S/PDIF ins and outs. The unit is only slightly larger and comes with the same generous software bundle.
Street Price: $174.95