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Presonus Studio One review: Take your music production to the limit

Jon L. Jacobi | March 3, 2016
This is one of the premiere programs for music creation, recording, and production.

When PreSonus dipped its toes into the high-end digital audio workstation (DAW) market a few years ago, it was a bit of a surprise. The market was thought saturated, nothing major had appeared in years, yet the company’s Studio One 1.0 proved almost immediately popular. Introducing the more efficient paned interface and drag-and-drop that industry mainstays Cubase, Logic, Sonar, and Pro Tools lacked proved enticing. It also didn’t hurt that Presonus bundled Studio One with its top-rated audio interfaces. 

Powerful but...

Over the last five years, the competition has remedied most of their interface issues, while Studio One, now on version 3.2, has caught up with them in terms of features. It’s now as powerful as they come, but growth has not been without cost. Several friends who are diehard Studio One users don’t disagree that the program suffers its share of visual overload and ambiguity. That’s partly because of the sheer number of features, but also because of the way they are presented. There’s a lot to take in, and even once you know Studio One, it can be tricky on the eye.

But if you’re willing to put in the time becoming fluent with it, Studio One will reward you, and reward you big time. There’s really nothing musical it can’t do, and the audio engine and effects sound nothing short of fantastic.

Versions for everyone

There are three flavors of Studio One, and one of them is a startlingly capable free version—Prime. Though only 32-bit, there are no limitations on the basics such as number of tracks, record resolution, etc. And yes, it does save. It lacks support for transient warping and grooves (templates that capture the feel of a passage and apply it to other material), doesn’t support third-party plug-ins, lacks folder tracks, and is missing a number of other features found in the pay versions, but still... Free? Wow.

Next up the ladder is Studio One Artist at $100 in download form. It’s 32-bit as well, and you can use only the decidedly generous array of VST effects and instruments that it ships with. Unless of course you purchase the VST/AU/ReWire unlock add-on for $80, which still leaves it quite the bargain. Beyond that, Artist delivers most of the major creative features (even a trial of Melodyne) of the $400 (download) Pro version.

The $400 papa bear is 64-bit with all the bells and whistles, as well as the ability to use third-party VST and AU (Mac version) plug-ins out of the box. It also contains a complete project section for putting together your album; VCA faders; a license for Melodyne Essentials (for precise correction of all aspects of audio); a flood of content and software instruments; as well as a free license to the iPad version.


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