PreSonus’s Studio One Pro: A Fresh Start in a DAW

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We all know who the big dogs are in the DAW world, and most of us can admit that for years there has been a virtual monopoly in the world of DAWs—doing as much to hinder the progress of DAWs as it has to establish a standard. As more and more great music is produced in project studios—users are opening their minds to new software and hardware options.  PreSonus has made a name for itself making project-studio-ready hardware that compromises little quality in the name of affordability. When I learned that PreSonus was behind Studio One Pro and Studio One Artist—the newest competitor in the DAW market—my skepticism was reduced.



 Ease of Use

 Working in a new DAW did lead to the moments of confusion and frustration that I’d expected, but not quite as many as I’d expected. I found Studio One fairly easy to adapt to—at least considering that I’m usually easily annoyed with anything that isn’t Pro Tools. The transition was made easier by of the intuitive design of Studio One. The layout and features make it obvious that PreSonus has taken some cues (and software developers) from years of progress in other DAWs—similarities with Logic, Cubase, and Pro Tools are obvious based on my experience with those programs. As much as I’m a creature of habit, I’d have to admit that many of the differences were very easy to get used to. Some tasks were even easier than they have been in the workflow that I’m used to.

 PreSonus also had the good sense to allow easy integration of shortcuts from other common DAWs. Of course, there are some shortcuts that simply don’t translate, because the approach is just different, or the features just aren’t there. Nonetheless, having some familiar shortcuts kept my workflow up to speed, and most of the features that are unique Studio One made up for any time lost.

 Creating an FX send is one great time-saving example: you just select the plug-in from the program’s browser, and drag it into a blank space in the mixer view. An auxiliary track is created and assignable immediately. I didn’t have to think about which bus was free, or assigning the aux an input. Instead, I just selected the send that was automatically named after the plug-in I’d just chosen. The drag-and-drop functionality also extends to many other aspects of the software—including the ability to save audio and MIDI files. That makes it extremely easy to record your own samples and then load them into Impact—Studio One’s own drum sampler.

 I can see this software being extra-beneficial to the novice user, thanks to its convenient layout. Options that are buried deep in other software file menus are readily accessible through the main view—input monitoring and the I/O setup are two great examples.

 Many editing and mixing options are also intuitive and easily found. Double-clicking a waveform opens a gigantic waveform view—making it very easy to see what you are going to edit. If you want to edit volume automation you have the very handy option of editing the volume automation on each audio region as well as over the entire track—doing this can be cumbersome in even the most popular DAWs.

 Features

 The ease of use of this program does come with a cost—Studio One doesn’t offer quite as many features as some other well-known DAWs. There is no score-based view on their MIDI editor, and a few other familiar edit tools were also missing. Although, I did discover many of these utilities were actually built into the software’s functioning—a time-based stretcher being one major example. It occurs to me that this might be the benefit of being a newcomer. Sometimes there are about ten ways to accomplish the simplest tasks in DAWs that have lived to see numerous versions.

 One feature that I’ve yet to find in another DAW is Presonus’s Control Link MIDI Mapping. If you’re familiar with Novation’s Automapping technology—then you can think of this as the same basic concept. This makes it painless for you “teach” the software the MIDI control you want to use to for any parameters on your plug-ins and instruments. This feature offers a vital improvement over operating your plug-ins with a mouse.

 Studio One Pro also comes with 28 64-bit plug-ins, as well as support for AU, VST 2, and VST 3 support. If you’re going to opt for the cheaper Studio One Artist, then you’ll still receive 25 32-bit versions of those plug-ins—but beware—Studio One Artist doesn’t support any third party plug-ins so what you get is what you got!

 Owners of PreSonus’s FireStudio-series interfaces will benefit from DAW control of the zero-latency cue mix. Combined with solid delay-compensation, you can record and mix like it was meant to be—very unlike working in Pro Tools LE!

 “Mastering” is a word that many feel is being used a bit too loosely these days. Nonetheless, if you cannot afford a mastering engineer for your project, then you are bound to give it a shot yourself—no software makes this easier than Studio One. Clicking on an easily accessed pane in the software’s main view allows the user to view a comprehensive mastering view of their project. A collection of mastering tools are also included along with some very unique project management features, ability to burn to CD or DVD, and a built-in SoundCloud feature.

 Quality

 The clearest asset of this software is its solid audio quality. PreSonus was focused on building a solid core for this program—ensuring that everything they’ve included in Studio One was easy to use and the highest-quality. The audio engine in this software is top notch—easily surpassing many of the most popular DAWs on the market (64-bit floating point, if you’re interested in some specs.)  If you don’t want all the extra tools, but you need the best sound quality, then Studio One should not be overlooked.

 Conclusions

 If you are looking for a simple, yet solid, recording and mixing environment then this software is a perfect fit. Some of the cool editing tricks I’m used to don’t seem to be there (beat detective, tab to transient, etc.), but you won’t miss much if you usually don’t spend a lot of time scrubbing your audio files and/or chopping them up.  I see this software working especially well for live musicians—for that reason as well as the easily-accessed hardware settings and solid input monitoring.

 If nothing else, PreSonus has given users another great reason to purchase their already popular hardware—having the good sense to pay attention to quality while they were at it. If you are interested in getting a start with computer-based recording, then PreSonus has made that decision a bit easier. Studio One is a powerful and well-designed software with an “easy-to-use” feel.