Presonus Studio One 2.6 Review

Ruprect —  October 21, 2013 — 24 Comments
studio-one-

studio-one-

Alright ladies and gentlemen I’m going to be keeping this review brief and to the point. About 4 months ago I started looking into leaving the Mac world and building a Pc. As a result I had to figure out what DAW I was going to switch to since at that point Logic Pro 9 had been my weapon of choice. I thought about the usual suspects first ( Cubase, Pro Tools, Reaper, etc.) but I kept hearing from a few different local guys about how much they loved Studio One. I started digging and after watching a few videos I decided to give it a go.

 

Initial Thoughts

My first impressions were that this is a very intuitive piece of software. I literally stopped using Logic after spending maybe 2 hours with Studio One. Granted, I was excited about learning something new but the switch was surprisingly painless. Fast forward a few months and I’m faster with Studio One than I ever was with Logic. The main reason is that simple tasks I perform numerous times in every mix are streamlined a little. Here are a few examples :

So for me the workflow is damn good. When you add on the fact that it operates without a dongle and that the install was as painless and simple as you can get, my initial impressions were fantastic.

 Thinking About The Little Guy

One of the main reasons I’m feeling at home with Studio One is that they seem hungry for my approval. This is a big damn deal because it means that they will listen to the customers and improve on the software. If you visit the Presonus YouTube page and look at the comments on any of their videos you will notice that someone from Presonus is responding to the questions and comments, and they are ON IT! In a world where Avid charges customers to call their tech support, it’s nice to see that even people who AREN’T customers are getting their questions answered in the Presonus camp. Needless to say I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the way they deal with their customers since I’ve been paying attention to what they’re up to.

Updates

Another big bonus for me is that a lot of the updates are free to existing users. I started using Studio One on version 2.5 which added a ton of great features at no cost to users.

Since then I’ve experienced one update which also added some cool new toys like a native version of the “Fat Channel” which can be found inside the Studio Live digital mixers. These are just 2 examples of how Presonus take care of their users with great updates.

Features

If you compare pretty much all DAW platforms to what they were just a short time ago, it’s pretty freaking crazy how powerful they are. All the major DAW’s out there at this point have staggering amounts of features and you might need 10% of them. For my needs Studio One has everything I need to do my job and more. It has everything from advanced time stretching capabilities to having Melodyne baked right into the software. If you buy the Pro version you will also get around 10Gb of additional downloadable content containing a TON of loops, samples, and some pretty good 3rd party stuff as well!

Some of my favorite features would have to be the muli-output Track Transform, Event Fx, and the storing of entire Virtual Instrument chains using the MusicLoops functionality.

Plugins

I have mixed opinions about the stock plugins. Some of them are great and some of them have ZERO character. For instance the Red Light Distortion Plugin is fantastic but the stock compressors are BORING. They get the job done but  I can’t help but want a few more plugins with balls. The lack of a transient designer is also slightly disappointing. I do like that a good portion of the plugins have built in mix knobs.

Editing

Editing in Studio One is a breeze for most tasks. The comping system they’ve developed is fast and pretty much idiot proof. You simply swipe the section of the track that you want to use and it automatically creates the crossfades and you’re ready to go. There’s no need to manually slice regions and select them or create the crossfades afterwards. My only complaint about the comping is that I wish there was a button on the track similar to Cubase that opened up all of the takes. I found a workaround for this by using the Track List but it’s a little less than ideal. If Presonus added this then the comping would be as good as it gets. Aside from the comping I’ve been having a good time using the Split At Grid function which will slice the selected region into whatever subdivision you have selected in the quantize panel. This is a great way to create fast stutter and glitch effects.

Automation

I’m a big fan of the way Presonus implemented automation in Studio One. Before I started using Studio One the standard method for creating automation would be to search through a drop down list to find the parameter I wanted to automate ( often times the list is a mile long ) or to start the automation in write mode and then doctor it up later. In Studio One there’s no need to do either, I can simply click on the parameter I want to automate and then hit “A” in the upper left hand corner of the screen, or drag the parameter onto the track. Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about.

 

There are also some fun tools that allow you to draw different curves and shapes into your automation tracks. After you’ve drawn some weird stuff you can manipulate it further by using the Transform Tool which allows you to stretch and bend your automation. Pretty bad ass stuff!

MIDI

Like with most DAW’s it can’t all be sunshine and roses. In the case of Studio One MIDI seems to be its biggest shortcoming. Lets take the humanization functions for example. In most DAW’s when you want to humanize something you get a nice window with a large number of parameters that enable you to choose the level of humanization. In Studio One you get a button that randomly moves the MIDI data around. The only control you have over it is an option to humanize less. This is VERY disappointing! You can always go into the quantize panel and adjust things like swing but I’d love to see more options for randomization.  To add salt to the wound there are ZERO MIDI INSERTS. I’m really really hoping that Presonus will address this and add some MIDI toys into the fray in a future update because at this point it is lacking. To some this won’t matter much, but if you’re an EDM guy or gal this is a HUGE deal.

Reliability

Not much to say in this department other than that I haven’t had a single crash and that it’s been solid as a rock for me.

The Manual

It seems that Presonus made the manual for people who are easily frightened of in depth features. There REALLY needs to be more screen shots, links to sections that the current one is referring to, etc. The manual for Cubase looks like some sort of technological scroll that leaves no questions remaining. It’s easily twice as long because there are screenshots for damn near everything.  I would love to see the same thing in Studio One.

The Little Things

There are a ton of awesome little features in Studio One that make my life easier. I really like having the browser with all of my plugins right there ready to go. The drag and drop feature seems kind of like a gimmick at first but if you use a lot of the same plugins and have the browser open, it really does save time. If you buy the Pro version it comes with a full mastering suite that allows you independent and global control over all of your final mixdowns and also allows you to embed all of the data for the particular artist you’re working with. Being able to upload your content directly to Sound Cloud is a big time saver for me and it works flawlessly. I love having the home screen that has a news feed with various information on promotions and the like. I could go on and on about the little things, there are a TON  of them!

The Verdict

Presonus has created a great piece of software in Studio One. I used Logic Pro for years and was a big believer in what they were up to. After using Studio One for a few months I don’t see myself going back. It’s not perfect and there are areas that really need some attention, but after observing the way they take care of their customers I’m convinced that this software will continue to grow and get better with updates. If you’re thinking about switching DAW’s or you’re new at this gig I highly recommend checking out Studio One.

 

http://www.presonus.com/products/studio-one

 

 

Ruprect

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Ruprect once went carless to chase his guitar tone obsession. This same mindless pursuit of tone has led him to an equally brilliant chase of mega recording glory. He assists Brandon Drury, the super human who runs RecordingReview, and when Ruprect shakes or rolls over Brandon allows him to give his opinion to the world.

24 responses to Presonus Studio One 2.6 Review

  1. Excellent review! I’ve considered switching many times. Most of these reasons are ideological and practical time considerations get in the way. However, there is no denying that Studio One has a hell of a DAW here. The fact that they are listening to their customers is very exciting to me. It’s a deviation from what most of the other DAW companies seem to be doing.

    In addition, there are a handful of bells and whistles that do look very appealing. However, when I dig in, I find I sometimes miss other bells and whistles…..not that bells or whistles are that big of deal.

    I’m slowly setting up a little home recording thing at home and I’m trying to do it hyper cheaply. I’ve been using Reaper, but I immediately realized that Reaper’s synths were intended to be very, very simple in nature. I found myself scouring the web looking for free stuff. While Studio One is not free, they have enough content, synths, and plugins included to make even a person on a tight budget at least take a look.

    Presonus is on to something here.

  2. +1 for S1. No dongle, multiple songs can be open simultaneously, mastering suite that rocks, sound quality is great, drag and drop, melodyne integration, stable, uses VSTs well, channel strip saving ability, free updates are often and useful, but my favorite part is the MIDI MAPPING! Two modes : pervasive or normal like all other programs, but then also FOCUS MAPPING where you map a VST once and every time it is visible and on top it is activated to the chosen controller. So great with Keith McMillen controllers! Also….relatedly you can use CCs to trigger keyboard shortcuts or macros of multiple shortcuts, imagine the power of that to speed up workflow with foot and drum pad controllers and such. I own PT and LIVE and much prefer S1.

  3. Long time Cubase user and finally made the switch to Studio One 2 this year. I bought a Presonus 1818VSL last year which came with the artist version and then shortly after got an upgrade to producer for practically nothing. It sat around until I had finally had enough of Cubase crashes and the windows that resize themselves and thought I would install it and play with it for a bit. I loved it right away and over time it has become my full time DAW. I still have Cubase 5 installed but it hasn’t been opened for a long time.

    I would highly recommend to anyone looking to move platforms that they check this one out. They usually run some Black Friday deals, so November might be a good time to test the waters!

  4. Thanks for the review. I might add that I had no prior experience with any DAW, but got Studio One for cheap with a hardware purchase. Then I foolishly agreed to help my son’s HS theater troupe by making karaoke versions of three pop songs from the 1980s (“I Love the ’80s”, “Amanda Jones”, “Girl Fight Tonight”).

    Including the “learning curve”, it took me about 17 hours altogether but I came out of the process with three very good quality MP3s of these songs that got the job done, using Studio 1 Pro 2.6.

  5. Great article!! I come from Sonar and when I switched to Studio One I was in love with it since the first time I used it. It runs smooth, no crashing, no loosing sessions, very intuitive, all the controls are there in front of you. You want to pre produce something bam click edit and you have the options there, you want to mix just click mix and you have the options right there.

  6. Their app (free of course) turns the iPad into a remote control, so you can wonder around the hall and mix wherever you are. I use the StudioLive 16.4.2 and love it. Free firmware updates, always free tutorials and webinars available. Great company.

  7. Thanks for some great tips here for S1 users… I would echo your comments on the review – as very much a beginner when it comes to home recording, I found S1 so much easier and intuitive than other DAWs that seemed to suffer from “featuritis” to the point where the learning curve was really daunting for a beginner. With S1 I was delighted with the progress I could make in a very short amount of time with basic recording and mixing. As I have become more proficient, I have progressively upgraded (now at the PRO version) to take advantage of additional capabilities. The Melodyne integration is great and really makes this a powerful package. The software has also been rock solid – never experienced a crash or loss of work and the availability of updates with new features makes this software great value for the budget conscious.

  8. Use it, love it – the name of the program always makes my brain freeze o_O

  9. I switched 2 months ago, it took me 15 minutes to fall in love with Studio One, for the price you won’t get anything so good.. I urge anyone to try it out, they even let you test the full version for 30 days, no bullshit, download register activate.. everything is unlocked. My hats off to Presonus.

  10. Michael (MGraham70) October 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Been a user of S1 since version 1 (2010)… I loved it then and they keep significantly improving it, with every update…. even the small, free updates are pretty noticeable improvements (on an already killer DAW). The only way that I would use Pro Tools would be if a client insisted on it…. and at that, I would stress that they would likely get a better result (from me) with S1 because it’s workflow just works for me. I can not recommend Studio One highly enough.

  11. Brandon, I went to their Baton Rouge Presonus Live weekend event a couple of years ago and met most of the staff at Presonus and they are unbelievably awesome folks. They were so friendly and willing to help out with any recording questions we could throw at them. Craig Anderton was there to give his opinion of Presonus as well as Melodyne and it was impressive. I am an old guy and I remember reading Craig Anderton articles in Guitar Player magazine 35 years ago!. Amazing folks and excited about their product! I left there very happy that I own a 16.4.2 mixer. I also bought your Killer recording Tracks!!!

  12. Not wanting to take anything away from this great review, and I will definately be giving S1 a test drive soon.

    But, the first video is pretty much the way I do it in Logic.

    Drag over the tracks, change stereo out to a bus. A bus is automatically created.

  13. I use cubase 6.5 and have the 7 upgrade, but waiting till they work out more bugs before installing…. I have a copy of Studio one v2 artist that came with my FireStudio project. I have been tempted to try it out or sell it. I have heard nothing but great things about it, but am invested in cubase. I’m not saying cubase is the best. I use it cause I know it. Studio has me intrigued…. Great review.

  14. @Tim Thunder:

    You should really install it and check it out. I was devoted to Cubase since it was Cubase SX (about 14 years ago) and like you, got SO artist free. Tried it out on a whim and really liked it. I went through a period of about a year where I used Cubase full time but would occasionally mess around in SO, doing a little more each time until I realized one day that I hadn’t fired Cubase up at all over the last several months. I haven’t had one crash or freeze, the windows don’t resize on me every time I switch screens and the drag and drop features are priceless. Anyway, give it a shot and play around and see what you think. Even if you don’t end up using it it’s still worth trying! Good luck!

  15. @Johnny Lokke

    The temptation is there and strong. I really hate when cubase crashes (which is weekly) then it created anew version. I hope all of my VSTs are compatible.

  16. @Tim Thunder

    You are going to be fine. The best thing is that you are going to love S1 hehehehe. For get about cubase just sell it the vst are going to be fine… I didn’t have any problems with vsts.

  17. Hmmm I am looking at the specs. And SO artist is a 32 bit daw. I use 64 bit

  18. @Tim:

    Yes, that’s why I upgraded to the Producer version, which is 64-bit, and works with all vst’s. Artist is really for people that are just getting started or want to play around with the program to test out it’s workflo.

    They always run black friday specials, but I think the upgrade from artist to producer is only $49 right now anyway. I think I got in on an offer that was $29 to upgrade from artist to producer last year. Plus updates are usually free (and there are many). Another plus over Cubase. What I was paying just to upgrade my Cubase every couple of years for new versions with the same old bugs was killing me. You can download a full functioning 30-day trial or the Pro version as well to test the 64-bit version.

    Don’t feel like I’m hammering on you to move away from Cubase or trying to slam it in any way. I still have it installed on my machine and it has served me well over many years. You just sounded like you were in a similar situation that I was a year ago and so I thought I would chime in.

    It’s really all about the music anyway!

  19. @Johnny
    I don’t feel pushed at all. I will look for a dirt cheap sale. Have to pay some bills first. Cubase pisses me off when they do s x.5 update and they charge for it depending on when you buy the current release. All current version updates should be free.

  20. Great review of the newest daw on the block – I paid $99 for the pro version and it still surprises me how much quicker things the workflow can be and it’s easily customisable.
    Cubase 5.5 is where I left off and I didn’t think I’ll be paying for v7/7.5/8 etc because for me year on year $200 upgrades are a P I T A
    If you want real VFM – Get Studio One pro.

  21. Ruprect, there is a way to show all takes in the same track. I think it’s called “lane mode”. I don’t have my DAW here right now but I’m pretty sure that’s it.

  22. Been a S1 user since the Kristal Audio Engine days, and am always jumping between it & Reaper for one reason or another. But 2.6 has added some stuff that just makes me want to stay right here.

  23. I just started using Presonus Studio 1 Two Professional about 3 months ago after using a combination of Cubase and Sony products and I’m loving every minute of it….the best way around the MIDI problem?? I paired the Presonus DAW with Komplete 9 Ultimate and UAD plugins – best.combination. ever!!!

  24. great product presonus

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