PRESONUS STUDIO 68c: THE VIRTUAL STUDIO BECOMES MOBILE (ENG)

Competitive price and an equipment that lives up to the rosiest expectations for the mid-size of the US manufacturer, designed for the demanding home recorder and the young producer who also like to work on the road.

by Luca Barbieri

Well built and compact, Presonus Studio 68c connects to PC/Mac systems via USB-C

Accurate construction, refined aesthetics. Medium in size and with what you need on board to work even on musical projects of a certain complexity. We are talking about the recent Presonus Studio 68c, 6-in/6-out audio interface for PC/Mac systems that boasts USB-C connectivity, proprietary XMAX class-A preamps and AD/DA converters up to 24bit/192kHz.

FIRST LOOK

In the box, in addition to the device, you find a 12V power supply, two USB cables (Type-C/Type-C and Type-C/Type-A) and a breakout cable for MIDI and S/PDIF inputs and outputs. Compact and well finished, Studio 68c is housed in a frame made entirely of metal, with shaped electric blue side panels, also in metal, and more precisely in aluminum, finished with the engraving of the manufacturer logo. On the front panel there are the two main inputs which accept microphone, line and hi-z sources, and a double LED meter section. The first one for inputs 1-4, the second for the main outputs. In both cases they are 8 LED meters with a range from -40dB to 0dB.

Inputs 3-4 are usable for Mic/Line sources via 1/4 “TRS XLR/Jack combo sockets

At the center, the front panel is completed by 4 buttons: one to enable the +48V phantom power supply (single for all microphone inputs), a button to switch inputs 1-2 to accept line sources, one to enable direct monitoring of the input sources (Mon) and one for switching the listening source to the headphones: outputs 1-2 or 3-4 (A/B).

Four potentiometers allow you to quickly adjust the gain of the input sources

Finally, a little further to the right, there are 6 potentiometers: 4 for adjusting the gain stage on the preamplified inputs (1-4) and 2 for adjusting the output level on the Main and headphones.

BACK PANEL

The rear-panel houses an on/off button, a pleasant surprise not always present on devices in this price range, the USB-C socket for connecting to the computer and the 9-pin port for managing via breakout cable MIDI I/O (on standard 5-pin DIN sockets) and S/PDIF I/O on RCA sockets.

Via breakout cable, Studio 68c provides MIDI I/O on standard sockets and S/PDIF I/O on RCA

The equipment on the rear panel is completed by the Main and 3-4 outputs, all balanced on ¼ “TRS jacks, the Mic/Line 3-4 inputs on Jack/XLR combo sockets and the headphones socket on ¼” TRS jack.

Presonus Studio 68c features 4 balanced analog line outputs: Main Out (1-2) and Line Out (3-4)
PRODUCT REGISTRATION

An adhesive label on the interface invites to register the product and download the supplied software. Just connect to the Presonus site, create a user account and once logged in proceed to register the product via the device serial, which is located both under the interface and on the paper card in the package. Once clicked Register A Product, just enter the required informations (date of purchase and serial number), then click on Register and that’s it. A few seconds and all is ready.

A few simple steps allows to register the interface on the manufacturer’s website

The list of the programs supplied with Presonus Studio 68c is long: it ranges from the Ableton Live Lite loop-music production platform, to the Presonus sequencer (Studio One 5 Artist) up to a whole series of virtual instrument and effects plug-ins. Among these stand out the custom version of the Analog Lab Intro soft-synth by Arturia, the UVI Model-D virtual piano and the effects collection by Plugin Alliance which includes processors by Brainworx and SPL. Also interesting is the presence of the Lexicon MPX-i Reverb and the Neutron – Elements suite by iZotope. Each software has a dedicated area with a button to proceed with the download, the serial and installation instructions. A really well done system: easy and intuitive.

DEVICE INSTALLATION

First of all you have to download the Universal Control software from the Presonus website. Once this is done, just physically connect the interface to the computer with one of the supplied cables and launch the installation of Universal Control. Once the file copying procedure is finished, turn on the interface: a few seconds and the operating system initializes everything.

To install the Studio 68c, just download and install the Presonus Universal Control software

At this point you can proceed to download and install the audio/midi sequencing platform supplied with the device: Presonus Studio One 5 Artist. Also in this case the procedure is very simple: download, launch the executable and follow the instructions shown on the screen. Once installation is complete, launch Studio One 5 Artist, enter the Presonus account credentials on the home screen and go. At this point, to activate Studio One 5 Artist on the PC on which is installed, it is necessary to enter the serial number available in the personal area on the Presonus website. One click on the Activate button and that’s it. Before starting the main screen, Studio One 5 Artist ask to install the additional software supplied: about 8GB of data including samples, loops, instruments and virtual effects. After selecting the destination folder and the type of installation, click Install and that’s it.

The screen to download the software provided with the Studio 68c
LOOPBACK FUNCTION

Limited to Windows systems, the Presonus Studio 68c drivers are equipped with a feature called Loopback, which allows you to acquire the audio reproduced by a software application and at the same time the signal from the interface inputs.

LoopBack in “Merge Loopback with 1-2”

The Loopback functionality essentially supports two operating modes: “Merge Loopback with 1/2” and “Dedicated Loopback Inputs”. In the first case, the audio coming from the application to be acquired is mixed with the sources passing through inputs 1-2 of the interface.

LoopBack in “Dedicated Loopback Inputs”

In the second case, however, the audio coming from the application and the input one are acquired on separate tracks. All LoopBack settings are manageable through the Universal Control.

The main screen of the Presonus Studio One 5 Artist audio/midi sequencer
PRESONUS STUDIO ONE 5 ARTIST

Spearhead of the software bundle supplied with the Studio 68c, the proprietary sequencer Studio One 5 Artist offers enough to work on even rather articulated and complex sessions. The program, in fact, provides a complete environment for recording, manipulation and finalization of multitrack audio/midi.

The Brainworx bx_opto compressor interface provided with the Studio 68c

Studio One 5 Artist implements an unlimited number of tracks and 5 virtual instruments for sound generation: the Impact XT drum sampler, the Presence XT sample player, the Mai Tai polyphonic analog emulation synthesizer, the Mojito subtractive monophonic synthesizer and the sampler Sample One XT. Furthermore: VST/AU/ReWire support, MPE MIDI support and a suite of native effects for audio finalization.

The UVI Model D virtual piano included in the the Presonus Studio 68c bundle

CONCLUSIONS

The XMAX preamps do their duty: they are sufficiently transparent, silent and with a gain range that allows you to adequately treat analog sources of any kind. The drivers were particularly stable: during the work sessions it was also possible to put the system in standby and turn off the interface from the power button and then recover its full and total functioning simply by turning it back on and without having to restart any software. The bundle included is an added value not to be underestimated, which in itself further elevates the already excellent quality/price ratio of the package. Presonus Studio 68c is suitable both for those looking for an all-in-one device to start discovering the wonderful world of Computer Music, and for the more advanced user who needs a secondary device, not too demanding economically, to always carry with for jam-sessions on-the-road and impromptu creations. Presonus Studio 68c street price is around 230 euros.

PRO
  • Construction
  • Power switch
  • Preamps
  • Led Vu-Meter
  • Direct Monitoring
  • Loopback
CONS
  • Short USB-C cable
  • Global Phantom Power
FEATURES

• Compatibility: Windows/MacOS
• Connectivity: USB-C
• 4 microphone preamps: up to 80dB of gain; dynamic range: 114dB A-weighted
• Analog inputs: 2 Mic/Line/Hi-z + 2 Mic/Line
• Analog outputs: 4 balanced on ¼ “TRS jacks (1-2 + 3-4)
• AD/DA converters: 24-bit /192kHz
• MIDI I/O on standard 5-pin DIN sockets
• S / PDIF i/o on RCA sockets
• Software bundle: Studio Magic (Ableton Live Lite, Arturia Analog Lab Intro, Brainworx bx_opto, Brainworx bx_rockrack, Cherry Audio MG-1 Plus, Cherry Audio Voltage Nucleus, Ghosthack Essential Sounds, iZotope Neutron Elements, Klanghelm SDRR2tube, KV331 Audio Synthmaster Player, Lexicon MPX-i Reverb, Mäag Audio EQ2, Melodics, Native Instruments Replika, Output Movement, SPL Attacker Plus, UJAM Virtual Bassist Rowdy, UVI Model D.
• Dimensions: 44x229x140mm
• Weight: 1kg

INFO
Manufacturer: Presonus – For italian customers: MIDIMUSIC