PreSonus AudioBox USB96 Bundle
The Presonus AudioBox USB96 Bundle (25th Anniversary Edition, in black) was the easiest interface I've ever used, hands down. Aside from live-streaming during COVID quarantine, my bandmate and I host a monthly podcast. We have tried various interfaces and mixers to try to get good sound while playing live or recording; this was by far the quickest, simplest, and most reliable set up we've ever tried. As a duo project, we only need a few inputs to get us going, musically or for the podcast.
It took about one minute from opening the box to recording our show. This kit comes with everything you need to start recording instantly: once the USB is hooked up to your laptop, simply plug in the provided XLR cable to the (also provided) M7 mic. Side note: the mic is warm and vibrant. PreSonus also sets you up with a Studio One Artist license, but no matter which DAW you use, the playback engine will recognize it at once. I cannot stress how important this is, given that my laptop is finicky, and has had trouble in the past recognizing other boxes. Once we set the inputs for the mics in our DAW, we were rolling. It was that easy.
- The AudioBox USB 96 audio interface’s two front-panel combo mic/instrument inputs make it ideal for singer/songwriters, podcasters, and guitar or guitar-bass collaborations. Simply connect a couple of mics and you have an easy-to-use stereo recording system. A mix control lets you control the level between the input signal and computer playback, without hearing annoying delays. You also get a pair of balanced line-level outputs, an ultra-loud, crystal-clear headphone out, plus MIDI I/O, so you can connect your favorite synth or MIDI controller. The result is a simple, affordable, mobile recording solution.
Let's talk design: the black box is compact, clear, and sleek. It is lightweight and contains the only knobs you will ever really need: gain.
The blue cable, aesthetically, is a nice touch. It's easy to spot during clean up and simply fun to see. The mic, as noted, had a rich tone during recording and when we listened back. It's easy to either attach to a stand or set up on a table if you're sitting down to record. My bandmate's voice can alternate between soft melodic singing to death metal wails and the M7 took it all. Adjusting the gain for peak levels is easy with the turn of a dial. I will note that is brighter than the microphone I was using, the Rode NT1, which may or may not be what you are after. Including a nice pair of headphones (HD7s) offers anyone a complete and instantaneous entrée into recording their own work.
Did I already mention this is USB powered? No charging plugs necessary! MIDI capability and headphone jack, this has everything you need to set up shop, and fast. It is iOS compliant, which again, may be an amazing plus or minus depending on what you use to record. I am an Apple user, so it's a benefit for me.
Let me stress that I am not writing a biased review just because PreSonus collaborates with Gear Fanatix to bring gear to underrepresented students. I have a Scarlett Focusrite, probably the box most similar to the AudioBox, and a Tascam 16x08. However, in the last few weeks, I fell in love with the PreSonus AudioBox, and I am one who never truly "got" the obsession with interfaces. I love other gear, sure; I have my favorites: like the Spectra1964 STX100, my UAD Satellite, or the Eventide H900. To me, the interface was just a necessary component to get from the artist and into my DAW (or board), into the space where I felt most comfortable. But now, I'm obsessed with the ease of use and the affordability of the AudioBox, and the potential to set up artists of all backgrounds in an all-in-one box. At $99, this is a bargain. The price also extends availability to marginalized students and voices -- hoorah!
I will be using this box for every podcast moving forward and am now so in love with the interface that I can't wait to delve into our next demo, the Quantum 2626, which we will be using with a full drum-kit, vocals, bass rig and guitar! Stay tuned!