You don’t need much in order to assemble a pretty capable recording studio in your bedroom these days. But you must cover the essentials – computer, audio interface, a decent mic, and a pair of sturdy headphones that will accurately playback your mix. We’d argue that studio monitors are a necessity as well, but they aren’t as easy to sell in a convenient, affordably priced bundle like PreSonus’ AudioBox 96 Studio.
Centered around PreSonus’ AudioBox USB 96 audio/MIDI interface and the Studio One DAW, the AudioBox 96 Studio adds the Studio Magic plug-in suite, the M7 condenser microphone, and HD7 headphones to make for a nearly complete recording solution for any beginner’s or intermediate recordist’s computer-based studio.
Studio One 3 Artist DAW & Studio Magic Plug-in Suite
The bundle’s main strength, compared to similar bundles by M-Audio (the M-Track 2×2 Vocal Studio Pro), Steinberg (UR22 MK2 Recording Pack) and Focusrite (the 2i2 Studio) has to be the addition of the PreSonus Studio One 3 Artist DAW, paired with the Studio Magic Plug-in Suite. SO3 Artist is no cut-up, limited copy of the full product, meant to coax you into paying for the full-blown version of the DAW.
Rather, it’s a stand-alone virtual studio with a feature set that includes unlimited tracks (audio, MIDI, VST, buses, and FX channels) and 25 effects & virtual instruments. Add to it the Studio Magic Plug-in Suite, which brings home effects and instruments by SPL, Lexicon, Eventide, Brainworx, and Arturia, and you are reaching well beyond entry-level DAW territory! You can actually get real work done, as in track and produce an EP or album, rather than staying limited to basic projects of up to, say, 16 tracks. And now, about the hardware components.
AudioBox USB 96 audio interface
Let’s kick off with the AudioBox USB 96, a basic two-input (combo mic and instrument), bus-powered interface with 24-bit, 96kHz converters, 48V phantom power for condenser microphones and zero-latency monitoring. It’s meant to get you plugged-in and recording straight away, no matter if you’re using Studio One or another DAW.
M7 Condenser Microphone
The M7 condenser microphone probably doesn’t sound as classy as more expensive models by, say, Rode and AKG. But it’ll likely be robust and musical enough to capture your voice with all the nuances and subtleties that may get lost with dynamic microphones like Shure’s time-tested SM58 vocal microphone. Models such as this one, Audio Technica’s AT20XX series, or Rode’s NT1A make for fantastic starter microphones that would have been unattainable some years ago. That’s the benefit of technology becoming more affordable as it matures.
HD7 monitoring headphones
The final piece of the puzzle is the HD7 headphones. They are designed as lightweight and ergonomic monitoring headphones that don’t colour the sound noticeably, but also strive to achieve a deep bass response. There are many reasons why headphones aren’t suitable for mixing unless you really know what you are doing and are able to compensate for their intrinsic acoustic properties. But helping with accurately recording your voice and instruments, and obtaining a reasonably realistic sense of how your mix’s essential frequency ranges truly sound – without making your scalp or ears hurt – is about all that we can expect.
Price and release date
PreSonus is already selling all of this for around 200 USD, which is, frankly, killer value. As far as we know, never before has the cost of entry into the world of semi-professional audio recording – complete with a full-blown DAW and a fat stack of plug-ins – been this low. We think PreSonus genuinely cares about helping out the budding musicians, audio engineers, and podcasters out there. Or maybe it’s about cornering the entry-level studio market. Heck, Studio One 3 Artist alone costs half the asking price for the whole bundle!