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PreSonus Studio One 3 DAW Review
PROS: Affordable. Easy transition from other DAWs. No subscription needed. Mac & PC compatible.
Home recording with Pro Tools certainly leveled the playing field; any user who laid down their hard earned money could use the same recording platform as professional recording artists and engineers. Like all software companies these days, the licensing method is changing: charging a monthly fee, while giving free updates. Some users don’t like this method, and PreSonus has stepped up to fill in the void of offering a professional-grade recording suite without the subscription pricing model.
The package we received for the new version of Studio One was the professional version and contains, well everything. Plug-ins, 5 Virtual instruments, and over 2,000 audio loops. The download of all the extras clocked in at 29GB! The software is available for either Mac and Windows systems, and the minimum 4GB of RAM (8GB is suggested) means not having to make a major hardware upgrade to run it. Our install was seamless and easy.
For this release there are a few new features: Scratch pad enables the user to organize a song’s development, without the need to save multiple versions. In short, it helps develop “demos” into “songs” without getting lost along the way. Keeping things organized is key and the Arranger function allows easy mapping out of arrangements and navigation to certain parts of a project without a lot of hunting. Extended FX chains allow the routing of any of the effects (Native plug-ins, VST or AU). It works like a flow chart, and can make complicated effects routing super easy. One of the other new features is Mai Tai, which has pretty much every vintage poly synth inside this function!
The interface isn’t all that different from other DAWs you may have used in the past, as far as look and feel are concerned. The settings and control functions lie under similar menus and headings, so transitioning from any other system shouldn’t be a real big issue (Pro Tools users in particular who are nervous about switching should rest easy). Even Quick Key Commands from other programs such as Pro Tools, Logic, and GarageBand, can be imported to ease any transitions. And like most software these days, everything is drag and drop.
There are unlimited Audio, MIDI, Virtual instruments, effects buses and the like, so you’re never gonna be cramped for track space. And audio quality can go up to 64-bit and 384kHZ. For beat-makers and loop junkies, Studio One 3 has an interface that makes finding a loop easy, especially one that will actually work for what kind of track may be needed – no searching through useless presets that may not apply. It’s not just limited to audio, either; with a video importing function it can easily work as a platform for film scoring or audio/dialog replacement in your next video project.
With Studio One 3, there’s no need for any specialized hardware connection, just connect your interface, it recognizes the hardware and it’s ready to go. It’s also meant to work with PreSonus’ fantastic AI mixers (which we reviewed last year), along with their specific settings and inputs. There is also a remote function, making an iPad the control surface over Wi-Fi, enabling the producer to not be stuck behind a glass window.
From demo to final mastering, it has everything that could be needed for any recording project. Overall it’s a lot to take in (we tacked for about two weeks and still didn’t use every function or option), but the learning curve for a new user shouldn’t be that tough (and trust us, that was one of our biggest concerns). Whether it’s an upgrade to an existing Studio One release, transitioning from another DAW platform, or even if you’re a home recording newbie, it’s worth checking out.
STUDIO ONE 3 PROFESSIONAL FEATURES
-Elegant single-window work environment
-Powerful drag-and-drop functionality and multi-touch support
-Unlimited audio tracks, MIDI tracks, virtual instruments, buses, and FX channels
-Pristine sound quality with a critically acclaimed mix engine
-New synthesis engine, native 64-bit resolution and support for up to 384kHz audio
-15GB PresenceXT Sampler library (EXS, Kontakt, Giga, SoundFont, and BitWig support)
-Mai Tai analog modeling polysynth
-Integrated Melodyne Essentials pitch and timing editor (a $99 value)
-Native Fat Channel plug-in with lowpass filtering gate, compression, EQ, and limiter
-Elastique 3.0 real-time pitch and time stretching, resampling, and normalization
-Mastering suite with automatic mix updating, Redbook CD burning, and digital release
-35 Native 64-bit effects and five virtual instruments
-AU, VST2, VST3, and ReWire support
-Integrated SoundCloud dashboard for sharing your music online
-Use Pro Tools, Cubase, or Logic shortcut key commands or create your own
-Compatible with ASIO-, Windows Audio-, and Core Audio-compliant audio interfaces